Since Wednesday night, and for obvious reasons, a thought much like that otherwise expressed by Ralph Waldo Emerson has been going through my mind: “What you have done speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” Of course, the truth is that making a sound judgment about what someone says, even when we can hear it clearly, requires that we consider what they have done and what they say in light of a standard that may or may not be reflected in either. These days, especially in our politics, we are constantly being invited to forget that aspect of judgment. It’s like buying a car in a town with only one dealership and no access to anything like a CARFAX report. We’re given no option but to listen to the different sales patters and choose accordingly.
I cannot accept this stunted version of electoral choice. I invariably find myself comparing what this one or that one says to what reasonably ought to be said in light of the principles that substantiate what they profess to represent. Let’s say that someone declares “I’m pro-life” and then says that abortion should be lawful in the cases of rape or incest. I think of the pro-life principle (every human being has a God-endowed right to life), which makes it unlawful to take innocent human life. I ask myself if the person’s statement is consistent with that principle. Has the innocent child in those cases committed some offense that would justify a penalty of death? If not, by what reasoning can anyone claim lawfully to take the child’s life? If he does so, hasn’t he discarded the premise of the pro-life cause? But by discarding its premise, he cuts the ground out from under the cause. When what he says and does thus undermine the reasonable grounds for being pro-life, how can it make sense to trust him to represent that cause? By doing so you are likely to make both yourself and the cause you profess appear unreasonable, weak and ridiculous.
Right now, our country is in the midst of an economic malaise that every day threatens to slide us further toward a great depression. Naturally, every candidate for office proclaims that they will be the competent, courageous savior of our prosperity. But if a candidate professes to believe that responsible choice and liberty are the great engines of prosperity, but then proclaims that the actions he takes in government will create jobs and expand the horizons of opportunity and productiveness, doesn’t what they say contradict what they profess to believe? I find it hard not to laugh at the folks who rightly ridicule Obama for telling business people “You didn’t do that” and then tell us that we should vote for them because when they have charge of the government it will succeed in doing what they were just rightly saying people do for themselves.
Of course, the rhetoric these politicians deploy sounds good to conservatives who reject socialism and all its works. But which of them advocates policies that would actually remove the perversely distorting hand of centralized bureaucratic regulation and control from our economic life? Which of them now boldly declares that we must abolish the federal income tax; dismantle the monstrous hybrid of private profiteering and barely concealed socialism that is the Federal Reserve system; and put the expanding beachheads of socialism in our health and retirement sectors on a path toward orderly extinction? Bishop Fulton J. Sheen saw the truth long before the socialist convergence of the Democratic and Republican leadership was so far advanced as it is today: “[W]hat is the difference between the major political parties of our country except that of ‘Tweedle-Dum’ and ‘Tweedle-Dee.’ Both spend fortunes to discover what the public wants; both promise equal raids on the treasury to supply those wants.”
The subservient media bobbleheads of the elitist faction try so hard to resize the little differences between these competing socialists into some momentous and historic choice. But it can only seem so to those ignorant or foolish enough to confine their thinking within the parameters of the virtual-reality programming that these days passes for news and information. Like characters in “The Matrix,” we are told to take the red pill or the blue, though either one returns us to the same delusion. What’s saddest about this commandeering of our minds is that the way to transcend the delusion is always at hand. It is as near, in fact, as the common sense of our own existence; our own worth and responsibility as human beings; our own vocation as people made to represent, without the aid of any media, the principle that not virtually, but truly determines our nature and that of the whole in which we exist.
The issues that are the litmus test for this principle of reality are the very ones they run from, these red and blue politicos – issues like abortion and homosexual “marriage,” which often add a vibrant streak of yellow to their red and blue profession. The main imperative of their virtual-reality politics reduces politics to economics, economics to physical survival and physical survival to the faithless pursuit of material things. There is no place in it for the acknowledgment of our true nature, which includes in the account of our welfare the debt we owe to the Creator God. They are making of our politics what they have already made of what they call our sexuality– a realm from which all true thoughts of God are banished, lest they interfere with our worship of what we ourselves do make– strange images of death and love, prosperity and power.
So we are left with this so-called choice, between those who openly move to affirm this banishment of God, and those who also practice it but behind a mask of pious interjections. If, with our votes, we are willing to validate this choice as an election, what becomes of our resort to the Creator God and the appeal for His justice that mainly defines us as Americans? That is why I, for one, refuse to do so.