Are Catholics Finally Ready to Cast Their Ballots for “Average Joe” Schriner?

Photo credit: www.voteforjoe.com

Photo credit: www.voteforjoe.com

When I first learned about Joe Schriner, I was a freshly minted Catholic, thrilled to be a part of a Church that respected life at every stage, saw creation as a gift to be stewarded, had a heart for the poor, and believed in a truly human way of doing economics. That was before I realized that Catholics in the United States were often forced to align themselves with some party or other that accepted half of the Church’s social teaching and dismissed the other half out of hand. Still being full of youthful political vigor, I rejected such false dichotomies, and became the independent voter I remain today.

Almost immediately, I was introduced to the political antics of perennial presidential candidate Joe Schriner, whose campaign stops were often at county fairs, coffee shops, nursing homes, and soup kitchens. I admired the grassroots nature of his campaign, and thought of him as a quirky corrective to the fat cat tactics of the political right, and the champagne socialism of the left. And then I started reading about his positions on the issues.

It wasn’t long before I saw in Joe a person who, though he might never win so much as a race for dogcatcher, could serve as a reminder to the culture at large that there might be another way to do politics than the way we’d all been force-fed. I began to write articles about Joe, and even interviewed him for a blog that I was doing at the time. We hit it off instantly.

It was during the lead-up to the 2004 presidential elections that I received a voicemail from Mr. Schriner, indicating that he had an interesting proposal for me. Curious, I called him back. He then proceeded to suggest that since I was only a state line away from him, and we were on the same page about most things politically, we should pursue a greater collaboration. When he saw that I wasn’t reading between the lines clearly enough, he became more specific: Joe wanted me to be his running mate in his candidacy for President of the United States of America for the 2004 elections.

I was, of course, floored. Nobody had ever asked me to run for Vice President before. Unfortunately, I had to break the news to Joe that I was only 24 at the time (he thought I was much older), and was legally unable to join his campaign. That was also the first year that I voted for Joe in a state primary. I have since written him in every time that Ron Paul hasn’t run.

For those Catholics who are finally considering a third party write-in this November, allow me to present you with a few of Joe’s policy points, pulled directly from his website:

ON ABORTION:

• I am against abortion, period. Life begins at conception.
• As president I would attempt to spark a massive protest, similar to what was created in the South in order to end Segregation. [I, too, as president would be regularly protesting on the streets – as I do now.]
• Those prolific, and courageous, protests drove the legislation to stop Segregation. And it would be the same with abortion.
• We would also robustly tackle societal precipitating factors that lead to abortion: poverty, relaxed sexual mores; dysfunctional family dynamics…

ON AGRICULTURE

Create more farm labor jobs  at living wages.
• Convert to smaller farms and smaller farm technology.
• Teach farming classes in country and city schools.
• Heighten focus on farmland preservation.
• Implement more urban farming.

ON THE ECONOMY

We need to value social health above material wealth.
• Reinstitute much more productive work around the vital areas of shelter, food, medical, energy, education and transportation.
• De-emphasize financial speculation (Wall Street) and other extraneous paper shuffling that doesn’t contribute much, if anything, to the necessary stuff of life.  (Many of these extraneous paper shuffling jobs, and the like, have evolved in the last century.)
• Refocus on craftsmanship in local communities.
• See work as a vocation.

ON FOREIGN POLICY

In the face of China’s barbaric “forced abortions,” regular torture and killing of Christians and other “dissidents”… our administration would lobby to reverse the “favorable trade status” with China and impose sanctions until the torture and killing stop.
• Streamline the immigration system, making it as quick and user-friendly as possible for people fleeing poverty, violence, political persecution from Mexico and Latin America (not to mention scores of other countries).
• We have had a strategic reliance with Saudi Arabia, yet it is a monarchy replete with all kinds of human rights violations. Our administration would push to stop arms sales to Saudi Arabia and we would push to stop using Saudi Arabian oil – because his dependence is forcing us to look the other way on all these human rights issues.

ON MARRIAGE

  • We believe the societal template should be: “One Man / One Woman.”
  • People who describe themselves as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual… shouldn’t be discriminated against in the work place, on the street, in the military…
  • However, our administration would be unequivocally opposed to gay marriage, civil unions… or other legal recognition of same sex partner co-habitation (that included a sexual relations component) for such things as attendant tax benefits, survivor benefits, and so on.

ON HEALTHCARE

  • Shift away from Obamacare being a federal, bureaucratic leviathan centralized in D.C. Instead moving to a “Regional Healthcare System,” where the local community was much more involved with local healthcare.

ON FAMILY

• Highlight areas of addictive/compulsive and dysfunctional behavior in general, and how it affects the family.
• Highlight how this dominoes into society in the form of violence on the streets, domestic violence, crime, drug abuse…
• We would promote way more rehabilitation programs for prisons.
• Teach the dynamics of healthy families in classes K-12.

You may not agree with every one of “Average Joe” Schriner’s policy points. I myself balk at a few. But do you really want to have to answer for having voted for the Republican or Democratic nominee at this point? If you vote and lose, you’ll have the double disgust of having wasted your vote AND compromised your principles; if you vote and win, you’ll also have compromised your principles, and you’ll be partially responsible for the state of the country under the newly elected regime. So, fellow Catholics, are you ready yet to join me by writing in Joe Schriner for President this November?

UPDATE: In the first edition of this post, I neglected to mention that Joe cites the Blessed Virgin Mary as his honorary campaign manager.  Apologies for the oversight.

About Matt Swaim

Matt Swaim is the Communications Coordinator for the Coming Home Network and the former host of the Son Rise Morning Show on EWTN Radio. His books include "Prayer in the Digital Age" and "The Eucharist and the Rosary." His shorter hot takes on the state of the cosmos can be found on Twitter: @mattswaim
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