For pro-life Christians who want the nation’s highest office to defend the unborn, the pickings are grim. Really, for citizens of any religious persuasion who hold to any sort of principle besides “power at any cost”, the major-party choices for President are depressing to consider. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, in keeping with the general direction of the parties they represent, have demonstrated contempt for the rule of law and disregard for the human dignity of various vulnerable subpopulations.

The bitter Democratic primary fight and the farcical excuse for a Republican nomination contest both served to clearly demonstrate that there are many factions within the American body politic that are otherwise unrepresented in national party politics. For pro-lifers in particulars, the nauseating spectacle of evangelical leaders lining up to offer their services to Donald Trump like Oholah and Oholibah have pushed for calls to form a pro-life third party.

Voting third party is not especially popular in America, although there are indications that more voters are considering it during this election because of the abysmal options offered by major parties. While a full discussion of conscientious abstention versus voting third party versus a desperate move to stave off potential violence against minorities is beyond the scope of this essay, I think that if enough people who actually aligned more with a third party than one of the two major parties actually cast their votes accordingly, said third parties might actually win elections here and there or at least force the major parties to retool their platforms.

Conscientious abstention is virtually indistinguishable from ignorant indifference to party operatives while reluctant compromise with a major party has (at least in the case of pro-life causes nationally) led mostly to empty promises. At the very least, as a registered voter in a solidly blue state, I feel the best use of my vote involves supporting a serious pro-life candidate.

Sadly, the most prominent third parties seem to demonstrate little hope for gaining ground this year. The Libertarian Party has once again nominated Gary Johnson, whose disinterest in defending life, religious liberty, or the needs of the poor makes him unappealing to most Christians despite an admirable commitment to rolling back the ever-encroaching surveillance state at home and the ever-expanding warmongering abroad. The Constitution Party seems to hold principles generally consonant with conservative Christians, but then invokes numerous conspiracy theories to justify abolishing most of the structure of the federal government as we know it.  The Green Party is doing its best to justify the Constitution Party’s belief in said conspiracy theories.

There is, however, a new alternative that I think holds promise for Christian voters: the American Solidarity Party (ASP). It is worth noting that there are other groups forming like The AND campaign which are similarly focused on politics for the “common good” as well as discussions among other evangelical leaders to redirect the political energies of Christians towards more fruitful endeavors. The ASP provides a compelling option for people of conscience to express their electoral strength in a Presidential contest where, from a pro-life perspective, there is virtually nothing else left to lose.

Explicitly based on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching and drawing on the long history of Christian Democratic political parties (which owes a great deal to Kuyperian thought), the ASP has come out with a set of principles and a platform that seem to share far more with the evangelical, pro-life consensus than either major party does. There may be issues with ballot access (most voters will probably have to write them in), their website is still a bit clunky, and neither candidate is particularly polished.

However, waiting for Superman hasn’t done much for people of conscience in the first half of 2016 and a concerted movement of pro-life Christians who are otherwise disconcerted with their options for President has real potential for good if we’re willing to give the Solidartiy party a try. Simply sharing and discussing the ASP platform broadly across our various forms of media could make an impact on the political landscape as the fragmenting evangelical political consensus finds something other to do this year than kick dirt.

There are, of course, many other things to do in resuscitating our body politic from the speedball it has overdosed on. We are starting to realize that atomizing market-driven autonomy can be just as tyrannical as asphyxiating state-directed authoritarianism, and we need far more than politics to rebuild the institutions that would protect us from both. However, there remains a need for wide-ranging discussions about the policies that would protect essential liberties while restraining obvious harms, and the ASP platform provides us any opportunity to have those discussions while sending a signal to the major parties that they have not earned our votes this year.

While the pro-life movement has gained tremendous ground in recent years thanks to a focus on state legislatures, national progress towards federal laws on behalf of the unborn have stalled. Undoubtedly, this is in no small part because voters who might otherwise support a pro-life candidate found themselves at odds with Republican views on other social policies (while on the Democratic side, pro-lifers are often shut out). I suspect that a great many pro-life Christians (particularly of the younger generations) are more inclined to agree with the entire “seamless garment” approach that the ASP takes to issues of life. Having a coherent economic policy oriented around supporting vulnerable people adds teeth to our commitment to protecting life.

Mere Orthodoxy has long examined the pernicious ways in which the modern economy works against faith and family and suggested constructive alternatives for designing an economy built for humans (instead of the other way around). While the proposals advocated by the American Solidarity Party are far more radical than those suggested by any major party, they are not uncalled for. With the economic recovery overwhelmingly benefitting the rich over the poor and many other proposals for redistribution (such as raising the minimum wage or free college for all) threatening to only worsen the problems they intend to solve, economic solutions focused on ownership are worth considering, if not fully implementing.

For conservatives who might balk at the opposition to the death penalty or the call for expanded social welfare programs, I have argued before that if unborn life is truly precious and protecting it is our preeminent political goal, conservatives should be willing to compromise and pay whatever economic cost is necessary to reduce abortions. Furthermore, given that the other ostensibly pro-life candidates are either associated with the John Birch Society or a chain of casinos, I think it is at least reasonable to align oneself with a political party that can at least demonstrate its continuity with a tradition of Christian thought.

After abortion, the issue most concerning for many conservative Christians is conscience protections. The Republican Party (at least at the national level) appears to be crumbling in its defense of those who would conscientiously object to providing or performing services they would find morally objectionable, leaving little recourse for those who would expect the First Amendment to protect them. A party with a strong commitment to protecting religious freedom deserves support from Christians who want to see those freedoms flourish.

However, the majority of evangelicals are now also realizing that the civil rights of their brothers and sisters of color are also constantly under threat, whether it is the Fourth Amendment being routinely violated in traffic stops or the Fifteenth with more restrictive voting laws. There are no simple policy solutions that would solve the problems caused by racism in America, but a Christian Democratic platform that seeks to uphold the rule of law in order to help secure equitable treatment for people of all races is a good place to start.

The rest of the party platform can be read here; any regular readers of Mere-O will find that many of the proposals resonate with our strong interest in promoting the home economy and rolling back government’s encroachment on religious institutions while finding the least tyrannical ways to promote the common good. There is plenty for any conservative to disagree with, but there is far more, I think, that is worth arguing about in as many forums as possible or simply supporting as an alternative to our current two-party madness. The American Solidarity Party will only be as successful as Christians who cherish democracy and the rule of law distinctively informed by the moral standards we hold dear will make it. At a time when political courage seems in short supply, there is little to lose and much to be gained in promoting a party that explicitly and thoroughly wants to protect the vulnerable.

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Posted by Matthew Loftus

Matthew Loftus teaches and practices Family Medicine in Baltimore and East Africa. His work has been featured in Christianity Today, Comment, & First Things and he is a regular contributor for Christ and Pop Culture. You can learn more about his work and writing at www.MatthewAndMaggie.org

  • gk

    ‘Explicitly based on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching…’

    When I read that yesterday, it caught my attention. :)

    Signed in yesterday; it’s got a closed FB group; sent it to a friend, he signed in.

    As we like to say, ‘make it happen, bro.’

  • There are two Facebook pages for the ASP. One is for folks who
    formally joined the party. It was used extensively during the online
    convention and is where party organizational activities continue to
    happen. The other is a public information page open to
    all: https://www.facebook.com/AmericanSolidarityParty/ .

  • David

    “Neither candidate is particularly polished.”

    Their presidential candidate’s main credentials are that he’s a motivational speaker/magician, plus a degree from a sketchy non-accredited seminary. He might be a noble man (and far more noble than Trump or Clinton), but unpolished would be putting it mildly.

    I don’t need to wait for Superman, but I don’t know if settling for Aqualad is better.

    • I agree. If I did vote for ASP, it would be to support the platform and party, not the candidates themselves. My vote – whatever it ends up being – is going to be largely symbolic anyway.

  • The mature thing for ASP to do during the NEXT election is pick a party or run independently, define a candidate specific platform, select candidate(s), and see if it floats. If it does not float with the voters, then recommend an endorsement to the next best candidate in whichever party can win. DO NOT DO THE EGOTISTICAL SPOILED CHILD ACT OF RUNNING OFF INTO A CORNER WITH THEIR VOTE “TOY” AND REFUSING TO PLAY THE GAME THAT THE OTHER CHILDREN HAVE CHOSEN (such is the philosophy of remote 3rd party candidates and write-in votes). Grow up Matthew – maybe next year!

    • hoosier_bob

      So says an enthusiastic Trump supporter…who seems even to share in Trump’s penchant for verbal intemperance.

      • It is sad that this generation is akin to the silliness that Jesus had to deal with –never satisfied to deal with life as it is (but always ducking responsibility with throw away 3rd party votes):

        “But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their companions,
        17 “and saying:`We played the flute for you, And you did not dance; We mourned to you, And you did not lament.’
        18 “For John (Romney) came neither eating nor drinking, and they say,`He has a demon.’
        19 “The Son of Man (Trump) came eating and drinking, and they say,`Look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ But wisdom is justified by her children.” (Matt. 11:16-19 NKJ)

        • Master Samwise

          Are you seriously comparing Trump to Jesus?

    • Master Samwise

      My district has consistently voted blue since Woodrow Wilson. I could vote for Krypto the Super Dog and nothing would be affected. In fact, most of our members are in states or districts that are uncontested for either party. None of our votes are going to spoiling anything.

      And excuse us for having principles we don’t feel like sacrificing for shameless egoism.

      • Well – then give money to Godly conservative candidates where it counts PLUS vote which is the patriotic privilege to do.

        • Master Samwise

          Well I have. Those “Godly conservative candidates” happen to be in the ASP.

  • Good: The Pelican, Christian Democratic Party History, Solid starter website.
    Bad: That Magician Guy. No real world bridge building work. Missing buy in from non Catholics.
    Reality: Online chat group wish fulfillment dynamic.

    • Master Samwise

      True, we don’t expect to win this time around and with growth will come more qualified people. But we needed someone and we agree on him because he can articulate the party platform well and has no skeletons.

  • Physiocrat

    To be fair the ASP platform is much better than anticipated however abolition of capital punishment, amnesty for illegal immigrants, further health socialism and encouraging inefficient “renewable” energy targets is pretty bad indeed. For a conservative, which I sort of am though (paleolibertarian would be more accurate) the Constitution Party would be a better option. You dismiss them way to quickly.

    • Master Samwise

      It is less a dismissal and more a philosophical difference.

  • Richard Bush

    The Constitution Party is another choice that has been around since 1992. Once Reagan left office, I started voting for them. It seems I will not be leaving them now.

  • hoosier_bob

    I have personal reservations concerning the moral priority of abortion. Even so, I can see how others may reasonably arrive at a different conclusion. Thus, I have always taken a view similar to that articulated by longtime Westminster seminary professor, Paul Woolley, who objected to the criminalization of abortion. It should be noted that Carl Henry held to much the same view. And I suspect that it’s also the view that many evangelicals–especially educated white-collar professionals–hold to privately. After all, the purpose of the criminal law is not to punish every unwise act.

    Furthermore, this is the view of an overwhelming number of Americans. That explains why personhood amendments have failed by wide margins, even in states that are otherwise socially conservative. The pro-criminalization position simply isn’t that popular.

    Therefore, I’m intrigued by those who say that their pro-life views affect the way they vote. The prospect of overturning Roe v. Wade is vanishingly small. And, even if it’s overturned, I doubt that abortion restrictions would fare well in most states. So, I see the political battle as a huge waste of time. But it’s actually worse than that. The political battle siphons off millions of dollars that could otherwise support humanitarian aid to women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. And the political battle tends to harden public opinion. Never mind that many of the most ardent opponents of legalized abortion are rank misogynists, with whom I have nothing in common. Thus, I’m of the view that we can accomplish the more for the pro-life cause by eschewing abortion-related politics, and by focusing more on serving the actual, real-life interests of women in need.

    • There is a tremendous curse on the people when abortion is allowed to be practiced. Satan loves nothing better than to point to the innocence of the victims occurring in a supposedly Christian nation! Molech was a brass idol heated by fire with infants placed in the hands of the red hot brass idol for sacrifice.

      And if the people of the land should in any way hide their eyes from the man, when he gives some of his descendants to Molech, and they do not kill him, then I will set My face against that man and against his tribe; and I will cut him off from his people, and all who prostitute themselves with him to commit harlotry with Molech. (Lev. 20:4-5)

  • Cathy Gill

    Why are we so picky about the ASP candidates? It’s not like the alternatives are better. I’d choose unpolished over the others any day. Very seriously considering voting for them.

  • Don’t agree with everything but I think their platform is far more solid than the platforms of the 2 major political parties

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  • Larry DeMejo

    Dear Matthew,

    I respectfully suggest that you research other candidates and parties before you make uninformed blanket statements in your posts, such as the following:

    “For conservatives who might balk at the opposition to the death penalty or the call for expanded social welfare programs, I have argued before that if unborn life is truly precious and protecting it is our preeminent political goal, conservatives should be willing to compromise and pay whatever economic cost is necessary to reduce abortions. Furthermore, given that the other ostensibly pro-life candidates are either associated with the John Birch Society or a chain of casinos, I think it is at least reasonable to align oneself with a political party that can at least demonstrate its continuity with a tradition of Christian thought.”

    Please consider America’s Party http://www.selfgovernment.us/index.html and its 2016 presidential and vice presidential candidates http://www.tomhoefling.com/

    Conservatives don’t have to compromise and not all “ostensibly pro-life candidates are either associated with the John Birch Society or a chain of casinos.”
    You have done your readers and our fellow citizens an injustice by writing this article without taking the time to better research your subject.

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