The phrase ‘fighting for the soul of America’ has become part of the political battle of the 2020 election. ‘Soul of America’ is used in the Biden campaign and by the Lincoln Project—an American political action committee formed by a number of Republicans in 2019, whose goal is to prevent the reelection of Donald Trump.
That phrase is associated with Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address; he concluded with the plea not to yield to hostile instincts but to act upon ‘the better angels of our nature’. The ‘soul of body politic’ is an ancient philosophical and theological metaphor . . . so with a nod to Lincoln we look at the words more closely.
The soul is where our ‘better angles’ reside. The soul is the incorporeal (without material form or substance) essence of a living being—the seat of reason, character, feelings, consciousness, perceptions and thinking. Its main goal is to seek ‘the good’. In our time we seem to have put a higher value on material things than the essence of the soul—surely Trump does.
A Trump campaign ad mocks Biden’s use of ‘the soul of our nation’ with a video showing conflicts between protesters and police with the words ‘save America’s soul’ and a request to text SOUL to make a campaign contribution. He knows nothing of what is meant by ‘soul’. Donald Trump has stoked fear in our nation with endless lies about our institutions—science & health, the free press, CIA & FBI, the voting process, etc. None of our institutions are perfect but have served us well. We need to ever work to improve them, not tear them down. Biden understands this.
How have we turned from seeking a leader of moral and ethical character, to one who delights in insulting and disparaging people, who lies constantly, who uses his white house position to amass personal gain? One who seeks friendship with dictators while turning away from our allies? One who uses fear and misrepresentation to divert and divide the populace?
Trump is at odds with our nation’s values and its soul is crying out for rescue.
I pray: All of our nation’s noble principles, all of its hopes and dreams, all of the bloodshed and sacrifices . . . cannot be to deliver our nation into the hand of a narcissistic, self-serving megalomaniac. God, hear our prayer.