Trump Supporter? Our votes say more about US than about him (or her)

“‘I Alone’: Trump’s Dangerous Authoritarianism” (Commonweal Magazine Editorial)

Do you support Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump? Do you plan on giving him your vote when you enter the voting booth come November? If you do, do yourself and your fellow Americans a favor. Take five minutes and read the editorial from Commonweal linked above. As you do, ask yourself if you really and truly believe in the ideals and principles of American Constitutional Democracy. Ask yourself if you believe in the principles that distinguish the United States from monarchies and oligarchies and theocracies and dictatorships. Ask yourself if you understand what separates American Constitutional Democracy from Fascism, Nazism, and even from anarchy. Ask yourself if “justice for all” and “checks and balances” and “E Pluribus Unum” are more than slogans, but have real meaning for this country we all cherish. Ask yourself these questions, because at some point, this presidential election becomes not about him (or her), but about us. Your vote, my vote, will say more about ourselves than it will about the person for whom we vote.

Please read the full editorial. But if you don’t read the full piece, the last paragraph sums it up:

I alone. That is how Trump promises to govern: as an authoritarian who trusts his instincts and refuses to be bothered by Washington’s outdated constraints, otherwise known as checks and balances. And that is exactly what too many of his supporters seem to want. During Trump’s speech at the convention, as he shouted his way from one grandiose promise or ominous threat to another, the assembled delegates—whipped up into a braying mob—could be heard chanting ‘YES YOU CAN!’ This is not what democracy looks like.”

Democracy: America’s Unopened Gift to the Church

We have a mission and a mandate, in independence and baptism, that will not allow slavery again in this nation, this time under the guise of religious tyranny. For we have been called to freedom by something even more awesome than the Declaration of Independence. We have been called to freedom by Christ. [emphasis added]

Anthony T. Padovano

That’s the closing paragraph of Chapter 2 in Anthony T. Padovano’s book, A Path to Freedom. The chapter’s title, The American Catholic Church: Assessing the Past, Discerning the Future, gives a sense of what it’s about. Padovano argues convincingly that we are in a unique moment in history where the ideals of American democracy can and must continue to push for reform within the Catholic Church.

Padovano is not naive. He notes:

The fact that Americans cannot bring democracy … to the Catholic Church at large is the single greatest failure of American Catholicism. The fact that American bishops repeat enthusiastically that the Church must not be a democracy is anti-American and anti-Christian. … Loyalty to Christ, after all, is not essentially connected with monarchy and ecclesial feudalism.

Democracy is without doubt the greatest gift that America has given to the world. Our system is not perfect, to be sure, but the ideals enshrined in our founding political documents envision a world very different from the world in which they were written. Those of us who’ve been both raised and long-educated in the the spirit and practice of Catholicism will agree that the values of democracy are not only consistent with but are natural sisters to the ideals of Catholicism’s world-view where charity, justice, and all God’s People live in freedom. Let me be clear: by Catholicism I mean the Catholicism of the broad universal Church with its rich tradition of intellectual rigor and pastoral sense of mission, and not the “Catholicism” that is increasingly characterized by anachronistic liturgical practice and a childish adherence to rules meant to form and guide and lead to freedom, not to squelch and imprison and lead to a slavery of the soul.

When and how will this gift of democracy be received by the institutional Church? Padovano notes some movement toward this over the past century, though that movement has been marked both by periods of great progress, as well as periods of retrenchment. It seem that this is where we are now, in a period where forces within the papacy, the episcopacy, the clergy and even among the laity are hearkening back to a fantasy vision of the Church they think once existed, but never really did. In noting a list of pressing pastoral issues that a small group of US bishops identified in 1995, this one seems to be the most overarching and is behind so much of what we see today: it’s the practice of Presenting the minority position of Vatican II as though it were the majority.

As American Catholics try to find a way forward during these challenging times, Padovano’s words are worth remembering … again, and again, and again.

We have come this far with broken hearts and bruised spirits, betrayed too often by shepherds who became predators and preyed on our trust. But no more. We ourselves were not always sinless. But the crimes of democracy are always less than those of tyranny. We are free of that now.


These are some of my thoughts; what are yours? Would love to read your comments and feedback.

Commonweal Article on Economic Justice

I’m always struck how Catholics who would readily identify themselves as “conservative” or “traditional” tend to be guilty of the same sin they ascribe to their more “liberal” brothers and sisters, namely that of a cafeteria approach to religion.  The offering that conservative Catholics tend to pass over is the one that deals with such things as social and economic justice, despite the fact that every Pope of recent history, including Benedict XVI, loudly proclaim such teachings, included the dreaded “redistribution of wealth” so that the God-given fruits of this world are not denied to the least among us. I wonder what the most currently well-known Catholics in the US — Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum — would have to say if the Pope himself were to call them out on the relevant planks of their platforms?

There’s a good article at Commonweal (Plutocracy or Democracy? How Bad Policies Brought Us a New Gilded Age) that takes on some of this stuff. As always, some of the comments are just as telling as the article itself. My own comment, in response to another’s condemnation of homosexuality as among the factors that has wrought “devastation” on so much of family and society, is also there:

Tim MacGeorge subscriber 01/31/2012 – 11:06pm

@Patricia McCarron: I find your naming “the spread of homosexuality” as one of the causes for a societal decline you lament to be offensive, uncharitable, and patently untrue. With a broad brush you so blithely denigrate the millions of loving, committed relationships that God’s gay and lesbian sons and daughters have formed for centuries; relationships which only recently are beginning to receive the societal recognition and support they deserve. All of us — including those of us whom God created gay or lesbian — are created in the image and likeness of God.  Yet, instead of recognizing this fundamental truth of theological anthropology, American bishops fight with every fiber of their being legislative efforts to recognize the loving, stable and committed relationships LGBT people form.

Where, one might ask, are the episcopal voices raised to proclaim the principles of Catholic economic and social justice Mr. Cochran identifies? They are too busy saying that gay people can’t adopt children in need of a loving home, or that gay people are “intrinsically disordered” and therefore society shouldn’t be surprised when violence is perpetrated upon them. Such rubbish would be funny if it weren’t so dangerous.

No straight, married couple has ever had their marriage harmed by the loving, committed relationship of a gay couple. To lay the blame of the decline of the “traditional family” or a high divorce rate of straight couples at the feet of gay people is preposterous.  And, as far children being a requirement for marriage, if two straight people who are beyond the age of bearing children are allowed to get married (for, in the language of Catholic theology, “the good of the spouses”), why can a gay couple not enjoy the same rights and blessings of marriage?

Believe what you will, Ms. McCarron, but please keep your hate-filled lies to yourself and let God’s LGBT children live the lives God’ created us to live.