I cannot vote for Hillary Clinton. I reject her whole approach to the unborn, to marriage, to sexuality. I am shocked at the recent Wikileaks revelations about her plans to infiltrate the Catholic Church. I can gladly acknowledge that in some respects she occupies the moral high ground against Trump, as in refusing to torture terrorist suspects and to kill their families, but I think that, all things considered, she would do great damage to our country.
My friends think that if I reject Hillary, then surely I will vote for Trump, who has after all given some half-hearted indications of making good judicial appointments. But I won’t vote for him either. I refuse to jump out of the frying pan into the fire. So I owe my friends an accounting.
The Case Against Trump
I find that Catholics who support Trump don’t face up to the vast and many-sided moral and cultural damage that a Trump administration will inflict on us. They don’t face up to his own toxic mix of incompetence, ignorance, indecency, thugishness, trashiness, and psychological pathology.
Why do they register all of Hillary’s failings but give Trump a pass for his? Because they say that the life issues “trump” all others: if Trump will nominate some pro-life judges, then we can put up with almost any amount of harm and degradation that he might otherwise cause.
So we don’t have to bother with thinking about that degradation , or asking how great it is, and finding out just what it consists in, and what evil fruit it will bear; we can save ourselves all this trouble by just repeating the mantra, “the life issues surpass all other issues, you have to vote for Trump.”
Let’s rouse ourselves from this dogmatic slumber.
For starters, a Trump presidency would disgrace the office. The White House would be dragged into the gutter of celebrity scandals and tabloids. This is Trump’s element, even more than it was Bill Clinton’s, and he will take it with him wherever he goes.
The disgusting 2005 tape does not just record a few incidents in Trump’s private life, but it is emblematic of Trump’s very public persona. More tapes are doubtless waiting to come to light, more accusers are about to step forward. With Trump in the White House our public life would be constantly destabilized by some new outrage committed by the president. Four years of Trump’s trashiness and debauchery would besmirch and degrade the presidency; it would be like dragging the flag through the gutter.
The problem is not exactly that he would push bad policies; it is more systemic than that, it is that he would pollute our national ethos. Will you say that the good judges Trump may appoint outweigh all this pollution? How do you know this? How do you compare such a good with such an evil?
But this is only the beginning of the troubles. Asked why he is so “forgiving” of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, Trump always answers, “because he says nice things about me.” This is simply infantile. When Putin occupies and annexes parts of Ukraine, Trump looks the other way because Putin “says nice things about me.” Do we really want a president who is so self-absorbed that he can be disarmed by empty flattery?
This goes hand in hand with Trump’s vindictiveness. You cross him, you’re subject to a torrent of intemperate insults. Does any one think that this pettiness and vindictiveness will not show up in his dealings with foreign leaders? Does anyone think that if Angela Merkel crosses Trump he will be able to restrain himself from calling her to her face a “nasty woman”? This will handicap Trump as leader no less than his vulnerability to flattery. Whoever represents America on the world stage needs to be an adult. Trump is far more ill-mannered, undisciplined, and self-indulgent than most children.
Look at the trainwreck that Trump has caused in the Republican Party; what if he is similarly divisive and destructive within the community of nations? Do we turn a blind eye to these menacing omens, just because he might make some positive judicial appointments?
Not Christ But Nietzche
But there’s much worse. Trump has an anti-Christian love of power and scorn for the weak. His basic mentality is Nietzschean, as a number of critics have observed. The weak are “losers,” which is the worst thing that can be said of someone in Trump’s universe. When Hillary Clinton, suffering from pneumonia, became unsteady on her feet at the 9/11 ceremony, Trump mocked her weakness, just as he mocked a disabled reporter.
On the other hand, he exults in flaunting strength and force. His celebrity, he boasts, puts women at his disposal. He takes delight in making aggressive sexual advances towards them, intimidating them with his fame. He likes to use and then discard them, as his disordered libido prompts him. He talks at his rallies about wanting to punch protesters in the face. He has often said that he wants to torture terror suspects — in violation of U.S. and international law – and has even threatened to kill their families. As for the breakdown in our inner cities, all he can think to do is to incite the police to get tougher. He seems devoid of any Christian sensibility.
If his basic mental makeup is Nietzchean, how can he fail to act like a Nietzschean, how can he not, as president, walk over the weak and vulnerable, like he walked over the widow living next to his casino? Should Christians just make peace with this anti-Christian ethos, for the sake of possible pro-life judicial appointments? Will not four or eight years of a leader who despises the vulnerable strike a blow at the heart of the pro-life movement? Will this not undermine our efforts to build a culture of life?
The Final Word
If Trump really does make some good judicial appointments, it will be by political necessity and not by conviction. His long pro-abortion record (up to at least 2012) corresponds much better to who he is. This is because his libertine way of life needs to be backed up by legal abortion. Sexual license and respect for the unborn do not go together.
We would be glad, of course, to have pro-life justices, even if they are appointed for the wrong reasons. But no one should be surprised if he treats his pro-life promises like he treats his marital promises.
I say to the Catholic supporters of Trump: you are paying a huge price for the benefits you are bargaining for. Have you taken the measure of the manifold malignancy that Trump would bring into our public life? Have you considered how Trump will disgrace the office, destabilize the world with erratic and reckless behavior, and undercut the pro-life cause with his Nietzschean scorn for the vulnerable? Count the cost! At the very least respect your fellow Catholics who cannot support Trump.