The last I read that there were twenty-two Republican candidates for president and two Democrats. The year should prove interesting. Let the debates begin.
And now that the Supreme Court has clearly usurped the legislative function of government in Obergefell v. Hodges, and our future president may appoint judges to this august bench, the election is one that will change the course of our nation for good or ill.
It is a time to pay attention, and for voters to consider who will keep our country free, who will protect our people from international and domestic terrorists, who will protect the individual from the state and individuals from each other. Who best will honor American ideals, those perfect standards, those road signs that show us our destination, where we want to go, who we want to be, and the road we must take to get there?
So much depends on the rule of law, our attitude toward that great body of do’s and don’ts codified and built upon past law. Do we respect the commands of government, the demands of the commons for the common good? Do we respect those who enforce those laws: police and courts, juries and justices, attorneys and jailers? Without common law, and without respect for its ordering and its enforcers, we have no future. Without equality under that law, the law that we the people have legislated, we will collapse from within. Like a rotting apple in a barrel, the cancer of lawlessness will spread and devour us.
So much depends on our care for the poor, those poor in spirit or flesh, our neighbors in city and country. We are called to look after the least of these, for they are a part of our national body, our e pluribus unum, for from many we are one. We must care for each other by supporting those institutions that build hospitals and schools, that open soup kitchens, those saintly groups that brave inner cities to kiss lepers and teach children and bind wounds of the brokenhearted. Government cannot do these things. Churches and temples, and perhaps other private charities, enterprises of love, can best do these things.
So much depends on integrity, an integral term rarely used today and nearly forgotten. Integrity comes from the Latin integretas, meaning soundness, wholeness, blamelessness, the quality of practicing what one preaches so that one is integrated, without and within. Actions match words. Integers are whole numbers, and integrity is wholeness, wholesomeness, health. Of course no one is perfect in word or deed, but some care more about trying to live lives of integrity than others. They see the ideal, the road that must be taken to get there, the goal for which we must strive. They pay attention to their conscience. They recognize corruption; they can see it taking root like a fast-growing weed.
So much depends on natural law, that ancient communal sense of right and wrong governing marriage, family, and children, the unborn and the aged, euthanasia and slavery. Civilizations have known the rights and wrongs of how to get along. They have sensed that certain ways, or paths, are better than others to survive as a species, our humanity considered precious. They have been concerned to identify how such ways affect the common good, affect the human heart, affect the conscience.
Someone once said that the first time a person steals he feels guilty. The second time he steals he finds an excuse to rationalize the theft; the guilt is lessened. The third time he steals, he feels no guilt. His heart has become inured, hardened and his humanity lessened. Perhaps this is reflected in the recent video of the woman discussing the sale of baby body parts while eating a salad. It is all too easy to no longer react humanely to acts of horror. It is all too easy to be proud of what had once been unthinkable. It is all too easy to send the undesirables to a concentration camp. It is all too easy to dismember babies in utero.
The presidential debates, one of the glories of our democracy, will show us ourselves, who we are and where we should go. We may glimpse integrity or we may see only bravado and corruption. Where we go from here will make a difference in our lives, in the life of every one of us. Let’s pay attention to our candidates, what they say, how they say it, and the ideals they embody.
So much depends on the road taken.