The frenzy of Establishment politicians and influence peddlers desperate to stop Donald Trump has reached new heights. Pope Francis may have backed off his head-scratcher of a veiled attack on Trump, but that didn’t stop a group of Catholic elites who have pronounced Trump “manifestly unfit to be president of the United States.”
In an open letter to “Our Fellow Catholics” and “all men and women of good will,” they claim that a Trump presidency will endanger the Catholic priorities of the sanctity of human life, religious freedom, traditional marriage, and limited constitutional government informed by the Catholic principle of subsidiarity.
This attack will likely boost Trump’s standing with the American people, as did the embarrassing attacks last week by Mitt Romney, but let’s review:
Human life: Trump was once pro-choice. Now he’s pro-life. Romney traveled the same path. But I never saw on Romney’s face the look I saw on Trump’s face when he reacted to the Planned Parenthood undercover videos. He was sickened by the commoditization of helpless human beings and sale of aborted baby parts. He says consistently he would not fund Planned Parenthood “as long as you’ve got the abortion going on.” So, he would halt taxpayer funding of the largest abortion provider in the United States unless it ceases doing abortions altogether. That’s a good start — something the pro-life movement and all common sense Americans have long sought.
Religious freedom: After winning the Michigan primary, Trump decried our culture’s “chipping away at Christianity.” He repeats the cheery Reaganesque promise, “We’re going to say ‘Merry Christmas’ again.” That’s shorthand for: You will be free to exercise your faith, not just in church, but in the public square. He boldly states that Christians are being persecuted and exterminated in the Middle East while others are able to escape.
Traditional marriage: He says consistently that he favors it, correctly notes that marriage laws are left by our Constitution to the people of each state to decide for themselves, and denounced strongly the judicial activism of the Supreme Court imposing same-sex marriage as an invented right. Pressed by a reporter about his own status as twice divorced, Trump offers no defense, no doubletalk. He says he was at fault. And Trump’s hard-working, serious, charitable children speak volumes about the job their parents did raising them.
Limited constitutional government: The Catholic principle of subsidiarity teaches that “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions.” Respecting the role of states, communities, and families and freeing them from the massive, overweening bureaucracy is something Trump wants to do — and importantly, can do. One can see him finally closing the Department of Education that Ronald Reagan had hoped to close, and taking no prisoners in reforming the Veterans Administration to end the red tape for those who deserve the best after serving our country.
Trump is “speaking for the millions of Americans who’ve lost faith in the political process,” as Reihan Salam said. He’s forging a historic realignment of American politics, breaking down the traditional party lines that really served the Establishment on both sides.
Trump speaks for the forgotten middle and working classes, and for those who wish they had work but don’t. When he says, “we love the poorly educated,” he really means “love.” (Note: Love is a Catholic value.)
So what’s left of the Catholic intelligentsia’s critique? Trump exhibits “vulgarity, oafishness, shocking ignorance, and … demagoguery.” In Catechism class, we teach that name-calling is not a Catholic value, but there’s a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black here.
The Catholic leaders accuse Trump of appealing to “racial and ethnic fears and prejudice.” But Trump’s three immigration reform principles sound like they’re distilled from America’s founding documents:
1.) A nation without borders is not a nation.
2.) A nation without laws is not a nation.
3.) A nation that does not serve its own citizens is not a nation.
This blueprint is perfectly consistent with Catholic, and all Christian, teaching (as of course, the American Constitution itself is).
Our greatest leaders have been accused of “divisiveness” in their time for pointing out truths that the less bold preferred to avoid. Such was the case with Lincoln’s famous anti-slavery speech: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” In 1858, Lincoln told the Republican State Convention in Illinois that either America would be entirely free, or the Democrats would establish slavery everywhere in the United States. This shocking message was in contrast to the moderate, middle ground that the elites of the time in both parties preferred, in Democrat Stephen A. Douglas’s doctrine of popular sovereignty.
Lincoln historian David Donald said the “house divided” speech was understood at the time to be “an extreme statement” and “an implied pledge on behalf of the Republican party to make war upon the institution of slavery” in the South.
Lincoln wasn’t Catholic; he was born a Protestant, like Trump, and his vaguely Protestant faith was not expressed in regular church attendance or affiliation. But both have a way of stating, simply and clearly, principles of right in troubled times.
Our country is being torn apart again, by broken borders, by a lack of good jobs, by a global economy that does not operate on American principles and free markets, by the relentless press of Islamic terror. We can’t keep going this way. The American Experiment — and the hopes and dreams of many Americans for themselves and their children — will soon end, unless we find a leader who will speak the plain truth about what is wrong and how to fix it.
Let’s pray that our fellow Catholics — and all Americans of good will — trust their own good sense in electing that man as our next president, and that he will say of all Americans, as Lincoln did at his first inaugural: “We are not enemies, but friends.”
Wendy Long is the Republican and Conservative Party nominee for the United States Senate in New York.