A year before the 2020 election, the U.S. bishops have launched their own campaign: Civilize…
Family is what matters
Kellyanne Fitzpatrick (now Conway) might have been the first insider political person I met as a college student at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., in the 1990s. I would meet many more as an intern at the Heritage Foundation, but during my freshman year, she came to campus and talked about the importance of faith and family.
Raised by a single mother, she radiated gratitude and a desire to give back and make all the sacrifices that made her life possible bear fruit. The first time I ever remember being on TV was a few hours as an on-air commentator on MSNBC during Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Kellyanne was the other conservative, and she couldn’t have been more encouraging.
Over the years, she would always respond to my requests to write for free when I was editor of National Review’s website, and she even was principal for a day at the now-closed St. Rose of Lima School in Washington Heights, New York, because she had a heart for Catholic schools and the little ones. I remember her super pregnant at a reception at Bill Buckley’s house.
My point is: She’s a person — with goodness and history and hopes and goals and feelings and wounds and all the rest. I think we forget that about people in politics — or in the news generally. Ours is a culture of celebrity and contempt. We tend to make idols of people or despise them, seemingly throwing all our angst about maybe everything in the world onto them. It couldn’t hurt to realize they are just human beings like the rest of us. People recently encouraging Conway’s teen daughter to tweet about her mother is some of the worst of us.
I’ve been in the commentary world for my entire adult life, and I’ve seen ebbs and flows. Just recently, I’ve seen a spike in my own hate mail. That always happens in an election year. But it’s something more these days, as most tolerance for rational conversation and debate is thrown out the window.
Politics has become something like a religion to people, in the worst of ways. We want things out of politics that politics can’t give us. We’ve gotten to the point where we treat elections like an app that is going to fix everything. The reality is that the election of Joe Biden for president or the reelection of Donald Trump isn’t going to fix everything or destroy everything. The choices people make in response, however, is another story. People taking to the streets burning things down and looting will destroy small businesses and so much more.
I toured some of downtown D.C. for the first time in a long time on Aug. 23. It was June 1 that rioters set a fire inside St. John’s Episcopal Church. It’s still boarded up. Shattered windows at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The whole scene is a reflection of a dying culture, a country that’s just a few years short of marking 50 years of legal abortion.
We have a president who is heralded as the most pro-life president ever, who in his recent EWTN interview lumped the pro-life cause together with guns as if boxes to check to keep a right-wing base happy. Meanwhile, abortion is the ultimate violence, and it’s painful to hear it lumped together with guns. And then, of course, there is Joe Biden, who knew better — whose talk about the battle for the soul of America rings hollow when he won’t take his party on so that we could become a nation healing.
Pray for miracles for the Conway family. It’s a challenge to raise a family in the best of conditions. But in a culture of political contempt? Lord, have mercy. You don’t have to agree with her politics or decisions. Children are hurting, and their parents are, too. In a country where a lot of that is going on, let’s become more about love than this contempt that is strangling us. Family is what matters. How we treat one another. Making abortion implausible, because people are so loved.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and editor-at-large of National Review.