Trump is the ‘Most Flawed Candidate Ever’: An Interview with John Kenneth White

John Kenneth White is a professor of politics at the Catholic University of America, who has written extensively on the American party system, elections, and the US presidency. His most recent book is What Happened to the Republican Party?: And What It Means for American Presidential Politics. Millennial writer Daniel Petri and editor Robert Christian asked him to share his thoughts on the 2016 presidential election:

What were you thoughts on the first debate?

I never saw anything like the first debate in my entire life!  It has been the custom that candidates are civil toward one another, even if they have had serious policy disagreements.  What we had here was a major party, the Republicans, nominating a candidate for the presidency who is the most unqualified, inept, and character-flawed candidate ever!  The debate was reality television meets presidential debate, and it wasn’t pretty.

How would you place Donald Trump’s candidacy in a historical context?

The most flawed candidate ever.  The closest analogy may be when the Republicans nominated another businessman, Wendell Willkie, who had been a former Democrat (like Trump) in 1940.  The difference is that Willkie was serious; Trump is not.

Do you think Catholics are going to swing heavily toward Hillary, as some polls suggest? If so (or not), why?

There is no Catholic vote.   Catholics do not bring their religious identity anymore into the voting booth.  There is an Hispanic vote (thanks to demography) that will swing heavily toward the Democrats.

Will this election continue the demographic trends we’ve been seeing in past elections or create a new dynamic?

Yes, the demographic trends established in 2008 and 2012 will continue, albeit in some modified form in 2016. The shifts in our political demography are inevitable and unchangeable. The only thing that can change is the parties’ response (especially the Republicans) toward them.  And by every measure, the GOP is in worse shape on this important factor than they were in 2012 (see the so-called autopsy report–officially named the Growth and Opportunity Project).

Do you have a prediction for election day?



Pope Francis Delivered Inspiration, Not Lectures in the US

Millennial writer Christopher White has a new article at Crux. He writes:

Instead of using his visit to America to strictly lecture politicians and the public about the moral failures of a nation that has drifted far from upholding Catholic ideals about life and family, Francis offered us something to aspire to.

In pointing to the legacies of American heroes, such as Lincoln, King, Day, and Merton, he reminded us that the principles they fought for are essential to the idea of the nation they served and loved. And in doing this, he asked us to consider how we’re measuring up.

“In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream,” he concluded his speech to Congress.

You can read the full article here.


Pope Francis’ Telegram to Israel on the Passing of Shimon Peres

via Zenit:

His Excellency Reuven Rivlin
President of the State of Israel

I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of His Excellency Shimon Peres, and I wish to convey to you and to all the people of Israel my heartfelt condolences. I fondly recall my time with Mr Peres at the Vatican and renew my great appreciation for the late President’s tireless efforts in favor of peace. As the State of Israel mourns Mr Peres, I hope that his memory and many years of service will inspire us all to work with ever greater urgency for peace and reconciliation between peoples. In this way, his legacy will truly be honored and the common good for which he so diligently labored will find new expressions, as humanity strives to advance on the path towards enduring peace. With the assurance of my prayers for all who grieve, especially for the Peres family, I invoke the divine blessings of consolation and strength upon the nation.


Reactions to the First Presidential Debate of 2016

We encouraged all of our writers and readers to analyze last night’s debate through the prism of Catholic social teaching. While we have seen a great deal of discontent about both presidential candidates among those who share Millennial’s commitment to human dignity, the sanctity of life, social justice, free democracy, and universal human rights, the overwhelming response to this debate on social media was centered on criticism of Donald Trump, along with some praise for Clinton’s positions on various social justice issues. This may reflect Clinton’s strong lead among Catholics, the total exclusion of abortion and a few other important issues from the debate, and that many center-right proponents of Catholic social teaching are #NeverTrump (even those who are also #NeverHillary). The highlights in this twitter round-up reflect this:

Peace Requires Interfaith Solidarity

On September 20th, Pope Francis joined thousands of pilgrims in Assisi for the World Day of Prayer for Peace.  This event commemorated the 30th anniversary of the gathering that brought together pilgrims from all over the globe and invited the world’s religions to join their hearts, minds, and hands in becoming peacemakers.  At that gathering in 1986, Pope John Paul II highlighted the “common nature, a common origin and a common destiny” of all people and called for collaboration between individuals and nations to forge common ground in a shared aspiration for peace.  John Paul II urged that this work be undertaken through prayer, humility, and “a commitment to serve all.”  He also acknowledged that Christians are required to complete acts of penance for the sins of omission and commission that have kept them from answering the call to be peacemakers in the world.

Pope Francis echoed these sentiments and spoke of the need “to bring about encounters through dialogue, and to oppose every form of violence and abuse of religion which seeks to justify war and terrorism.”  In what seems to be a denunciation of the ideology of ISIS, Francis continued by stating: “We recognize the need to pray constantly for peace, because prayer protects the world and enlightens it.  God’s name is peace.  The one who calls upon God’s name to justify terrorism, violence and war does not follow God’s path.  War in the name of religion becomes a war against religion itself.  With firm resolve, therefore, let us reiterate that violence and terrorism are opposed to an authentic religious spirit.”

Francis emphasized the need for “a greater commitment to eradicating the underlying causes of conflicts: poverty, injustice and inequality, the exploitation of and contempt for human life.”  Despite these large-scale problems, the pope called on each and all to take up the practices of praying for peace, encountering others with respect, and joining in dialogue.  “Everyone,” Francis insisted, “can be an artisan of peace.”

Francis’ words speak to the desires of so many people today who long for peace (or, as the hashtag goes, #ThirstforPeace).  His call to be peacemakers resonates through Scripture, from the Beatitudes (Mt 5:9) to the apostle Paul’s description of what it means to be Christian as being “ambassadors of Christ,” charged with “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:17-21).  Discipleship pivots on the work of peace-making—healing wounds, restoring right-relationship, and forging unity across diversity—continuing to heed the Jewish teaching (in the Mishnah) that holds followers of Yahweh accountable for the work of tikkun olam, “to repair the world.” Read More

An Interview with US Senate Candidate Caroline Fayard of Louisiana

Caroline Fayard is one the top candidates in this year’s US Senate race in Louisiana, currently polling first among Democrats in the race. Millennial editor Robert Christian asked her about her views on public service, her faith, and more in the following interview.

13177650_466657920125363_28935814584246378_nWhy are you running for the Senate?

Growing up in Livingston Parish, I have been very fortunate to have parents who never set limits for me. They told my brother and me the same thing, which I think is important for young people to hear – you can be whatever you want to be in this life. It was with their voices in mind that I was able to become valedictorian of my high school class at Episcopal in Baton Rouge, established my very own law practice in Louisiana, and helped start GLO Airlines based in New Orleans. I never let doubts about my drive or capabilities as a woman stand in my way. I let them motivate me.

I’ve been fortunate for my blessings, but I’ve also seen a lot of hardship that Louisiana has endured during my lifetime. I’ve lived through the struggles that we’ve all had to overcome as a community: the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina & Rita, the BP Oil Spill, and the mismanagement of our state government by Bobby Jindal. And our challenges are not over. Now we’re facing the highest gender wage gap in the nation, the highest incarceration rate, and failing marks in education, all the while tackling the tremendous challenge that the historic floods have brought upon our state in part by climate change. Louisiana needs a new voice and a new generation of leadership to face these challenges. It will take forward thinkers to overcome the challenges that lie ahead.

I am running because we need a new generation of leadership.   A new direction and a new approach in Washington.  And I am proud to be one of the only women in this race.  It’s important for me to represent the folks out there who are tired of the same old political games being played by my opponents. I believe it’s time for a new generation to stop playing the same political games of the past 40 years and go to work to make sure Louisiana is a great state for this generation and the next. That is why I am running.

I first heard about your campaign at the Governor Casey Whole Life Leadership Award reception, where Gov. John Bel Edwards was the recipient. Does that ‘whole life’ approach reflect your approach to human life and dignity? What role does protecting the vulnerable play in your approach to politics?

I find the “whole life” approach refreshing because in today’s 24-hour political news cycle, folks tend to focus in on certain issues or one aspect of issues without taking into account the meaning or symbolism behind the policies. If we truly care about life, we need to focus on human lives holistically, both in terms of their quality and vitality. It breaks my heart to constantly see Louisiana near the bottom in education and poverty year after year. And I truly believe that most, if not all, people want to work, want to better their lives, but often they are not given the chances or the resources early on to succeed. In order to help folks better their lives, to make our state more economically vibrant, we need to come together and do our best to provide the resources needed for development in all communities, not just the few.

How does your Catholic faith influence you as a person and how you approach public service?

As Catholics, it is important to always challenge ourselves to reflect on the world through the lens of social justice, and I believe a large component of that starts with understanding others. I do my best to keep this perspective, to listen to others when they are talking, and to truly hear their point of view. In politics, it is so easy to get caught up in partisanship and labels, but behind every Democrat or Republican, there are usually people who want to help, want to do right by people. I do my best to always see issues from the other’s perspective. Read More