This column is being written on the eve of a much-publicized summit meeting of bishops…
Will they know we are Christians by who we vote for and why?
Votes were still being counted in one gubernatorial race days after the November midterm election this year as I watched an ad that was new to me. The Republican candidate for governor in Arizona was dressed in all black, stilettos and open-fingered gloves, and was wielding a sledgehammer to televisions. A former local news host, she declared that metaphorically this is what she was going to do to her former industry and its fake news.
Making the post-COVID rounds, I noticed a lot of FOX News watchers — maybe especially men — were fans. But watching that particular ad and other campaign interactions, I couldn’t help but think: This image might just be the opposite of feminine genius. We aren’t meant to use our sexuality as a bludgeon. And there was a slight temptress-ness about it, too, which might not be the beautiful modesty and tender leadership we women are called to. I don’t live in Arizona, so forgive me, but I was a wee bit relieved when she lost, even though I’d love that state to continue with conservative leadership. But as Christians, the whole package matters.
No candidate is perfect, but increasingly, in recent years, Republicans seem to be attracted to, well … bullies. I understand the instinct in a way. People are fed up with the culture and our politics — and for sure our mainstream secular media. Mad as hell and not going to take it any more might be the phrase. But as I’m constantly reminded as I’m preparing for weekly confession (I write for Our Sunday Visitor because I am a sinner in need of Jesus Christ, Our Savior), wrath is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. And I see in my own life when I succumb to anger over how insidious it is. Yes, there is injustice. And one of the gravest evils in our nation today is abortion. Isn’t that the chief reason so many of us find ourselves so often voting for Republicans? I work at a conservative magazine and nonprofit, so there’s obviously more to it for me, but if I’m honest, I am often a single-issue voter (though I’ve had my struggles in recent years).
Abortion is the human-rights issue of our time. The sexual revolution was the nuclear war we feared during the Cold War, only it was not what we were fearing. It wreaked havoc on the human person and the family. And women were left miserable. And men were left lost. And so, here we are. Abortion doesn’t seem so awful if you don’t even know the value of your own life or the life of the guy you hooked up with last night as you were dressed looking for some action, because almost everything you’re exposed to says to you with an urgency: use or be used. Sex in our culture, for many, is about power and survival and overcoming feelings of weakness. What is meant to create life becomes about desperately seeking some semblance of control.
In many ways, that’s what politics has become in America. It might not quite be ecstasy, because, really, it’s politics. But people get a high from political rallies. I’ve been to them over the years — I know. Even with candidates I completely disagree with, there’s a rush you get from the charisma of the candidate and the energy of the crowd and the import of it all. Now think of the anger at rallies these days. They are playing on our desires to preserve what is good, but often not in a spirit of gratitude and love and joy, which is so critical for a healthy nation.
There was another Republican candidate in the midterm elections who I am fond of who was running for U.S. Senate and lost. I was sad he didn’t win, because he is a good man with the right priorities and we need people like him in Washington. But I was also relieved for him and his young family. I’ve been around D.C. enough over the years to know it isn’t always kind to families. The life of someone in Congress is not kind — especially to families. I couldn’t help but wonder if God was rewarding his fiat by protecting them — I know the run was prayerfully discerned with protection from some of the powers and principalities that run rampant in the nation’s capital.
Still, there are good people called to the noble work of public service. But we voters need to watch ourselves and our reactions. Will they know we are Christians by who we are voting for and why? Or do we think we are bullies by what we cheer on.
One recent early travel morning, I saw a hoodie on the airport security line that declared, “Let’s go Brandon.” If you don’t know what it means, please do not look it up. Suffice it to say, it is crass. Just because it is also a commentary on mainstream media bias. Another person had a jacket that said, but in full: “F- y’all.” Sometimes I wonder if that’s a little of a bipartisan posture today. And that’s not OK. You and I need to be leaven, even when talking about the politicians who stand for all sorts of evil. Remember that they often know not what they do. And remember Jesus. Someone needs to!
Kathryn Jean Lopez is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and editor-at-large of National Review. Follow her on Twitter @kathrynlopez.