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!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Politics and Politicians

Put no trust in princes,

in children of Adam powerless to save;

who breathing his last, returns to the earth;

that day all his planning comes to nothing.

Blessed the one whose help is the God of Jacob,

whose hope is in the LORD, his God...

[Psalm 146:3-5]

I think, sometimes – perhaps most of the time – we forget that only God saves, and that He, not us, remains in charge. If we look to another human, whether man or woman, to rescue us from the perils we ourselves have created, we will soon be greatly disappointed. Of course, the Lord of History sometimes raises up the least likely individuals to fulfill His plan, so we must look to their fruits if we hope to recognize God’s action in the world.

If you are among the 80+ million Americans who watched the presidential debate on Monday evening, you witnessed two people trying to convince us that they, and only they, can lead our nation to the promised land. Each has a very different vision of what that land looks like and how to get there.
[Full disclosure: I skipped the debate, preferring to catch the highlights the next day -- far less tedious.]

The First Debate
One candidate, Hillary Clinton, plans to follow the same path paved by the current administration in which she was a key player. But she seems unable to recognize or accept that the plan is dysfunctional, and has created far more problems than it has solved. And so she tells us: Don't get all wrapped up in who caused our current problems, because I've got some brilliant solutions ready to go. Her solutions, though, seem more than vaguely familiar; indeed, they're the same leftist approaches that have consistently failed whenever and wherever they've been tried.

Mrs. Clinton is also afflicted with a few other issues. If the polls reflect reality, a majority believe she is not healthy enough to be president. This can be a tricky problem for her. She must convince voters that these concerns are baseless despite all the contrary evidence. And what about Tim Kaine, her running mate? She can't focus too much on his presidential qualifications without seeming to confirm her own health issues. Lots of webs being woven here.

But perhaps more troubling for Hillary Clinton are the large numbers of Americans who simply don't trust her to tell the truth. I suppose it all began years ago when she mobilized her team of sycophants to provide cover for her husband's "indiscretions." She did so by attacking the women, so many women, on whom Bill preyed. Impeached but not convicted – his sins, after all, were the same as those of his judges – Bill has been rehabilitated by the folks who matter.
Bill stumping for Hillary in NH -- Enthusiastic Women?

But Bill is only one chink in Hillary Clinton’s honesty armor; consider:

  • Her removal from her House Judiciary Committee staffer job because of incompetence and lying;
  • The whole Whitewater debacle;
  • Her tall tale about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire;
  • The "cleansing" of the White House travel office;
  • The vast right-wing conspiracy that she claims was at the heart of her husband's problems;
  • Her “flat-broke” claims after leaving the White House;
  • Her speaking fees -- the pay for play, quid pro quo deals with Wall Street firms and foreign nations;
  • The ongoing email-national security scandal and associated corruption of her State Department staff;
  • The Benghazi lies and "What difference does it make?" attitude.
For me, however, it is her extreme stance on abortion that disqualifies her. How can anyone who so strongly supports the brutal killing of the most innocent and helpless among us be qualified for the presidency? This is the same reason I neither voted for nor trusted our current president, Barack Obama.
Oh! It's a "Person" but without rights...

The other candidate, Donald Trump, is an enigma, perhaps the most unlikely of presidential candidates. New York businessman, reality TV star, off-the-cuff stump speaker, as brash as his home town with an ego to match, Donald Trump has apparently caught on with many Americans. A multi-millionaire, he is viewed by his supporters as too rich to be corrupted by other people’s money. Many Americans are tired of the professional politicians who seem to love spending their constituents’ money on anything and anyone that will help their reelection. These same voters seem to regard Mr. Trump as the outsider who will clean house and remind the pols that the people are still sovereign. Could be...but that’s the problem with outsiders: they have no political track record. They force us to focus on the personal.

And so Donald Trump has had to define and refine and re-define his vision and plans for the nation. He’s had to leave the shallows and wade into the deeper waters of specifics, and that, some believe, will cause him problems. I don’t agree. Donald Trump has said so many things that the mainstream media and their fellow travelers consider outrageous, and each time he gains ground. That same media, following the lead of his opponent, have attacked him and his “deplorable” supporters as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic” and pretty much any other “ist” or “phobic” they can think of. The result: his poll numbers continue to rise. 
Trump: College Supporters

The elites in Hollywood and the media, as well as those who roam the corridors of power in Washington, are flabbergasted. How can this be happening? One can understand their confusion since few have spent much time among the hoi polloi, the masses in fly-over country who struggle to pay their bills every month. Interestingly, minorities – generally considered a lock for the Democrats – are beginning to show some interest in Donald Trump. I suspect he will draw a larger percentage of the Black and Hispanic vote than any of his recent Republican predecessors. 

And then there are the “Never-Trump” Republicans, really a mixed bag of neocons and establishment types, along with a few former opponents with hurt feelings. I’ve never really trusted the neocons because of their subtle dismissal of those “permanent things” that traditionally form the foundation of true conservative thought. Most gravitated to so-called neo-conservatism from the far left, and still seem partly connected to their big-government, Marxist roots.
Bush Presidents and Hopeful
Even the Bush family, the most establishment of all establishment Republicans, have come out against Donald Trump, with the elder George admitting he’ll likely vote for Hillary Clinton. Jeb Bush, who was just kidding when he signed that pledge to support the Republican nominee, is now encouraging Republicans to vote for the Libertarian Party’s Gary Johnson, a man who makes Donald Trump look positively Socratic. As for George W. Bush, I suspect he’ll probably sit this election out. 

I’ve said all along (see post: July 18) that I expect Donald Trump to win the election, largely because the stakes are so high. He's also generated a level of enthusiasm among his supporters that Hillary Clinton will never be able to match. As for Mrs. Clinton’s appeal to women – “Elect the first female president!” – it doesn’t outweigh all her negatives. Unlike President Obama who gathered in over 90% of the Black vote, Hillary Clinton will be lucky to draw 55% of the female vote.

Although not a Trump supporter, I will probably vote for him. To vote for a third party would waste a vote, and I can think of no third party worth my vote. From our perspective as citizens and voters, politics must always be the art of choosing the least imperfect. Is one candidate the lesser of two evils, or is the other the evil of two lessers? I think the latter. 

In the meantime, I'll try to avoid politics in future posts and just put my trust, not in princes (or princesses), but in God alone, the Lord of History.

Pray for our nation.

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