I’ve long entertained the idea of a California-specific political party. This little exercise was long overdue. It took me only about three hours, so it definitely needs some editing and polishing – but I think you’ll get the point. It will remain a fantasy (there is no “we” or “us”, only me) unless some of my fellow Californians take it and run with it.
The California Renewal Party
The California Renewal Party (CRP) is a single-state political party. Our goal is simply to foster the Common Good in California through the election of men and women of character, vision, and sound principles to public office at all levels.
Californians are largely disgusted with the two major parties that have dominated the American political scene for generations. The corruption, cynicism, and overall nastiness of contemporary politics have left most Californians feeling disenchanted, if not disenfranchised. The CRP is determined to change this by radically improving the quality of candidates put forward. Candidates will be recruited and endorsed not only for their competence, but also for their moral character and conduct. All candidates will sign a pledge that commits them to honesty, integrity, and decency in their campaigns and in the fulfillment of their duties once elected.
Contemporary third parties tend to have long and excruciatingly detailed platforms, which in our opinion dooms them to permanent marginalization. The CRP, on the other hand, wants to be a relatively big tent. Every party must stand for some common principles that unite its members – and the CRP is no different – but on most issues our members will be free to disagree, debate, promote, and defend their own positions.
The California Renewal Party believes in the primacy of culture. As the culture goes, so goes government and economics and civilization itself. But culture is synergistic: government is not only influenced by culture, but is also a source of cultural influence for better or worse. Therefore it is critical that government be a positive contributor to culture rather than a passive reflection or, worse yet, a destructive engine of cultural decline.
Religious belief and practice play an indispensable role in the lives of Californians. Our state is inhabited by millions of people representing every nation, tongue and creed. This is due, in large part, to the specifically Catholic origins of the Golden State and Christianity’s persistent influence over the years. In a certain sense, California is the only state founded by a Saint, the great Franciscan missionary St. Junipero Sera. The Franciscan charism is future oriented: it’s a spirituality of new beginnings, ongoing conversion, radical generosity, and compassion for the poor and the stranger. The Franciscan emphasis on solidarity with all of God’s creation has taken root in California as well. We therefore call upon July 1, the feast of St. Junipero Serra, to be declared a state holiday.
It was General Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo who, in reconciling himself to the inevitability of American immigration, believed that California’s increasingly diverse population could find enough common ground to flourish in peace and brotherhood. Although he was betrayed by the naked and unscrupulous avarice of the newcomers, his optimism was well founded. California today is the most diverse society of its size on the planet. In order to preserve this functional diversity, we believe it is necessary to preserve the Catholic ethos of St. Serra and Gen. Vallejo that made it possible. While the California Renewal Party welcomes people of all faiths – as does the state we love and are proud to call home – we embrace California’s vital religious heritage and strive to conform to Catholic social teaching.
The CRP firmly believes in the doctrine of subsidiarity, which holds that “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.” (Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo anno I, 184-186.)
For this reason we affirm – as our immigrant origins prove – that the family is the foundational unit of society, and its flourishing is a primary concern of the state. The CRP supports policies that strengthen the family, increase its independence, protect its children and elderly, and prevent its dissolution. We oppose government sanction of behaviors that undermine the sanctity of marriage and the innocence of children, by which we include everything from pornography to same-sex “marriage”. We favor parental choice in education, policies that strengthen home schooling, and policies that support private and religious schools.
The California Renewal Party supports the dignity of all human life. We therefore oppose legalized abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, in-vitro fertilization, and all medical and research practices that result in the intentional death of a human being created in the image of God. We also oppose the inhuman and unconstitutional practice of long-term solitary confinement in our prisons.
The CRP favors the liberation of small business enterprises – many of them family owned – from unjust taxes, crippling fees, stifling regulations, and unscrupulous competition from large corporations. While we recognize the advantages of large economies of scale in some industries, we favor policies that encourage a wide distribution of productive property, incentives for mega-corporations to reduce their size and influence, incentives for large corporations to pay their employees a just wage, and incentives for economic collaboration and cooperation in the private sector.
The CRP promotes creative, pro-active and vigorous policies that provide the unemployed, homeless, and mentally ill with the help they need to live with dignity according to their abilities. We favor an effective social safety net for the poor and disadvantaged, and with compelling incentives to leave dysfunctional lifestyles. We favor strong public support for the aged and infirm who find themselves without resources and in need of long term care. We believe that quality medical care should be available to all, without regard to financial capabilities or pre-existing conditions. We encourage innovative solutions to the crisis of soaring health care costs, declining quality, and limited availability – solutions which preserve market incentives for providers and producers, but do not exclude non-market interventions.
These are the core principles of the California Renewal Party. There remains a great deal of room for debate on the finer points of specific policies. Many others issues remain unaddressed, and this too is by design. CRP candidates are free to adopt their own positions on environmental protection, higher education, immigration, drug legalization, gun control, capital punishment, single-payer health care, tax policy, foreign policy, various schemes for breaking up the state, and so forth. But our platform is enough to assure us that men and women of good character will find the California Renewal Party attractive, and will join us in the fight to renew the unprecedented civilization that has taken root on the west coast of north America.