The poison in our politics is more than just presidents
“Hillary Clinton is evil incarnate.” I remember where I was the first time I heard someone say this. I also remember the feelings of resistance, repulsion and sadness that were my reaction. She’s not. Look, I worked at the conservative National Review during Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial. That the Clintons aren’t models of moral leadership is not something you have to convince me of. Furthermore, as I’ve written throughout this campaign, Hillary Clinton’s stubborn extremism on abortion is somewhat astonishing. Yes, she’s a liberal ideologue who has been advocating these things internationally for decades. But now more than ever, America needs a leader who would seek to unite us in ways that remind us of our inclination to generosity and our most valued freedoms. Polling shows that there are huge opportunities on many issues, including abortion, for this.
Instead, Clinton spent the first two questions of the last presidential debate doubling down on the gravest poison of our political existence.
I guess I’m experiencing a little more freedom this election, because I’m not voting for anyone on the ballot. I’m opting for the write-in option. I know there are people reading this who think that this is a reckless copout, but the time has long come to stop pretending that things are all right. Trump didn’t start the fire -- he is not evil incarnate, either, for the record -- but he may just provide a pivotal opportunity to say “Enough.”
Something I find myself thinking about in recent days is friendship, specifically friendships after Election Day.
What is it about this election that has put a strain on personal relationships? I don’t think either Trump or Clinton have the power to destroy friendships. But what is going on when people write off magazines they grew up with, sunder themselves from people who have long been a part of their working days and banish family members? What is behind some of the vitriol on social media?
I myself have been informed of all the babies’ deaths I will be responsible for because I’ve criticized Trump. I’m not voting for him, and I don’t see that as a vote for Clinton, as many insist. We’re on our fourth decade of legal abortion. This is an unnecessary reality, not befitting of the generosity of our people and history. Polls indicate people know this, but we’re so overwhelmed by manipulative language, frustration and a lack of hope. And the anger of this election is not lifting us out of it.
I’ve been in Florida for the last week, studying St. Ignatius Loyola’s rules for discernment. Fr. Timothy Gallagher literally wrote the modern-day guidebook to them, “Discernment of the Spirits,” and as I walked to his morning class at the Cenacle of Our Lady of Divine Providence’s spiritual-direction school, I couldn’t help but notice a New York Times opinion column about Trump lacking discernment. But truly, it’s something we could all use a little more of.
Ignatius says we should “work to be in patience” when in desolation. Whatever you do on Election Day, whatever happens, whoever wins, we’re not going to be a winning people, a light to the nations, unless we consider that work in dealing with each other. Maybe that’s the real art of the deal.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-atlarge of National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA. She can be contacted at klopez@ nationalreview.com.