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Solidarity Ohio

Autumn 2017
Dr. John A. Das, KM, Chairman w Mr. Christopher Zehnder, MA, Vice-chairman w Br. Brennan M. Baker, OSL, Treasurer w Mr.
Michael Liccione, Secretary w Mr. Tedros Hailu, Chief Diversity Officer w Mr. Michael Nader Abdelshahid, At-Large Officer

Forward in Solidarity:
An Invitation
In this, the first issue of Solidarity Ohio, the newsletter
of the American Solidarity Party of Ohio, we would
like to extend an invitation to our membership. But
before we do so, we will explain the vision behind
this publication.
To engage in politics, as in any endeavor, one
needs to have a sense of what to achieve and how to
achieve it. Political parties are concerned with means:
laying out platforms, finding candidates, running
campaigns, defining issues, and all the details that go
into these. Yet, politics is not merely about winning Autumn in Ohio: Mike Sharp
elections but about doing good for our fellow citizens
general questions as: what is a human society? For
and the strangers that live in our midst. It is about
what is human society formed? When is a human
seeking to achieve what is good for everyone. Without
society well organized and when is it not? What is the
this intent, political power is an imposition rather than
relation of the individual to the common good? These
a benefit.
questions, of a more philosophical cast, are the first
Yet, in order to do good in our society, we have
questions we ask. We have to understand the nature of
to know what is good for our society, which is a human
society. This good first and foremost encompasses such Continued on page 7

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ASP Midwestern
Regional Meeting
The ASP Midwestern Regional Meeting, hosted by
the American Solidarity Party-Ohio, was held in
Walnut Creek, Ohio, on October 21. At this
meeting we elected a new vice-chairman, Mr.
Christopher Zehnder of Harlem Township, Ohio,
and secretary, Mr. Michael Liccione, of
Steubenville, Ohio. Joining us were members from
other ASP state chapters. The Annual Meeting was chapters were in attendance, with speeches being
a success! Individuals from several ASP state delivered on all planks of the ASP platform.

Of Politics and Eggs


The following address was delivered to the American transcript of his speech a few days later. I'd like to
Solidarity Party's second annual Midwestern Conference on share them with you, and then talk about how these
Saturday, October 21 by Tara Ann Thieke, Chairwoman of words are relevant for believers in Christian
the Dorothy Day Caucus and Vice-Chair of the ASP-PA Democracy, third parties, and the sacredness of all
Chapter. human life:
Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks
By Tara Ann Thieke against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg.
Yes, no matter how right the wall may be and how
Good afternoon everyone! My name is Tara Thieke,
wrong the egg, I will stand with the egg. Someone else will
and I've just been elected the new Vice-Chair of
have to decide what is right and what is wrong; perhaps
Pennsylvania, and am currently the Chairwoman of
time or history will decide. If there were a novelist who, for
the Dorothy Day Caucus, which is an independent
whatever reason, wrote works standing with the wall, of
group of ASP members. I'm thankful to be here with
you all today, and want to extend my especial Continued on page 4
gratitude to Dr. John Das who so kindly invited me
here to talk a little bit about Christian Democracy, the
state of our society, and why I believe the American
Solidarity Party is our best hope for transforming our
ASP Regional Meetings
politics. The American Solidarity Party, like any other human
I don't know how familiar any of you may be organization, is only as strong as the cells that make it
with contemporary Japanese fiction, but there's a up. The national party is made up of state parties, and
particular author I'm very fond of named derives its strength from them. Likewise, state parties
Haruki Murakami, who I'd like to discuss. He isn't need to be formed from local groups, where party
Christian, and he isn't overtly political. About seven members can learn to act in concert with one another,
years ago he was invited to accept an award in exchange ideas, and form friendships. Only thus is
Jerusalem, an award he was pressured to turn down solidarity created.
for political reasons. To this end, the Ohio ASP wants to help
Mr. Murakami did not turn down the award. members form local groups. We will be in contact with
Instead, he went to Jerusalem, where he spoke some members by email and on Facebook as these groups
words which have stayed in my heart since I read the develop.

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In Search of the Political Transcendent
By Christopher Zehnder, ourselves from the mire. If we continue to identify
Vice-chairman of the American Solidarity Party-Ohio ourselves with the dichotomy of left and right, we will
fail to outline a real, alternative political vision.
How do we escape from the confusion that is the
Ironically, we do not have far to seek for that vision; it
American political order today? Indeed, has the
is the tradition of Christian Democracy: the CD on our
American Solidarity Party itself escaped it? Does it
party's logo. That tradition calls us to seek a real
offer a real political alternative for American society or
alternative vision not in the weary and boring schools
does it also wallow in the morass that is American
of a failed Enlightenment with its radical
political thought today?
individualism but in a politics of the transcendent,
When I speak of a morass, I do not implicate
founded on an understanding of the integral, human
the party platform which, happily, mostly follows an
common good and the justice that it demands. We are
integrated vision of the social order. To my mind, it
doomed if we want to be a left party, a right party, or a
could be improved in some points; but is that not the
centrist party. We have plenty of those already. This
case with any human artifact? The morass is something
real alternative vision is what our people need, not a
quite different. It is not so much what we as a party
rehashing of failed political programs and ideologies.
say, but the presuppositions under which we operate
What is the common good? It is simply human
when we say it.
perfection arising from what we are by nature and all
This morass is precisely an inability to rise
the means necessary to achieve that perfection. It is
above the dichotomy of "left" and "right," "liberal" and
that good for which we are made and exist. It is the
"conservative. It is the penchant to see all questions as
good not only of one class, of the few or even of the
lying on a political spectrum that is defined by its
greatest number, but of all. It is the good all people
extremes extremes that represent no coherence in
share in common. It is human fullness. It expresses
themselves but operate from the presupposition of
itself in material goods (food, shelter, and all means of
radical individual autonomy. What separates the
livelihood), but more eminently in culture and, finally,
extremes is merely how they apply the principle of
those spiritual goods (especially wisdom) by which we
personal freedom. And even this distinction has
rise above the level of mere beasts. It is common
increasingly become blurred. Pornography, for
because it includes every single person; and it is
instance, is where the left principle of sexual license
common because only by life lived in and dedicated to
and the right principle of economic freedo find their
community can we obtain it. The means of attaining
common locus.
the common good are justice and solidarity.
It is thus a sorrow to find that those whom one
The notion that life in community is the
might expect to think outside the political box continue
essential means to attain to the common good is what
to define themselves by left, right, and center. Of
sets the ideal of the common good apart from
course, culture is powerful, and it is hard to escape its
individualism. It is not that the common good
influence; and our culture insists on these distinctions.
sacrifices the individual to the community, as certain
Still, one would hope that that the failure of the left-
totalitarian systems have done; for the goods of the
right cultural paradigm would stir people to an
community are the individual's goods as well. For
awakening. But it does not. Rather, we see desperate
instance, the good of material sufficiency is common,
attempts to collapse the extremes into a center of
because it is good for everyone, and everyone includes
compromise. A little bit of left here, a little bit of right
every person. None are to be left out or sacrificed.
there, mix them together, and, lo! We have a new
Wisdom resides in individual minds, though it is a
recipe for more of the same.
good not of one person, or of one group, but of all. But
The American Solidarity Party provides us
that every person might participate in the common
with a unique opportunity to break the old left-right
good requires the coordinated commitment and labor
paradigm. Our platform does rise above it, but we the
members have to embrace its inspiration and pull Continued on page 8

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Eggs and Storcks .... treated with such wariness: because it is so desperately
Continued from page 2 needed, and because it recognizes goods which cannot
what value would such works be? What is the meaning of be sold on the market.
this metaphor? In some cases, it is all too simple and clear. A politics built around Christian Democracy
Bombers and tanks and rockets and white phosphorus shells places the person at its very center, because the person
are that high, solid wall. The eggs are the unarmed civilians is made in the image of God. It establishes both a rule
who are crushed and burned and shot by them. This is one and a limit at its core, and that is what accelerated state
meaning of the metaphor. capitalism seeks to destroy.
This is not all, though. It carries a deeper meaning. We have heard such beautiful promises, of the
Think of it this way. Each of us is, more or less, an egg. Each End of History in one breath and ever-increasing
of us is a unique, irreplaceable soul enclosed in a fragile prosperity in the next. Perhaps we should ask what is
shell. This is true of me, and it is true of each of you. And happening to the people without megaphones, to see
each of us, to a greater or lesser degree, is confronting a what it is like for our neighbors:
high, solid wall. The wall has a name: It is The System. The In America: Suicide rates are increasing every
System is supposed to protect us, but sometimes it takes on a year. Teenagers and children face a particularly grue-
life of its own, and then it begins to some escalation in suicide rates.
kill us and cause us to kill others - Teen depression, anxiety, and
coldly, efficiently, systematically. stress are all rising. Adults face a
I have only one thing I hope similar, though less stark, rise.
to convey to you today. We are all Over 3,000 abortions are commit-
human beings, individuals tran- ted each day, destroying a hu-
scending nationality and race and man life and leaving a woman
religion, fragile eggs faced with a with a scar that will last a life-
solid wall called The System. To all time. We are in the grips of
appearances, we have no hope of the most powerful opioid crisis
winning. The wall is too high, too we have ever seen. The number
strong - and too cold. If we have any of homebound, elderly Americ-
hope of victory at all, it will have to ans who are all alone has never
come from our believing in the utter been higher. We have the highest
uniqueness and irreplaceability of incarceration rates in the world.
our own and others' souls and from Working-class men without col-
the warmth we gain by joining souls together. lege degrees are disappearing from the work force.
Take a moment to think about this. Each of us pos- The elderly and disabled are increasingly at risk of be-
sesses a tangible, living soul. The System has no such thing. ing pressured to end their lives prematurely. Heavy
We must not allow The System to exploit us. We must not binge drinking has dramatically increased in the past
allow The System to take on a life of its own. The System did ten years. The use of antidepressants has increased al-
not make us: We made The System. most 400% since the 1990s. Children, especially boys,
That is all I have to say to you. are increasingly drugged. Foster care children are the
Mr. Murakami has chosen the side of the egg. most drugged of all. Alienation, however it manifests,
The human face, the human soul, that is the egg. And it is killing millions of Americans.
is the face, the soul, that our current political and cul- How can everything be wonderful and getting
tural conversation ignores. better every moment when more children and teen-
Our thought leaders, our think tanks, our cable agers kill themselves with each passing year? When
news networks are full of utilitarian thinking, of ful- children and teenagers and young adults are enduring
filling Daft Punk's dream of "Bigger Better Faster a mental health crisis, how can we neglect what our
Stronger." But mere accelerationism tells us nothing politics has failed to do? As liquid capital has been al-
about the present, about the souls around us and their lowed to dictate the norms of our world, reality itself is
needs. Perhaps this is why Christian Democracy is liquidized and replaced by virtual substitutes. Youth,

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with no defined roots or common good to attach them- We need a politics willing to do more than en-
selves to, are burdened with the task of self-creation, a courage polarization or self-righteous tribalism. Chris-
self-creation that is actually promoted and defined by a tian Democracy is rooted in the humility of Christ, and
market which calls for every bond to be dissolved and reminds us we, too, are sinners, and that we are called
replaced by a profitable dissatisfaction. So it is that to love people even while disagreeing with them. We
even their own bodies are weaponized against them. need a politics unafraid to ask what a good life looks
The evidence is before our eyes but we lack the like beyond "college degree, resume-building, travel,
will to see it or the strength to admit the prevailing or- and access to cutting-edge technology and fine dining."
thodoxy is ill-equipped to understand the depths of Christian Democracy understands a human life is not a
the crisis. It's time we admit that, whatever great gifts mere balance sheet tabulating up the pleasant and un-
our economic and technological progress have be- pleasant experiences, but a gift bestowed by God.
stowed upon us, we have done nothing to off-set the Peace, love, wonder, and Theosis are our highest call-
negative consequences of that progress. The balance ings. They cannot be purchased, they cannot be sold.
sheet is not drawn in favor of human good, but for the We need a politics that asks what makes a
good of a System which counts community, what makes a home.
success in numbers. Our failure to Christian Democracy, recognizing
recognize human beings have how the family stabilizes and
needs other than to watch large If we are to succeed as a provides a context for finding our
numbers get larger, or gadgets get political party, it will be place in the world, is able to
smaller, has created a culture of identify the catastrophic effects of
despair, of addiction, of waste, of
by articulating and what Zygmunt Bauman called "li-
inhumanity. We must restore a demonstrating how moral quid modernity." We have long en-
vocabulary which has a fuller un-
politics (a politics rooted dured a process of liquidization
derstanding of the human condi- which devours mediating institu-
tion, which does not run to pro- not in the performance of tions and uproots families in order
grams or markets to solve prob- markets or the aggregation to make them more manageable
lems, but understands the depth workers or consumers (depending
of our need for meaningful rela-
of statistics, but in the upon where you live in the world).
tionships and lasting bonds. fundamental dignity of Christian Democracy seeks to pro-
Christian Democracy is tect the family and local com-
every human being), is in
what is missing from our vision. munities, knowing that it is rela-
Not to be confused with the Reli- the self-interest of every tionships which best heal, and it is
gious Right, Christian Democracy single human being. restored relationships we crave.
recognizes values other than util- We need a politics willing to ask if
itarianism, growth, or mere re- machines serve people, or if
spect from the powerful. It restores a voice to those left people serve machines. Christian Democracy can be
voiceless by The System. open to the positive changes of technology, but is will-
We need a politics which does more than try to ing to step in when the progress of machines interferes
win elections. Christian Democracy enables us to en- with the good of people. We need a politics that asks
counter and hear our neighbors. We need a politics how many people have to die to acknowledge mass
that worries about more than electable candidates. despair is a political issue, we need a politics that asks
Christian Democracy meets this need by knowing a what progress could ever mean in a world where any
strategy is only as good as its motivating values. We child commits suicide, let alone one where more and
need a politics where people outside gated communit- more do so. Christian Democracy maintains an un-
ies are heard, not merely managed. This requires subsi- shakeable commitment to the truth that our good can-
diarity, a principle too quickly discarded for its diffi- not be found by liquidizing those things which make
culties, but that Christian Democracy recognizes as ne- for human flourishing simply in order to be richer,
cessary to some degree for common flourishing. more autonomous, or better entertained. It instead pro-

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claims every human being is of irreplaceable worth known by all. We cannot hope to beat them at the
from conception to natural death, and we are bound to game they themselves crafted. Even if we were to de-
one another as neighbors and children of God. vise the most popular combination of policy positions
Too often political choices are framed as and the cleverest of messaging, as long as we were not
though if we act in our self-interest we are acting threatening the current power structure in any great
amorally, while if we act guided by morality we are way, that platform and messaging would just be co-
acting altruistically. We must reject any such distinc- opted by one (or both) of the two existing parties.
tions. If we are to succeed as a political party, it will be We face, even among ourselves, even within
by articulating and demonstrating how moral politics ourselves, a failure to imagine alternatives, a desire to
(a politics rooted not in the performance of markets or fall back upon the same answers which have inadvert-
the aggregation of statistics, but in the fundamental ently wrought the destruction and stalemates we cur-
dignity of every human being), is in the self-interest of rently struggle against. The temptation is overwhelm-
every single human being. ing: trust that this time the self-proclaimed experts will
Our politics have too long ignored the eggs get it right. They may not have changed the goal, they
smashed against The System. The may not have even understood the
coltan miner in the Congo who criticism leveled against them, but
works as a virtual slave is the egg. if we would just put aside our
The Chinese worker in the iPhone There are two political pesky devotion to ideals of local-
factory with suicide nets outside parties in this country ism, our recognition that healthy
the windows is the egg. The dis- families and communities are the
possessed farmer in India is the
with incredible resources best guarantees of health and hap-
egg. Our youth facing unemploy- and with brands, how- piness, then our flying cars will be
ment or prison are the egg. The just around the corner. Or self-
ever damaged, that are
laid-off factory worker in Ohio is driving ones, at least.
the egg. The teenagers addicted to known by all. We cannot In spite of the temptations
social media and unable to identi- hope to beat them at the which beset us to abandon our
fy the cause of their increasing commitment to our principles, the
anxiety are the egg.
game they themselves American Solidarity Party pos-
But the wealthy profes- crafted. sesses a virtue which is the key all
sionals of Silicon Valley, DC, and other third parties in our country
New York are also the eggs, how- have lacked: central to our identity
ever convinced they may be that they (and the rest of is our belief in the irreplaceable sacredness of every
us) are better off with smart phones and tablets and in- human life. If you believe all people contain within
finite options for streaming entertainment and meal them the Imago Dei, the image of God, then no person
delivery services than we would be with thriving local can be a means to an end. No person is only a vote. No
communities and strong neighborly and familial person is just a path to power. No strategy is more im-
bonds. Their shells may strengthen the wall after they portant than a human being. We are not means to an
crash against it, but they are still fundamentally end: we are ends in ourselves, and the end is greater
smashed eggs. than mere power. It is greater than mere speed. It is
Telling people the things and systems they be- greater than mere credentials.
lieve are making them happier and the world better are Thus our party has written into itself a prin-
actually making them more miserable and the world ciple which is also a gift: the gift of being able to put
worse will not be well-received. This was a truth faced down our megaphone and meet our neighbor not just
by Christ, faced by all the prophets. It will indeed be with words on our lips, but with ears to listen. We can
mocked by many. But we will never succeed as politic- encounter human beings as opposed to simply yelling
al party by chasing people where they are. There are at them. With the most firm and loving of all first prin-
two political parties in this country with incredible re- ciples as its foundation, the American Solidarity Party
sources and with brands, however damaged, that are is better equipped than any party in US history to love

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our members rather than use them. We have built our An Invitation ...
party upon something greater than ourselves. We have Continued from page 1
built our party upon our common humanity, rather the activity in which we are engaged before we can
than narrow self-interest.
engage in it well.
It is easy to say the time we live in is dark. It is
The next set of questions have to do more with
harder to say what we in this room, or the American
the concrete things we have to do. What should be
Solidarity Party as a whole, can do about it. It is hard
preserved, fostered, or corrected in our society to
to know in any moment where in the ebbs and flows of
preserve it? What problems or challenges face our
history we stand, or how far things can go in any one
society that need addressing? And how do we address
direction before a critical mass will decide they have
these problems? To address this last question
gone too far. We should do all we can to build a raging
adequately, we, of course, have to identify the
fire, but accept that for this moment in history, our role
problems and challenges we face. Only then, can we
might be to merely light a spark, or gather kindling, or
hope to apply solutions.
simply to keep the wood dry. What we absolutely can-
Ohio is a human society; and like any other, it
not do is to accept the darkness and hope our eyes ad-
has its positive and negative aspects. We need to
just to it.
identify these in order to act as good stewards, which
We will leave here today and return to the dif-
should be the goal of all our political action. We need,
ficult, perhaps impossible task of pushing back against
too, to understand what is best for human society in
a culture of death and despair. All around us will be
order to address what concretely needs to be done and
eggs undergoing the slow, horrible process of being
what should be preserved.
smashed. We will hear the familiar and exhorting com-
Our hope is that Solidarity Ohio can serve as
mands that we acquiesce to the solutions offered by the
forum where we can discuss the more general
powerful, to the promises of false compromises and
questions and explore the concrete challenges we face,
shallow dreams. People and pundits alike will chide us
all with an eye to offering real, viable solutions to the
for our idealism, pushing always for the lesser of two
challenges the people of Ohio face. Thus, we invite
evils, and never daring to articulate a true good. We
readers to send us articles and essays as well as to alert
will constantly be steered towards the lowest common
us to issues that touch on our state's common good.
denominator, while told we should rejoice at what is
These issues can be as small as a township and as large
clearly only a quickening degradation. The weight will
as the state itself. Articles on life issues are, of course,
be heavy. We will be surrounded by temptations to
always welcome; but we want to discuss all the issues
throw in the towel, to acknowledge the egg is too fra-
that touch on our common good: those having to do
gile, and we are too weak, the world too strong.
with economic justice, religious liberty, environmental
But let us remember this: the American Solid-
stewardship, poverty, race relations, education,
arity Party holds up the pelican, an ancient but persist-
taxation, preservation of farmland, zoning regulations
ent presence in Christian iconography. Legend testifies
even road construction (and the ever-present road
the mother will pierce its own breast in order to feed
repair!) A political party that does not wish to address
its young. Rather than squawking like seagulls or hov-
every political concern is not serious about political
ering like a vulture, it silently observes the pain of hun-
service. We in the American Solidarity Party are
ger and asks itself what is lacking. Then she looks to
serious about political service; so join with us in
herself for the change its young depend upon. The pel-
service to our fellow citizens!
ican exemplifies the "revolution of the heart," the seek-
This edition of Solidarity Ohio does not realize
ing of the common good before its own. The pelican's
our goals. It is but a taste, and faint one, of the full
sacrifice brings strength and health; the beauty of the
savor of our goal. Help us, friends, to achieve that
sacrifice inspires our devotion to something higher
goal.
than our appetites, to things which have no price, and
inspires us to value love over power. We look at the Please contact our vice-chairman, Christopher
pelican in awe and joy, and are thus transformed. Zehnder, with any article proposals, ideas, or news
Perhaps it takes a pelican to protect an egg. items. His email is zanderegg@gmail.com.

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In Search ... of the common good and then examine issues in light
Continued from page 3 of that vision. In doing so, we will not please everyone
good requires the coordinated commitment and labor but pleasing everyone should not be the goal. Offer-
of an organized community of persons. We can see this ing real solutions to our society based on and advan-
is true of the small community of the family or of the cing the common good should be our goal, our only
local church or voluntary organization; yet, these small goal.
communities need the larger community organized There has been much talk about making the
under law and government to thrive and to reach their party a big tent as a means of advancing candidates
potential. For the partisan of the common good, com- and winning elections. But this can be to see the party
munity, organized endeavor, and even law and govern- merely as a mechanism for power with only a passing
ment are not necessary evils, as they are for the indi- nod to the content of its principles and platform. In-
vidualist pessimist. No, on the contrary, if they main- deed, in this view, these principles and platform can
tain their proper limits, they are positive goods. seem to exist only to serve the goal of political expedi-
If the American Solidarity Party is to speak to ency. Such an approach is good, old-fashioned Americ-
the deepest social and political longing of our age, it an politics, but it is corrupt to the core. Even if the ap-
must be willing to go forth boldly and break old proach could win us elections (and I doubt it could), it
paradigms. Or, rather, it must be willing to embrace would be tantamount to gaining the whole world and
the oldest paradigm the premise of the common losing our souls in the bargain. We should want politic-
good, the only foundation of a natural, human society. al victories because they would allow us to implement
We cannot simply take some solutions from, say, the sound policies. We should not create policies in order
Republicans and some from the Democrats and stitch to win elections. That's what the major parties do, and
them up into a crazy quilt of a political platform. To do people are sick of it. Younger people, today, are look-
so would be to define ourselves in terms of oth- ing for something better. We need to speak to their
er parties, whose fundamental problem is that their ba- longing, casting our seed, not onto rocky ground, but
sic principles are wrong: they are founded on the in the deep loam of the best inspirations of our Christi-
primacy of individual autonomy, not personal devo- an Democratic tradition the radical, integral common
tion to the good of all. We have to operate from clear good.
principles that derive from the integral political vision vvv