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.
…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.
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 campaign 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 say that the results of the election won’t ultimately matter, but living our duty well will matter enormously.
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 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 of the election. 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.
Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. He also served as president of the Round Lake School Board, and ran for other offices. Many remember him from his time as a host on WKRS radio, and as a recurring panelist on Tom Roeser’s show on WLS. Mr. Johnston is also a man of great faith.
From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about it on his website The Next Right Step.
Formerly of Round Lake, Johnston lives in the Archdiocese of Denver.