I’m a Political “None”

Recently, I began to declare out loud what had been burgeoning within me for most of my adult life: I am a political “none.”

Politics never piqued my interest. Perhaps this is due to having two immigrant parents who did not become naturalized citizens until I was an adult. There was not much of a discussion of US politics during my childhood since neither parent could vote.

When I turned 18, I took an online quiz to humor myself on which political party I would be most aligned with. The resulting party was so insignificant I cannot even remember the quiz’s result, but it was neither of the two reigning US political parties.

Since I became of voting age, I largely align with pro-life politics. While I had misgivings about the war in Afghanistan, I overall found President George W. Bush to be inspiring when I was in my 20s.

In 2012, I cast my vote for Mitt Romney while I was a Louisiana resident, thereby enabling my vote to count. But as we all know, I didn’t bet on the winner.

Fast forward nearly ten years later, and adding a marriage, two children and a mortgage, I am overall disillusioned and cynical about US politics. There seems to be a lot of drama that rivals a soap opera rather than a cohesive effort to move policies forward for the betterment of the populace.

I bet I am not alone. I know of Catholics who voted for President Biden who now feel betrayed by his recent outspoken pro-choice stance and his fallen promises for migrants and refugees. Many Catholics who voted for Biden believed he was pro-life in his heart but was up against a party that he had to appease. This turned out to be a grossly false premise.

I am a political “none.” Just as the nones in the more regular use of the term do not ascribe to a particular religion, I do not have a political party that I call home. I can no longer find a politician who inspires me. I read political headlines with the glass half-empty and I end up correct.

Neither am I an integralist. The last thing I would want is to allow an amalgamation of church and state to lead me to becoming an actual “none.”

But going back to the original use of nones, as Austin Ruse quipped in Under Siege: No Finer Time to be a Faithful Catholic, the nones are not nothing but are deeply religious (3). While the nones oppose traditional religions, they often follow some version of spirituality, sometimes along the lines of New Age or a shadow thereof.

Therefore as a political none, I must admit that I am still political.

Aristotle called humans political animals (cf. Politics I 1253a), utilizing the Greek word polis or city-state. We are communal, societal beings. While our present era promotes individualism and isolation, fueled by apps and mobile devices, this is contrary to our telos as humans. As John Donne penned, “No man is an Island; entire of itself” (Meditation XVII). Rather, our actions affect one another, and ignorance of this can be detrimental to the polis.

Pope Benedict XVI stated it best in Deus Caritas Est: “The direct duty to work for a just ordering of society is proper to the lay faithful” (29). We are called, both as humans and as Christians, to take an active role in promoting a society that is ordered toward the good.

Thus, it is necessary to be political even if one does not identify with a political party. We cannot close our eyes and cover our ears amid the present issues. Doing so would be both selfish and a disservice to the generations of our children and grandchildren, as well as their descendants.

How can we be political without adhering to a political party? I propose two models: one local and the other theological.

The local politics of any city can be a minefield. Even sleepy towns have their fair share of polarization, corruption and toxicity.

But what I appreciate about local politics is the potential for real, visible, and tangible change that is less geared toward particular political parties.

Sure, a party might back a certain candidate and the local politicians might identify with a party, but local politics often come down to issues that affect the people of the city. As residents of the city, there is an inherent civic duty to be informed of the issues and take a stand.

Whether the issue is related to increasing or curtailing commercial and residential real estate development or proposals in the school district, these decisions have a direct impact on our families and local communities. We can remain political nones while choosing to care for the polis by taking a stand and getting involved in local issues.

Moreover, while we might individually have less of an immediate impact on broader, state and national issues, in the same manner we can take a stand on policies that support the polis and oppose those that disintegrate society.

Thus, while one can be a political none, one cannot be apolitical.

The theological model, admittedly a leap from the local model, calls to mind the Trinity as a communion of Persons.

Both the imminent Trinity — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — and the economic Trinity — God’s salvific love for humanity — is relational. The relational nature of humans in the polis that Aristotle proposes is prefigured and perfected in the relational activity of the Trinity. Humans, created in the image of God (cf. Genesis 1:27), are called to imitate the relational activity of God. Much of this activity is encompassed in the Greatest Commandment from our Lord: Love of God and love of neighbor (cf. Luke 10:27).

And when we take stances that promote the betterment of society, we are exhibiting love for neighbor and a participation in the divine communion of Persons.

Therefore, for those who are discouraged by the political system, we can still be political without adhering to a party. Not only can we be political, we must be political. Our faith calls us to relationship with one another just as the Trinity models communion, both in an immanent and an economic manner. Following this call includes getting involved in the issues of the day and promoting decisions that can lead to the betterment of the polis

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Cradle Catholic living in LA with my wife and two sons. Views are my own. I mainly write on Catholic spirituality and Church Social Teaching. Twitter: matt_k007

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Matt Kappadakunnel

Matt Kappadakunnel

Cradle Catholic living in LA with my wife and two sons. Views are my own. I mainly write on Catholic spirituality and Church Social Teaching. Twitter: matt_k007

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