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Cardinal Politics
This isn’t about the GOP, it’s about freedom.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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Kathryn Jean Lopez

The Huffington Post was all atwitter: “GOP Lawmaker Accidentally Reveals Truth behind Solyndra Investigation.”

The lawmaker in question was Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, and he was railing about the administration’s foolish investment of our money in the now-failed solar-panel company. “Ultimately, we’ll stop it on Election Day, hopefully,” Jordan said. “And bringing attention to these things,” he continued, “helps the voters and citizens of the country make the kind of decision that I hope helps them as they evaluate who they are going to vote for in November.”

It wasn’t exactly incendiary stuff. And yet, it was spun into some kind of smoking gun. Solyndra and cronyism aside, Jordan was making a fundamental point: Elections matter. He is right, and perhaps we should look beyond the typical media scrum  — think “war on women” and Etch A Sketch screens — before November and consider the choices facing us and the implications of each one of them. And as we do, also pipe up, educate, encourage, and organize.

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The election does not hinge on solar panels. But our nation itself does on religious freedom. Most of us have only just begun to talk about the Department of Health and Human Services’ “contraception mandate,” but Republican congressman Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska saw this coming and is prepared for this battle. A year ago, he introduced his Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, a direct response to Obamacare. The health-care law that passed two years ago marks a radical expansion of federal power, as is becoming increasingly clear as its associated regulations are issued. This is why Fortenberry’s bipartisan bill has so many cosponsors.

“The White House is creating an unnecessary political firestorm,” Fortenberry has said of the HHS “preventive services” mandate (read: abortion, contraception, and sterilization), which was made public this January. It’s a reminder that all the contraception talk in the news right now is a direct product of this administration’s picking a fight; it is not a matter of theocrats forcing rosaries on women’s ovaries (sorry, I’ve been reading my “fan mail”).

Speaking of rosaries, perhaps the most recognizable face of the opposition to the HHS mandate is Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Like Fortenberry, Dolan has been warning anyone who cared to listen for years. When reporter John Allen asked him for his book A People of Hope, well before the current mandate controversy, “Fundamentally, are you glad health-care reform passed?” Dolan said: “I’m certainly for the idea of reform, but not this particular bill. We bishops found ourselves in a very tough position, because this is something we’ve advocated for since 1919. Now it’s on the brink of becoming reality, and we find ourselves unable to be exuberant about it, because there’s a very fundamental and critical part of it that scares the life out of us.”



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