November 7th, 2012
On Election Day I was driving home from a funeral Mass for a young wife and mother. She had fought seven years with cancer and had prevailed: she had kept her faith in God, so evident in her radiant smile. Her glowing faith, and the depth of her family’s love, contrasted sharply with the superficial twitter spinning through the airwaves on Election Day. Everyone was in a tizzy, of course, as our national dose of base political theatre reached its climax. Devout Christians were desperately offering one more prayer, one more sacrifice. Perhaps even now, as the Obama machine churns inexorably to victory, one more rosary will avert disaster.
A billboard flashed by on the freeway: “Breast Augmentation: only $3,200!” A supermodel triumphantly heaved an augmented bosom towards the freeway, dangling a measuring tape. Compared to the really bad stuff championed by the political winners (secret abortions for our daughters, militant homosexual agendas, calculated attacks on family life, etc.), breast augmentation seemed rather quaint. But the blazing billboard made me realize that, Obama or Romney—it didn’t make a whole lot of difference. Disaster has already struck. Are Americans really spending $3000 on fake mammaries while the rent goes unpaid? When breast augmentation has become “normal,” as on freeway billboards, we know that irrationality and disorder have overrun us. For some time now, America has elected to ignore the natural law and manufacture a cheap imitation—propaganda such as “a pregnant woman is not carrying a baby” and “marriage is whatever we say it is” and “we can spend as much as we want and never have to pay it back.”
Once again, a majority of Catholics has elected an anti-Catholic president. Once again, we’ve put our trust in political leaders rather than in our Church leaders. But politics is not our problem, and even less our solution. Only a decadent culture pays as much obsessive attention to politics as we have over the last year and a half. In fact, the good news is that politics has become hardly important. In the perceptive analysis of Matthew Warner, politicians have long ago switched from the vocation of leadership to the business of marketing. “[candidates for office]look at the cultural map of the day and then create a platform and a message that tickles enough ears to win them an election.”
The politics of today is mere market strategy, disconnected from any sense of truth. I think we do best to ignore it as much as possible. The solution to our national malaise is an appeal to the goodness, the thirst for truth, the longing for beauty, in every American heart. Benedict XVI has a name for it: the New Evangelization. In this Year of Faith, which began with America’s clear reaffirmation of the Obama programme, let us at least witness to our faith in God rather than faith in any political programme.