Are you tired of the election yet? Seems like every time I check my phone there’s some breaking news announcement about a controversial email exchange, or yet another report about a very bad thing that a candidate did–and got away with. It’s becoming hard to keep up, not that I necessarily even want to. More memes about cats and koalas, please!
I’ve steered completely clear of making any public political statements, up to this point. I don’t really like arguing online, mostly because it never changes minds and always stresses me out. Who needs it, right? I’ll generally only talk politics with people who I know won’t totally hate me when we’re done. What’s funny, though, about this particular election season is that a lot of us are in the same boat: voting for a candidate we think is kind of a loser. Or a crook. (Not addressing third-party candidates here because, well, let’s face it. This is a two-party system and that won’t be changing anytime soon. If you’re voting for a third-party candidate you now think I’m part of the problem of perpetuating this system, but whatever. You’re potentially taking votes away from my crooked candidate, so we’re even.) But the thing about not saying anything at all is that I’m a blogger, and I’m kind of supposed to say stuff. I can’t spend all of the remaining weeks before the election humming to myself in a corner, watching youtubes of dogs with party hats. You wouldn’t want to read about that, and frankly I don’t want to write about it either. Plus, I think this stuff matters. So today I’m jumping in (or is it out?), and sharing a little bit of my perspective on the upcoming election.
It’s kind of scary though. Because in spite of most folks being unified in the belief that neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump is remotely even close to being models of excellence, we’re also seeing what can only be the effects of a deeply divided electorate. I can’t remember the last time I saw, for example, such discord and pigeon-holing on social media. Nobody’s pretending they love who they’re voting for, yet everyone has strong opinions about the implications of those votes. More than in any other election season, I find myself extremely reticent to say ANYTHING about the way I’ll be marking my ballot, for fear of being accused of being a horrible person, or of supporting Very Bad Things That Very Entitled Wealthy People With No Moral Backbone Apparently Do.
So. For the record. Obviously I’m appalled by the disturbing sexual behaviors we’re hearing about from Donald Trump, whose use of crude language is really nothing in comparison to his actions that demonstrate, at best, an egregious misunderstanding of what human sexuality is supposed to be. (At worst, he’s a predatory creep who needs to keep his hands and eyes to himself. Yuck.) He did apologize, yes, but was it really sincere? We can’t know. Trump is of course not the first presidential candidate accused of sexually assaulting a woman or two, and I’m finding myself even more disturbed as we revisit Bill Clinton’s past sins, and Hillary’s subsequent response to those victims. Then there is the issue with Ms. Clinton and national security. Oh and remember Whitewater, and Travelgate? What a terrible mess we find ourselves in, those of us who care about virtue and truth and, ultimately, the witness of the Catholic Church.
The problem as I see it is that things in politics are inextricably bound together–it is hard to separate Hillary Clinton from the nefarious Planned Parenthood that backs her, or Donald Trump from the very likeable and pro-life Mike Pence (who, as far as I can see, is a shining star in an otherwise gloomy race. For the record I also prefer Tim Kaine to his respective running mate–why aren’t these guys the ones in the race for the presidency?) Each candidate represents more than just the sum total of his or her misdeeds and, conversely, his or her accomplishments. There is the policy, the platform, the people he or she will appoint as members of his or her cabinet. Among Catholics in particular, there is legitimate concern right now over the politics of abortion and the appointing of Supreme Court justices, and also issues surrounding religious freedom and the meaning of marriage. We continue hoping for a reversal of Roe v. Wade, but not of the Hyde Amendment. We worry that we are at risk of losing our ability to freely practice our faith. We marvel at how quickly the culture is drifting away from the traditional family model that was designed by God to sustain and nourish children and, consequently, society at large.
We sense that this election is important, but we aren’t thrilled with the choices set before us. They seem in fact to become less and less appealing with each passing day, and I’ve long wondered if it’s even possible for a person of any real integrity to ascend to any sort of significant political position. I suspect Netflix’s popular series “House of Cards” is more realistic than any of us would like to believe.
We are without a doubt living in a difficult time. The popular makeup company Cover Girl just announced their newest model is, in fact, a boy. A Protestant Christian minister has written an opinion piece in which she uses faith to justify, of all things, her abortion. (Ironically, the image accompanying the article is the silhouette of a very pregnant woman, with a cross over her womb. Hmmmm.) Divorce and brokenness continue to plague and threaten marriage and children. And so we must carefully consider not just the candidates but the various things that accompany them.
No one should be looking for a political savior, or for a president to somehow Fix All The Things. (Even if I were, this would clearly not be the year to find them!) But I do think that legislation has the potential to shape the direction in which the culture moves, and I like me some pragmatism, so I confess that I will not cast a vote for a politician running on a staunchly pro-abortion platform. People may accuse me of being simple minded, anti-woman, or even downright stupid, but it’s the truth. Cecil Richards herself said that she is very concerned about the future of abortion in our country if Hillary Clinton is not elected.
And it’s really not just that one issue, either. There are some foundational things at stake here (religious freedom, for example), that go far beyond what is happening to 3,000 unborn American children (and their mothers and fathers) on a daily basis. I’m voting for and against platforms at this point, and from that perspective, I believe the choice is clear. And though I may disagree I respect your decision, if you are voting for Clinton (or an obscure third-party candidate who won’t get elected). I get it. Sort of. Just kidding. Sort of.
Will this admission cause me to lose followers, credibility and friends? Judging by the vitriol and razor-sharp division exploding all over my Facebook feed, quite possibly. But that’s where I’m at. I cannot in good faith support the present platform of the Democratic Party. On November 8th, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton. I am instead planning to vote for the dude that owns casinos and beauty pageants. Sigh. Because of the platforms.
If that’s hard to understand, well, feel free to chalk it up to my being an unthinking, backwards Catholic.
And now, back to the dogs in party hats.
(For a far superior read on Catholics and voting, check out my Archbishop’s recent article in the Denver Catholic Register.)