Deal W. Hudson
March 11, 2015
Anyone who wishes to understand the Catholic vote needs to recognize two things from the start. First, there is no reliable “Catholic block” of voters, but there is a sizable group of white Catholic moderates who “swing” back and forth from one party to the other. They can determine the outcome of elections, as has been the case in every presidential election since 2000.
White Catholics as a whole made up only 18% of the electorate in 2012, but as a group of 18,000,000 voters, the moderates among them are significant.
Next, there is an important distinction to be made between Catholic voters who attend Mass regularly, called “active Catholics,” and Catholic who do not call “inactive” or “self-identified Catholics.” The latter’s voting pattern is indistinguishable from the national voting pattern, while active Catholics can differ between 4% to 10%, always in favor of the socially conservative candidate, usually a Republican.
On the distinction between active and inactive Catholic voters, see the November 1998 of Crisis Magazine which I edited, containing the groundbreaking study by Steve Wagner and commentary by the late Bob Novak. After the publication of this study and it’s subsequent — and successful — implementation in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, the distinction has become standard in the political analysis of Catholic voters.
Whether he intended it or not, Pope Francis has re-energized the Catholic left, the so-called “social justice” arm of the Catholic electorate. This means that those lay leaders and clergy who have been taking heat for downplaying the life issues will be able to point to the new Holy Father who said, Catholics should not be “obsessed” with abortion. It won’t matter that Pope Francis has repeatedly condemned abortion as an “unspeakable crime,” because in politico-speak you never get past the first distinction. Any further distinctions are ignored or dismissed.
Catholics rightly call immigration policy a prudential matter, but it has become de facto a non-negotiable at the USCCB, so much so that much of the clergy — and particularly Catholic Democrats — now include immigration as a “life issue.” It will not matter in the 2016 campaign that this position is wrong or that Catholics are not morally obliged to accept the bishop’s position on immigration.
The GOP, Catholic Republicans, and “conservative Catholics” will be pounded repeatedly on their supposed immigration stance, the assumption being they’re opposed to the bishops and to Pope Francis. Even Catholic presidential candidates, Sen. Rubio and former Gov. Bush, who has supported immigration reform — and paid a political price — will be found wanting.
Pope Francis has promised an encyclical on the environment. It has already been drafted by Cardinal Peter Turkson and is being readied for publication sometime later this year. If the Holy Father writes in support of the dubious global warming theory, it will hand the Democrats and the Catholic Left a very large cudgel to use against the GOP and Catholic Republicans in particular.
It will not matter what precisely the Holy Father says about the prudential issue of environmental public policy, his words will be treated as “Church teaching” in support of all the pro-abortion Catholic Democrats running for office. In truth, it will not matter if Pope Francis specifically endorses global warming. As long as he addresses “climate change,” which he assuredly will, the Catholic left will be free to claim the Holy Father has made global warming part of “Church teaching.”
With the addition of both immigration and environment arrows in their issue quiver, left-wing Catholic activists will have quite an advantage going into 2016.
The issue of religious liberty and taxpayer-funded abortion failed to make much of a dent in the 2012 presidential election. The reasons were multiple: a weak GOP candidate who ran from all the life issues; Catholic leaders such as Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Medical Association, offering Obama cover; and the tepid response of the USCCB, signaling to the White House a tacit acceptance of healthcare reform regardless of its abortion coverage. The presidential debate — not necessarily the congressional debates — will move from Obamacare, taxpayer funding of abortion, gay marriage, and religious liberty to the fate of the Pain-Capable Act see below.
The most important Congressional legislation since Roe v Wade (1978) was withdrawn from the House floor under pressure of pro-life Republican women citing concerns about its reporting requirement for rape and incest victims. That it was withdrawn on the day of the annual March for Life when it had been promised by House leadership, was especially galling for the pro-life community, which is predominate, if not entirely, Republican.
If the Pain-Capable Bill is not brought to the floor of the House and the Senate this year, where it would undoubtedly pass, a large percentage of the GOP ground troops will feel much as they did in 2012 when Romney ran away from any discussion of abortion or marriage. Pro-lifers once again will feel the Republican establishment had stabbed them in the back. It’s simply not possible for any Republican presidential candidate to win the White House without the active support of pro-life activists.
Hispanic Catholics are a growing segment of Catholic voters, now over 20%. (Hispanic voters represented 8% of all 2014 voters.) The voting record of Hispanic Catholics does not differ significantly from Hispanic voters in general, thus raising a question about the oft-repeated claim that Hispanic Catholics are “natural” social conservatives and ripe for wooing by the GOP.
Hispanic voters did respond as a group to President George W. Bush’s reelection effort, voting 44% in his favor over John Kerry. But the ugly immigration debate of 2005 put an end to that trend towards the GOP among Hispanic voters. In the congressional election of 2006, Hispanic votes for GOP candidates dropped by 50% with Romney receiving only 27% of the Hispanic vote in 2012.
Hispanic Evangelicals vote very differently from Hispanic Catholics — they consistently favor social conservatives by a large margin, a fact worth pondering.
At present, there are three Catholic GOP candidates: Rubio, Santorum, and Bush. The only Democratic Catholic candidate on the horizon is former Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland, who given the growing resistance against Hillary Clinton’s candidacy may move towards center stage.
Given the addition of immigration and possibly environmentalism as Catholic issues on the 2016 campaign, O’Malley would be somewhat shielded from his abortion advocacy — his support of federal funding for abortion — as well as his dismissal of the religious liberty issues arising from his support for Obamacare. He’s relatively young and attractive, so JFK nostalgia will naturally flow in his direction.
Rick Santorum’s moment came in 2012 when he was within a few primary victories of the nomination. It’s doubtful that moment will return. Both Bush and Rubio have already gained some momentum, in spite of their intra-state rivalry. Putting aside the issue of fundraising and political infrastructure, both Bush and Rubio will have a reasonable defense against charges they have ignored the Church’s “teaching” on immigration, but their record will be ignored since they belong to the party still besmirched with, and in some cases cases still practicing, the anti-immigration rant of 2005.
However, any of these three candidates will eventually receive the wholehearted support of the pro-life ground troops. Santorum would be their first pick, but the records of both Rubio and Bush would win them a solid following, after some initial grousing.
In sum, Catholics voters who hope our nation can recover from eight years of an Obama presidency face serious challenges. The ongoing battle with the Catholic left has been made more difficult by the papal encouragement of the Cuomo-Kennedy legacy of social justice Catholicism. This cannot be overcome by the emergence in spite of stronger pro-life, pro-marriage leadership by individual bishops.
Until the culture of the USCCB undergoes a radical conversion, the message of Catholic bishops to Catholic voters in the U.S. will not favor candidates who espouse life, marriage, and the rejection of euthanasia. The settled moral issues of the Catholic faith, those that bear no qualification, will continue to be paid lip service by most Catholics.
The only solution is for lay Catholics to amplify the voice of individual bishops who are leading on these issues, create a loose grassroots network of Catholics nationwide, and outwork and out-shout the newly-energized and well-funded organizations who publish lies about the faith to support pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage candidates.
Deal W. Hudson
March 13, 2015
The 2016 election will be decisive for the future of our nation. Eight more years of leadership such as we have witnessed under Obama will stamp our culture so deeply it would take a century to undo the damage.
What damage, you ask? Eight more years will bring an end to religious liberty. Expressing the Christian view of human existence will become the occasion of bureaucratic and legal censure and punishment.
The fuse will be ignited by those who defend the Christian understanding of homosexuality, but the ensuring explosion will extend along an entire range of issues from the meaning of marriage, public school curricula, freedom of speech, control of the internet, radio and TV programming content, euthanasia and, of course, abortion.
To put it bluntly, if the Democrats win the 2016 election the United States of 2050 will be completely unrecognizable from the nation into which I was born in 1949.
The generations who fought and even died against the tyrants of ideology — the reduction of the human person to vacuous materiality — will have sacrificed for nought. The tyrants won without firing a shot. They took control of the culture by taking over the leadership of our basic institutions — education, entertainment, journalism, medicine, banking, social services, and religion.
To have any chance of impacting the next election, which as I have written will be difficult, Catholics should consider the following lessons that have been learned by those of us who have been actively involved in successful and unsuccessful political campaigns on behalf of life, marriage, religious liberty, and the protection of those near to death.
These are not merely my personal recommendations but represent a consensus of Catholics who have been active in leading political, grassroots efforts on behalf of worthy candidates.
1. Promote Mass attendance: All the exit polling since the late ’50s shows that Mass-attending Catholics, not self-identified Catholics, are most likely to vote for socially conservative candidates who oppose gay “marriage,”oppose abortion, oppose euthanasia, support the military, espouse traditional values, support fiscal responsibility, oppose the growth of federal power, and look upon the United States as an “exceptional” nation. If Mass attendance continues to drop, Catholic voters will have less and less impact at the ballot box. Their voting pattern will lose its distinctiveness.
2. Maximize the likely voters: Outreach to Catholic voters should focus on maximizing the identification, education, recruiting, and actual voting of Mass-attending Catholics. Effort spent going after historically hostile or indifferent groups is a waste of time and resources. Self-identified Catholics vote with the general population, as do Catholic groups bound by ethnicity. Yes, Catholics need evangelization, but that’s a long-term project which cannot be completed by 2016.
3. Watch your language: Most Catholic politicians and activists sound like Evangelicals. That’s not meant as a criticism of Evangelicals but a criticism of Catholics who do not bring the concepts and diction of their own faith into the public square. It’s also a criticism of Catholics who think they have to sound like an Evangelical preacher to gain a following or create applause. Catholics speaking about politics need to develop their own effective political language and their own powerful, persuasive rhetorical models.
4. Don’t ask for permission from clergy: The Church teaches that the Catholic layperson has a specific obligation to participate in politics, to be political all the way to the grassroots. Our clergy and religious have an obligation to vote but do not have the same obligation to engage politics in a partisan manner. Catholics make the mistake of asking for permission to create groups or support candidates when asking permission is not required. Our clergy teach us the moral-social principles upon which our participation is based, but they cannot — and should not — become obstacles to lay participation in politics. (The only exception is in the case of ex-communication when a politician is “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin,” such as abortion; see Canon 915.)
5. Collect lists, stop waving fists: Too many Catholics confuse public complaining with political participation. They spend their time making impassioned comments at political rallies, or in religious meetings, about the state of the culture and the need to change our political leadership. None of these impromptu speeches gain any votes because they are “preaching to the choir.” The fury, however, can be an effective starting point of genuine political outreach, which includes list-building, volunteer recruitment, volunteer and voter education, door-knocks, messaging through media, and get-out-the-vote programs.
6. Realize Catholics play dirty: One of the hardest lessons to learn and accept is that Catholics in politics will play dirty. By that I mean they will lie about the faith, misrepresent its teaching, ignore its non-negotiable moral principles, distort the views of pro-lifers and other socially conservative Catholics, and will proclaim “Church teaching” for policies that have no authoritative standing in the “sacred deposit of faith.” We have responsibility to expose those lies in a timely manner to keep them from becoming embedded in the public consciousness.
7. Politics is about passion, not reason: Catholics will have noticed that the candidate who “tells it like it is” is not necessarily the candidate who wins. That’s because political outcomes are not determined by who tells the truth but who stirs the passions — wins the admiration — of the most voters. Voters vote, first and foremost, for the candidate they “like,” who they are “favorable” toward. Politicians and their supporters who do not get this are beaten from the start. Of course, Catholics should support a politician who tells the truth about human existence, but they should also either recruit likable candidates or convince the grouchy ones they need to smile more and frown less.
8. Take sentimentality seriously: Catholics, for good reasons, are a sentimental tribe. Any acquaintance with the last 200 years of Catholicism in America will appreciate the hardships of generation after generation of Catholic immigrants. And before that, the America of the Founders was not at all hospitable to Catholics, an anti-Catholic attitude that was still evident in the 1960 presidential election. This fact makes the passionate nature of politics even greater among Catholic voters. Candidates and activists need to tread carefully and, most of all, know who they are talking to when they talk to Catholics.
9. Master Catholic symbols: Catholics, as liturgical worshippers, are naturally alert and vulnerable to the power of imagery and symbols. For example, I was told some years ago, “never wear French cuffs when you speak to Catholic voters.” Good advice, such symbols only remind voters – even if they wear French cuffs themselves – of the Protestant elites who looked down upon their Irish, Italian, or Slavic grandparents. You will not believe the pains taken by candidates to have “collars” or “habits” behind them during their stump speeches. This is why it’s rare for an Evangelical political consultant to successfully manage Catholic outreach.
10. Happy warriors win, grumps lose: Politicians are in sales. Voters are the buyers. When you are selling, you don’t browbeat the buyer, you don’t sadden the buyer, you don’t demean the buyer. No, you befriend the buyer, meet his or her eye with a smile, learn his or her name, shake hands warmly, and talk about how buying your product will make life better. In short, be the kind of person they like and trust, who they can believe in. Anger, condemnation, self-righteousness and such attitudes and tones of voice may delight a small percentage of angry, condemning, and self-righteous voters, but it won’t win an election.
*This column is the personal opinion of its author and does not represent an endorsement of any political party or candidate by the Morley Publishing Group, Inc.
Deal W. Hudson
January 11, 2016
It’s tempting to say that the coming presidential election of 2016 is the most important in American history. What gives me pause is the number of times this has been said before, including by myself. But this time, I cannot help but believe it’s true. Why?
Terrorism: A storm is gathering in the Middle East that threatens to spread throughout the world, but its perpetrators hate America above all. In a nuclear age, a single person supported by sophisticated, committed network of terrorists can kill millions at a single stroke. ISIS must be eliminated militarily before it can grow any larger. If you need convincing, read the history of Germany of National Socialism in the 30s.
Character: America is losing the unity of its national character. This began when immigrants no longer felt the necessity of being assimilated, starting with the learning of English. It’s one thing for the Hispanic population to reach 106 million by 2015, quite another if the majority of them don’t speak English. Rival languages have, and will, produce divided communities and cultures. Assimilation is not a nasty word demanding obedience, it’s the reasonable request of a nation whose character has attracted immigrants from around the world since its founding. That character must be preserved with care.
Family: When attitudes toward LGBTs becomes the moral standard by which we are all judged, something has gone terribly wrong in American culture. Here I distinguish between charitable acceptance of differences, and socially, and legally, enforced approval. Nothing is more fundamental to the well-being of human society than the health of families, created by the marriage of men and women. Of course, many marriages turn into train wrecks, and worse, but that’s no reason to give up on the norm. Just as it’s nonsense for a drunk to give up on sobriety because he can’t live up to it.
Life: America keeps killing its children at a rate of between 700,000 and a million each year, and its citizens are paying for half of those deaths through public funding of Planned Parenthood. America became the most admired country in the world following its decisive entry into both world wars and was handed the torch of freedom from a decayed, battered Europe. America took the lead in rebuilding both Europe and Japan, but at home began building a culture of death to “celebrate” its new affluence and prestige. Since 1973, the year of Roe, America has killed more children than any one of the genocides committed by Hitler, Stalin, or Mao — 57,762,169 dead.
Manners: There’s a mystery in manners, as the Catholic writer Flannery O’Connor often talked about. One aspect of this mystery is the way manners both produce and express 0ur true values — manners bear values into the ordinary, everyday world of social conduct. Today it has become accepted that millionaire film stars will use the coarsest profanity on a public, televised stage while presenting and accepting awards for excellence. They use the privilege of their celebrity to show contempt for their audience, while indulging their egos with the equivalent of teenage flatulence. I can’t imagine Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Ingrid Bergman, Spencer Tracy, Henry Fonda, et al publicly shaming themselves in such a fashion.
Faith: Barack Obama is the first American president to scowl and wag his finger at America’s Christian citizens. Hillary Clinton would become the second. Obama has fought, and shown disdain towards, the orthodox people of faith from his first day in office when he repealed the Mexico City Policy. Religious institutions have had to seek relief in court from the federal laws that would require them sin against their God. Religious beliefs that won’t bend to accommodate the LGBT standard of morality are being fashionably scorned, while law and policy being shaped to bring those beliefs under the enforcement power of the state. Religious liberty is no longer celebrated but looked upon as the unconscionable excuse of a bigoted minority to “embrace diversity.”
The year after the end of WWI, the Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote “The Second Coming” (1919). In this poem he describes the fracture of Western civilization, its break with the certainties of the past, the values and vision upon which the West was built over 3000 years. The first few lines suffice to explain:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
Perhaps the reader, like myself, read this poem in high school or college decades ago, and were told it reflected the confusion following the senseless slaughter in the trenches of WWI. In other words, just a period piece. Yeats’ words in “The Second Coming” have taken on a prophetic intensity as we near the 100th anniversary of its writing. Indeed, the “widening gyre” has widened to the point that all that I described above has come to pass, all of which are a consequence of a nation losing its “centre” and inviting “anarchy.”
The election of 2016 will have a direct impact on the direction of our nation, the fate of the national character, its families, the defense of innocent life, the people of faith, and our collective protection against ISIS terror. This is why I will do all I can do to ensure the message goes out to those who love America “under God” to vote against another eight years of war on the foundation of our country.
Deal W. Hudson
February 21, 2016
After his impressive victory in the South Carolina primary, the GOP nomination of Donald Trump is very likely. Marco Rubio may pick up some support from Jeb Bush’s overdue decision to leave the race, but Ted Cruz has established a national network of highly-energized Evangelical activists who are not wavering.
When and if Ben Carson bows out, his support will likely fall to Cruz, thus keeping Rubio from gaining very much of a lead.
Polling among Catholics nationally shows Trump to be the least attractive candidate among the GOP contenders. Trump polls 43% to Cruz 60% and Rubio’s 65%. The recent testiness between Trump and Pope Francis will probably hurt him with a majority of Catholic voters while building some support among conservative Catholics disillusioned with the new pontiff.
There are several factors to consider regarding both turn-out and voting: 1) Would conservative, pro-life Catholics vote for Trump as a “lesser of two evils” when faced with Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders? 2) To what extent are conservative, pro-life Catholics infected by the same sense of tribulation that is fueling the Trump candidacy in the first place?
Anyone who follows pro-life Catholics on social media has seen quite a bit of talk about “not voting” at all if Trump is nominated. If that threat turns out to be real, in large enough numbers, it will impact both voter turnout and grassroots organizing, both of which the GOP will need to win the White House in November.
But if enough conservative Catholic voters share the national unrest, the “Don’t Tread On Me” spirit of Trump supporters, both turn-out and campaign activism in the GOP might absorb the losses of some pro-life voters.
We’ve already seen serious and respected Catholic and Evangelical pro-life leaders mount a campaign to nominate anyone but Donald Trump. Their efforts in South Carolina may have helped Rubio catch up with Cruz, but far more likely it was the endorsement by Gov. Nikki Haley that moved a few percentage points of the vote.
If this campaign continues into more primary states it may drive the wedge even more deeply between pro-voters, both Catholic and Evangelical, and the presumptive GOP nominee for president, Donald Trump. This is an outcome that should be weighed carefully by those leading the charge against Trump against the outcome of Clinton or Sanders in the White House.
Trump has not claimed to be pro-life in the past, but he claims to be now, and he promises to sign a bill defunding Planned Parenthood. Skepticism towards Trump’s new position on abortion is warranted, and even some scoffing can be understood. Yet, on election day in November Catholic voters will be faced with two choices.
One candidate will be resolutely pro-abortion and linked arm-and-arm with Planned Parenthood, NARAL, NOW, and EMILY’s List.
The other candidate, if it is Trump, will be someone who has declared himself a recent convert to the pro-life cause. A candidate who, since his change of mind, has continued to defend his position in the face of incredulous questioning from the liberal media and the pro-life community.
A Trump nomination will send the Catholic Left, who have no regard at all for saving the unborn, into a frenzy, calling Trump unfit for Catholic support on the grounds, not of abortion, but because of immigration, particularly his promise to build a wall on the Mexican border. They will quote Pope Francis saying Trump is not a Christian, which is NOT what he said, and that he is “unChristian” for wanting to build a wall, which is what he did say.
In addition, a majority of US bishops will try to create every obstacle they can to keep the Trump campaign reaching Catholic voters. It will be ugly, a free-for-all among Catholic voters.
There’s no doubt in my mind how I will vote, as a pro-life Catholic. To hand the White House over to the Democrats for another four, or eight, years will destroy our nation’s character for at least one hundred years. This would be a disaster from which America might never recover.
Deal W. Hudson
March 16, 2016
The sight of the rabble in Chicago forcing Donald Trump to cancel his appearance, coupled with the attack on Trump in Ohio, reveals the boil his candidacy has lanced on the face of America. The boil has a name, “political correctness,” and millions of Americans eagerly support Trump as the man who doesn’t obey the PC rules as set down by the media and cultural elites.
Political correctness involves many things, but its core is a socially, and sometimes legally, enforced code of conduct and speech regarding primarily race, women, white men, education, sexuality, Islam, multiculturalism, and the Western tradition.
Notice I said conduct and speech because in a politically correct culture people find themselves thinking one thing and both doing and saying another. The experience of this duplicity leads to confusion, uncertainty, anger, and a sense of isolation. Woe to the high school students who openly object to the “normalcy” of homosexual acts or same-sex marriage. Or ask publicly why, for example, the British Romantic poets — Byron, Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats — are left out of the curriculum in order to read the literature of “indigenous peoples,” Mexican immigrants, cross-dressers, or slave narratives.
The ultimate aim of political correctness is mind control, the force-feeding of ideas about morality, history, and politics down the throats of people who fear being called out for non-conformity, or even worse, being held back in their careers for not fitting into the PC mold.
The politically correct, for example, would have enjoyed the 2016 Oscars with its “black lives matter” chorus of complaints, and agree with what the “snubbed” cinematographer Bradford Young said about the film industry:
“Here’s the deal: Most of us in the film community, across the board, work with people who we know, who we consider friends and family. If you use that as a barometer to look at the film world, it just shows you how segregated, xenophobic, sexist, racist and backward we are as Americans in terms of how we deal with one another. . . .”
Really? Then how did this country elect Barack Obama twice, and overwhelmingly so in the 2012 election?
The politically correct would also have applauded when the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences suddenly decided to review the diversity of its membership. The president of the Academy who, in fact, is African-American, Cheryl Boone Issacs, remarked:
“While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes. . . . ”
I would guess that the preponderance of the 5,783 voting members of the Academy are predominately self-identified liberals and Democrats. Yet, dozens of African-American actors and directors, Spike Lee, in particular, openly accused Academy members of voting along racial lines. Yes, there were some voices raised in protest, such as Charlotte Rampling, but very few. Almost all bit their tongues, in spite of the racist accusations, and actually applauded as they were receiving tongue-lashings from Chris Rock and Ricky Gervais.
I cite this example at length because it represents one of the latest and most outrageous examples of how political correctness brings even the very powerful to their knees. An accusation that should have been summarily dismissed as ridiculous was treated as truthful in the national headlines for several weeks before and after the Oscars.
Trump, I am sure, has his politically correct side, however, both his manner and bluntness represent an outspokenness, a willingness to say what’s on his mind, rather than revert to the duplicity of pleasing the elites. It’s not merely Trump’s positions on immigration, trade, Islam, or the defunding of Planned Parenthood that churn the pot, rather it’s his unruffled confrontation with the media, critics, fellow candidates, pundits, and protesters that raises their temperature to boiling.
The fact that Donald Trump is getting more airtime on TV and radio, and coverage in the print and digital media, than any other human being in the world, all the while unapologetically speaking his mind, is bound to create a cultural firefight. It’s not unreasonable to fear for Trump’s safety and that of his family.
You may not like much, or any, of what Trump says, but his plainspokenness (yes, it’s a word) harkens back to a trait Americans have always respected and held dear until the jackboots of political correctness took over the culture.
PS. Just as I finished writing this column, I learned that Ted Cruz partly placed the blame on Donald Trump for the riot in Chicago. I am stunned that he would express such a misjudgment. And I voted for him in the Virginia Primary.
Deal W. Hudson
June 21, 2016
It was supposed to be a meeting of 300, but over the course of a few weeks, it burgeoned to over 1000 attendees. The setting was hardly intimate, but given the circumstances, the Evangelical organizers did a good job of making it worth our while. Donald Trump showed another side during the hour-plus question and answer session: The usual bravura was replaced by self-deprecating humor, a deeper seriousness, and a forthright affirmation of the Christian faith.
Two of those taking the stage before Trump, Franklin Graham, and Jerry Falwell, Jr., took advantage of their time slots. They set the tone for an occasion to ponder the future of our nation if Hillary Clinton is elected president, with her two to five picks for the Supreme Court, her pro-abortion agenda, and her evident scorn for traditional Christians.
Trump picked up that thread in answer to one of the first of the questions posed by Gov. Mike Huckabee, calling religious liberty the “number one issue of the campaign.” He mentioned several times the list of 11 possible SCOTUS nominees already released, with the help of vetting from The Federalist Society and The Heritage Foundation, and promised the release of at least four more in the near future. Trump was emphatic when he said all his nominees would be “pro-life” and “similar to Justice Scalia.” Needless to say, the room frequently interrupted these comments with loud clapping and “Amens.”
There were some Catholics in evidence: Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the SBA List, introduced Cong. Marsha Blackburn, who spoke about her House Planned Parenthood investigation, and author/speaker Eric Metaxas capped the event with a speech on the “new vision” for America. Other than those two, I counted a dozen or more around the room, such as Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League; Lila Rose, president of Live Action; John Klink, former Vatican diplomat to the UN; Austin Ruse, president of C-FAM; Marjorie Murphy Campbell, blogger at http://www.newfeminism.com; Mary Beth Bonacci, president of Real Love, Inc.; Deacon Keith Fournier, blogger at http://www.thestream.org; and Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote.
To my ears, one of the most important themes in Trump’s answers was his reference to the hostility toward Christianity, alive in the culture but fostered by politicians like Hillary Clinton. He wants an America where it’s acceptable once again to say, “Merry Christmas,” and football coaches can say prayers with their teams before games.
The Christian voice is being thwarted by tax laws governing non-profits. Trump wants to eliminate the IRS gag rule on religious non-profits that, he says, keeps faith leaders from speaking out for fear of losing their tax-exempt status. This fear, Trump said, is holding back the political power of conservative Christian voters, who, he believes, could be the most potent force in American politics.
He pledged to eliminate Obamacare, claiming that the upcoming hikes in insurance premiums and deductibles, if they are released on November 1, can change the election. But he warned the Obama administration is trying to have them pushed back to December 1 to avoid impacting voters.
He defended his position on immigration saying, “to have a nation you have to have borders” and underscored the deadly drugs, specifically heroin, coming over the Southern border without any interference from the Border Control who have been told to sit on their hands. He recently received the endorsement of 16,500 Border Control officers. Evidently, those who are witnessing the scene at the border on a daily basis agree with Donald Trump. He added, “Building a wall is not a problem, the engineering issues are easily handled.”
It’s a pity this conversation with Donald Trump wasn’t broadcast to the nation. The voters would have seen a more relaxed Donald Trump, without his guard up to ward off an intensely hostile media waiting for any comment to spin against him.
Better still, the video recording of this conversation should be broadcast two or three days before the election in November, making the outcome of the election more certain.
Trump’s basic commitments — to life, religious freedom, a strong military, the repeal of Obamacare, securing our borders, bringing a new spirit of hope to our inner cities, protecting our second amendment — did not sound like the man who wrote The Art of the Deal. Rather, Donald Trump, among the Evangelicals, sounded like a man on a mission to recover America for future generations to come.