Moral Discernment and the 2016 Presidential Election
These last weeks before the 2016 presidential election cry out for theological reflection and moral discernment.
On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, we will elect either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as our next president. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are diametrically opposed in their theology, their ethics, and their understanding of what makes American democracy democratic. The contrast is sharp and undeniable.
This is no average time in our democracy. We are at a crossroads of faith in each other, faith in self-government, and faith in social, economic, and political inclusion.
The state of the union is at a tipping point, and it is critical for the future of American society that we engage in conscientious contemplation on who we are as a people, the meaning of our values, the complexities of our disagreements, and the ambiguities of our common good. In the age of Twitter and 24-hour new cycles, we must force collective moments for fundamental reflections on the belief systems that inform our politics, and we must critically engage in moral discernment about the responsibilities of citizenship.
Freedom is easy. Citizenship is hard.
Citizenship and the essence that this concept communicates is the great burden of the common political good. Citizenship means that we have a shared responsibility for the justice of all members of society, not just our own justice, and we also share responsibility for the well-being of society as a whole.
Yearly, The State of the Union address is given by the president, in order to give their perspective on the historical pulse of the nation---to take a reading of where we are as a people and then outline a future vision of where we ought to go.
But there is no formal address given that expresses the state of American faith and the moral pulse of the nation before an election. There is no public meditation that takes a reading of the underlying theologies and fundamental images of the faith that grounds our understanding of who we are as a people at that volatile and history changing moment.
But what if the state of our union and the future of our democracy is at risk because the state of our faith and our moral imagination has become collectively distorted?
Only the most rudimentary considerations can get at the theological depths and heights of what society begins to feel like and act like when the zeitgeist of what makes American democracy democratic begins to wane.
Our posts seek to fill that gap. We will present a moral-theological discussion on the aforementioned concerns.
These last weeks, we must consider the moral consequences of electing Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as the next representative of what democracy feels like and acts like here and around the world. We must consider the political responsibilities of citizenship, or lack thereof, and those theological foundations which we share with our American compatriots that either lead us to believe in these responsibilities or to deny them.
These reflections will challenge us to soften our hearts in order that we soften our political rhetoric, for to remove antipathy from politics we must remove it first from our hearts. To do so, we must practice the humanizing art of sympathy, empathy, and solidarity with others. Reflections on such practices will challenge us to cast a vote, in good faith, i.e. in the belief in our common humanity and in our common good as a society also.
Belief in the theology of our common humanity---belief in good faith---and the good public policies that follow, ensure that our democratic values are preserved and passed down to yet another self-governing and egalitarian-seeking generation.
We must confront the rising tide of an American authoritarianism that seeks to threaten our common humanity, self-government, egalitarianism society because it seeks to destroy and displace the images of American good faith and replaces it with a politics of exclusion.
We will investigate those most stubborn theological attitudes, notorious worldviews, and polarizing subjects, in order to galvanize a broader collective moral discernment of the presidential candidates, their worldviews, and their competing public policies.
We will speak to the fundamental state of American faith and courage, and while we will speak to why it’s distorted, we will also speak to why it’s in a state of renewal, in and through an alternative called American Communion.
And we will propose where we ought to go as a united democratic People---in good faith---so that we continue to be worthy of that name.