Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Not the Time for Reconciliation // Commonweal

Image result for trump rally
Hillary Clinton plurality over Donald Trump-2,017,563 11/22/16
This year's white voting insurgency was surprising in its strength and vitriol.  80% of evangelicals.  60% of white Catholics.  They voted for Trump.  Why?  the picture above tells the story.  White people voted white - in unusually high numbers.  Why?  Economic anxiety, cultural disruption are the most common refrain.  But race is the driving force.  White people voting white regardless of their religious doctrines.  Even though they get abortions and use birth control at rates comparable to the rest of the population, anti-abortion absolutism relieves them of any obligation to admit to voting white.

We have a political system inherited from the days of slavery that favors rural voters.  And that generally means white voters.  Maine, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Delaware, Alaska, and Vermont have populations less than 1 million. Total 4,428,892.  total number of U.S. Senators: 18.  California population: 37,253,956.  Senators: 2

Not the Time for Reconciliation

First Confront the Danger of Trump
Following the bitter presidential election, many Catholic pastors and religious writers are calling for reconciliation. I think this call is premature. Yes, we ought to love one another no matter what the circumstances. But willing the good to everyone does not mean we ought to contrive a cheap reconciliation that ignores the danger presented by Donald Trump [1] not only to our own society but also to the wider world. Christian reconciliation involves a renewal of broken relationships based upon shared acknowledgement of truth and mutual respect for the claims of justice. If we want peace, Pope Paul VI observed more succinctly, we must work for justice.

We must face the fact that if Catholics had refrained from voting for Trump, he would not be the president-elect today. Millions of Catholics helped to elect someone who has displayed contempt for much of what lies at the heart of Christian morality—compassion, forgiveness, humility, fidelity, and patience. His campaign proposals run directly contrary to core values affirmed by Catholic social teachings—solidarity, the preferential option for the poor, the common good, stewardship of the planet, and the intrinsic dignity of every person, regardless of race, religion, or gender. Most striking is his constant denigration of and contempt for society’s so-called “losers”—precisely those to whom Jesus paid the most attention.

The Church will have trouble acting as a source of reconciliation unless its members can engage in serious conversation about truth, justice, and the common good. Right now the laity is sharply divided. Catholics are 23 percent of the electorate, and 52 percent of Catholic voters cast their vote for Trump, whom many suspect is a racist, misogynistic, Islamophobic bully[2]. Sixty percent of white Catholics voted for him, as did 56 percent of Catholics who go to church regularly. Trump was supported not just by “low-information” Catholics, but also by “high-information” Catholics; by college-educated white male Catholics along with working-class Catholics. Latino Catholics were the one bright spot.

Many of Trump’s Catholic supporters presumably found his callousness and cruelty to be “personally distasteful,” but not objectionable enough to make them repudiate him. Yet if we vote for the candidate we have to take responsibility for supporting the whole package, not just the particular traits or policies we happen to like. Catholic social ethics recognizes the importance of jobs at a living wage, affordable health care, and national security, but insists that we ought not to seek these goods by unjust means or in any way by dehumanizing others. Christian identity makes more fundamental claims on us than does American identity. Many Catholics either don’t know about or don’t want to apply this principle to their electoral decision-making.


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