Dorothy Day for President!

One Voter’s Opinion

We voters in the United States of America are faced with an impossible choice on Tuesday, November 8, 2016:

We either elect a warmongering Wall Street operative posing as a woman of the people, or we choose a rampaging narcissistic bullyboy bent on building walls of division and igniting a ruinous trade war.

In my opinion, that’s no choice at all.

So, we could either chose to sit out the election, or vote a third party candidate, or bring back Dorothy Day from the dead and put her on the ballot.

I’m going for the third option, even though I know it’s nigh impossible. Okay, in lieu of resurrecting the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, how about we get a woman cast in the Dorothy Day mold and persuade her to slay the two dragons the plutocrats have put before us as our choices in November?

I am all for electing our first female President; I just don’t want her to be Hillary Clinton. I would instead like to see the likes of a Dorothy Day occupy the Oval Office.

Dorothy Day?!?

I know; I know—you’re wondering just who I’m talking about here.

Well, you may have caught Pope Francis’s address last year to a joint session of the US Congress when he cited four exemplary Americans, including: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Thomas Merton, and Dorothy Day.

Yes, Dorothy Day.

The very model, I propose, for the person who should be our next President.

First and foremost, Dorothy Day was a dedicated pacifist to her dying day on November 29, 1980.

 

IMG_9016Writing in the June 2016 edition of The Word Among Us (Daily Meditations for Catholics), Robert Ellsberg who was a friend of Dorothy’s and the former managing editor of the Catholic Worker, said Pope Francis was wise in citing Dorothy Day as a model American because, as the pope said, Dorothy Day had a commitment to “social activism, a passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed.”

Dorothy Day’s message gained traction in 2000 when the Vatican accepted her cause for canonization, and she was named Servant of God.

If she becomes Saint Dorothy Day, she will certainly have an interesting and totally American backstory according to Robert Ellsberg.

He writes: Having renounced Christianity in her youth, Dorothy Day spent her early years as a journalist and activist for various radical causes. Her friends were anarchists, communists, and assorted literary bohemians. In the aftermath of an unhappy love affair, she had an abortion. Yet there was always in Dorothy some yearning for the transcendent. Like a character in a Dostoevsky novel, she observed, “All my life I have been haunted by God.”

The turning point in her life came when she found herself pregnant and responded with “a gratitude so great that only God could receive it.” She decided to have her child baptized. Why the Catholic Church? Dorothy was attracted much less by Catholic doctrine or theology (of which she knew very little) than by the lives of the saints and the example of her poor neighbors . . . On December 8, 1932, at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, she offered a prayer “with tears and anguish, that some way would open up for me to use what talents I possessed for my fellow worker, for the poor.”

Ellsberg says the answer to his friend’s prayer came in her meeting a Frenchman named Peter Maurin who inspired her to found a lay movement—the Catholic Worker Movement—that would promote the social message of the gospel.

And what a promoter Dorothy Day was, because at the time of her death, a noted historian called her “the most interesting, significant, and influential Catholic in American history. Ellsberg notes that “the newspaper and the movement she founded continue, with more than a hundred Catholic Worker communities around the country.”

As I said at the outset, we would be well served to have as our next President the likes of a Dorothy Day. And I would like to think that a latter-day Dorothy Day is waiting in the wings of one of those Catholic Worker communities to come and save us this November from two terrible choices.

Soon-to-be-Saint Dorothy pray for us!

Amen.

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About charleymckelvy

Charles McKelvy lives and writes in southwest Michigan with his wife and fellow writer, Natalie McKelvy. They established the Dunery Press in 1988 in order to publish their own fiction. They continue to do so to this day. Charles McKelvy is an Eagle Scout.
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2 Responses to Dorothy Day for President!

  1. Brian Terrell says:

    Interesting idea, Charley! Dorothy Day does offer a positive alternative to the “two terrible choices” before us in November, and it is not to vote for someone like her. No one like Dorothy would be in the running, and if there were, no one like Dorothy would be voting for her. Not only would Dorothy Day not be on the ballot on November 8, she would not be standing in line at the polls. I wrote about this, https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/dorothy-days-anarchism-antidote-disappointing-political-system .
    “Day considered the ballot and decided that it was not worth her time. Fasting and prayer, on the other hand, she found worthwhile, along with sharing resources in community, breaking bread with the hungry and welcoming the stranger, tending gardens and engaging in daring acts of nonviolent protest. These activities constitute a practical political program that she could embrace. It is a program that, unlike the paltry and soon to be betrayed promises of the corporate political parties, holds infinite potential to bring peace and healing to this tortured planet.”

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