Looking Back and Ahead One Election Day: What Now?

Looking Back and Ahead One Election Day: What Now? November 7, 2018

 

That was quite an evening.

My stomach went up into my throat more than once.

And here we are, on the other side of the midterm elections. The proverbial blue wave swept the House, bringing in all kinds of new talent, and the Senate remains about the same.

I never thought I’d be so excited about people in whom I had so little faith.

I don’t put my trust in princes, on the Right or the Left. I came out publicly, as far as Steel Magnificat is concerned, as really, actually not just a never-Trumper but voting Democrat for the time being the other day, for anyone who didn’t think it was obvious.  I  determined it was the only ethical choice for me as a Catholic, for reasons I listed in my blog post— including for the reason that I thought Republican policies would lead to increased numbers of abortions overall while doing little or nothing to end legalized abortion anyway. I voted for what I believe will result in fewer abortions. That was my proportionate reason, that and all the other deaths I thought it would prevent. And I still had readers tell me that I was voting for abortion anyway because I’m not a Republican. Funny how that works. This doesn’t mean I like Democrats. I like hardly any politicians. Beto was kind of cute, I guess. But by and large, they’re not my idea of heroes. I tend to refer to the GOP as the “Brutalist Party” and the Democrats as the “Less-Likely-to-be-Brutal-in-Practice-Despite-What-They-Intend.” That’s not high praise.

Still.

You know what’s not going to happen in January?

We’re not going to wake up on the first day the Congress is back in session to find the House drafting something called “The American Healthcare Act the Sequel: This Time It’s Personal.” We’re not going to wake up to the House drafting some brand new bill limiting SNAP recipients to buy nothing but canned horse liver with their benefits. I doubt they’re going to be able to ram through anything ending Birthright Citizenship or other evil amendments to the constitution either. We might even get a look at the president’s tax returns, which could be fun. Maybe they’ll even manage to do something positive.

That makes it a good night, in my estimation.

I cast my ballot. Between two inauspicious choices, I voted for the one I thought would staunch the nation’s hemorrhage, and I got it. We’ll see if I’m right.

Now the real work begins.

Voting is our duty, but it is only an extremely small bit of our duty as Christians and as people of goodwill in general.  It is one part of making our nation and our world look the way that it ought. Now we have to do everything else.

Everybody– not just people who think I made the right choice in midterm voting, people who think I’m a moron as well– everybody think about what you’d like to change to make the community, the  country and the world better. Make a nice little list. Because this is your job now. You already pushed the button for the least-odious candidate in your estimation. You got your sticker and felt good about performing your civic duty. You can do it again next year and especially in two years. Now, you have to do everything else.

What do you want to do?

What do you want to change?

The world we live in this evening is the same one we woke up in this morning, whether you feel it’s more or less hopeful than it was before the elections were called. And it hasn’t seemed a very hopeful world lately. Not in the least. It’s felt like it was coming to an end in dozens of ways and most of those ways still exist.

None of us can do great things to help that. But I believe that faithfulness in the small things is the greatest intercession we can make for our country and our world, and I believe that God can work miracles through it. You were faithful in exercising your right to vote today.  Good for you. Now, how else can you be faithful?

Do you want people to believe that the pro-life movement is not all freaks like Frank Pavone but actually mostly good people who care about mothers and babies? Great. I want that as well, because I believe it’s true. I think the political arm of the pro-life movement is off the wall, scandalously corrupt and has taken a lot of good people away with it; but actual people like you and me who care about the unborn, actually care about people and life. Let’s take that movement back. Be pro-life in ways that impact people around you. Volunteer to do something that helps mothers and babies in your community. If the Crisis Pregnancy Center near you is the kind that does good work, volunteer for that or raise funds for it. Find out if there’s a low-income woman at your parish who is pregnant and throw her a huge shower with all your friends. Babysit for a working mom who needs someone to watch the kids after school. Make a firm resolution to be kind and welcoming to mothers with annoying babies at daily Mass. If you’re already doing all of that– thank you. Persevere. None of this is going to fix it, but all of it will help, and God will take care of the rest.

Can you pick up a can or a box for the food pantry every time you go grocery shopping for yourself, and drop them all off at the pantry once a month? Can you actually be faithful to that resolution you made to pray the Divine Office twice a day– the one you made in January but forgot about halfway through Lent? Have you been meaning to start a tradition of meatless Fridays with your family and offer it up for an end to the famine in Yemen? Maybe the doctor wants you to exercise every day and you’ve forgotten– you can start again and offer it up for peace in the world. Do you want to make plans to participate in any public marches for a political cause this year, but you keep forgetting to schedule that Saturday off? Plant trees and clean up the park? Read to homeless kids at a shelter? Bring a bunch of flowers to a nursing home? Now’s your chance. You proved you know how to be faithful. You went to the polls. Now go out into the world and be faithful in the rest of your life.

None of these things will change the course of history. But as a Christian I believe God can, and we can help get out of His way by doing our part. So that’s what I’m going to do. I was faithful in trying to vote the way my conscience compelled me, according to Church teaching as best I knew it. A good half of you are mad at me for that, but my conscience is clear on that point.

Now I’m going to resolve to be faithful in other things.

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