Trump vs. Clinton and the Triumph of Democracy

The egregious slate of presidential candidates we’re being offered this year is an understandable cause for concern.  A question worth considering is whether the two-party system, or some other aspect of American political structures, is to blame for this state of affairs.

Meanwhile, as he considers a separate but related question, Timothy Scott Reeves, who sometimes guest blogs here, writes:

For me, THE core value is the understanding of my neighbor as someone made in the image of God. Abortion and euthanasia deny this reality. They commodify people. Racism is of the same spirit…and so is misogyny. They devalue other persons by making them mere objects. That is Trump’s modus operandi, and Hillary’s too.

Connecting the two issues, and surveying the culture around us, I can only come to one conclusion: Democracy in America is working very, very well.

***

A fair number of readers here live in the steady company of faithful Catholics and other Christian disciples.  The effort to surround ourselves with good influences and to occupy our time with worthwhile pursuits, combined perhaps with a disposition towards always assuming the best about our neighbor, can cause us to lose sight of what’s really going on in the wider world.

For others, the ignorance comes from too much knowledge: Immersed in the company of generally decent people who mean well and do their best, we aren’t so self-righteous as to fixate on the foibles and failings of our neighbors, but excuse them with the same charity we’d like extended to ourselves.

Understandably so in both cases, and many of us Catholics live with a hand in both of those worlds.  This is our country, these are our people, what benefit to endless fault-finding?

So be it.

But I challenge you to examine the virtues of Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton, and show me in what way they are unrepresentative of American culture.

***

Is it that they place too high an importance on status and image and celebrity?

Is it that they don’t take marriage and family life seriously?

Perhaps it’s their relationship with abortion that seems out of step?

Did you imagine that Roe v. Wade causes people to have abortions who would otherwise never think of it?  Gosh, I would have never, ever, disregarded the life of the least of these among us, but now that the Supreme court says it’s okay, I guess I’d better.

Were our rulers corrupt and our people virtuous, we’d live in a country where the law permitted transgressions none of us would dream of committing.

***

It isn’t so.

American democracy has its weaknesses, but if there is one thing it does well, it is that it represents us.

Not me individually, but us collectively.

Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton are not national enemies, they are national icons.  They are the very image of our nation, personified.

If you want better candidates, you don’t need to change party politics.  You need to change the people — we the people — who make the parties work.

That’s good news in its way, because that change is the mission of the Church.  What needs to be done is the thing that we Christians do — or at least the thing we’ve been asked by God to do.

So: Who will we be four years from now?

File:FreedmenVotingInNewOrleans1867.jpeg

Artwork:  “Freedmen Voting in New Orleans” 1867 engraving showing African Americans who were enslaved but a couple years earlier participating in an election. Via Wikimedia.


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