BY KEVIN BURKE, JANUARY 7, 2020
Author and political scientist Darrell West is deeply concerned about the current climate in the United States. “Societal tensions have metastasized into a dangerous tribalism that seriously threatens U.S. democracy,” he warns. “Unless people can bridge these divisions and forge a new path forward, it will be impossible to work together, maintain a functioning democracy, and solve the country’s pressing policy problems.”
The impeachment of President Trump reveals that our two political parties have devolved into a state of war. Representative Adam Schiff and many of his fellow Democrats are filled with such loathing and hatred for Trump that they were willing to invest considerable taxpayer money and political capital to destroy his presidency.
How did we get here?
There are many factors that have contributed to this toxic situation. Perhaps the most powerful force feeding the frenzy to remove President Trump is a national trauma that has impacted our nation and its citizens.
After 45 years of legalized abortion in the U.S., and close to 60 million procedures, there are few families that have not been directly impacted by the loss of a son or daughter, grandchild, sibling, nephew, or niece.
Millions of our fellow citizens have been complicit in the death of children in the womb—e.g., paid for the procedure, pressured or encouraged someone to have an abortion, or driven a friend to the abortion center.
Thousands of medical and mental health professionals, educators, and politicians have directly participated in the death of the unborn.
This is a shared national trauma.
Due to the shame and secrecy that accompany the procedure, people usually don’t like to talk about it. We are disconnected from the emotional and spiritual pain buried deep within our hearts. We remain trapped in a massive denial regarding the loss of 60 million of our fellow citizens, our personal grief, and our responsibility for their deaths.
How does this denial and repressed grief feed into our nation’s descent into poisonous social and political warfare? We are stuck in a stage of complicated grief.
Psychologist Andy Davidson states:
For many, being angry is more acceptable than being sad. Sad comes from hurt and we don’t want to hurt anymore. We fear exposing our vulnerability, so we lash out at those around us. It could be towards someone close or a total stranger… Anger is your body’s natural reaction to threat. The threat can be real or perceived. Someone died, there’s nothing more threatening. While grieving, you are not yourself, you are going to misperceive a lot.
The Democratic Party has become increasingly radicalized in its promotion of abortion and hostile toward opponents of their agenda. As The New York Times reports: “The Democratic presidential field has coalesced around an abortion rights agenda more far-reaching than anything past nominees have proposed, according to a New York Times survey of the campaigns.”
Rather than grieving and repenting of their role in the expansion of abortion across our nation, their personal abortion loss, and the death of so many children in the womb, abortion zealots have become more entrenched in their denial and increasingly radicalized in their abortion agenda.
Leslie Blackwell of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign shares this regarding her militant pro-choice activism after an abortion:
I discovered I was pregnant and I had just landed my dream job as a TV talk show host. A roommate drove me to an abortion clinic in Greensboro, North Carolina. After graduation, I threw myself into the new job creating a façade of the perfect young career girl who had it all together… drinking, drugging and sleeping around… self-destructing. Trying to validate my choices, I became a strong pro-abortion supporter and at times militant with anyone who didn’t agree with my opinion.
The psychological defense mechanism of projection may help us better understand “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” According to Psychology Today, “unconscious discomfort can lead people to attribute difficult feelings or impulses to someone else to avoid confronting them. Projection allows the difficult trait to be addressed without the individual fully recognizing it in themselves.”
Rather than follow the path of humility and healing, politicians like Nancy Pelosi and abortion rights activists may be projecting their rage and pain onto President Trump.
Some of the president’s more fervent enemies are being emotionally triggered by his strong pro-life actions as president. They are hyper-reacting to their own repressed abortion grief, or grief from their complicity in the death of children in the womb. This grief may be further complicated by sexual abuse or other trauma in their past.
The administration of Donald Trump is clearly perceived as a threat to radical abortion proponents and their allies in Washington, D.C. You might say that his opponents are trying to abort the Trump presidency.
And with good reason.
Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life lists some of the pro-life accomplishments of the Trump administration:
the transformation of the federal courts (with the addition of some 170 new conservative federal judges including two Supreme Court Justices), the re-directing of billions of dollars away from the abortion industry both in America and worldwide, the enhanced protections of conscience and religious freedom… President Trump is the most Pro-Life president we have ever had.
As St. Teresa of Calcutta said,
The so-called right to abortion… has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships…the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion… your decision [to legalize abortion] has deformed a great nation.
An important step in restoring civilized and productive national discourse requires a renewed commitment by our Churches, politicians, and citizens to heal this national trauma.
We need to elect politicians who understand that abortion not only attacks the life of preborn children but is eating away at the foundation of our society and, as Saint Teresa suggests, “has deformed a great nation.”
Many of our fellow citizens would benefit from abortion recovery programs. Women, men, relationships, families, and communities are strengthened when we turn in humility to repent and heal of this deep wound.
If we continue to live in denial and fail to work to end legalized abortion and promote healing, we will see a nation that becomes increasingly irrational, divided, and weak—and vulnerable to attacks both internal and external.
Kevin Burke is co-founder of Rachel’s Vineyard, leader of the Fatherhood Forever initiative of Silent No More and a member of the pastoral team of Priests for Life.