If anyone remembers the March 16th Article by CNA entitled “Can a Catholic in good conscience vote for Trump?” the answer from that hit-piece was a resounding no, at least from the “Catholic leaders” who signed the anti-Trump petition. Upon reading their arguments, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the mainstream media, which has often attacked Trump unfairly during this election season, and used hyperbole and rhetoric to make him appear like a “vulgar” “buffoon.” I expected it from the mainstream media, but I was not expecting it from our Catholic leaders as well.
This compelled me to write this article—to demonstrate to the Catholic “never-Trumpers” out there, that a Catholic can indeed vote for Trump in good conscience. And not only can a Catholic vote for Trump, but that he ought to, if for no other reason than to prevent Mrs. Clinton from getting elected. In part 1, I will begin with the simplest argument—the pro-life argument—and provide a side-by-side comparison of both candidates on the pro-life issue (something which I have yet to see done by Catholic media). In part 2, I will outline some basic moral principles for undecided voters, particularly those who believe conscience compels them to stay home. I will draw heavily from a Thomistic-based moral theology in this analysis. And finally, part 3 will address some of the more common misconceptions leveled against Trump today.
Ultimately, a Catholic has a civil duty to vote. Catholics cannot simply choose to remain home and hide behind conscience. No two platforms are equal, and so no two candidates will be equally undesirable (nor can any candidate be perfectly desirable, unless he be without sin). It is therefore incumbent upon Catholics to discern which candidate is least undesirable, and vote for that person, so as to avoid the greater evil. I will speak further about this later. But for now, let us start with the simplest but most compelling of all arguments, the pro-life argument;
The Primacy of the Abortion Issue
Animal activists and environmentalists may not like to hear this part. But it is important that we first establish just how singular the abortion issue really is. For those that may be unaware, the dignity of the human person surpasses the dignity of everything else in creation combined, because only man was “made in the image and likeness of God” and endowed with a spiritual soul. The difference between the lowest man and the most intelligent ape, as akin to the difference between heaven and earth. Why? Because only man possesses a spiritual part–a vestige of God imprinted on his soul–that makes him immortal. St. Thomas Aquinas often described man as a kind of hybrid being, not quite an angel, and not quite an animal, but a composite of both body and spirit. All of creation was, in fact, given to man as a gift by God. And although man is called to be good stewards of the environment, and to treat animals in accord with their dignity (because everything in creation is good, insofar as it was created by God), man is called to treat his fellow man in a very special way; he is called to love him. He is called to love him even more than he loves his own life. And when he does this, he, by God’s grace, effectively raises himself closer to the status of angel. But when he treats his fellow man with disdain, and violates his dignity, he lowers himself below even the animals. This is the gift of free will.
It is important that we understand this, that we understand man’s place in the world and how he is to treat his brothers and sisters, so we can understand just how offensive the willful destruction of human life really is. This is why the greatest social injustices are those that violate the dignity of the human person. Murder of the innocent, in particular, is an injustice of the highest order. The shear scale and gravity of this evil puts abortion in a class of its own. If one were to combine all other social issues and put them onto a scale, the scale would still be outweighed by abortion. No other issue even comes close, not even the question of waterboarding or deporting illegal immigrants.
One policy that directly causes the loss of innocent human life is more evil than ten policies that directly cause the loss of guilty human life, which is more evil than fifty policies that cause harm to human life, which is more evil than two-hundred policies that inconvenience human life. As Mother Teresa said, if a nation cannot protect the most innocent and defenseless of its people, then nothing else it does will bear great fruit.
And let us also not forget about the second victim in abortion. Abortion not only kills the body of innocent beings, but it also secretly destroys the souls of women and those complicit in the act. One in four American women will have at least one abortion in their lives. And for this reason, abortion can be considered the greatest abuse of women to date. It has eroded the souls of untold millions of women in this country, our sisters in Christ. This is why the Catholic Church is the most pro-woman organization in the world, because only the Church has been the voice for the unborn from time immemorial. Only the Church wills good for woman. And what is good for woman, does not compel her to do something that erodes her soul.
Comparison of Trump & Hillary’s Pro-Life Patform
With the basics now out of the way, lets begin with a quick side-by-side comparison of both candidates on their pro-life platforms. To date, I do not recall ever reading a single Catholic article, or watching a single Catholic news segment, that compared Trump’s and Hillary’s pro-life platform side-by-side. Think about this for a moment. The pro-life issue is the most important issue to date. And yet, who has actually done a simple side-by-side comparison of the candidates on their pro-life policies? Has EWTN? Has CNA? Has NCR? Does it not seem an important and new worthy consideration? I do not want to say that Catholic media has been negligent in this, but it seems too important to just ignore. So here is my feeble attempt;
Donald Trump’s Platform on Pro-Life
Hillary Clinton’s Platform on Pro-Life
–promises to appoint pro-life Scallia-esque justices to the supreme court, who could eventually revisit Roe vs. Wade.*
–promises to appoint liberal pro-choice judges to the supreme court*
I cannot stress how important making this comparison is. The first point alone, the appointing a supreme court justice, has the potential to shape law in our country for decades. And Trump has promised (and provided evidence to the fact) that he will appoint a justice with the same mind as Scalia. Think about this for a moment. Justice Antonin Scalia was a champion of pro-life, the strongest pro-life justice on the supreme court, and continually pushed to overturn Roe vs. Wade. If all Trump does in office is appoint a Sacalia-like justice as he promises, he will do more good than many past Republican presidents. The fact that Catholic media has not given this more coverage, to be frank, is inexcusable. This kind of pro-life analysis should regularly make headlines, and should be continually circulating in the minds of voters.
“But,” one may object, “I don’t believe Trump will follow through with his promises. I doubt his sincerity.” This is speculation. And to be honest, it is not how a Catholic should think. Yes, we don’t know what Trump will do. But we do know what Hillary will do. We must judge based on the facts we know in the present moment. To judge solely based on possible future consequences is in fact an error condemned by the Catholic Church (Consequentialism). This is why we must vote based on policy and platform, not on possible future consequences that may or may not occur.
And if you don’t trust Trump, then at least trust Ben Carson. Trust the good people he surrounds himself with, like Kellyanne Conway (another strong pro-life advocate). These are the types of people that Trump will appoint to the most powerful positions in government. Remember, this is not just about Trump and the presidency. This is about an entire cabinet, an entire organization, from Surgeon General, to Attorney General, to Secretary of State, to Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Education, Secretary of Homeland Security, and on, and on, and on. You can tell a lot about a person by the people he surrounds himself with. And Trump has been surrounding himself with solid examples of human beings. And who is Hillary Clinton surrounding herself with? More people with her same pro-abortion policies.
Remember, Planned Parenthood wants you to stay home. They want you not to vote for Trump, because they know that by not voting for Trump, you are effectively giving a vote to Hillary Clinton. Is it any surprise that Cecile Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood, openly criticized Trump at the Democratic National Convention? As she stated, “Donald Trump has pledged to appoint justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade and undo decades of progress.” While the crowd cheered, she added, “His policies aren’t just frightening, they’re rooted in a disturbing worldview.” I mean, seriously? Does a faithful Catholic need any further reason to vote for Trump? The general of the enemy’s army has made Trump her enemy. Do Catholics not realize that when they repeat the same narrative as Cecile Richards and the mainstream media, they play right into their hands? Planned Parenthood must be so happy that Catholics have been lulled into inaction by their very own leaders.
“But there are other issues besides abortion.” Yes, that’s true. But give me one issue that kills 1 million Americans every year. Give me one issue that kills 1 million innocent babies every year. And remember, abortion is a double-edged evil. It not only kills babies, but it also kills womens’ souls. The souls of millions of American women are at stake in this issue, the souls of our sisters in Christ. Abortion in fact is the greatest threat to the soul of our country, because it is the greatest destroyer and abuser of women to date. As Mother Teresa said, “The greatest threat to love and peace, is abortion.”
Continued in part II (TBA)….
In the next two parts, I will go into more theology and morality, and try to clear up some of the more common misconceptions the media has made against Trump, such as his flip-flopping, his business failures, his policies on Muslims, his building a wall, etc. I would also speak to the issue of conscience, and how conscience can be abused. My main point will be, that while Catholics are obliged to follow their consciences, they are also obliged to form their consciences as well. The point: Conscience should not be used as an excuse to stay home. Since no two platforms are exactly alike, and no two people are exactly alike, then no two candidates can ever be equally undesirable. There will always be one more undesirable than the other. Catholics have a duty to study their policies and discern which one it is.