The nomination circus has ended, the major party conventions are in the books, and the official presidential campaigns are now well underway. The election in 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.
My wife told me last night that she is considering deleting Facebook until after the election. I think that’s probably a common thought. 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 for their supporters and horror and repulsion in their opponents. And despite this dismal scenario, as I write this, third party candidates have produced no clear-cut alternatives.
How Do We Choose?
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 we certainly have our work cut out for us in discerning how we will vote. All serious candidates view our demographic as a major prize. The media will keep busy by manipulating information and playing on our emotions. On social media we will have to deal with a lot of celebrities, strangers, family and friends that see things differently from us, and they 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 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, rather, His eternal wisdom. Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, advocates for “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 the person you can’t stomach. Just because someone holds a different view than you does not mean they don’t 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. The two major party candidates are far from perfect. It’s understandable that others would be conflicted about them. When you hear about your candidate’s shortcomings it’s not your job to trade punches with the jabber. With these candidates the 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 take a look at where the candidates’ parties 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?”