Ryan, Obama, and the Poverty of Community


“The individual today is often suffocated between two poles represented by the State and the marketplace” (Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus #49). The 2012 U.S. presidential campaign has, to a degree unseen for several years, brought to the fore the fundamental issues of political life: the relationship of the individual to society, the role of the state and of the economy in society, etc. The selection of Paul Ryan as Republican Mitt Romney’s running mate, an intellectually capable and ideologically driven conservative, ensures that will continue to be the case….

2 thoughts on “Ryan, Obama, and the Poverty of Community

  1. This is interesting stuff, and I basically agree with Matthew’s perspective. It seems to me, however, that Obama’s statements must be understood in the context of defending the role of gov’t. against criticism, and not necessarily as putting forward a complete program or philosophy that claims gov’t. should usurp other social institutions (though this may be a strong tendency amongst many liberals). Yes, he is defending and proclaiming some of the good gov’t. can do. That doesn’t seem to me to warrant a conclusion that he sees no role for other important subsidiary institutions.

  2. Dan, I agree with your point that Obama is trying to show the good that government can do. However, sorry if I wasn’t clear about this, but I don’t think the problem is that Obama sees no role for subsidiary institutions, but rather how he sees that role. The point that Levin is trying to make is that Obama’s policies seem to suggest that he sees those institutions as extensions or helpers of the government, when a better way to think of things is that the government is the helper of the institutions.

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