The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Reluctant Politics

My, my...the Republican Convention is underway in Cleveland, and I find myself inundated with things political. It's everywhere, and about the only way to escape is to flip the remote to Animal Planet or to one of the old movie channels. But, of course, most of us don't. We feel compelled to follow it on the cable news network of choice. There's an attraction to it all, not unlike that which draws us to watch a grisly horror movie or a news story describing some horrific crime. Yes, indeed, like these, modern political theater appeals to our basest instincts...and so, we watch.

As you already might have guessed, I have come to despise politics, largely because I find it a very dirty business in which honor and the good of the nation rarely, if ever, outweigh personal gain. And secondarily because I cannot think of a single living politician whom I respect...not one. I certainly realize that the upcoming presidential election might well be the most important of my lifetime, so I suppose I should be more enthusiastic, more focused on the politics of it all. Have I become jaded as a result of all this? Perhaps. But I'm insufficiently introspective, so I really don't know. Neither do I care.

I only occasionally discuss politics on this blog, and usually because a political issue touches on things theological or moral. But the current political storm is so heated and gusty that I just can't ignore it. So let me just throw out a few brief, and very personal, observations that have ripened in my aging brain these past few months as I have watched American presidential politics march by.

About Donald Trump...I find him semi-articulate, far too shallow in his thinking, and of questionable temperament; and yet he was able to convince enough primary voters to handily defeat a collection of seemingly more qualified candidates. Who could have predicted this? Well, one person did: Donald Trump.

And so, like him or not, we must take him seriously, and we must also admit he has struck a nerve with a large number of Americans. Looking back on the past year, I can understand why. Many, perhaps most, Americans believe strongly that the folks who have held the reins of power in Washington simply don't care about the nation and its people. They have a valid point. And as many Republicans discovered during the primaries, the voters weren't angry at just the Democrats. If you inhabit the Boston-NY-DC corridor, you probably don't understand this. But if live out in the national hinterlands you know exactly what it means. As a result, come January a lot of folks might be looking for a job. The world is focused on the upcoming presidential election, but the results of the congressional elections might actually be more surprising.

About Hillary Clinton...According to her newest best friend, Director of the FBI Comey, it would seem she is not only a likely criminal but also a serial liar. Of course, anyone who has followed Hillary Clinton's long and checkered career already knew that.

Nobody -- not even her strongest supporter, not even her husband -- seems to like her. I suppose we can safely say that even Hillary Clinton doesn't like Hillary. As for me, I could never support her simply because she, like the current president, sees nothing wrong with killing babies by the millions. Anyone who holds such belief is seriously flawed and should not hold any public office.

About the big loser...Well, the biggest loser is Bernie Sanders. This not-so-nice Brooklyn Marxist from Vermont convinced enough uneducated college kids, their equally uneducated parents, and their Woodstockian grandparents to vote for him that he actually gave Hillary, Inc. a bit of a scare. The Democrats tossed a few socialist bones onto the platform so he could gnaw on them during his convention speech, but ultimately Bernie will be no more than a footnote.

The other losers...all those Republicans who never had a chance to claim the nomination  but whose grossly inflated egos drove them into the race. With few exceptions, they all complain about Trump's victory while ignoring the fact that their numbers -- Heavens! There were almost 20 of them! -- made his victory possible. Such a collection of foolish, egotistical men (and one woman) has rarely been seen in politics before.

I'll admit here that I'm no fan of Donald Trump, but I find the actions of some of his Republican opponents to be despicable. Remember how they attacked Trump when he balked at signing the pledge to support the party's ultimate nominee? He finally signed it. They all did. But now many have decided to ignore that pledge.Their word then means nothing. I find that dishonorable, which for me is about the worst thing you can say about another human being.

They all act like little children who didn't get their way. Ohio Governor John Kasich refuses to attend his party's convention, a convention being held in his state. In a sense, by his snub he insults himself. How bizarre. And sadly, Jeb Bush, of whom I once thought rather highly, has joined with Lindsey Graham, and stated that they will neither support nor vote for Trump, the Republican nominee.

The problem is evident. When people have been long embedded in the political establishment, they cannot accept intruders who don't play by their agreed-on rules. If you're not a member of the club, if you don't accept those rules, you'll be pushed to the sidelines. Party affiliation means little. It's why they are able to compromise so easily on moral issues instead of leading the people to understand and accept that which is morally right.

If Hillary wins in November, I think we can safely say that the electorate simply disliked her less than they disliked Donald Trump. But that scenario is hard to imagine, and so my prediction -- always a scary thing -- is that Trump will win.

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