By Charlie Johnston
As this election season goes careening wildly towards its inevitable fiery conclusion three weeks from now, a little advice…
Large political campaigns get into a higher gear six weeks out. The last three weeks are an unbearable pressure cooker for those involved that I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been there can imagine. I have seen more than a few candidates (on both sides) lose in those last few weeks because they said or did something out of frustration and the overwhelming stress of the process, itself. A rule I had was that we were to open no new avenues of attack or proposal in the last three weeks, but stick to the themes we had already established. As passions mount, people fail to vet what they desperately want to believe. Even when it is solid, judgment is diminished and it is likely not to be presented in a way that helps. Anything new is as likely to blow up fatally in your face as it is to help. There were some exceptions, but they were extremely rare. And every cycle I had partisans on my side desperately wanting to open up such an undisciplined course.
As passions rise, people tend to swing ever more wildly and frantically. At best, that is a formula for a catastrophic error. At worst, it leads one to behave dishonorably. Everyone is getting a little taste, this cycle, of what people inside a campaing feel in the final three weeks’ pressure. The solution is to be more deliberate than ever. Slow things down. Know that your judgment is impaired by your passion, so take extra time to argue against what you think is a good idea in the heat of that passion.
In the last three weeks, I also quietly would go each day to a Church, light a candle and pray. I would not pray to win, but that God’s will be accomplished. In a daily examination of conscience, I would check to see that I had done everything that could reasonably be done. Not that I had done everything perfectly (if I had, I considered that a negative for it most likely meant I had not done enough). I checked to make sure I had never lost sight of the humanity of the opposition – and that I had not failed to act out of timidity. It was a process of handing it over to God, even as I continued to keep what was in motion working at full tilt. (In one campaign, the scheduler – who scheduled both the candidate and had to keep tabs on me at all times, too – wryly told me she hoped I went to a different Church every day, for she did not know how it would play if the press found out the top aide was spending a half hour in Church beyond Mass each day). It would be good from now on in to pray the Surrender Novena and the Prayer of Miraculous Trust regularly to keep you grounded.
I have always encouraged you to do the things you normally would, while not counting on them. I don’t worry much about the outcome if election comes off. God has a different plan this time. But the election will say much about who we are as a people. The Wikileaks material on the Clinton camp confirms that she seeks to outlaw traditional expressions of faith entirely. Her campaign manager, John Podesta, has already started up false front “Catholic” organizations to try to subvert the Church from within. Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput commented on those revelations with his characteristic blunt honesty. I say that the results of the election won’t ultimately matter, but living our duty well will matter enormously.
So advocate vigorously for your candidate, whether it be Trump or one of the third-party candidates. (I dismiss Hillary Clinton as an acceptable candidate for a faithful Catholic on any grounds). But let your advocacy not lead you to sin. The Republic is not dependent on this election. If it were, we would already be lost. It is dependent on all of us becoming, once again, a Godly people – and for that we are simply called to acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around us.
Last Wednesday, the District Attorney (DA) for Orange County, California, Tony Rackauckas, filed suit against DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics for trafficking in baby organs for profit. It is the first salvo in local actions around the country. It won’t be the last.
Last year, David Daleiden, who produced the undercover videos (you can click on links to them at the right side of this website) which exposed Planned Parenthood’s (PP) ghoulish practices, put a premium on working with investigators and district attorneys to build the legal case. A key was getting the U.S. House of Representatives involved. It set up a select committee to investigate the charges. It was able to penetrate the fog of confusion, misinformation and attacks Planned Parenthood and its governmental and media enablers used to try to derail the fundamental point: the allegation that Planned Parenthood and some of its corporate partners were illegally conspiring to harvest the organs of babies to sell for profit. In Harris County, Texas, DA Devon Anderson and Asst. DA Sunni Mitchell went so far as to hijack a grand jury charged with investigating Planned Parenthood – and instead colluded with PP to manufacture charges against Daleiden and his partner in filming the videos, Sandra Merritt. California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris (a candidate for U.S. Senate) made a show raid on Daleiden’s apartment for his supposed smearing of PP.
Daleiden’s patient strategy and steady resolve is paying off. The House Select Committee, solidly guided by Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) found compelling evidence of collusion between PP and other corporate partners to traffic illegally in infant organs for profit. A judge ordered one set of charges dropped in Harris County; the DA moved to drop the second set after their collusion with PP to hijack the grand jury was revealed. There have been no charges proffered by the California Attorney General’s office. It is looking more and more like a highly publicized fishing expedition that was designed to signal to PP that Kamala Harris would be their eager factotum. The evidence the Orange County DA’s office gathered locally confirmed the larger body of evidence the House Select Committee developed.
Right now, PP is desperately trying to keep out of the news until after the election, in hopes that Hillary Clinton wins and will make this all go away. They are terrified that the matter will be judged on evidence and merit. Well they should be. The evidence is compelling and mounting.
As regular readers know, both Daleiden and Merritt are friends of mine. It has been a great sign of hope to me that the biggest blow against the culture of death in my lifetime has been struck by careful, sustained and steadfast action rather than wild accusations, driven primarily by a young man not yet in his 30’s. God bless David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt – and all who worked with them for over two years to bring this to light.
There are many people here, more than a few of whom are involved in public controversies and issue advocacy. Here is some advice I give to people who are dealing with public issues. It is good counsel in any situation.
Keep a blue collar mentality about your work. Once you start worrying about how important it is, you start going down a rabbit hole. Just focus on the work before you. When the day is triumphant, focus on the work. When the day has been disastrous, focus on the work. In life, you get many setbacks and some triumphs on whatever you do. Focus on the work without being overly distracted by either setback or triumph and you will do well.
Never worry about being great. Worry about being good. Worry about being true. Focus on the work of the day. If you do those things, you will help advance God’s will. That is all the greatness any of us need.
On speaking tours promoting his great book, Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville often said that, “America is not good because she is great: she is great because she is good. When she ceases to be good, she shall cease to be great.”
There are many people today who think they are great with no concern for being good. Their day is almost at its end. Let us focus on being good – and the greatness of God will surely follow.