Test of Fire: The Video
A good friend sent me a link to this video—he included no descriptive comments that could have biased my opinion. In fact, I had no idea what it was about prior to viewing. As it began, I immediately thought this was either a trailer for the next mediocre Marvel Comics film (think: "Thor II"), or a parody from late-night television. The ominous music is way over the top (cue scary sounding movie trailer announcer guy: “In a world beyond all space and time…”) and the blacksmith looks like a cross between Burgess Meredith and George “the Animal” Steele from the World Wrestling Federation.
My next thought was, to what group is this made to appeal? The “typical” American portrayed walking to the voting booth as stylish and composed as a Parisian model-actress on the red carpet at Cannes, is a well-coifed, serious-looking white woman who could have skipped off the set of "The Matrix II". I expect her to whip out a sawed-off shotgun and grenade launcher from under that mid-thigh length leather coat.
Will struggling middle class Americans viewing this take it seriously? Will they really set aside their immediate concerns about family finances, job creation and rising fuel prices and adopt the issues of life, marriage and religious freedom? Undoubtedly, these issues are not mutually exclusive, but it is naïve to posit that concern for the welfare of one’s family is not “non-negotiable.” I sincerely doubt that the creators of this video have a serious understanding of the typical American family.
Consider this scenario that is all-too-typical of American families in the U.S. right now. A Catholic married couple in the Midwest is expecting their third child. The husband was recently laid off from the automobile parts supplier for which he worked for 12 years as a salaried employee and he has only been able to find an hourly wage job that does not include health care benefits. His wife has been able to pick up some occasional work watching their neighbor’s child to help with expenses. While they are expecting another child and the prenatal and birthing expenses will be a hardship, this couple would NEVER consider abortion. They take their marital vows seriously and do their best to communicate with each other and work on their relationship. Finally, neither work for nor receive health benefits from a Catholic organization, in fact, they have no health care coverage to speak of at all. Is this video going to persuade this family or the tens of thousands like them that their immediate economic concerns should not be at the forefront of their efforts and political lives? That’s about as likely as Lady Gaga being honored by the Knights of Columbus.
If a budget is a moral document, that includes a family budget. Parents need to be good stewards of their money and provide for their children. I find it difficult to believe that a prudent adult Catholic in the situation I described would think of her family’s economic situation as anything but the most important challenge being faced right now.
I also found that the declaration about our vote being recorded for eternity to be threatening. This is a juvenile tactic, no better than the constant stream of pandering political ads to which we have been subjected in recent years. Can we please raise the level of political discourse above that which we could find on an elementary school playground?