The Democratic convention this year, odd Hollywood production that it was in these virtual times, was a bit of an exercise in denial. There were the feel-good segments about Joe Biden and his life in public office and his painful personal tragedy. There were shrill attacks on Donald Trump, probably the easiest thing in the world to do — casting so many of the wrongs of coronavirus on him. One of the segments I found the most jarring was Bill Clinton’s. One of the gifts he enjoyed as a politician was a charisma that would draw people in, getting them excited with expectation. The last time I saw him in person, campaigning for his wife in a primary state on her first run for president, there was a magnetism to his energy that was impossible to deny. None of that was present during his convention remarks this year. Age and health, of course, could be factors. But has seeing his name in Jeffrey Epstein stories had an impact on him? Does he have regrets? Does he fear for how history might regard him? I thought I saw in his eyes a man with regrets, a man who might be on a journey to get right with his Maker but maybe doesn’t quite realize it yet. His appearance reminded me to pray for him. He might be a man in the process of grieving on many difference fronts.
A friend of mine talks frequently about the importance of grieving during these pandemic days. We are experiencing so much that is beyond our control and that saddens and disappoints us. This happens in every human life, but on top of all the trauma that can happen in a normal human life, we’ve been experiencing these things culturally — and globally — that can wreck us. You need to stop and acknowledge that. And grieve it.
This is where the Democrats failed — as they attacked Trump, they didn’t leave room for something other than anger, or even owning up to their own mistakes. We should have had a moment of silence for all the New Yorkers in nursing homes who died because of the governor’s order. Instead, Andrew Cuomo waxed eloquent about the coronavirus as a metaphor. If we really want to be reflective about this pandemic time, we would consider that while Cuomo talked about protecting every human life, he clearly didn’t mean our elderly men and women in nursing homes. And, at the same time, abortion clinics were open in the state.
Yes, we could look at the fact that so many of us radically changed our daily lives to protect vulnerable human lives. But when I consider that we’ve had legal abortion in the United States for my entire life, I wonder if we really meant that. Was it more about fear? We need both to recognize what has been going wrong beyond excoriating Donald Trump for his failures and to insist on some consistency in our laws and culture. I know for a fact that women have been pressured into abortions during this time. Some of them found help with the likes of the Sisters of Life, who exist in no small part to protect human life and help people flourish. Essential to that is healing. But we can’t heal unless we are honest about what is going on. Our sickness isn’t Donald Trump, it’s a culture of death, the likes of which John Paul II called out during his papacy.
One of the current stars of the Democratic Party, Andrew Cuomo, has supported the legalization of assisted suicide in his state. We are living at a time of rising suicide rates — it was bad before COVID-19, and I’m a bit terrified to know just how bad things might be right now. While adults fight about opening schools, children suffer in tense or abusive home situations. Even before the pandemic, the floodgates weren’t opening for teenagers in foster care to enter into permanent, “forever” families. The coronavirus hasn’t helped. There is so much that is sick in America that is not Donald Trump.
Conventions aren’t typically known to be reflective. These days, however, we have not just the opportunity but the glaring need for healing and restoration, of the kind that will come only from honest soul-searching. That’s why Joe Biden’s battle-for-the-soul-of-America business drives me batty. He doesn’t mean it, because he can’t actually go there. Shockingly, the Democratic Party, which really has no room for pro-life voices, aired a prayer, by Jesuit priest Father James Martin, that included the unborn child among a list of those on whose behalf he asked God to intervene. God bless him for doing that. Prayer is powerful, so maybe it could help move a mountain. The Democratic Party could be so much more, it could be a help, but instead it continues to carry the standard of the culture of death. We need to acknowledge and grieve this grave political reality before we can move forward in any kind of healthy way.
This column is based on one available through Andrews McMeel Universal’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.