Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Traditional Catholic View of the Presidential Candidates: Part I Donald Trump-Updated 9-30-16


After watching coverage of the presidential debates, the general media coverage of the candidates, and after reading news stories covering the various candidates, I have come to a sad conclusion. The conclusion is that America little to offer in the quality of political candidates running for president. We have turned into a vice ridden country which tolerates moral degeneration and as a result we tolerate vice ridden political representatives. Since a large portion of America tolerates vice as a norm of human behavior we should not be surprised that we produce no good fruit on the political vine. I believe that this toleration of vice goes even further to a celebration of vice. "Vice is the new virtue" should be the slogan of the vast majority of the candidates and many of their supporters. There is no whisper of virtue among the lips of a Hillary Clinton or a Donald Trump. Although varying in degrees of immorality, I believe neither are fit to serve the American people as models of virtue, intellectual prowess or pillars of wisdom, and thus do not objectively qualify as presidential material. These two candidates appear to be at this point in time, the two most popular among their parties. A shame indeed. 

In this series of posts I will examine each of the major candidates running for president. I will attempt to judge them all by the same criteria. I have no allegiance to any party or ideology. These blog posts may upset some readers, for that I apologize in advance. But, I think that much needs to be said in light of the upcoming election cycle concerning faithful Catholics. First I will state that these are my opinions based on my personal observations and nothing more. I do not intend to tell anyone who to vote for. I am giving you my opinion on the viability of these candidates based on a specific criteria, and damn the torpedoes. I am unapologetic in being a faithful Catholic first, and a proud American second. In other words, God comes before any political or nationalistic leanings. I also do not view the American political system as the pinnacle of all political systems. I do however have to operate within these imperfect confines due to my place in time and history. 

I want first and foremost to examine these candidates in light of their propensity to virtue or lack of it as they demonstrate on a day to day basis. I will judge the consistency of their stances on what I consider as a faithful Catholic to be critical moral issues. As they say, one cannot have politics without morality. These issues include but are not limited to abortion, "gay marriage", euthanasia, just war, etc. I personally find these issues to be of critical importance in determining a viable candidate. For example, one who cannot defend the innocent life of a baby in the womb is not going to lose a nights sleep over any of the other vices that pass for virtue today. Stealing, lying, cheating, slandering, are all just tools of the trade for an immoral sub-defective politician. At the end of each post I will give my thoughts on whether I would vote for the candidate in the primary and in the presidential election, and under what circumstances I would do so.

Assessment of Donald Trump

On this first post I want to look at one of the most surprising and interesting candidates running. He is the master of reality TV, the golden haired billionaire, also know as the 'Trumpster' it is none other than the amorphous, raucous candidate from New York, 'The Donald' Trump. While I can appreciate his sarcastic and amusing non-politically correct wise cracks, I cannot stand behind someone who has no real convictions other than a popularized slogan of "making America great again." What does that even mean? Does it mean building a wall across the Mexican border? Does it mean stopping abortion on demand? Does it mean putting freedom back in the hands of the average American? Who truly knows? His positions on these have changed over the course of his career. I am not saying that people cannot change their positions over the course of their lives. What I can examine is how a person has demonstrated throughout his or her life, virtue. I think that one can talk a good game, but when it comes to leading people, a demonstration of the virtuous life must precede one's words. In Aristotle's terms, a good lyre plays the right notes at the right rhythm, and is known to be a good lyre player because he demonstrates it by his actions, not just because he says he is a good lyre player.

In my opinion, Donald Trump has demonstrated over his life up to this presidential race a great lack of virtue. For one, he has been "married" three times. He has children from all three of them. The man is arrogant, shows no sign of humility and I guess it is easy for him to mistake himself for King Solomon. Why not add in a few concubines while he is at it to top it all off? A man of great character indeed! A man who cannot keep a commitment to his wife should now be trusted with a country of millions? I won't stop there. What does Trump really believe? How many times can a man contradict himself on public television? Only the master of contradiction himself, Obama can relate to such Janus faced shenanigans. Do we really want another president who cannot remember, nor cares what he said from one day to the next? I want to bring up a list of moral questions for which Trump has given definitive answers on, such as the atrocity of abortion on demand.

For one, he has been strongly pro-choice his entire life. This is well documented. Just before running on the Republican ticket he declared that he was a newly converted pro-lifer. Convenient indeed. I personally do not buy it. There are far too many strong statements made by him in the past such as saying that he would not ban partial birth abortion, that give me pause not to trust him in any matters of grave moral importance. Even after answering the question whether or not he was pro-life, he qualified his yes by stating, "with caveats, life of the mother, incest, and rape.” For the sake of argument, even if I were to give him the benefit of the doubt on this matter, what are we to think about his views on God? Trump after being asked recently if he asks God for forgiveness for anything wrong he has done emphatically stated, "I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don't think so," ... "I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't." This is unfortunately a typical anti-intellectual response from Trump, which I detest. I just can't take the guy seriously most of the time.

This is his view of God? How can one who says they believe in God, and who claims to be a Christian, (Presbyterian) make such an absurd statement? One must ask what Trump really believes, because someone who claims to love the Bible and who claims to be a Christian is mocking our Lord Jesus Christ by saying that he keeps God out of the picture when it comes to forgiveness. With this mentality it is not hard to understand why arrogance secretes from the very pores of his body such as when he said, "When someone crosses you, my advice is ‘Get Even!’ That is not typical advice, but it is real life advice. If you do not get even, you are just a schmuck! When people wrong you, go after those people because it is a good feeling and because other people will see you doing it. I love getting even." Again, this mentality is far from a virtuous disposition. As far as I am concerned, rather than running for president, Trump needs to figure out what he really believes concerning God because he does not demonstrate that he really believes in anyone other than himself.

I want to now take a look at his aggrandizement of material wealth. It is easy for Americans to get caught up in this mentality, since many of us aspire to attain more wealth ourselves. Trump is supposedly worth 4 billion dollars. He loves to talk about how much money he has made and how rich he is, as if this was the zenith of all virtue. “The beauty of me is that I’m very rich” Trump once stated.  The trouble is that the aggrandizement of wealth is not one of the virtues. Who knows of the vice-ridden deals he had to make with the mob to get his business bargains done, his towers built, etc. Who built skyscrapers in New York and New Jersey without dealing with the mob? Those who know the business well say no one has, particularly in the era when he struck his deals. This experience may help him in the sleazy environment of American politics, but is that what we as Americans are aiming for in realm of virtue among our political establishment? Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with being successful or even having wealth in and of itself, but Trump's campaign is clearly run on this mentality that material wealth is king, and that he is the master of it.

Will Trump despite his colossal bank account still be able to be bought by special interests? This may indeed separate him from the other candidates and make him more insulated from lobbyists. I think this is a good thing, and I will not deny that this is a positive attribute concerning the specific issue of the special interest lobby influence on Trump. The trouble is, this in and of itself does not guarantee that Trump would make any better political decisions than anyone else who was being influenced by the lobby. I can substantiate this position because as I have stated above, he lacks virtue. He does not possess the needed attributes like humility, prudence, knowledge or the wisdom required to hold such a high office, and make prudent decisions. I have heard Catholics say that because he is a successful billionaire that this somehow qualifies him to be president. Just because you can build a business does not automatically qualify you to lead others from a high position of political office. If the aggrandizement of wealth at any expense is now considered to be a Catholic virtue then I guess you have an argument for Trump regarding his financial position. 

The Verdict

Republican Primary:  Trump is not on the top of my list for the Republican nomination for presidential candidate. I put him towards the bottom. He would not be my nominee at the voting box in the Republican primaries. I do not think he is very smart, and I do not think he has any true moral convictions for which he would stake his life or career on. He does not come across to me as an authentic man of integrity. I do not view him as a particular well spoken individual. He is certainly not an intellectual. I would favor Rand Paul for example, over Trump in the primary. Unfortunately Rand now appears to be out of the race so that will narrow my options. I will have to pick from one of the others.

Presidential Election: Lets me close this post by posing the question we all have to answer. Would I vote for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders in the presidential race? Grudgingly, reluctantly, I would pull the lever for him with head in hand, making a face palm, over a Hillary Clinton or a Bernie Sanders. What makes him a better choice than either of these two? I have a strong distaste for those who openly support a socialistic ideology and the monumental immorality that emanates from supporting such an ideology. Not to give away my forthcoming posts, but this disqualifies the two Democratic candidates. I will examine both of them closer in my upcoming articles.

What about voting for Trump? After all, I just got through telling you about how bad I think he is. So let me explain the casting of my reluctant, face palm vote for him over the Democrats. Despite Trump's inconsistency and lack of clarity on moral issues such as abortion, and his lack of demonstration for virtue, I do not think he would further many of the socialist causes that are being shoved down our throats by the Democrats. I do not think he would show further support for groups such as Planned Parenthood for example, and it is even possible that he may try to cut them from the government subsidy. Even if he is inconsistent with his stand on abortion, I do not think he would be hellbent on passing further legislation to increase abortion funding. I do not think he would further the "gay" agenda, or take any keen interest in taking away more freedom from the American people. 

I also think he would be more likely to appoint better Supreme Court justices than either of the two Democrats. It is at least better odds at the craps table in regard to the upcoming Supreme appointments. We know where a Hillary or Bernie stands on that. The last thing America needs is for the Supreme Court to be stacked with more liberal appointees. The question of Trump's foreign policy is one that is not very clear to me, and to be honest, this is one of the unknowns that bothers me. Trump comes off to me as kind of a loose canon and I wonder how he would fare in dealing with the many challenges of world affairs. How would he be any different than Clinton or Sanders in this respect? I am honestly not too sure, but I would again roll the dice. Knowing what I know about the corruption of a Clinton or the madness of a Sanders, I do not think he would pose any more danger to our country. 

This closes my first post in this series, giving you some of my brief thoughts on the viability of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. I would sum up my thoughts on voting for Trump in the presidential election with a quotation from St. Thomas More, "What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can." I would love to hear your thoughts.

Update: 2-8-16
As I have said in this post, you just can't tell where Trump really stands on anything. In a recent interview he was asked, “When President Trump is in office can we look for more forward motion on equality for gays and lesbians?” His answer? “Well, you can,” Trump answered. ” And look, again, we’re going to bring people together, and thats your thing and other people have their thing. We have to bring all people together and if we don’t we’re not going to have a country anymore.”

So I stand corrected in my statement above where I said I did not think he would advance the homosexual agenda. This makes it even harder to vote for him over the Democrats since this makes his stance on critical moral issues closer to theirs. This makes the odds of rolling the dice on him much less favorable. As more cracks begin to appear in his moral judgments, the likelihood of him getting a vote from me becomes slimmer. If he is just saying this to get votes, then this again proves the immense lack of virtue in his character. I think this guy is now the worst candidate on the Republican ticket by far. He is no conservative even by American political standards to be sure. Lets be sure he does not get the nomination. As I learn more I will continue to update this post. So check back often.

Update: 7-22-16
So, the Donald has become the Republican candidate. It has been over 5 months since my last update, and many things have once again changed. Am I overly excited that Trump is the nominee? No. Has his demeanor changed throughout the race? Not much. He is still as bombastic as ever, and his position continues to change on issues day by day. That being said, is he a better candidate than Hillary? I reluctantly have to answer in the affirmative. If Hillary gets in office we know what we are going to get, more of the same. She will nominate liberal supreme court justices, and the right to bear arms is the next target, among other things. Simply put, Hitlery Rotten Clinton is the probably the most evil person to ever run for president.

Will Trump nominate good supreme court justices? Its hard to say, but in this case, the devil you don't know is a better gamble than the devil you do know. The left wing radicalism that is entrenched in the White House has got to go out with this election. Unfortunately the only way that is going to happen is to vote for Trump. So at this point in time, I am back leaning in that direction. My disgust for Hitlery is the driving force for a vote for Trump, not my enthusiasm for Trump. What a sad day it is that this is the best America has to offer for candidates. 

Update: 9-30-16
This is my latest update in the election season. Although Trump has been far from being my favorite "conservative" candidate, it seems that if we are to avoid a Clinton disaster, Trump must be my choice in the election. There is simply too much evil that will be done under a Clinton presidency that would most likely not be implemented under a Trump presidency. After much deliberation I am going to vote for Trump. 


Strongheart said...

There has been many leaders in history who protected christians, but you probably would not have found electable. Russia's president Putin, Poland's president Duda and Syria's president Assad are three current fearless leaders who are protecting christians because of the latter. The world need more fearless leaders that protect christians. President Putin support Donald Trump and find him a brilliant man that will ease foreign relations. Only Donald Trump among the candidates appears to me as a promising fearless leader and never reading from a prepared script, and an effective destroyer of the politically correct culture. Trump's speeches seems moved by a sincere will to make America great again, as the beacon of freedom for the world. Other candidates have a chance if they rise to Trump's level.

Bekalynn said...

I would need to pray about it seriously. But I may very well vote for Hillary. I read recently that Trump has used a very pro choice justice as a Supreme Court nominee.
I will ask God but abortion may not favor either side.

Yes Hillary is corrupt but so is Trump. She though is not spouting racist stuff.

Not to mention the country survived Bill. We did get a balanced budget. The world did not burn down. At least I know what I Am getting with her. As I said earlier a whole heck of a lot of prayer.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Thanks for your thoughts. We have not come to a Trump- Hillary ticket yet. There is still a lot of road ahead of us. I would choose to write in a vote rather than vote for Hillary. Her level of corruption is beyond anyone else and her support of abortion is radical to the point of supporting partial birth abortion. As a faithful Catholic I could never support anyone who cannot defend innocent human life. If it comes to two clear pro-abort candidates, I will not vote for either. This is the critical issue society faces today, which is the root of other evils. At that point, let the dead bury the dead.

"We must not be surprised when we hear of murders, of killings, of wars, of hatred. If a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for us to kill each other."
~ Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta ~

croixmom said...

Thank you for this thoughtful analysis, Matthew.

I am greatly saddened by the number of my fellow parishioners and other faithful Catholics who have jumped aboard the "Trump Train". I think you have done a very good evaluation of Mr Trump.

It seems that our nation is on a self-destructive path to insist on leaders we deserve, not on leaders we need. In that respect, evil is evil. I cannot vote for a candidate who does not fear God. If indeed, Mr Trump is the GOP candidate in November, I will either only vote down ticket or write in my vote for the presidential. I will not vote for Hillary or for a socialist, or for a proclaimed pro-choice candidate, or for a GOP candidate as repugnant and cowardice as Mr Trump.
In a matchup between Trump and Hillary, I consider Trump to be a wolf in sheep's clothing. Again, it seems our nation is choosing a leader we deserve. The best thing I can do at that point is to not join in the vote and to pray, pray, pray for God's mercy.