Well it turns out that St. Teresa of Avila’s “Let nothing disturb you prayer” was just as apt the day after election. Really though it is apt everyday.
One thing about having the gift of faith is that it can give you perspective and serve you in ways you might not expect. For example any election result like the one we just had would have severely depressed me when I was an atheist. When you are an atheist the main tool for culture shaping is the government. The government becomes the lens to shape whatever desired vision of the body politic you see best. There is no heaven so you want to create one on earth. I know I was certainly very angry whenever some candidate I wanted to win didn’t.
This time around I am certainly disappointed, but not despairing. God can bring good out of evil and we keep providing him with material to work with. Sure I had a momentary pulse of anger, but it was one I could put down quickly. We are not exactly headed to the catacombs (yet). Sure the serious threats to our nation and specifically the human person are serious and growing. A false view of human freedom and rights continues to get exaggerated into distorted forms. It is not like Catholics have not been in this situation before. The cross is never far from the life of faith. We are not alone in this struggle though since many members of the Communion of Saints have “Been there, done that.” The fact that the reason we even know about many of the saints is because of their martyrdom in these situations. The fact that we are unlikely to be martyred does not diminish the fact that these false views being adopted and lived are damaging to the human person and the family.
While I am sure my faith plays a part in my not being as upset as I might have been, I wonder about other possible factors. For example Gov. Romney was not really somebody I wanted to vote for in the first place. His election would have brought a different set of problems.
Now since pretty much every pundit is weighing in on Romney’s loss I guess I will add to the metric tons of useless of opinions. Or at least to set a couple of points to ponder.
Some months ago on Facebook I quipped something to the effect that “Gov. Romney will make as great a president as Sen. Bob Dole, Sen. McCain, and 2nd Term George H. Bush.” Looks like I was right on that score. Moderate Republicans just plain lose. If there was any chance for a moderate Republican to win it was this time out considering the economy – but that just was not enough. All of these men had some things in common. For example you can describe none of them as really social conservatives. Social conservatives were held off at arms length for the most part and were something to be used but not embraced. All of them also had opponents that had severe failings and ultimately did not take advantage of those failings. They were all pretty much fine with attacking fellow conservatives, but loath to say anything about their opponent that might come off as cross. Compare Romney’s attack ads against primary opponents to his ones against Obama. When it came to the 3rd debate Romney treated the President with kid gloves when it came to Bengazi and the Presidents complicity in their death seems to get worse and worse. Romney apparently thought he was just going to slide in upon the performance of the first debate.
In the aftermath of these losses two things always happen. Conservatives who are not social conservatives blame social conservatives for losing the race. If only the social issues didn’t come up everything would be fine. Social conservatives blame the Candidate for not being a social conservative. Beyond the moral questions the idea that if Romney embraced abortion (again), and gay marriage that he would have won I think is rather silly. You just aren’t going to out-Democrat the Democrats on this. Would Romney have won if he was really a social conservative? Seems doubtful to me. This schism of conservatism and social conservatism is a false schism and I go for the both/and approach here. I want a candidate that can articulate conservative ideas that includes so-called social conservatism. Either way Romney was not the full package and certainly no conservative philosopher who had thought deeply on these ideas. Ironically it was the President who made his campaign about social issues and was quite strident in his abortion and same-sex marriage support.
There was much talk about Romney exciting the base and bringing more enthusiasm. This turned out to be a dud and obviously some of the base was not going to hold finger to nose and instead did what their consciences informed them to do. What might be some of the factors in this?
- I think the whole Mormon aspect played a larger role than many pundits expected. A prudential case for not electing a Mormon as president can certainly be defended on some levels. I certainly heard callers on some talk radio stations who were not going to vote for him based on this. While some mainstream Protestants came out for him towards the end I think this played some factor – though probably not a decisive one.
- Going back to social conservatives again we knew the Governor was not one of us or that we were dubious of his claims of being pro-life. For someone who supposedly repented of these views he did not act like this was a real concern to him. Promising judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade is not the same as realizing the horror of abortion. That the GOP has been treating pro-lifers as second class citizens is becoming more and more obvious and I can certainly understand those who refused to vote for him based on these facts. I might have preferred Romney over Obama, but I would not overturn someone’s conscience with pragmatic advice.
- For those concerned about the threat to religious liberty again Romney sounded hollow. This was more of a sound bite issue to him than any real concern. His duplicity regarding Catholic Hospitals and forcing them to use Plan B is certainly evidence that like the President he was willing to violate religious freedom for political reasons.
- For those who are opposed to Obamacare it was hard to see how Gov. Romney’s association with Romneycare which included abortion coverage was to be trusted in repealing Obamacare. Sure there are differences between a Federally mandated program and a state one, but there were also a lot of similarities.
The question is will conservatives learn anything this time? Probably not. Each loser seems to have been someone whose time had come and deserved the shot. Someone that had run for the nomination before and lost. Maybe this isn’t a metric for automatic dismissal since the same facts are pretty much true of other GOP nominees that went on to win. It just shouldn’t be an automatic reward.
Now not to just dump on Romney, I don’t think any of the primary contenders would have won. I was closest in philosophy to Sen Santorum (with some grave exceptions), but frankly he comes off negative and not charismatic. Unfortunately that is a factor in today’s races. I just want a candidate that does not support any intrinsic evils. Apparently that is asking too much.
Now what will the President’s second term be like? Well much like his first when he had a GOP dominated congress. Nothing will get passed and he will side-swipe the constitution with more executive orders. I don’t see the economy improving, but would love to see the private sector overcome these government imposed burdens. The drum beat for Federal approval of same-sex marriage will increase now that we have had people vote in this non-reality. There will be more persecution of Catholic and other faiths in the name of tolerance. His possible Supreme Court picks could shape the court for another generation. He will only add to his rightly-earned dishonor of being the most pro-abortion president in history. I wonder how much the facts of the deaths of four Americans in Bengazi will play out in a congressional investigation. We have talked about teflon presidents before and it is embarrassing that he could survive Fast and Furious, the economy, and the shameful betrayal of our embassy employees. The media will hit the snooze alarm for another four years so whether these things will ever escalate into media coverage at least on the level of Valerie Plame is doubtful.
Wow this is all pretty depressing. Thank God I don’t rely on just the Government to be the solver of all things. History is full of surprising events and even more surprising conversions. No executive order can stop me from praying and living the Gospel. My Hope is the one who Changes water into wine and wine into his own Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Meanwhile I will be praying for the President and his administration, but loving my enemies is not the same thing as saying I don’t have any.