The worst part about Trump is that, by being so obviously an ass, he has christened an entire population of thoughtless schmucks into politically-involved “liberals.” Taking pride in your political participation by being anti-Trump is like taking pride in your driving abilities because you don’t ram your truck into your neighbor’s sun-room every time you park.
The worst part about Hilary is that she doesn’t exist. She is the vacuous lack of Trump that inspires the American voter.
Somewhere between an ass and a vacuum, we are told to “rock the vote.” My generation is called apathetic for disdaining this commandment. Perhaps we are. But the one who naps during the air-raid is a hero — if the air-raid is a farce. Apathy in a time of manufactured apocalypse may well be a virtue.
Apocalypse, say you? Apocalypse, say I. This election has devolved into the thoughtless scream that there is no time for thinking. This election is accrues voters, not by inspiring anyone with anything, but by prophesying the Hell the Other Candidate will rain down upon the American populace if elected. This, as both candidates assure us, is “the most important election our country has ever faced.” Everything is on the line. Non-participation in the national election, as “get out the vote” campaigns reprimand us, amounts to a death wish, a lack of identity, and a lack of virtue, substance, personal heroism and all-around spunk. It is the position of an essentially reprobate group.
As elections become worse, the apocalyptic rhetoric to “vote or die” becomes amplified. The less inspiring the candidates, the more the threat of death, violence, and a lack of character are required to keep a mediocre portion of the populace voting for Republican and Democratic plutocrats. (Voting third-party, let’s be clear, is described as simply another method of non-participation. As the cliche has it, “a vote for [third-party candidate] is just a vote for Clinton/Trump.”)
This election, then, is being broadly described as an event of cataclysmic importance — a battle for the soul of America. The outcome of this battle is determined by a choice that puts the very life and identity of the voter on the line — a choice which no man may escape by seeking refuge in a third-party. Add to all this the moralizing rhetoric of the campaigns (which are concerned with the other candidate as a criminal, an evil person, and a Satan) and you have, dear reader, an apocalypse — antichrists, end-days, plagues and all.
One would think that the Christian, who believes there will be an apocalypse, would be immune from this particular method of gaining his vote. Belief in the apocalypse is, quite simply, the rational recognition that every man must choose whom he will serve while there is still time for choosing — the army of Christ or the army of darkness. Such a belief should stay him from buying its politically pimped-out version. Surely he would be able to say, to the idea that there is no time for the slow change that radical reform requires — “you know not the day nor the hour.” We may yet have years. Surely he would be able to say, to the idea that his character and identity lies in a non-choice between two plutocrats — “render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, but render unto God what belongs to God,” in whom alone lies the identity of the Christian. Surely, when he is pressured for a vote by the instant-Hell of the Other Candidate, he could muster up the wherewithal to realize that the only Hell is a lack of charity — a charity which draws towards positive goods and not merely away from frightening evils.
By leaning on his Christianity, which rationally checks the proposed importance of any worldly apocalypse, the Christian is the ideal candidate to begin the long, slow work of radical reform. He can ignore the Oncoming Disaster and the stupid, knee-jerk politics it demands of him. He has the space and the breath to establish the common good. But alas, alack, and al-Jezeera, Christians are among the first horsemen of this phony Apocalypse. I’m not just speaking about the major endorsements and the awkward must-vote positions of the conservatives among the faithful. The commandment that one must vote for the lesser evil of two major party candidates has holy Christians reading signs and portents like a witches coven, looking for some hint of less-evil, of possible-good, or even just of maybe-not-the-worst in the entrails of Donald Trump. Especially popular is this video of Trump asking for prayers, as being a good president of the United States may be “the only way [he’ll] get into Heaven.” This, I have been told, shows that he is “open” — or something.
It’s wonderful really, that while for most salvation involves the death of self, for Trump, it involves becoming the President of the United States of America. How conveniently the power of this world becomes the way of the pilgrim.
I jest, but it’s no joke. The primary commandment that “Thou Must Vote For One of the Major Party Candidates,” has its Christian adherents running in circles trying to dig up some reason to think that Trump is doing anything but scratching our particularly Christian itches whenever he gets a free hand: We must vote for him — his soul hangs in the balance. We must vote for him — religious liberty hangs in the balance. Let’s be realistic. The fate of Christians has been an iffy issue ever since our Revolutionary, deistic forefathers founded a secular, liberal Republic, too-soon swept up by an industrial capitalism with all its strange gods. No choice between an ass and a vacuum will save us. No, we need to deny the Apocalypse and begin the difficult and losing work of political revolution. We need to block off the 50 years it will take to establish a party that seeks to establish a genuine common good, in solidarity with the poor, beginning at the level closest to the human person — the home, the street, the neighborhood, the city, and so forth. We need the radical reform of the Republican party according to the principles set down by the Church’s social encyclicals. We a need a slow de-emphasizing of the importance of the nation-state and its national leaders in exchange for an emphasis on the importance of the work of justice and charity, which begins locally. We need building up of the city of man that will gather no cameras unto itself. We need time, and, contrary to the apocalyptic posturing of the politicians, we may very well have it.