Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Voting pro-life in a difficult election

As we approach another national election, the pro-life movement — based on logic, arithmetic and the evidence of experience — continues to proclaim that there is no issue more foundational in our choice of a candidate and a party than abortion.

Fr. Frank Pavone

From the declaration of Pope St. John Paul II that legalizing abortion turns the state into “a tyrant state,” to the assertion of St. Teresa of Calcutta that “the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion,” to the U.S. bishops’ teaching that the right to life is the foundation of the “house” of interrelated issues, to the sheer arithmetic showing that nothing takes more life than abortion, to the ongoing evidence that abortion — besides killing the child — harms mom, dad, grandparents, siblings, the whole family, friends, abortionists, and all society, the message is clear: If we don’t re-establish protection of the right to life, all our other efforts for the common good are built on quicksand.

No election gets us there in one step. But to keep moving toward that goal, all have to participate in each election. And in this one, many say they’re finding it hard to vote at all. Unless Jesus and the Blessed Mother are on the ballot, we are always going to be choosing imperfect candidates. In this life, everything is a messy mixture of good and evil.

At the same time, there are always differences between the candidates. We need to do our homework on the candidates’ positions, as well as the parties those candidates represent. Each party has its universe of philosophies and policy preferences. Each party is a whole army of people who are going to surround and advise the candidate, and fill many positions of influence if that candidate is elected.

For instance, what kind of people would a president nominate to serve on the Supreme Court and the other federal courts? In what direction do they and their party lean on the most fundamental issues of life, religious freedom, marriage and family? Remember, it’s not just that the candidate shapes the office — the office also shapes the candidate, as does the party. Who would this president, furthermore, appoint as surgeon general, attorney general, secretary of state, secretary of the department of Health and Human Services, and so many more?

We have to be patient with ourselves and with the process and carefully choose the person and party who are closest to our values, starting with the most important issues. Voting is a moral obligation; participation in the political process is a virtue. The U.S. bishops teach us that “every voice matters in the public forum. Every vote counts” (Living the Gospel of Life, #34).

If we conclude that no matter who wins, they will do damage, the analogy of the runaway train may help us. Imagine you’re at the controls of a runaway train and you cannot stop it. But you can change the track that it’s on. At the end of one track, the train will kill a large number of people, and at the end of the other track, a small number of people. What do you do?

Obviously, you don’t want it to kill anyone. But you cannot stop the train. You would, of course, change the train to the track where it’s going to do the least damage. In this case, you aren’t choosing evil; you are choosing to limit evil — and that choice is a good.

The guidance here is simple: It’s the difference between certainty and doubt. If you know one choice will definitely lead in the wrong direction and the other might lead in the right direction, you choose the possible good.

We have to remember, too, that our vote is not meant to make us feel good; it’s about advancing the common good. A vote is not an opinion poll about what we think about the candidate. It’s a transfer of power — and it’s a gamble.

The bottom line is that we must not skip an election; we should vote. Sometimes we may think that we’re doing wrong by voting for either candidate. But we have to consider the fact that we influence the election whether we like it or not. Skipping a vote also influences the election because it takes a vote away from the better of the two candidates.

So don’t sit out the election. Go and vote, and help change the train to the best available track!

FATHER FRANK PAVONE is Priests for Life’s national director.

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Summit Speaker: William N. Thorndike Jr.

Matthew Rarey chats with William Thorndike, a speaker at the 2014 Legatus Summit . . .

William Thorndike Jr.

William Thorndike Jr.

One of the more unknown, but highly anticipated speakers at Legatus’ upcoming Summit is William N. Thorndike Jr., who founded Housatonic Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm, in 1994. He currently serves as its managing partner.

Last year, Thorndike authored The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success. He profiled iconoclasts whose character and business traits were radically opposed to the “rock star” CEO image, which Thorndike says is exemplified by Donald Trump.

The seven men and one woman he wrote about had persevered in business in unconventional ways that all led to one destination: measurable success over the long term. They scored extraordinarily well according to Thorndike’s index for achievement:

“In assessing performance, what matters isn’t the absolute rate of return but the return relative to peers and the market. You really only need to know three things to evaluate a CEO’s greatness: the compound annual return to shareholders during his or her tenure and the return over the same period for peer companies and for the broader market.”

Thorndike spoke with Legatus editorial assistant Matthew A. Rarey.

What inspired your invitation to the Summit?

Tom Monaghan read The Outsiders and some of the ideas and themes resonated with him. That’s not surprising if you look at how he ran Domino’s. He thought they might resonate with CEOs attending the Summit, too, such as how best to manage businesses for a variety of shareholders over time.

What is the thrust of The Outsiders?

The overarching idea is for CEOs to be successful over the long term by optimizing profitability and investing profits back in the company. As I note in the book, sometimes the best investment opportunity is your own stock.

This book is really about deployment capitalization over longer periods of time, say 20 years, how owners can achieve that. Tom Murphy was masterful at doing that when he was CEO of Capital Cities/ABC, Inc.

Murphy is one of your featured “iconoclasts.” How do he and other such CEOs diff†er from “rock star” CEOs?

They tended to be first-time CEOs. They kept a low profile in their interactions with the press and Wall Street, comfortable going their own way even if it meant causing comment and disdain among their peer group and the media. They were generally humble and analytical — not charismatic backslappers. They were focused intently on creating long-term value for shareholders and in maintaining strong relationships with customers and employees. And they were often legendarily frugal, but not in their devotion to family. They were all devoted to them.

Should The Outsiders particularly resonate with Catholic business leaders?

Well, there’s this deep consistency between running a business successfully over the long term and a set of broader values and principles consistent with Christian faith. Running a business with long-term benefits for customers, employees, and shareholders means having long-term consistency. This requires enduring ethical principles compatible with Christianity.

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