Christian Democracy is not a religion. It is not a church. It is not Christianity per se.
Christian Democracy is a 130 year old political philosophy that is based on biblical Christian principles; principles like human dignity, freedom, solidarity, and stewardship. These principles are not parochial, and are not unique to Christian Democracy, but they all have root in a Christian worldview, and they provide a solid foundation for moving forward together with confidence.
Christian Democracy tends to focus on the health of the community in all areas of community existence. This community orientation is sometimes considered conservative in regard to moral and cultural issues, and progressive in regard to social justice, labor, and economic issues. Christian Democracy is common in Europe and Latin America, and is considered a centrist political philosophy (sometimes center-right, sometimes center-left). Many current world leaders and heads of government in Europe and Latin America consider themselves Christian Democrats. Some notables in the past have been German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and Chilean President Eduardo Frei.
Historically, Christian Democracy was formed along two related (and ultimately merged) paths: one Catholic under Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903), author of the seminal work Rerum Novarum, the foundational document of Catholic social teaching and Christian Democracy (as well as a guiding light to Pope John Paul II); and another under Reformed theologian and Dutch Prime Minister Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920), founder of the Anti-Revolutionary Party in the Netherlands (the first Christian Democratic party) and founder of the Free University in Amsterdam.
Christian Democracy is profoundly resonant in our history as well. For example, the legendary three-time Democratic presidential nominee, and Secretary of State under Pres. Woodrow Wilson, William Jennings Bryan, would probably be leading this movement if he were alive today. Why? Because he was a man of the people. He spoke out loudly for the little guy; his economic interests and his cultural interests. This is what Christian Democracy and the CDU are all about.
To be clear,
there is absolutely no religious or partisan requirement to join our cause . Our members may be members of any humane religious institution or political party, or none at all. Our members are committed to the historic principles of Christian Democracy, and to the success of Christian Democracy as a movement, as well as the success of their local community, the American commonwealth at large, and all people everywhere in the struggle for a better life.
We are pro-life, believing abortion-on-demand to be a severe injustice to human dignity; and such offenses to human dignity are the business of the whole human community. To be clear, the Democratic Party position regarding abortion is offensive to human dignity, and should be abandoned. On the other hand, the Republican Party practice is far from praiseworthy. Republicans string us along, never actually doing anything about the massacre of the unborn, just taking our votes. Similarly (regarding human dignity) we also believe that wars that are initiated by Washington political pundits and foreign policy gurus are, by definition, unjust wars that should not be waged, because so many are so often killed unnecessarily. Likewise we believe that indiscriminate bombing in war is a great offense to human dignity. Also, we believe in the goals, and in furthering the positive gains, of the civil rights movement. We believe there should be no artificial barriers to human achievement. We believe in the dignity of work, and in the rights of all working people to a dignified work-life, including the right to organize trade unions and cooperatives.
We are pro-choice. We very much believe in school choice, including parent-controlled fully-funded vouchers; for public, private, religious, and home school. This would give every young American the opportunity to go to the school that is best for them, according to the people that love them most, their parents. Similarly (regarding freedom) we very much believe in energy choice, and freedom from the whims of foreign (sometime hostile) regimes. This should begin by requiring that all vehicles sold in the US be so-called flex-fuel (i.e. multiple fuel) vehicles. This is already very inexpensive and easy to do for Detroit. We very much believe in healthcare freedom, especially the freedom from fear that is provided by a universal healthcare system. This would preferably be accomplished with a fully-funded voucher system that provides free, high quality, market-based healthcare for every American, as is aptly described in Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel's recent book Healthcare Guaranteed. Unfortunately, current proposals on Capitol Hill for a voucher system to replace Medicare are not proposed to be fully-funded (and are not for those under 65, obviously). Given that a fully-publicly-funded private insurance system seems to be politically impossible with our current leaders, with House Republicans all voting for the overly-stingy Paul Ryan plan, and Democrats denouncing voucher plans per se; then we, the CDU, advocate a single-payer healthcare system, along the lines of the Canadian system. An individual mandate to buy health insurance (the Obama plan) is not a satisfactory solution, at all. It is both coercive and not universal.
Solidarity is the idea that we are all in this life together. We are indeed our brother's keeper. When a necessary human provision cannot be obtained by individuals, we the human community in our nation are in covenant to obtain the provision for the group as a whole, if possible. Universal healthcare that is free at the point of enrollment and free at the point of service for everyone, is our greatest need at this point in our development. As has been mentioned, we would prefer this universal good be delivered via a fully-funded voucher program, because such a program honors the principle of subsidiarity, which is important. However, since some aspect of such a program is considered abhorrent by both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats, it seems we are forced into supporting the only other universal healthcare system available, single-payer health insurance (like unto the Canadian system). Similarly (regarding solidarity) we believe in fair trade that is fair to all, with a goal of achieving genuinely free and fair trade internationally, similar to that which exists between the states. We believe in cooperation and cooperatives, including international cooperation.
Social justice, similar to solidarity and human dignity, is the idea that we should be even-handed, and that systemic inequities require correction, require justice. We do not believe in equal outcomes. Rather, we believe in levelling the playing field, providing equal opportunities, and correcting past wrongs that warp the current system. Jesus said it best in the Golden Rule of reciprocity when he said, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." This ethic naturally and logically extends beyond merely personal reciprocity to social reciprocity. For it is not acceptable to do, or not do, to the group that which you would do, or not do, to the individual; unless there are inescapeable logistical barriers, or greater inequity is created in the process. Social justice properly conceived is not a right to be claimed but a duty to be pursued. It is not that the poor have a right to anti-poverty programs, but that those with much have a duty to help those with little. The rich did not get to be so on their own. Even if someone works hard for their wealth, their riches were given to them. Many work hard and smart, yet remain poor, because they live in a society that does not place high value on their good work. Most housemaids work harder and smarter than most investment bankers, yet the former live in poverty and the latter in great wealth (because we live in a society that worships money, and devalues service and manual labor). Should the powerful not help to create an economic floor under the poor, so that the vicissitudes of life do not claim them, and they have greater opportunity to escape poverty? To whom much is given, much is required. We favor progressive tax rates. The wealthy owe more to the system that got them to where they are, so they should pay more taxes to that system. The wealthy owe more to society, so they should fund charitable organizations.
We believe in aggressively moving toward a green economy with a national focus on green building and renewable energy. Regarding vehicle fuels, creating a competitive fuel market with a flex-fuel mandate is the short-term solution, plug-in hybrid cars and better public transport are the medium-term solutions, and fully embracing renewable sources of electricity is the long-term solution. Similarly (regarding stewardship) we believe in traditional marriage and in preserving it in a way that provides equal protection for heterodox Americans. The solution to provide said equal protection will require very creative thinking, but we are committed to it. Also, we believe in strong and bright sunshine laws for government and public corporations so that citizens, consumers and investors can make truly informed choices.
Unfortunately, our greatest need as a country is SYSTEMIC DEMOCRATIC REFORM. Believe it or not, our democracy is less representative than most nations that are still part of the British monarchy. This stunted growth is because of a mix of compromises and unintentional consequences inherent in the American experiment as constituted, as well as traditions and pragmatic changes made during its development. For example, congressional redistricting for future elections was given to existing Congressmen according to the Constitution. This in itself helps entrench existing power. However, having super-sized congressional districts as we do (now at 700,000+ constituents) only increases the power and strengthens the stranglehold that existing powers-that-be have. If the original Congress had representational proportions as today, there would have only been six, yes 6, members of that original Congress. The original district size was approximately 30,000 constituents (much smaller than today). Indeed, it requires a 1:30,000 max ratio in the Constitution! We need to go back to the Constitution here. We need to take as many steps as are constitutionally possible toward greater proportional representation. It is more democratic, and more accurately reflects the chorus of voices that make up the American electorate. We need major electoral reform, including standardizing voting means and methods across the country, a national popular vote through state initiative, campaign finance reform, ballot access reform for all federal offices (with state offices hopefully following), and embracing better voting methods like instant-runoff voting (IRV), because the American people are tired of supporting the lesser of two evils, just so that other guy doesn't win.
Copyright © 2012 Christian Democratic Union (cdu-usa.org). All Rights Reserved.
Christopher Erickson, Chairman
Ambassador Oscar de Rojas, Vice Chairman