September 28, 2016


TRUMP'S REVOLT AGAINST VOWS (Alexi Sargeant, 9 . 27 . 16, First Things)

In preparation for marriage, I have been reading Fulton Sheen's classic Three To Get Married, which interweaves meditations on matrimony, fatherhood, and motherhood with sophisticated Trinitarian theology. In a chapter titled "The Unbreakable Bond," Sheen reflects on the indissoluble nature of marriage and connects it to the other vows that undergird human society:

It [the vow] may be hard to keep, but it is worth keeping because of what it does to exalt the character of those who make it. Once its inviolable character is recognized before God, an impulse is given to self-examination, the probing of one's faults, and new efforts at charity. It is too terrible to contemplate what would happen to the world if our pledged words were no longer bonds. No nation could extend credit to another nation if the compact of repayment was signed with reservations. International order vanishes as domestic society perishes through the breaking of vows. [...] Once we decide, in any matter, that passion takes precedence over truth and erotic impulse over honor, then how shall we prevent the stealing of anything, once it becomes "vital" to someone else?

Sheen is making a point central to social conservatism. The keeping of promises, the maintenance of trust, the sacredness of one's word. These are some of the noblest values in the conservative firmament--which is why it has been so dispiriting watching conservative commentators ignore these truths and tout Donald Trump, a man who tramples on vow-keeping.

The debate last night underlined the reasons why Donald Trump's character and temperament should be disqualifying in the eyes of conservatives. Even those of us most worried about a Clinton presidency need to wield a plausible exit threat, else what influence can we really exert over any party? And if Donald Trump is not reason enough to follow through on this threat, what possible Republican candidate would be? David Duke?

Trump's policies, such as they are, usually come down to America breaking its promises.

Posted by at September 28, 2016 7:19 PM