NeverTrumpers and Basic Political Hygiene

[My October 21st "From the Chairman" blog for]

“I can’t believe you would vote that way. I thought you were smarter than that.”

It’s very hard in politics not to assume that those with whom we disagree are acting in bad faith or are stupid. But with regard to this year’s presidential contest, there is one side that has indulged this human failing disproportionately: the NeverTrumpers.

To think that someone disagreeing with one is wrong only makes sense. If you didn’t think so, you presumably wouldn’t hold a contrary opinion.

But to think that someone disagreeing with one has no plausible reasons at all, to presume they are simply acting out of simple selfishness or caveman ignorance: that is something else altogether.

Democracy is a social form that can perdure only given a common recognition that we are all reasonable creatures, owed respect regardless of difference of opinion. Democracy requires an existential commitment to maintaining an indissoluble body politic, rooted in an even deeper commitment to honoring the rationality of each human being.

Within that indissoluble commitment, all kinds of friction must be accommodated.

Disagreement is normal. What is extraordinary is refusing to recognize the fundamental rationality of one’s opponent. Rationality is what makes a human a human after all. “I thought you were smarter than that” is not another opinion: it’s a common-body killing form of pharisaism, the indulgence and empowering of which is called totalitarianism.

This is bad political hygiene for any American. But for the Christian, the situation is even more serious. The failure of charity here is patent and astonishing.

We have been treated to the spectacle of some Catholic “pro-lifers” demonizing other pro-lifers, movement pro-lifers, because we have the temerity to see things differently. If any of these Catholic bloggers wish to question my pro-life authenticity, as they have questioned pro-life heroes who have put real skin in the game and have actual experience of the political and judicial battles that have been slogged through and that have had a profound impact in lowering the abortion rate and in shifting public opinion towards the pro-life side: well, bring it on.

There are devoted Trumpsters who bellow against those who don’t support their man. There are Hillary supporters who arrogantly mock anyone who would dare support Trump, even if in the most qualified terms.

But the tribe that has been most strident is that of the bourgeois Catholic NeverTrumpers. Their self-satisfied pontifications against those who disagree cut against the most basic requirements of Christian decorum because they lack any semblance of charity.

Barring some miracle (please, please, please, dear God), on election day, that sad and ridiculous man, that “sexual barbarian thug” in Maggie Gallagher’s apt description, will receive my very reluctant vote, because nothing matters more than the defense in law of the most powerless human life, and Hillary’s commitment to abortion is radical and zealous: she is a formal cooperator, at the highest level, in the gravest evil infecting this great nation, and in doing so she betrays the true good of women and girls in an even more profound way (!) than the Donald has.

For everyone, restoring the right to life of the innocent in law should be the criterion. Will everyone who sincerely has that as a criterion come to the same conclusion as I have come to? No. Of course not. Politics is not a precise science. And I will not question the good faith of those whom I think to be making a prudential mistake.

For those who do not recognize the unquittable moral lien the unborn place on each of our consciences: I just pray that you will see the truth.

My unhappy vote will mean only one thing: the preferential option for the powerless has an absolute claim on me.

If you disagree, that’s fine. It’s my job to make better arguments. What I won’t do is belittle you.