…the American democratic experiment is in deep trouble—and that trouble has something to do with moral judgment.
The reduction of voting to a visceral exercise in anger-management, identity politics, or class resentment (cf. “Trump campaign,” “Hillary campaign,” and “Bernie campaign”) tells us that our political culture is sick. And if the political culture is sick, that must have something to do with the state of the culture as a whole. Did we really imagine that a culture of self-absorption and vulgarity, taking its cues from the passions of adolescence, was not going to cash out in our politics? If so, let’s hope that we’ve been disabused of that fallacy. Such a sobering-up would be one, modest silver lining in the ominous storm clouds now gathering.
The reconstruction of a morally serious political culture is essential, if American democracy is not to descend into incoherence and what an eminent churchman once called the “dictatorship of relativism.” That reconstruction could start with U.S. Catholics leavening our politics—and the culture as a whole—with Catholic social doctrine.
If you’re feeling disoriented by the politics of this election season in particular, Peggy Noonan’s “Patriotic Grace” is a good place to recuperate.