I have been looking at this, trying to understand it, and collecting my thoughts on it for months. You probably have been too. I am speaking of “the election.” Even writing “the election” now brings me a sense of repulsion.
I remember a time when just a slight history of impropriety would torpedo a presidential candidate’s chances. In more recent decades we would lament how bad our choices were and resign ourselves to choosing the “lesser of 2 evils” while hoping and praying, in the future, it would get better. False hope that. It got worse, then worse again, and now…
Any objective observer would agree we have two of the worst candidates ever. The history of each and the numerous revelations which have come out about each should completely disqualify both of them. Not only do they both have a long string of serious issues, from all appearances they are also completely unrepentant.
Regardless, one will be our next president.
If you happen to think that one is morally superior to the other, you are woefully uninformed or highly misinformed. On that later point, the always biased news sources have pulled out “all the stops” to manipulate your vote.
Recalling our grade school civics classes, you and I do not get to directly make governmental decisions. We do that only indirectly through our elected officials. In effect, we give our proxy to someone else. Choosing where to invest our 1 vote is choosing the overall outcome we hope to attain with it.
Whoever the president is, they are themselves a proxy for the bundle of policies they represent. For the most part, we are not choosing a person of high moral caliber to make decisions for us as unforeseen events unfold. Rather, we are choosing a proxy to implement a vision. You can count on that regardless of who is elected. This is key.
I am AMAZED at how many people fall for this (although I understand it as an emotional reaction). People completely ignore issues as big as a mountain and focus on candidate personalities the size of a rock in long-term importance. How often have you heard “I would never vote for her…” or “I would never vote for him…”? They are rejecting her/his character and history, which they should — but that is not what our vote is about. We are not choosing a prom king or queen. Using our vote in that way is missing the forest for the trees.
Speaking for myself, I could not endorse either candidate as a good, moral person. All indications are they are both far, far from that. Despicable is a word that often occurs to me. I would not hold either as a role model. I would not like to personally meet either candidate. I could not be friends with either. I want nothing to do with either. Neither is worthy of my vote… or yours.
Regardless, one will be our next president.
Elections have Consequences
I have heard all manner of tortured explanations why one or the other will be a better “leader.” Neither will ever be my leader. He or she will however greatly advance policies which at this point are very well known and will not significantly change. Each has a base they depend on for power and will not deviate much from those positions.
Our vote is a POLICY decision. It is not a personal endorsement. POLICY.
Long, long after the next president is gone, our country and society will be greatly impacted by their legacy. It is NOT reversible (except, maybe, over decades). It will outlive the candidates and very probably us.
Choosing a Policy Bundle
Which policy bundle should we choose? Of course, they will each have at least some pros and some cons. Do they balance out?
If you are a faithful Catholic, not even close.
We might be tired of hearing it, but the one issue that should not and can not go away is abortion. There are over 1 million surgical abortions PER YEAR in the US. Many more if you include abortifacients such as “Plan B” and various contraceptives (and you should count them, BTW). No political relabeling changes the fact that a created person, scientifically a human being, with their own unique DNA — and completely innocent is killed. A human heart is forever stilled when its human body is violently ripped apart. Our Church calls this an “intrinsic evil” because the taking of this life can not possibly be justified under any circumstance.
Some would like to balance that against a presumption that one party or the other is more war prone. That is an assumption completely contrary to historical facts. For the sake of argument, let’s pretend it is true. 1.3 million Americans have died TOTAL in all the wars we have ever been in. 1.1 million of those in the Civil War and WWII (so 200,000 outside of those sad periods). While this is terrible of itself, it pales compared to the ongoing abortion of the innocents just in the US.
One candidate is enthusiastically committed to abortion, to overturning all restrictions, to using your taxpayer money to fund it, to support it worldwide. They have a perfect NARAL rating (a bad thing), the highest honors from Emily’s List (another bad thing) and the unqualified support of Planned Parenthood (the abortion giant).
This candidate is also strongly opposed to religious freedom as we have historically enjoyed in America. They are committed to suppression of religious liberties of constitutional “freedom of religion” to a far lesser novelty they call “freedom of worship.” That is a huge difference. In essence, freedom of worship is the concept that you can worship in private as you wish but may not bring your beliefs into the public square. If you attempt to do that, you will be harshly persecuted. There are numerous examples demonstrating this erosion of our basic liberties already. It can and will get much worse under this candidate.
The other candidate, similarly deplorable in their acts as a person, has very opposite positions on these crucial matters. This is not only about the laws these candidates will propose, but the Supreme Court justices they will nominate. Like it or not, future Supreme Court decisions will be 100% different on matters the Church has the highest interest in based on the 3 people the next president will very likely choose. That is, you will choose via your proxy of that next president. To be clear, YOU are predestining now the outcome of those future Supreme Court decisions for or against life and for or against the Church.
Choosing Based on 1 or 2 Issues?
Issues are not of similar weight. Issues of life itself and religious freedom are non-negotiable. All faithful Catholics must hold this. Most other issues are ones of prudential judgment in which we can differ in good conscience. Those are issues of security, healthcare, immigration, economics, and so on. Life itself and the freedom to live that life in good conscience must first be secure.
Clear Catholic Teaching
I considered giving you a raft of links, quotes, videos, etc. but respect your limited time (and tolerance to read further). You are probably also repulsed by this overall topic as am I. So instead I offer you only this recent video from Fr. John Lankeit (Diocese of Phoenix). Please spend a few minutes to view and reflect on it.