By the time you read my next article, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be elected to the office of President of the United States. That is a fact. Barring a major catastrophe, one of those two candidates will hold the highest office in the land, hold our temporal futures in their hand, and hold great sway over the entire world. I wanted to summarize the moral objections to both candidates, contrast the two in terms of intrinsic moral evil, and finally advocate why Trump is in fact a better choice based on Catholic moral teaching.
Hillary Clinton: The Evil We Know
The Democrats today are very different from Democrats of the past. Their candidate, Hillary Clinton, has proposed a fundamental sea change in morality, especially in terms of abortion, same-sex “marriage,” and religious freedom. Hillary Clinton has stated that she intends to make abortion a fundamental healthcare right for every man and woman in this country, and force us all to pay for it. She wants to repeal the Hyde Amendment which in theory stops domestic federal funding of abortion. She has stated that the unborn have no rights as a person under the Constitution. These stances are radical encroachments on the right to life.
Hillary is an ardent supporter of same-sex “marriage,” which is an anti-social attack on the family, harms children, and leads many to confusion over the role of men and women in an ordered society. People with same-sex attraction, of course, are loved by God as much as any of us, but acting on these passions whether or not they are codified into federal law is gravely disordered and sinful. It contributes to the erosion of complementarity and partnership between men and women that started with no-fault divorce. Children require a mother AND a father to thrive; same-sex “marriage” deprives them of this and of kinship to blood relatives.
Hillary boldly supports attacks on religious freedom. She has stated clearly that Christian beliefs opposing progressive values will have to change, and be kept out of the public square. John Podesta, Chairman of the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, admitted in an e-mail that he has formed organizations to undermine the Catholic Church, and is campaigning to foment a “Catholic Spring” to eliminate our “medieval” beliefs and hierarchy. Within these communications it is stated that Catholics are “backward,” and that we are foolish to believe in Thomistic Philosophy or the principle of subsidiarity–things that once formed the basis of Western culture.
Hillary is no true friend of racial minorities, or of the poor and disadvantaged. How do we know this? We know because of the leftist policies she advocates which have put African Americans, Latinos, and other minorities at a disadvantage. The Washington Times sums it up:
“What do we have to show for all this federal largesse? The poverty rate hasn’t budged. Instead, we’ve seen the rise of multigenerational welfare dependency. For the $2 trillion the federal government has spent on education since 1965, test scores have plummeted and the achievement gap between minority students and their peers has barely budged. Families, the bedrock of an authentically great society, have suffered most in LBJ’s great social experiment. The overall out-of-wedlock birth rate has ballooned from 8 percent in the mid-1960s to more than 40 percent today; from 25 percent to 73 percent among blacks.”
Hillary proposes more of the same. Part of the solution unfortunately seems to be a promotion of the ideas of one of Hillary’s favorite people, Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood: extermination of the poor and “undesirables.” Hillary Clinton has proposed increasing tax-payer support of Planned Parenthood, which persecutes the most vulnerable among us, marketing abortion through deceptive practices and targeting minorities. Think this is crazy talk? Currently, in New York City, up to 78% of African American and Hispanic pregnancies end in abortion. In the country as a whole, upwards of 95% of children with Down’s Syndrome are now aborted. Margaret Sanger’s dream is coming true through the policies of Barack Obama and, if elected, Hillary Clinton.
Last but not least, Hillary Clinton is exceedingly dishonest. She has has lied before Congress and before the American public about her actions in the creation of a private e-mail server and handling of classified documents. 33,000 emails with classified content were illegally deleted by Hillary and her IT staff, apparently after they were subpoenaed by Congress. Laptops and other devices were destroyed with hammers. These actions alone are felonies which would disqualify her from holding the office of President. E-mails released by Wiki-leaks are revealing apparent systemic corruption between the Clinton Foundation and foreign countries. Evidence from the Wiki-leaks e-mails are demonstrating that undue influence has been placed on members of the press, including the allegation that DNC Chair Donna Brazile shared the debate questions with Hillary before the second debate. These allegations should at least give a potential voter pause for concern.
What We Know about Donald Trump
Donald J. Trump is rough around the edges. He is brash and at times egotistical. He is entertaining and speaks to the masses of ordinary people who are fed up with the aforementioned policies and attitudes from the Democrat party. In terms of intrinsic moral evils, he has made disturbing statements about the use of torture and “going after” the families of terrorists. He did moderate those statements to say that any activity would of course be done within the bounds of the law, which currently does not condone either of those activities. Some have seen this as a “reversal” of those original statements.
Trump’s personal history is a mess, with two divorces, and a series of failed business dealings in the 1980s. The worst of it seems to be a series of bankruptcies, a common business practice, which left many creditors and employees without the money that was due to them. There are recent revelation of his “locker room” vulgarities in 2005, and claims of sexual mistreatment by some women in recent days. However in light of many positive statements by supportive employees, and no criminal history, these claims seem spurious and politically motivated at the current time. In any case, these items fall within the realm of bad personal behavior, not proposed public policy which represent moral intrinsic evil.
There is much evidence that he does have a good heart. Evangelical leaders Dr. James Dobson and Pat Robertson are both convinced Trump has converted and has accepted Christ in his life. As far back as 2011, Trump has been staunchly Pro-Life, and Father Frank Pavone, leader of Priests for Life, endorses Trump. Trump has signed a statement addressed to the Catholic Leadership Conference promising to support the pro-life cause, and takes the side of religious freedom when it comes to Catholic ministry in this country. No candidate that I can recall has ever done that.
Compare and Contrast
Comparing Clinton and Trump, it is obvious that they both have flawed personal lives and characters, as do most of us. Hillary contrasts with Donald in that her personal failures in terms of dishonesty (lying to Congress, deleting State Department e-mails, mishandling of Top Secret Documents, accepting payments from foreign governments, etc.) were done while acting as a public official. Donald’s peccadilloes may not turn out to be much more than nasty talk with other men and a few bankruptcies which financially hurt people depending on him; it is unlikely Trump will enact public policy mandating divorce or vulgar language. Trump, not a professional politician, made a hyperbolic statement about “torture” and “going after” the families of terrorists (intrinsic evils), which he later moderated, if not retracted. Hillary, on the other hand, advocates multiple intrinsic evils (abortion, same-sex “marriage,” etc.), including attacks on the Catholic Church and religious freedom. These will be enacted as public policy which will directly affect every man, woman, and child in America.
Applying Catholic Moral Teaching
Hillary Clinton clearly advocates several intrinsic moral evils which rule her out, but how could one propose a moral vote for Trump?
According to moral theologian Fr. Brian Harrison, O.S., S.T.D., we can consider two things. The first is Cardinal Ratzinger’s teaching from 2004 in which he said that in the case of abortion or same-sex marriage for instance, you have to distinguish between: (a) voting for a pro-choice or pro-gay marriage law and (b) voting for a pro-choice or pro-gay marriage candidate. The Magisterium has only denounced the former as being always sinful. Ratzinger taught that (b) is also sinful if you vote for him/her because they are pro-choice or pro-gay marriage, since that would also be formal cooperation in sin, but it could be excusable remote material cooperation in sin if one sees some other very powerful overriding reason for voting for that candidate in spite of their position on pro-choice or pro-gay marriage.
Thus, even if Trump did propose some intrinsic moral evil, such as torture, one could morally vote for him if the powerful overriding reason was to stop a greater evil, namely the multiple intrinsic moral evils of Hillary Clinton, and the fact that our intent was to promote the greater good.
Secondly, Fr. Harrison suggests we can also apply the classical Thomistic four-point Principle of the Double Effect: the four conditions need to be met in order for it to to be morally OK to carry out an act which you foresee will have two effects, one good and one bad.
1) The act itself must not be intrinsically evil (we can’t do evil so that good may come, i.e., a good end doesn’t justify a bad means);
2) Your intention (purpose) must also be good, and you must not desire or intend the foreseen bad effect, but rather, tolerate it as something unfortunate but inevitable in the circumstances;
3) The good effect can’t be the result of the bad effect (for that would also amount to doing evil that good may come), but rather, the bad effect must follow, or at least be simultaneous with, the good effect;
4) There must be a due proportion between the good effect and the bad effect (i.e., the bad effect can’t be so absolutely awful as to outweigh the good result you’re seeking).
Applying that to a vote for Trump:
1) is fulfilled because you’re voting for a candidate who has promised to appoint pro-life, non-activist, Scalia-type judges to the Supreme Court, which is the only possible way that Roe v. Wade and Obergefell can ever be overturned, and to support religious liberty, homeschooling, and other policies that Christian morality sees as good, or at least not intrinsically evil;
2) is fulfilled, because the above hoped-for good effects are your intention and purpose in voting for Trump, and you don’t intend or desire the negative side effect of having a man in the White House whose personal moral record, at least from a decade or more ago, includes lechery, adultery, a certain ruthlessness, lying and other character defects;
3) is fulfilled, because the good effects you hope for (see #1 above) are obviously not going to be the result of his defects mentioned n #2 above; and
4) is fulfilled, because Hillary’s far more radical policy defects from the standpoint of Catholic and Christian ethics–she’d be the most pro-abortion, pro-sodomite, anti-religious freedom president in US history, and one of the most corrupt–far outweigh the probable shortcomings of a Trump presidency.
The Choice Before Us
As I said at the outset, by the time my next article is published in November, either Hillary Clinton or Donald J. Trump will be the President-elect of the United States. In reality, the only way to defeat Hillary Clinton, who has great plans to spread great evils in this country, is to make the choice for the candidate who will make the situation better. We know as a certainty that Hillary will do these evil things; the worst we have from Trump is a retracted statement on torture and a promise to follow the law. As demonstrated above, Catholic moral teaching does allow us to stop Hillary by choosing Trump because he is in fact the greater good in this instance. May the Holy Spirit guide us in our decision making, and may God’s will be done.
Our Lady of Victories, Pray for Us.