“Most Important Election Ever” meets the Psalms – UPDATED

In my column at First Things today I expose some of the cynicism I constantly battle within myself as my mistrust of all politics and politicians continues apace:

Assuming it was ever real, the notion of electoral downtime, of productive governance, mindful that a day’s evils are sufficient thereof and that futures are dealt with as they arrive, appears to be over. So too the idea that one runs for office in order to serve by representing the desires of the voting populace. When they elected Michael Bloomberg to a third term as New York City Mayor, few if any Gothamites believed they were voting for an executive declaration against giant soft drinks, about which their thoughts were neither sought-after, nor deemed relevant. When Americans voted Barack Obama into the White House on the strength of genial “post-partisan” rhetoric and promises of transparency, they surely did not expect him to use his congressional advantages to ram through an impossibly complex, constitutionally suspect piece of health care legislation—with a promise that once we saw it, we’d love it—over the objections of 68 percent of the country.

Actual public service, and even the creation of policies in-line with the thinking of the majority, has become almost incidental to the full-time job that is holding-and-keeping a public office in the era of fly-by social media and the ideologically stocked News Marts that are, so to speak, open-all-night. At the risk of sounding cynical, which is not my intent, there is no longer any sense of certitude that whoever emerges the victor of today’s election will care about advancing any interests beyond his own.

Barack Obama has already indicated that he prefers congressional end-runs to constitutional processes, and should he win re-election, he will be freed from concerns about polls or popularity, free to all the more forcefully insist that the rails of the republic run his way or not at all. Mitt Romney is currently tracking on Obama’s old lines of bi-partisan cooperation, but given the deep partisan divisions within the country and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s already stated unwillingness to “work” with a President Romney, how long will it be before he too decides that paternalistic know-betterism is preferable to messy, slow-moving democracy. If Romney ends up following Obama’s imperious bent, should we be surprised?

The feeling of many is that today’s election is the most meaningful in the nation’s history. More than once in my email I’ve found a missive saying, “okay, I know everyone always says that every election is the most important in their lifetime, but this time I really think it is . . .”

Then I throw a bucket of cold water on our hyperventilation, and marvel at the simple means by which our equilibrium may be restored. You can read it all here.

UPDATE:
A Must-Read: Calah Alexander on the “Johnny Foreigner” aspect of the voting Catholic populace

Msgr Charles Pope says keep the faith perspective, through this season of doubt and worry

Fr. Dwight Longenecker, who is also a Benedictine Oblate, has more thoughts on elections and eternity!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I don’t believe our society is, necessarily, the best, most clever, etc., etc. etc.

    But I do believe it was a good one, and I can’t help but mourn its passing, if Obama is re-elected, and I believe it’s wrong to simply resign myself to its demise.

    I don’t think God is pleased when we throw away His gifts, and America certainly was a great gift to the world. The fact that this sort of thing has happened before isn’t particularly comforting to me at the moment—if America goes down, she will go down because she chose to; not because she was conquered by outside enemies.

    As for the Gothamites—oh, please! They elected Bloomie three times in row, they knew what he was, and what they were getting, they can’t pretend otherwise.

    If America falls, it’s going to involve a lot of suffering—not just for American citizens, for the rest of the world.

  • David

    In Mitt Romney’s closing stump speech, he says the door is open … join me, come walk with me. I was struck how closely it parallels when Jesus said to his followers, come, walk with me. It’s time to start walking into and with the light.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    If Obama gets a second term, and continues following the imperious bent he’s displayed throughout the last four years, should we be surprised? Would we even have the right to complain about, at that point? We have no excuse now for not knowing what he is. If we re-elect him, we deserve what we get.

    Romney might turn out to be no better, but we know what Obama’s going to be like.

    Remember Benghazi! Free Nakouley Nakouley!

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    I think people expect too much from any single politician. The legislative branch always has more power than an excutive, and legislative power is spread out over 500 legislators. No single individual can exert pure free will. Now when an executive works with a legislators, they can come together and through coordination can change quite a bit. I always tell people, you don’t vote for a person (though I agree a presidential vote is a bit more personal) or even a specific issue, since most issues are ephemeral. When one votes, one is really voting for a direction. Occaisionally there are issues, like the HHS mandate that transcends direction. And for me abortion always transcends direction.

    Let me say that if Obama wins and the Catholic vote actually tips over into Obama’s direction, we will have essentially reached a sociatal consensus on placing restrictions to religious liberty. Europe and Canada have all sorts of restritions to religious liberties. They don’t have a first amendment like we do. Obama will have ratified that religion no longer has special freedoms in the United States. The country will have crossed a Rubicon.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    David says:
    “In Mitt Romney’s closing stump speech, he says the door is open … join me, come walk with me. I was struck how closely it parallels when Jesus said to his followers, come, walk with me. It’s time to start walking into and with the light.”

    That’s an interesting observation. Contrast that with Obama’s closing of voting for “revenge.” In my last personal blog on the election, I was struck at how Obama, who is supposed to be Lincoln-esk (yeah I know, Liberal main stream media hog wash) was just the opposite of Lincoln. I said this:

    I am reminded of a great Abraham Lincoln quote, and I want to provide it in ts entirety:

    ‘We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic cords of memory will swell when again touched as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature.’

    That was said at Lincoln’s first inaugural address and in the heat of the north/south contention over slavery and succession. If Lincoln could appeal to the “better angels of our nature” in that context, how petty of Obama to bring “revenge” into this contest.”

    It’s actually more than petty. There is a coldness, perhaps meanness, in Obama that comes out when he’s not on his teleprompter.

  • Brian English

    “Romney might turn out to be no better, but we know what Obama’s going to be like.”

    From a Catholic perspective, Romney will certainly be less hostile to the Church. The HHS mandate will be gone, and the expanded infringements on religious freedom that would occur during a second Obama term will never come to pass.

    The efforts to drive Church affiliated organizations out of various acts of charity will also cease.

  • http://jscafenette.com/ Manny

    @Rhinestone:
    “As for the Gothamites—oh, please! They elected Bloomie three times in row, they knew what he was, and what they were getting, they can’t pretend otherwise.”

    I voted for Bloomie the first two times, but not third, not because he wasn’t the better candidate but because he overturned the term limits law to get in the third time. As bad as Bloomie has governed this last term, he’s still is better than all the alternatives. Between Guilliani and Bloomie, we will have had 20 years where the Democrats were out of power in NYC. And NYC has never been better off in my life time. I dread what will come after Bloomie. If the next mayor is to be city council speaker Christine Quinn as they are projecting–that is the radical feminist Quinn who supports every single pro-abortion law anyone can contemplate, or supports gay marriage as a civil right and will mforce it down everybody’s throats–then NYC will be headed for the dumps it was before. I would even support a fourth Bloomie term to prevent Quinn from becoming mayor.

  • http://www.thepracticingcatholic.com Lisa Schmidt

    Amen. Today’s morning prayer, on Election Day, particularly left me feeling peaceful and rightly focused.

    Thank you for your constant witness, Elizabeth. Your words speak to me in so many ways. Must be that Benedictine spirit!

    +JMJ+

  • Pingback: Pulling the lever, praying the psalms

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Manny—Bloomie is a Democrat. In his actions, if not his political affiliation.

    And NYC is already in the dumps, if it’s only choices are Bloomie, and a radical feminist.

    I mean, do you realize how pathetic this sounds? You’re sticking with Bloomie, who’se more interested in banning sugery sodas than in helping his constituents who’ve been left without power, water and food, because the feminist would be worse. (And she might.)

    These are the best NYC has to offer?

    Are you really happy having a mayor so desperate for power he overturned term limits, to get in? Doesn’t this worry you, just a bit? (He might not ask for your support, if he wants that fourth term; he might just take it. Heck, you might as well give him his taxpayer supported crown, and declare him King Bloomie I right now, and get it over with. You’ll never have to worry about a radical feminist taking over NYC again! Of course, you’ll never have to worry about any other potential mayoral candidate, either.)

  • Mark

    Tonight with a winner named, about half the voters will be happy and the other half feeling tah the country is going off the track to its end. Of course many millions of eligible voters will not have voted at all. The differences between the left and right are fundamental and without any real compromise possible. Prolife or dead baby or socialist big government or small limited government or constitution as written or living constitution without any meaning. There are more of these now than when we went to war over slavery. Our countries founding documents and principles were set up so that each state could decide at a local level on these hot button issues and all remain Americans. When the govt forces all to accept such as Ohio being forced to accept New York values, you build what we see today in the bitterness and political parties and hacks take advantage to gain power over us. Solutions can only come when the court gives power to the locals as intended in the constitution or with separation into two countries. No loser tonight will accept the others beliefs forced on them.

  • David

    @Manny

    That’s why Obama uses the teleprompter so often, to disguise what he truly thinks and believes. It’s all a shell game or 3-card monty on his part.

  • Manny

    @Rhinestone
    “Manny—Bloomie is a Democrat. In his actions, if not his political affiliation.”

    If youre not a New Yorker, I can understand how you would see it that way. What you’re seeing are the high profile marginal issues. As far as budget and tax issues, negotiating with the unions, and tough on crime, Bloomie has held his part of the bargin and governed as a Republican. The worst part of Bloomie is his personality. He’s a down right nanny and ninnie.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Manny, I have to say—in all honesty, I’m extremely grateful sometimes that I’m not (and never will be) a New Yorker.

  • Skay

    It seems the nightmare will continue.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    The nightmare will continue. It’s never gonna end! That’s because the problem isn’t Obama. The problem is the American people. I think Romney’s estimate of 47% of Americans being dependent on government was a bit low. (And still think he was just an old meanie for pointing this out, hmmmmm?)

    Manny, King Bloomie I has stated that he thinks gay marriage, “Choice” and the environment are the important issues, in this election.

    That’s some Republican, ya got there!

    So glad I’m not a New Yorker! (It’s not “My kinda town!”)

    No complaining, no matter what happens, over the next four years. America, you wanted him, and you got him. And you’re going to get what’s coming to you.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Shame on everybody who voted for Obama. Shame on all Republicans who decided to sit this one out, because Romney wasn’t: 1. Conservative enough, 2. He was too Mormon, 3. Ryan read Ayn Rand, etc., etc., etc.

    Shame on America, for re-electing the man who abandoned our fellow citizens in Benghazi, and murdered Mexicans in Fast ‘n Furious.

    Whatever happens during the next four years—you asked for it, and you will deserve every bit of it.

  • http://jscafenette.com Manny

    Rhinstone:
    “Manny, King Bloomie I has stated that he thinks gay marriage, “Choice” and the environment are the important issues, in this election.”

    Yeah I know. But this is New York City. There aren’t any good choices. Even Guilliani was pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage.


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