Imagine a presidential candidate. He’s got charisma, funding, political experience. He sets up a successful campaign with a catchy slogan. He goes on a speaking tour through the major cities of the U.S., and thousands come out to hear him talk. “There’s something about him,” people say. His name appears on bumper stickers and yard signs. He’s all over your social media feeds. Maybe he’s a Republican, maybe he’s a Democrat — but one thing is clear: This is our guy. Once he takes office, he’s going to fix everything.
And then, one day, the scandal breaks.
What the scandal is doesn’t matter much. Maybe he was cheating on his wife or skimming campaign money to pay for his yachts. Maybe he’s discovered to have ties to some nasty organizations. Or maybe he’s been in office for a year or two and he’s starting to go back on some of those promises he made. It doesn’t matter much what it is. What matters is this: He’s not the man we thought he was.
We’ve all got some part of us that wants to save the world. Some part of us looks around at our society and all its problems and thinks, “This is not how things should be. Someone needs to fix this.”
But everywhere we look, we see imperfect people doing imperfect jobs. It’s easy to get discouraged, especially during election season. We all want to believe that, if we can just elect the right person, things will get better — that somewhere on the ballot, there’s the right person for the job. But if we’re asking which presidential candidate can “fix” our country, we’re asking the wrong question.
A few years ago, I remember complaining to my parents that I wished there was some sort of cause to join that I could really trust. I was pessimistic, though. So many causes didn’t really seem to be doing anything. Everywhere I looked, I saw corrupt organizations without much hope for change.
What was I supposed to do with this part of me that wouldn’t keep quiet, this part that wanted to help make the world a better place?
Out of this confusion, my father looked at me and said, “Well, why not the Church?”
At the time, I admit I scoffed. That wasn’t what I meant! Anyone who’s been paying attention knows that the Catholic Church isn’t made up of perfect people any more than political parties or charities are. It took me a few months of thinking to figure out what my father meant.
While addressing young people, Pope St. John Paul II said, “It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”
He couldn’t have been more correct. We’re not satisfied with how things are because they’re not right! One day, Christ will come again and set all things right. That is the truth, and it is our hope.
But until then, it’s our duty not to give up.
Of course, the Church is made up of people, and even the best of them are imperfect in some ways. But we’re not called to put our confidence in people: We are called to put our confidence in Christ, who said of the Church that “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”
So when you are weary, or disgusted, or tempted to despair, remember that it is Christ whom we serve, not the world. And in Him, we can put our full confidence.
Does this mean that we should give up on politics entirely? Of course not. In fact, I would say that this only gives us more reason to get involved. Putting your confidence in Christ first gives you the freedom to vote for the candidate of your choice without putting all your hopes on them. Of course they are imperfect; they’re human.
But we are not counting on them to save us. We already have a Savior.
So don’t give up. Do your research, vote according to your conscience and work to make America a better place.
In the end, the person in office changes. God does not.