The narrow split in the U.S. electorate revealed by Donald Trump’s election as President ended with a victory of “white” America over “diverse” America with long-lasting consequences, says moral theologian Daniel C. Maguire.
By Daniel C. Maguire
My reaction four days out from the moral tragedy of Donald Trump’s election as President is this: we are two nations, not one nation. On Nov. 8, 2016, one nation, a very white, very gerrymandered nation, braced by feeble voter turnout, conquered the other.
The conquest will continue for at least a generation since it includes control of the U.S. Supreme Court. Mid-term elections may bring minor relief (or possibly not because Senate Democrats have far more seats to defend than Republicans) but the conquering nation knows that the Supreme Court and other judges pipe the tune to which all must dance.
In this new regime, the environment loses, true democracy loses, unions lose, education loses, women lose, especially those with problem pregnancies, a free press loses, peace-makers lose, people of color lose, “illegal” immigrants lose, international alliances lose, the goal of basic health care for all loses, the regulations of corporate greed lose, occupied people like the Palestinians lose, sexual minorities lose, real religious freedom loses, the splintered Democratic party loses, and voter turnout continues to lose. And in all losses, the poor are the greatest losers.
There is nothing new in this. The Exodus story in the Bible (when not misunderstood as history) is a metaphor for human societies. Properly interpreted, Exodus was saying that human social organization teeters between the Egyptian pyramidal model of one percent rule and the alternative Sinai model based on appropriate sharing where “there will be no poor among you” (Deut. 15:4) and where swords will gradually be beaten into plowshares.
In the brief period after the Second World War, ending in the early 1970s, the United States was getting closer to the Sinai sharing model. Even under Republican Dwight Eisenhower, the top marginal income tax rate was 90 percent. “Justice consists in sharing,” said Thomas Aquinas.
During that brief moral interlude, there was sharing and a healthy middle class, along with the best-educated young in the world. We receded from that in subsequent decades, and on Nov. 8, 2016, we solemnly broke faith with humanity’s best hopes.
The tragedy is terminal only if hope, the most revolutionary of emotions, also dies. The Deuteronomist said that we can choose life or we can choose death and then begged us, choose life for your children’s sake. That salient challenge remains in the wake of this debacle.
Daniel C. Maguire is a Professor of Moral Theology at Marquette University, a Catholic, Jesuit institution in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is author of A Moral Creed for All Christians and The Horrors We Bless: Rethinking the Just-War Legacy [Fortress Press]). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org