Why Catholics should support Joe Biden

Growing up as a Catholic, I have witnessed staunch Catholics cringe when Democratic politicians speak out in support of same-sex marriage and abortion. Even when a Democratic candidate is a Catholic — as is the case with Joe Biden — devout Catholics continue to disproportionately support Trump. Much of this support no doubt relies on single-issue voters who oppose abortion and gay marriage on the grounds of, what they believe to be, their moral conscience. But this is a mistake. When we are too ensnarled in the hot-button issues of our time, we tend to overlook many other dimensions of politics that deserve equal, if not more, weight: we miss the forest for the trees. For too long, Trump’s strategic alignment on the issues of sex and marriage has shrouded his flagrant disregard for the moral tenets of Catholicism. It’s time to set the record straight.

Trump’s stance on abortion during the 2016 election is a far cry from what he declared during a 1999 interview with Meet the Press: “I am very pro-choice in every respect.” He even stated that he is against the banning of “partial-birth abortion,” which is an abortion carried out during the third trimester of pregnancy. In the same interview, he also claimed that he has no problem with members of the LGBTQ community serving in the military. For someone who claims to respect the sanctity of marriage, Trump has provided multiple evidence of infidelity, as shown in the lewd conversation he was having in the infamous “Access Hollywood tape.”

“I did try and f — — her… I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there. And she was married … Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits… I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. When you’re a star, they let you do it… Grab them by the p — -y.”

Morality is not simply confined within the issues of matrimony and life after conception; it also extends through the social dimensions of life and the entire human experience beyond conventional politics — friendship, art, love, scholarship, and family. Our current president might align with your views on life after conception, but he has failed spectacularly on everything else. Suppose we use the same moral premise — the value of life — to evaluate all of Trump’s other policies, we will end up with a contradiction. Climate change, affordable healthcare, poverty relief programs, and racial justice are among many of the issues on which the value of life is at stake.

The value of life that we Catholics cherish is not just a blind rule to follow; there’s also an attitude to it. To cherish life is to emphasize the well-being of others and to cultivate moral dispositions required to do so. Trump’s divisive rhetoric — referring to Klansmen as good people, naming the Coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu,” mocking those with disabilities, and labeling every woman who challenges his authority as “nasty” — perpetuates a life of hate and bigotry. Such discourse is the opposite of “pro-life”. It endangers American lives by giving those who want to hurt the boost and the permission they seek. Trump also continuously perpetuates falsehoods, just like when he downplayed the reality of the coronavirus, only admitting its existence as more Americans started dying. If honesty were a line of credit, Trump would have defaulted ages ago.

Joe Biden plans to reinvigorate, rather than diminish, the public importance of the Catholic community. When it comes to being stewards of God’s creation, Biden will answer the call of Pope Francis to address the growing climate change crisis. He will push for a 100 percent clean energy economy and reach net-zero emissions no later than 2050.

In the spirit of the phrase “loving your neighbor and treating people with dignity”, Biden will pursue humane immigration policies that keep families together. As president, he’ll invest in smart technology at our ports of entry and streamline the asylum system by hiring more immigration judges, to ensure that those seeking refuge are treated with dignity and get the fair hearing they’re legally entitled to. As far as the right to life is concerned, Biden will ensure that all Americans have access to affordable and quality health care by building upon Obamacare, adding a public health option, increasing tax credits to lower premiums, and expanding coverage to low-income Americans. He will also put a stop to runaway drug prices and the profiteering of the drug industry. To Biden, it does not matter where you start in life; you should always be given the chance to live up to your God-given potential.

It is always difficult to find common ground on hot-button issues because neither side speaks nor understands the language of the other. For example, the abortion debate has always boiled down to a battle between two incompatible languages: a “theological” language for pro-life and a “constitutional” language for pro-choice. As a Linguist, I see the importance of establishing a communicative process shared by both parties in resolving conflicts. As a Catholic, I know that the language in which we can discuss our vote is morality. I showed that if we evaluate Trump using the same standards to which we hold Biden, then voting for Biden this November is unquestionably the moral thing to do.

In the book of John, the final command that Jesus gave his disciples is to love one another. Trump has repeatedly shown his indifference to conventional notions of morality. This November, we have the opportunity to escape from the spiteful road of hate and division towards the righteous path of restoring the soul of this nation. I encourage my fellow Catholics to consider the overarching values at stake here: humanity’s right to love freely, and women’s right to make their own health decisions. Let us not forget that many nations, in history, were unreceptive to the idea of religious freedom. We are able to practice our beliefs freely because this country has bequeathed upon its citizens their right to choose their own faith. We cannot sacrifice our moral conscience — the taproot of human virtue — for the contained benefit of one or two ethical issues.

Peter Torres
Young Asian Americans for Biden

Peter Torres is completing his Ph.D. in Linguistics at UC Davis. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Anthropology from UCLA. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter @petertorres

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