Why has the church not targeted private insurers for the last thirty
years? They are indispensable players in providing abortion services,
yet as far as I know they have not been highlighted the way pro-choice
politicians have. The Democratic nominee for president is singled out
for his position. Why not the CEO of Aetna?
And then answers it:
Any religion worth its salt will periodically cause great discomfort at
points across the political spectrum, and opposing Democratic health
care reform because it expands coverage may be a coincidence too far.
It makes the leadership’s position look more political than moral –
abortions paid for by the private sector are acceptable, abortions paid
for by the public sector are not.
The answer, of course, is politics. The church needs contributions to survive, and demonizing Congress brings in the dollars because even half of Congress thinks Congress sucks. There is very little risk in saying that Representative So and So is a righteous man for voting for a bill which has no chance of passing ever, and that Representative Such and Such is evil for opposing it. With even the most accessible politicians there is enough distance there to provide a sense of safety, not to mention insulation from lawsuits for calling them mean names.
Thus the choice for a Catholic is easy: If I want the Pope to like me I just vote against this guy who the TV yammerers have been telling me for years on balance sucks just as much as anyone else because they’re all the same, so who cares?. As opposed to … if I want the Pope to like me I have to drop my insurance? The hell? Screw that, Il Papa can just suck it, because my kid needs medication and Benedict’s old rich ass ain’t here.
The answer is also efficacy. As hard as electing a president is, as hard as electing a freaking mayor is, these things are eminently easier to influence than the workings of corporations. Call John Kerry a shitty Catholic and people will be influenced not to vote for him. Call the CEO of an insurance company a shitty Catholic and … what? The hell does he have to care what anybody thinks of him? So long as he’s bringing in money the shareholders and the board and the employees will love him, and you’ve really got very little choice: take the insurance company your job offers you, or piss off.
The reason victories in the fight to change corporate behavior are celebrated in major motion pictures is that those victories are painfully rare these days. And if there ever was a time when the institutional Catholic Church challenged powerful, wealthy corporate authority in any meaningful way, that time is not now, at least in America.