Debate 2016: The Cave Man Versus the Borg Queen
Last night’s presidential debate put me in an uncharacteristically Bible-quoting mood. After watching it, this inspired verse haunted my mind: “I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19).
I realized that this is the choice that faces us on Election Day: The seedy, fallen life that all of us slog through after the Fall, with sudden irruptions of Grace that can save us, if we will let it. Or a shiny, polished, smoothly crafted death, a beautiful death (euthanasia).
Donald Trump is the lumpy, rough-shod reminder of how man really is — comprehensively fallen, with occasional glimpses of decency, with natural virtues that God made crusted over by sinful habits and clouded by self-deception. The kind of man whom preachers have to yell at, but whom they bother to since they have ears. They aren’t cyborgs.
Trump knows that men can be dogs because he has for decades been one. He knows that businessmen will take whatever advantage the law allows them because he has done so. He’s aware that foreign relations rest on strength and self-assertion, not happy talk and children’s scrawls of rainbow-pooping unicorns. He’s the sin-hammered face we see in the mirror each day, when we peer through our own deceptions and make an examination of conscience. And it isn’t pretty. We’d rather look at some shiny, man-made idol.
Hillary Clinton is the flawless mechanical goddess of a newborn pagan religion. She’s the Witch-Queen of Narnia, dispensing endless boxes of delicious Turkish Delight that makes us so very sleepy. In her dream world, if we can believe it, politicians can take tens of millions of dollars from dictatorships like Saudi Arabia that torture rape victims for the “crime” of adultery, but not be tainted by it. They can be trusted to delete tens of thousands of emails from illegal private servers holding national security secrets, because why would the leaders of our democracy lie to us? Isn’t that a cynical, ugly thing to think? It’s in our interest to think happy thoughts instead.
Every refugee, whatever his age or commitment to jihad, is one of the innocent “women and children” whom we may safely welcome into our country. An apocalypse-hungry despotism like the government of Iran can be trusted with nuclear weapons, because they really mean us no harm. No woman would ever abort her nine-month-old child except for the very best of reasons. It is cruel to suggest otherwise. (What kind of monster are you? Trump’s simple, visceral horror at such abortions just proves what we always said about that man.) The “rebels” in Syria who are backed by al Qaeda only want to establish a Swedish-style democracy, and if you don’t agree then you are clearly someone who is sick with Islamophobia.
Your sickness is deplorable. But it is not incurable. Just turn over the power to rule by decree to the nice judges whom Hillary will appoint from Harvard Law School, and they will make laws for you — you won’t even have to vote on them. If you tried to, it wouldn’t matter, anyway. So rest your little head on her icy lap and let her tell you a story. Don’t talk back—that isn’t polite.
Donald Trump is the seedy boss you’re pretty sure will sexually harass your daughter. Hillary is the cool, unflappable doctor whom you learn, too late, intends to euthanize your parents. Trump has no good excuses for his behavior — it’s just what guys do, ya know? But Hillary’s story is letter perfect. She has charts ready, and figures. She has calculated to the minute and even the second the number of “happy moments” your aging parents (an army vet, a mother of five, it doesn’t matter) can expect out of earthly life. She has totaled them up in an algorithm against the “happy moments” she can offer some stranger in Syria with the money not wasted on their “useless” medical care. She can quote the U.N. Charter, and maybe Kahlil Gibran, on why you ought to be happy with her decision. But the bottom line is: she decides. If you got involved, started invoking some of those obsolete religious tenets she already told you need changing … well that would just make things messy.
And we like things neat and clean. We like to think well of ourselves. We like to imagine that we are pretty much free of sin, while those other people — those troglodytes in tacky hats who listen to trashy music — embody what’s wrong with the world. They subscribe to “middle ages dictatorships” and bitterly cling to their guns and their religion. We don’t want to be grouped with them. The taint might rub off on us.
And that’s why the best and brightest, the folks who know how to look out for their long-term rational self-interest, are backing Hillary Clinton. They know that it suits their good cheer and bottom line to believe in the icy goddess, and repeat her happy tales. They know none of it is true, but it doesn’t really matter. By the time of the day of reckoning they will be dead. And as every parent in a no-fault divorce has told himself as a mantra, “Kids are so … resilient.”
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John Zmirak is a Senior Editor at The Stream and author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism.