Sunday, January 29, 2017
Why is there a strong likelihood that this weekend's chaos will repeat itself over the next four years? It's not simply about the clash of worldviews or a politically divided citizenry. We have largely learned to live with our disagreements, and I highly doubt that tougher immigration laws from President Rubio or President Kasich would've brought thousands of protesters to airport terminals and city centers. The outrage is not a product of our failure to realize that President Obama barred Iraqis in 2011, or that we've always had limits on the number of refugees admitted, or that this is what our President said he would do on the campaign trail. The outrage arises from a combination of the substantive overreaching, the background anti-Muslim rhetoric, the rushed timing, the failure to consult, the confused roll-out, and the utter failure to contextualize the EO as part of a broader story: perhaps a story of the EO as a regrettable but necessary concession to our fallen world, to be undertaken along with a redoubled commitment to care for our Muslim brothers and sisters who are here legally, along with refugees from around the world who are vetted under whatever new processes emerge. I still might disagree with such a decision on the merits, but it would be a disagreement, period. In context, the current EO feels like a repudiation of core American values. I think it boils down to a question of character, which is why I'm afraid that it's a harbinger of things to come.
As the Church has been trying to tell us for many years, the character of our leaders matters (and yes, the Church's own history sadly reflects that fact):
[R]esponsible authority . . . means authority exercised with those virtues that make it possible to put power into practice as service (patience, modesty, moderation, charity, efforts to share), an authority exercised by persons who are able to accept the common good, and not prestige or the gaining of personal advantages, as the true goal of their work.
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church para. 410.
You may not think that Jimmy Carter or George H.W. Bush were effective Presidents. That's fine - reasonable people can disagree about either one. But I submit that they were good men, and their goodness made them better Presidents than they otherwise would have been.