You Don’t Really Believe That, Do You, Andrew Cuomo?
So, Governor Andrew Cuomo, you “do not believe that religious values should drive political positions.” Explaining your ardent support for abortion throughout pregnancy, you tell The New York Times that “My Roman Catholic values are my personal values.” You invoke the separation of church and state to explain what you do.
You don’t believe that.
Problematic for a Catholic
Fine, you claim you don’t get your political convictions from your religion. That’s at least problematic for a Catholic, but it’s your soul.
But as it happens, your religion doesn’t matter to the issue at hand. Your Church and mine says that anyone can see the unborn child’s right to live. It’s a matter of the natural law everyone knows. It’s public knowledge, not special religious insider knowledge. We don’t know it from doctrine or revelation, we know it because it’s true. As Cardinal Timothy Dolan just reminded you, it’s not a matter of “right versus left, but right versus wrong.”
The brave but beleaguered group Democrats for Life explains this. “People from all religions + none at all can come together around shared values: a belief in human dignity + the value of human life, a commitment to social justice and human rights. The separation of church & state does not mean public officials must abandon these types of values.”
But I suspect you know that. Or knew it once. Your apologia begins with a deception. You misframe the issue in a way that lets you hide from the real questions a man with your power should answer.
Your Fundamental Convictions, Please
Where do you get your fundamental convictions? If not your faith, where? What are your real reasons for pushing abortion so hard? Because politics depends on convictions about the way things are and the way things ought to be, and what one can do and can’t do. You have to begin somewhere, with some fundamental beliefs upon which you build your politics. What is a human being, for example? Are human beings persons as the law defines it? Do innocent persons have an absolute right to live? If not, what limits that right? Who decides? Why?
You never explain any of this. The closest you come to telling us what you actually believe is “In politics, I’m not Catholic.” Unhelpful.
What do you believe, Mr. Cuomo? Here’s what you say. In your article, you claim to follow the Constitution. It’s the “My hands are tied” and “I’m only doing my job” defense.
But you don’t believe that. You really don’t. Just six months ago, you praised your father and predecessor for vetoing death penalty laws once a year for 12 years. “He did this because he believed the death penalty was wrong and he had the courage to stand firm in his beliefs. … Pop was right then, and he is right now.”
I agree with you and your dad about the death penalty. But it’s just as constitutional as abortion. The Supreme Court allows it in the same way it allows abortion. 1976’s Gregg v. Georgia carries just as much constitutional authority as 1973’s Roe v. Wade. You say you must follow the constitution on the second? Then follow it on the first. You don’t want to follow it on the first? Then you don’t have to follow it on the second.
Transcending the Constitution
In fact, you open your official statement with: “By declaring the death penalty inadmissible in all cases and working to end the practice globally, Pope Francis is ushering in a more righteous world for us all. The death penalty is morally indefensible and has no place in the 21st century.” A more righteous world? Isn’t that, you know, a religious term? You even declare yourself “in solidarity” with the pope.
There you believe that your politics transcend the constitution. There you invoke a religious view of morality. Or at least an absolute view of morality that overrides every other authority. You let yourself be guided by beliefs that trump what the Supreme Court says. You have a vision of the good society you think better than their’s. And good for you. But, governor, again, how do you justify this?
As far as I can tell from an admittedly very partial reading of your words, you never say. The most you reveal is what you claim in the Times. You lean on the law. You declare in passing your belief in “a woman’s right to choose.” Because you believe the unborn child isn’t a human being? Or isn’t a person? Or that innocent persons don’t have an absolute right to life? Some other reason? You really should explain.
You invoke your dad’s example. Please, governor, think about abortion the way your dad thought about capital punishment. “Capital punishment raises important questions about how, as a society, we view human beings,” he said. He answered the questions clearly. And he concluded: “The death penalty is wrong because it lowers us all; it is a surrender to the worst that is in us; it uses a power — the official power to kill by execution — that has never elevated a society, never brought back a life, never inspired anything but hate. And it has killed many innocent people.”