Even as I type the abhorrent words that Donald Trump is the 2016 Republican nominee for president of the United States, I’m still in shock that it’s true.
Like most millenials, I don’t consider myself either Republican or Democrat. I’m generally more of a moderate with some libertarian leanings. I like holding onto my hard-earned money, but I understand the need for social programs, want to build a strong country, and want to help other citizens when they need government assistance. I have tended to agree more with the Republican party and their candidates as of late. So, I have been very much looking forward to who was going to be the next Republican candidate, especially after a comparatively moderate presidential candidate (Mitt Romney) in 2012.
The beginnings of the presidential primaries were laughable, especially seeing a stage packed with people and with Donald Trump actually getting votes. It was hilarious, and I figured as the field got smaller, he’d fade away. But after Super Tuesday (the ACTUAL Super Tuesday) on March 1st, I denied it could be him even though he won the day. After Trump kept winning states and Marco Rubio dropped out, I still denied it could be him. Then Ted Cruz dropped out, and I STILL denied it could be him. Then John Kasich dropped out, and I’m having a really hard time denying the nominee is going to be anyone else but Trump…seeing as no one else is left…
Then again, I’m holding onto some very dim hope that Republicans are going to stand up to him now or at the convention, state Trump doesn’t follow MANY if ANY of the actual ideals of their party, and either pick someone else or break off into a new party that ACTUALLY cares about the majority of issues that ACTUAL people care about, and a new third party candidate who is a normal, admirable human being will win. One can dream in America, yes?
But even though I’m slowly having to realize Donald Trump is a candidate for president (believe it or not!), I’m not quivering in fear. While many Americans are angry and afraid, I’m quite at peace when it comes to the 2016 election. Why? Oh, let me tell you.
Donald Trump is a fool. If elected, he’s either going to be horribly incompetent or impeach himself. As an outsider to Washington and generally hated by the public, his every move is going to be watched and criticized now.
Not 2 full days after being the only Republican presidential candidate, he posts this on Twitter:
Um, a very simple Google search will tell you, Mr. Trump, that Cinco de Mayo is not a major holiday in Mexico, let alone any of Latin America. It’s not anyone’s independence day, it’s mostly celebrated in the US and Canada, and I think most Hispanics are insulted by our general lack of knowledge about how much they actually don’t care about this holiday. This guy is going to be our representative to the world!? And will need to be DIPLOMATIC to other people!? Dios mio.
Trump is going to be horribly incompetent, impeach himself, or, given the violence at his protests, I can imagine he might be subject to some violence himself. Even though I don’t particularly like Trump and don’t wish him harm in the least, it is within reason that many other people do want to hurt him, and I would not be completely shocked if he were injured during his potential presidency.
Ok, so let’s say Trump isn’t elected and Hillary (who, oh yes, those who are feeling the Bern surely must see coming but might be in denial) wins. The Republicans are going to SCRAMBLE and wish they would have taken that fairly moderate Supreme Court nominee of Obama’s Merrick Garland. (Oh, wait. They’re already reconsidering…), but seeing as Republicans have control the House, Washington just might be in gridlock as usual anyways or become more and more extreme, which the majority of us don’t like anyways. Oh, and she’s generally hated as well. That’s great…. At least she has diplomatic experience? Benghazi is going to haunt her until her grave, however.
So, I’m left with two candidates that I don’t like, don’t really agree with on some core issues I care about, and generally fear what direction they would taken my country in. It’s an emotional gridlock, and I think most of the country feels stuck and will probably vote by “Well, it’s not [Hillary/Trump].”
I refuse to vote by less worse candidate. Come November, I’m going to look up literally anyone else running and vote for whom can do the best job. I voted for Kasich in the primaries because I surmised he would do the best job and held the most of my core values. I refuse to have my vote motivated by fear-mongering, and I’m not afraid to be one of a handful of votes for someone.
But yet this frustration, this anger, this disappointment, this feeling of the government being incompetent might be the BEST thing that has happened in a century if not more.
Voting in this country is messed up. Yes, I am so thankful I have a voice and that I am able to vote. Don’t get me wrong. But also don’t get me wrong that voting in this country is messed up.
We vote on paper on Tuesdays. PAPER on TUESDAYS. Why? WHY?
Well, we used to be quite the rural country, and farmers needed a full day (Monday) to get into town. Traditionally, we voted on Tuesdays, and no one wanted to bring us into the 21st century. So, we continue to vote on Tuesdays, even though most people work, and some people might not even be able to vote given their 12-hour shifts or demanding jobs. In fact, 45% of eligible voters who didn’t vote in 2014 midterm elections cited the very structure of election day. Maybe that’s part of the reason U.S. voter turnout is worse than most developed countries.
And too, we vote on paper. Hanging Chad ring a bell? And no, it’s not just a How I Met Your Mother reference. It describes the punch-hole ballots in Florida that decided the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Can we also note in that election that Gore won the popular vote, but Bush won due to the electoral votes? On hanging chads? Ridiculous.
I though democracy meant everyone had an equal say, so what’s up with electoral votes? Wikipedia tells me it was in the Constitution. Fine, fine, but seriously, let’s think on this. Technology and the population has changed a little since then, and it’s much easier to tally each person’s vote now. Just sayin’.
I’m Catholic, so therefore I’m a obviously a fan of tradition, but I’m also realistic. I very much like that I’m not married off like property, and to continue to marry me off like property in the name of “tradition” is illogical and silly. For tradition to remain tradition, it needs to have some logic to it. Just sayin’.
Too, what’s up with two parties? A two-party system is destined to fail. It’s just going to get more and more extreme and less representative of the people, as we’ve seen in the past several elections. Most democratic countries have multi-party systems, and America could use one. Maybe having worse and worse candidates will convince us we need a third or more parties. Or third party candidates will just continue to run under one of the two party banners.
But more importantly, politicians were never going to save us. Jesus will.
As I’m making my way through Life of Christ by Fulton Sheen, I struck at just how often friends and foes alike of Jesus wanted Him to be a political savior, and how Jesus continually refused.
- Satan tempted Him with authority over the kingdoms of the earth; Jesus refused to be reduced to a ruler. Matthew 4:1-11
- People came to Him after feeding 5000 of them asking for more bread; He told them they needed bread from heaven. John 6
- Pharisees, scribes, and elders came to Him, asking if He were greater than Caesar; He told them to repay the government was is owed to it and pay to God what is owed to God. Luke 20:20-26
- His beloved disciples John and James came, asking for power and authority in His kingdom; He told them they must serve others and not be served themselves. Mark 10:35-45
He wants to do more than fix our problems. He wants to change our hearts.
Poverty, immigration, abortion, the death penalty, living wages, student loan debt, the housing crisis, welfare, foreign policy, taxes, health care, education, military funding, fair trade policy, all of these important political issues were nothing to Jesus compared to our hearts. All these issues stem from hurt, pain, pride, indifference, and a whole garden variety of bad tendencies. And indifference, prejudice, pride, anger, injustice, etc. doesn’t come from no where. It comes from a place inside our hearts and works its way out into the world.
Jesus didn’t want to just change the world. He wanted to change the world by changing our hearts.
Perhaps we Christians in America have for too long been making our political leaders our savior. Yes, as Christians, we have a moral duty to participate in political life, but politics is not going to build the Kingdom of God on earth. That’s OUR personal duty!
I remember when Obama was seeking a 2nd term against Romney how priests and bishops encouraged the laity to vote Republican, knowing Obama’s stance on abortion and new penalties for not covering contraception was deeply opposed to Catholic teaching. It almost appeared to be a sin to vote Democrat, even though Obama’s stance on immigration and social justice were much more in line with Catholic teaching!
When Obama won, people were legitimately crushed. I remember a priest basically saying it was going to be the end of America. And yes, these past 4 years have had their difficulties, like the Little Sisters of the Poor going to the Supreme Court to oppose the contraception mandate, but the world and America has not crumbled. I still have a home, a job, and a country that fights to protect me. Has it been perfect? Heck no, but I’m sure the world would have still had issues with a Romney presidency too.
I think we have a tendency to give the government too much power in our lives. And it’s not that the government doesn’t have power. It most definitely does! Don’t even get me started on the government mandates on health care and patient satisfaction scores. I live with the government and the consequences of its over-reaching power daily at work. I know the government has the power to make my life miserable.
But truly, the government does not control us. We still have a choice in everything we do, and we have the luxury of having our rights are overwhelmingly protected. Not all of our Christian brothers and sisters are so fortunate. Christians are being slaughtered by ISIS, and yet they still choose to call Jesus their savior and follow Him. China is persecuting Catholics, and yet they still choose to call Jesus their savior and follow Him. We American Christians need to frankly buck up.
Didn’t Jesus warn us “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world” (John 16:33)? Jesus never promised our Christian life would be a cake walk. He also never promised to be or provide a political savior. So why are we Christians continually looking for our president to be our savior when Jesus is?
Even more, why are we looking for our president to be doing our Christian duty? Instead of looking for a president to solve all of our problems, when is the last time we looked at our lives and really examined what we’re doing to solve the world’s problems?
I know I’ve been looking at my actions as of late, and I’m not the best individual at helping homelessness, abortion, or immigration on a personal level. I walk by and ignore homeless people. I speak poorly of young, pregnant women. I’m impatient with immigrants at work when they don’t understand what I’m saying. And no president, no governor, no mayor, no one is going to solve these problems if I can’t begin to solve them on a personal level.
I want the homeless to have homes, pregnant women to have support, and immigrants to be welcomed, but if I’m not doing those actions, who else will?
With the grace of Jesus, I need to solve these problems first with the person in front of me. I might not be able to solve global world hunger, but I can offer my homeless patient a food tray and clean socks. I might not be able to solve state-wide teen pregnancy and abortion rates, but I can offer my young pregnant patient compassion and respect. I might not be able to solve our national immigration crisis, but I can offer my foreign patient patience and kindness.
So, we as a collective group of American Christians need to ask ourselves some hard questions: what am I leaving to politicians that God is calling me to act on myself?
Instead of looking that homeless man in the eye and offering the change in our pocket, even though we’re unsure if he’ll use it on booze or drugs, have we passed him by and hoped our president, governor, mayor, etc. will work on housing projects and rehab?
Instead of looking at that pregnant teenager in the eye and offering a smile, have we passed her by and hoped our president, governor, mayor, etc. will work on outlawing abortion and supporting single mothers?
Instead of looking those immigrants in the eye and offering hospitality, have we passed them by and hoped our president, governor, mayor, etc. will work on fair wages and more just immigration laws?
Governments don’t change nations. Citizens change nations. And yes, our nation is in a weird, scary spot, but life will continue, and Jesus will prevail.
If nothing else, I am comforted by the words of St. Paul:
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Nothing and no one can separate us from the love of God without our consent. Whether it’s a Trump White House, a Clinton White House, or some third party White House, it’s Jesus’s world, and He has conquered it. BE NOT AFRAID!
For more information on Catholic teaching on voting, please see this PDF from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops here.