EWTN CEO Michael Warsaw only mentions Donald Trump by name once, and never tells the reader specifically who to vote for. But the takeaway from his “Publisher’s Note” in the National Catholic Register on Oct. 17 is unmistakably clear.
In Warsaw’s view, a vote for Trump is a vote for a vision of America as “a great country, with much to offer,” where the Christian faith is embraced and religious freedom is protected, and where the right to life is recognized for all, born and unborn.
On the other hand, as Warsaw sees it, a vote for Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, is a vote for a progressive view where America “has much to atone for and little to be proud of,” where religion is seen as a vehicle for discrimination, abortion is embraced and contraception deemed a fundamental right that “outweighs even the constitutional religious-freedom.”
“This — more than the candidates themselves — is what is on the ballot. You are casting your vote this year for a long-term vision of America, not for a person,” writes Warsaw, who is also the publisher of the National Catholic Register.[Full Disclosure: I wrote for the Register for several years as a freelance correspondent.]
His phrasing appears to indicate that Warsaw recognizes that even some, if not many, of the Register’s politically-conservative readership may have deep reservations about pulling the lever for Trump, who brings a lot of personal baggage – to say the least – to the Republican ticket.
People who are progressive in their politics, and moderates, may be turned off by the president’s Twitter feed, his frequent name-calling and personal insults, his forays into racist dog whistling, his embrace of conspiracy theories and willingness to spread misinformation and outright lies.
But to social and political conservatives, including the Catholics who watch EWTN and read its news media outlets, Trump not only institutes pro-life policies and nominates federal judges believed to be pro-life; he is also bulwark against an aggressive political Left that wants to sideline religion, redefine marriage and family, push gender ideology into classrooms, and make abortion legal up to the moment of birth.
There may be things supporters force themselves to defend or look the other way on – such as family separation at the border, trying to leverage a foreign leader to investigate your political rivals or badly mishandling a pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 people – but Warsaw’s column reflects why people who once said “character counts” are still throwing their political lot in with Trump.
“In this year’s presidential election, the choice isn’t really between Donald Trump and Joe Biden,” Warsaw writes. “It is a choice between two completely different views of America. That difference is philosophical, not simply personal.”
As noted last year in a well-reported series by Heidi Schlumpf for the National Catholic Reporter, EWTN has evolved into a media empire “well-connected to Republican politicians and the Trump White House.” Warsaw’s column is consistent with that trend. As for what that means longterm for the television network founded by the late Mother Angelica, history will one day determine if that was for better, or for worse.