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Mammon vs Mammon: the Catholic way to vote in the US presidential election is ….?

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What's a Catholic to do? Cardinal Timothy Dolan with the 2016 US presidential candidates. Photo: CNS
What’s a Catholic to do? Cardinal Timothy Dolan with the 2016 US presidential candidates at the Al Smith Dinner on 20 October. Photo: CNS

In just over a week, Americans will go to the polls to determine who, out of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States.

I’m reminded of something a good friend of mine once said, “Can’t we just flip a coin and hope that the coin blows up and kills us all instead?”

While obvious hyperbole, it does express the sentiment surrounding this election quite well. I cannot imagine a world with either of Trump or Clinton as its de facto leader.

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I enjoy watching the election coverage, but then momentarily, I remember that I’m not watching an episode of the West Wing and realise instead that one of these two people will soon possess an unparalleled amount of political power. And I am honestly afraid for our world.

There has been a lot of debate about whether a Catholic can, in good conscience, vote for either candidate.

Some argue that a Catholic is better to abstain from voting or to vote for a minor candidate, whereas others believe that this is equivalent to throwing away one’s vote and thus rejecting the duty to participate in political life.

There is also significant debate about who is the better candidate.

Some believe Trump to be a better “pick” for Catholics because, despite his vulgarity, his pro-death penalty, pro-gun stance and his anti-immigration policies, he at least pays lip service to the pro-life cause and religious freedoms, and has promised to appoint judges who share these views to the Supreme Court.

Considering that these judges sit in “power” for a lot longer than any US President ever does, and that the ushering in of abortion and same-sex marriage were at the hands (or pens) of Supreme Court justices rather than elected officials, a candidate’s intentions as to judicial nominees is important.

Others argue that it would be better to vote for Clinton because, although she is publicly pro-abortion and at least privately anti-faith (and specifically anti-Catholic), she is better on “social justice” issues. Added to this, her election might cause the Republican Party to realise how far it has strayed from its core and force it to find a much better candidate in 2020 to defeat her.

This is something of a “harm minimisation” argument, I think.

This decision is far beyond the wisdom of Solomon, and so I am not even going to attempt to provide an option. I am just grateful that I do not have to vote in the election.

As I have been watching the coverage, I have come to think that, despite “Team Trump” and “Team Hillary” appearing to be polar opposites, their candidates are remarkably similar in the main reason they are both such unattractive options to hold the highest political office in the world: they both reject the inherent dignity of the human person.

Hillary Clinton’s rejection of the dignity of the human person can be seen most clearly in her support for unfettered abortion, even up to the time of birth.

Not only does the unborn child have no rights, its humanity would not even be a consideration in a President Clinton world. Planned Parenthood – the biggest abortion provider in the nation – enjoys her vocal support and would only increase in influence if she were to be elected.

Clinton also rejects the dignity of those who disagree with her. Her famous “basket of deplorables” line indicates her disdain for the opposition.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, fails to see the dignity of the person who is different to him.

We have seen too many examples of his undignified treatment of women, as well as his rejection of the humanity of immigrants, those of Islamic faith and the poor.

The United States would not be a welcome place for many under President Trump. Like Clinton, he too rejects the dignity of his opponents; a cursory glance at his Twitter feed will confirm this.

So, what do we do as Australians?

We should spare a prayer for a good outcome for the US election, including that the 469 congressmen and congresswomen elected might be able to hold back the tide of insanity which either of these candidates will unleash.

We know that what happens in the United States creates a ripple effect which is felt throughout the world, and we do not need any more instability at this moment.

And we should also recommit ourselves to being people who affirm and uphold the dignity of the human person, even those who might disagree with us, and demand the same of our politicians.

We are not in a position like America at the moment, but we are beginning to see our politics move in an undignified direction.

We have the ability to learn lessons from the unenviable situation in which American voters now find themselves, and we would do well to heed them.

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