#28 Catholic Survival Guide to Election 2016

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My wife told me last night that she is considering deleting Facebook until after the election.  I think that’s probably a common thought.  The nomination circus has ended. The official presidential campaigns have just begun, with the major party conventions in the books.  November is still a long way off and I am already fatigued by all the rhetoric, memes, videos and outright bad decisions and bad behavior posted by good people on social media.

In addition, everyone I know is talking about this election with heightened emotion because, for the first time in my adult life, we as a country have been put into an incredibly difficult position: we have to make a bad decision.

We have been presented with no good options.  Both major candidates are horribly flawed individuals.  Both have lots of baggage.  Both have said and done things that cause concern in their supporters, and horror and repulsion in their opposition.  And despite this dismal scenario, as I write this, third party candidates have produced no clear-cut alternatives.Unsplash vote benjamin-faust-8310

Still we must somehow choose.  It is our duty.  And in a world where things like the Bill of Rights and the peaceful transference of power are not the norm, this duty of ours is sacred.

As Catholics, as Christians, we certainly have our work cut out for us, in discerning our votes.  All serious candidates view our demographic as a major prize.  The media will keep busy by manipulating information and playing on our emotions, and on social media, we will have to deal with a lot of celebrities, strangers, family and friends that see things differently from us, and may even try to chastise us for it.

Here are 5 things we can all do, to keep the important things in perspective, choose our candidates wisely, keep the peace around the dinner table and maybe even bring a touch of class to what promises to be a very tumultuous time.

  1. Trust in Jesus. He’s got this. Considering the emotion displayed so far, it’s obvious the Baptized have some some trust issues.  When Jesus said do not be afraid, He meant it.  When He said He’s already conquered the world, He meant it. When He said the gates of Hell would never prevail against his church, He meant it.  So why do we all have such a hard time remembering this, whenever storm clouds collect?  Even before He walked among us, the world had had its share of failed leadership.  This is nothing new to God.  At the time of his passion, Jesus encountered authorities like Herod and Pilate.  Pilate didn’t know what truth was when it stared him in the face, and Herod was such a fool, Jesus refused to even look at him during the interrogation.  The sky will not be allowed to fall. The Lord’s church isn’t going anywhere, regardless of what bumps in the road our country encounters.
  2. Turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance.  That’s what He’s there for.  He will speak to your heart, if you bring Him your quest for understanding and wisdom.  Don’t waste your time arguing with others. Pray.  Don’t rely upon your own intellect and limited view of the world, but His eternal wisdom.  Cardinal Dolan, the President of the American Catholic Bishops advocates “Faithful Citizenship”, and that takes both prayer and action.
  3. Don’t judge your family in Christ.  Not everyone will see things the way you do.  Good people will vote for for the person you can’t stomach. Just because someone holds a different view than you, doesn’t mean they do not share your aspirations for a better tomorrow, that their soul is dead or that they somehow don’t have the mental capacity you have.  Even if their vote seems to oppose church teaching, remind yourself of the fact that we are all in this together.
  4. Be honest with yourself.  These candidates are far from perfect and it’s understandable that others would be conflicted about them.  When you hear of your candidate’s shortcomings, it’s not your job to trade punches with the jabber.  With these candidates, chances are the criticism is valid. It’s your responsibility to seek truth in all things.  No politician has ever cornered the market on truth.  It’s hard to defend bad behavior without embracing it yourself.
  5. Look beyond the current choices.  What if you don’t yet support a candidate because they all turn you off?  You’re not alone. A lot of people are wondering what they will do come November. So here is one last suggestion. Remember the republic for which we all stand, and see where the parties beyond the candidates want to take us.  Look at the party platforms for insight into how the candidates will probably govern, if elected.  Which positions will best help us to remain “One Nation, Under God, With Liberty & Justice For ALL?”

 

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7 comments

  1. Great advice here. I think this election is interesting and I’m not giving up on it. It’s what I call a prayer opportunity. We can pray and see if maybe God has some plans for at least one of these flawed candidates that we didn’t imagine. Maybe one will have a Damascus experience or Thomas Becket conversion and actually turn out to be a Godly leader. We can at the very least pray for that and vote knowing as much as we know in the present.

  2. Wow, Paul, your response is a real letdown after reading John’s thoughtful — and respectful — reflection. Calling anyone “abortion loving” is a bit of stretch. How do you expect to influence people who don’t share your views if you resort to hateful and exaggerated rhetoric?

  3. John, Thank you for the article! I always enjoy reading them! I have to agree 100% with Paul. Except I don’t mind Facebook when it is not election season! I actually have people posting that they want to “unfriend” someone if they are not voting for their party! Unless they are posting things that are offensive! We need to respect each other and have mature conversations. We all have different opinions and take certain comments made by the politicians differently. With that said….I wouldn’t trust a Clinton if my life depended on it!

  4. Love it. Great post, John. How about leave Facebook forever? That would take real change. And as it relates to the vote, only Clinton is a guarantee of abortion loving Supreme Court Justices, among many other very anti-Catholic, anti-family issues. Lock that in. A vote for any third party candidate, or not voting at all is a vote for Clinton. Sometimes in life it comes down to choosing the option that sucks the least.

    1. Thanks Paul, I understand the concern of third party candidates siphoning off support for one of the major ones, but doesn’t that argument really only apply to “battleground” states? If a voter feels convicted to cast a “message” vote or a “conscience” vote in a state that historically remains red or blue, I wonder what the harm is on the grand scale? Choosing not to vote on the other hand, can be interpreted as ingratitude for the privilege we each hold of having our voices heard. God bless.

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