Volume 9, Issue 2, Spring 2019
Rose Mary Hayden Lemmons
Countering the Crisis of American Democracy with the Thomistic Personalism of Aquinas and John Paul II
The crisis of democracy unfolding in the United States was identified by John Paul II as due to misunderstanding the relationship of truth and freedom. This crisis has grown worse due to a libertinism that sees objective moral truths as impositions on both free choice and fulfilling relationships, that identifies self-fulfillment with a self-creation in which one creates one’s own values, that seeks to build democracies apart from moral objectivity, and that dismisses the relevance of God for living well. I argue that democracy cannot survive these libertine errors and that they cannot be successfully countered by utilitarianism, Rawls’s political liberalism, or democratic proceduralism. Survival requires adopting the Thomistic personalism formulated by Aquinas and developed by Karol Wojtyła as indispensable for understanding those lived experiences through which one encounters the ethical moment of self-determination, achieves moral objectivity, avoids loneliness by loving truly, and seeks—via collaboration with women exercising their feminine genius for discerning the welfare of others—the common good, without which democracies collapse into atheistic tyranny.