Quick Hits: Analyzing Trump and the Democrats, questioning Vatican support for internationalism
- First Things is not a political journal, yet in the past week the magazine has provided me with two of the most insightful perspectives on a bewildering American presidential race. Matthew Schmitz reminds readers that the religious outlook of Donald Trump was formed by Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power of Positive Thinking. The Gospel according to Peale left no room for humility, repentance, mortification, or a sense of one’s own weakness—qualities that are conspicuously absent from the Republican candidate. Meanwhile editor R.R. Reno explains how the Democratic Party has altered its appeal over the years, so that what was once the political home of the working class is now a party that appeals primarily to the privileged classes, while still claiming to represent those who are excluded from power. To maintain the fiction that they still represent the downtrodden, Reno argues, Democrats are now heavily engaged in “bigot-bashing,” Reno remarks: that is, vilifying people whose views the liberal establishment rejects, claiming that any opposition to their agenda must necessarily be a form of bigotry.
- In Catholic World Report, Samuel Gregg reflect on the relationship between “Catholicism and Global Institutions,” questioning why Church leaders have maintained their unflagging support for the UN, the European Union, and other international bodies despite the mounting evidence that these institutions have adopted purposes hostile to the faith. Gregg suggests that a proper appreciation for the principle of subsidiarity should temper Catholic enthusiasm for global institutions. Moreover, he says, the “Kantian internationalist agenda” of these international bodies conflicts with the healthy realism of the Catholic tradition of political discourse. Gregg calls for Church leaders who will not merely go along with the moral reasoning of secular leaders, but will be “willing to bring the full richness of Catholicism’s centuries-old reflection to bear on such issues.”
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