Thought-Provoking Reads, vol. 3: Election Edition

I can think of nothing I despise more than talking about politics—especially this year—buuut, since it’s our civic duty and all, I’ve been reading some articles about the upcoming election, and I’ve found some interesting perspectives that I wanted to share here.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM CAP., “Remembering who we are and the story we belong to”:

For all of its greatness, democratic culture proceeds from the idea that we’re born as autonomous, self-creating individuals who need to be protected from, and made equal with, each other.  It’s simply not true.  And it leads to the peculiar progressive impulse to master and realign reality to conform to human desire, whereas the Christian masters and realigns his desires to conform to and improve reality.

Elizabeth Scalia, “Podesta and the Clinton camp’s unwitting compliment to Catholicism”:


Earthly governments cannot enjoy such obediences because, being earthbound, human (and therefore quite imperfect) institutions, they are as broken as the people in charge of them, and seldom as trustworthy as they want to seem. Where trust is rocky, obedience tends to be as well, which is why those governments will compel obedience where it is not offered freely….

Everything that Newman said in that statement above, and Podesta’s apparent sympathy with it, signals a lack of understanding. To assign Catholic sensibilities to the Middle Ages is not only short-sighted, it is — in the characteristic way of human beings — conceited about the times in which we live, which are neither the best, nor the worst, nor the wisest of times, but merely (and superficially) different than what has come before.  It is to lose sight of Eternity through the dazzling newness of a passing age.

Meg Hunter-Kilmer, “Never Trump—Because Apparently It Doesn’t Go without Saying”:


Donald Trump is not pro-life. He’s not. He mocks the handicapped, suicidal veterans, and POWs. He thinks Planned Parenthood has done great things. He advocates war crimes. He’s not even anti-abortion. He’s so unfamiliar with the anti-abortion position that he actually suggested jail time for women who have had abortions. With his philandering and misogyny, it’s hard to see how one could not understand that men like Donald Trump are the reason abortion exists….

Oh, Hillary is bad. I’m not saying Hillary isn’t bad. I’m not saying you should vote for her. I don’t think I could. But Trump is all the things Hillary is, plus mentally unstable and completely incapable of respecting anyone. He is the absolute worst person I could possibly imagine as president. Hillary is a known evil, four (or eight) more years of the same but worse. Trump is a maniac. How do you prepare for the rule of an unprincipled maniac?…

I have been praying against Trump for months. I have hope now that the pressure on him will be so intense that he will withdraw his candidacy. If he doesn’t, I will continue to do what I can to speak out against him. I will pray for his conversion, for Clinton’s conversion, and for the conversion of our nation. And I will vote against him. It will likely be an uncounted absentee vote for a hopeless third party candidate–Evan McMullin seems as good a choice as any–but it will not be a vote for Donald Trump. You will vote how you like and I will love you regardless.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM CAP., “About Those Unthinking, Backward Catholics…”:

CNA / Daniel Ibáñez

But bad can always get worse. I’m thinking, of course, of the contemptuously anti-Catholic emails exchanged among members of the Clinton Democratic presidential campaign team and released this week by WikiLeaks. A sample: Sandy Newman, president of Voices for Progress, emailed John Podesta, now the head of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, to ask about whether “the bishops opposing contraceptive coverage” could be the tinder for a revolution. “There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages [sic] dictatorship,” Newman writes.

Of course, Newman added, “This idea may just reveal my total lack of understanding of the Catholic Church, the economic power it can bring to bear against nuns and priests who count on it for their maintenance.” Still, he wondered, how would one “plant the seeds of a revolution”? John Podesta replied, “We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this … likewise Catholics United” (emphasis added)….

Of course it would be wonderful for the Clinton campaign to repudiate the content of these ugly WikiLeaks emails. All of us backward-thinking Catholics who actually believe what Scripture and the Church teach would be so very grateful.

In the meantime, a friend describes the choice facing voters in November this way: a vulgar, boorish lout and disrespecter of women, with a serious impulse-control problem; or a scheming, robotic liar with a lifelong appetite for power and an entourage riddled with anti-Catholic bigots.

In a nation where “choice” is now the unofficial state religion, the menu for dinner is remarkably small.

Jim Gaffigan, “If You Do One Thing This Election, Vote. If You Do TWO Things, Get to Know a Trump Supporter”:

Gaffigan’s emphasis isn’t so much on persuading others of your argument, but of respecting the complexity of someone’s decisions, even if you find them questionable. Several years ago, Gaffigan was on a comedy tour with a libertarian and an Occupy Wall Street member. “And all three of us are friends,” he says. “I kind of like people with different opinions. And I’m not dismissive of – I mean I might casually say ‘you’re crazy’ but I mean I love these people and I also learn from them.” Of course, when issues beyond economics, like race and gender, enter the landscape it’s much harder to be so understanding, but this article does a good job of humanizing a Trump supporter, and showing their perspective in a way that isn’t some caricature rooted in pure racism and misogyny. We may not ever agree, but talking to a Trump supporter can help us understand one another.

This American Life, “Seriously?”:

So that’s where we are right now. The presentation of facts is seen as partisan opinion, and then every day a barrage of untruths are presented as truth, and we’re just supposed to suck it up. That’s the moment we live in. That’s our country right now. And this is going to continue after this election, no matter who wins. Like, this is the rest of our lives, I think, this post-truth politics. With so many of us getting our news from social media and from sources that we agree with, it’s easier than ever to check if a fact is true, and facts matter less than ever….

Alex uses a phrase that I’d never heard before. Patriotic correctness. It’s like political correctness, but the right-wing version of that. Like if you say that there is no flood of immigrants coming across the border, well, that is just out of bounds. That’s not something you say. You are not patriotically correct. So people do not even give him a chance.

I think that’s because politics, at some level, is more than the sum of facts. It’s an identity. You know you’re a Republican or you’re a Democrat, and then there’s a whole set of stories and beliefs that go with that identity. And facts do not have much power against a set of beliefs. Those of us in the fact business– our facts are puny compared to that.

Nick Gillespie, “Trump, Clinton Slug it Out Over the Narcissism of Small Differences”:


Which means not only are these not serious candidates, they are not distinct candidates either….Because Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the Democrat and the Republican, express the full range of diversity in a country that celebrates choice in everything but politics.

David Wong, “How Half of America Lost Its F**king Mind”:

Inqvisitor / Wiki Commons

To those ignored, suffering people, Donald Trump is a brick chucked through the window of the elites….

See, rural jobs used to be based around one big local business — a factory, a coal mine, etc. When it dies, the town dies. Where I grew up, it was an oil refinery closing that did us in. I was raised in the hollowed-out shell of what the town had once been. The roof of our high school leaked when it rained. Cities can make up for the loss of manufacturing jobs with service jobs — small towns cannot. That model doesn’t work below a certain population density….

So yes, they vote for the guy promising to put things back the way they were, the guy who’d be a wake-up call to the blue islands. They voted for the brick through the window.

It was a vote of desperation.

Leticia Adams, “Did I Die? Let Me Count the Ways”:

Picture from Pixabay

Yes, I have died, does that mean that sexual abuse can finally be seen as JUST AS evil as abortion? Or was I less innocent because I was already the ripe old age of 5 which is not unborn?

When I see people try to excuse or downplay Trump’s words because “Babies will die!” or “Supreme Court Justices!” I am reminded of my ex-husband trying to convince me to give him money to go buy crack. These people are so addicted to the idea that Trump will overturn Roe v Wade (even though no other Republican president has and Trump has said that Roe v Wade is the law and should stay that way) that they are trying to convince me that voting for a man who brags about sexual assault will be good for me as victim of sexual abuse. Ben tried many times to convince me that giving him $100 for crack would benefit me in the long run. That didn’t work on me then, it doesn’t work on me now.

Ignatian Solidarity Network, “Catholic Women Leaders Speak Out Against “‘Toxic Politics of Fear'”:

“The demonization of Muslims, refugees and immigrants is antithetical to Christian discipleship,” the leaders wrote in a statement that will be published as advertisements in Our Sunday Visitor, National Catholic Reporter and America magazine. “It offends the Gospel, betrays our nation’s highest ideals and diminishes human dignity.” As an election characterized by increasingly aggressive sparring between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton moves into its final weeks, the leaders make an appeal for higher ground….

The group cites Pope Francis in highlighting the Church’s broad commitment to life and human dignity. “Our faith calls us to affirm the sacred dignity of all life,” the leaders write. “This is why our Church defends life in the womb, the undocumented immigrant and the inmate on death row. As Pope Francis reminds us, we must also say no to an ‘economy of exclusion and inequality’ that ‘kills,’ and act to address environmental devastation that is disproportionately hurting the poor.”

Avik Roy, “The Conservative Alternative To Donald Trump Isn’t Gary Johnson — It’s Evan McMullin”:

George Frey / Getty Images

But the reason to consider McMullin is not because of his likelihood of winning. It’s because too many Americans don’t feel they can or should vote for one of the two major party candidates. These Americans see voting as a sacred obligation, as an expression of their values, and what they hope America represents to themselves, their children and the world….

If you stay home, or vote for Clinton or Johnson out of opposition to Trump, you won’t be building that new conservative movement. You’ll be helping the politicians who argue that people like you don’t exist, that things can go on as they are.

On the other hand, every vote for a candidate like McMullin is a vote for a kind of politics that strives to unite the country rather than divide it. It’s a vote that politicians of the future will know they need to attract. Now, those are votes that matter. For the next generation, they may turn out to matter more than any of the others.

Simcha Fisher, “Of memes and demons and your vote”:

Screwtape did have something to say about politics, but it’s more subtle and less meme-able. Here’s a passage from the actual book (“we” refers to the demons who tempt humans, and “the Enemy” is God):

About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our position is more delicate.

Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster.

On the other hand, we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice.

The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner.