Monday, October 31, 2016

Doing Wrong By the Country: The “Lesser Evil” Vote

I’m sick to death of this election. The most distressing aspect of this election cycle is that it’s revealed the extent to which American Catholics, particularly those of a conservative bent, have embraced utilitarianism. For some, it’s a half-hearted utilitarianism — “Oh, we have a lot of qualms about our candidate, but we’ll manfully swallow them to prevent The Evil Candidate from being elected” — but it’s utilitarianism nonetheless.

A Priest Endorses Utilitarianism

Nothing so forcefully illustrates this as the final paragraph of this op-ed from the Wall Street Journal by James Freeman, “Doesn’t Clinton Embarrass the Democrats?”:

Voters who wish to reject the Clintonization of America’s governing institutions have a choice on Nov. 8. They can feel good about themselves by writing in the name of a third-party candidate. Or they can do right by the country by selecting the only person who can stop the Clintons: a very flawed candidate named Donald Trump.

Not only is the argument utilitarian, it sneers at third-party/write-in voters as vain fools voting their self-images. Ad hominem much? The kicker: the paragraph had been posted on Facebook by a priest whose name I shall not mention … and who ought to know better than that.

That Freeman and the WSJ would be for Trump is no surprise. Remarking on the last debate, Freeman comments, “Mr. Trump, for his part, deviates from many Republicans on trade and immigration but has otherwise embraced a growth agenda of lower taxes and regulatory relief for an economy that sorely needs it.” In other words, Freeman and (by extension) the Journal believe the only cure for our current economic doldrums is a hair of the dog that bit us in 2007.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Christian and Pro-Life Leaders: DUMP TRUMP! (UPDATED)

Paul Combs, Tribune.org
[ADDED NOV. 9, 2016: Obviously, my crystal ball is working as well as it usually does come election time. I deserve to have the lede carved on my headstone to shame me even after death. Nevertheless, I’m still convinced Pres. Trump will eventually jilt the pro-life movement, and that the leaders of the “official” movement — especially Fr. Frank Pavone — did us no favors by hitching us onto the Trump train.]

I am no longer concerned about the prospect of Donald Trump as President of the United States. It was never a strong likelihood, despite his sense-defying victory in the Republican primaries. In fact, over the last year, The Donald has done just about everything in his power to ensure Hillary Clinton’s election save drop-kick a beagle puppy from the 58th floor of the Manhattan Trump Tower. The revelation of his “grab them by the p***y” remark simply put the final nail in the coffin. What does concern me is the failure of some visible Christian leaders, especially in the pro-life camp, to admit their error in supporting Trump.

Assessing the Damage

As of this writing [4:00pm CDT, Oct. 8], the most recent political post on the Priests for Life site is an action alert item: “Help Us Tell Tim Kaine to Stop Insulting Catholicism!” The latest news from Susan B. Anthony List is Oct. 5’s “Pence Goes on Offense to Expose Clinton-Kaine Abortion Extremism”. Ralph Reed of the Faith & Freedom Coalition thinks that “A ten-year-old tape of a private conversation with a talk show host ranks low on [people of faith’s] hierarchy of concerns.” And Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families stated, “The ten-year-old tape of a private conversation in which Donald Trump uses grossly inappropriate language does not change the reality of the choice facing this country.”

In a sense, Bauer does hit the right nail: in reality, Trump is no worse a candidate than he was a week ago. The only difference is, Republican leaders are finally waking up to the full shambling horror, albeit too late to do anything meaningful about it. And neither Gary Johnson nor Jill Stein presents a better choice on religious and pro-life issues. Johnson has called religious freedom a “black hole”, while Stein has called it a code for “patriarchal domination”. If you eliminate fringe candidacies, such as the American Solidarity Party’s Michael Maturen and (sadly) the independent Joe Schriner, that leaves Christian and pro-life leaders with a Hobson’s choice: either Trump or nobody.

The choice should have been nobody.

The smart Republicans started to abandon ship even before Trump’s nomination was a done deal. Republican strategist Doug Heye called the decision to nominate Trump “a stain on the GOP’s soul,” nor is he the first. Back in August, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson asked Republicans, “If you tell us such a man should be president, why should the nation ever believe anything else you say?” Just a few days earlier, Kathleen Parker of MySanAntonio.com noted, “For many Republicans, the question is: ‘Who’d want to be a member of a party that would have Donald Trump as its leader?’” As for those who are only now trying to distance themselves from this dumpster fire, the cliché “a day late and a dollar short” doesn’t begin to describe their failure of foresight.