Tuesday, October 28, 2014

On the Importance of Voting

It is hard to underestimate the importance of voting.

As you are well aware, here in the US, the silly season is in full swing. Candidates are filling the airwaves and making media appearances in an effort to solicit your vote for this important midterm election.

PLENTY AT STAKEI realize this is not a Presidential election this year, so voter turnout won’t be as high as two years ago. Nonetheless, this election season will have a big impact on the country.

On top of control of the US Senate, governor races, House of Representative seats, and Senate spots are up for grabs. These candidates could possess tremendous power if (re-)elected.

A governor can determine judge appointments, veto state bills, and sign bills into state law, for instance. Elected Congressmen can go on to chair Congressional committees, and vote on national laws, as well. Such decisions impact all of us at some level.

WE ALL HAVE A MORAL OBLIGATION TO VOTEWe have an obligation to vote, as stated by the Catechism of the Church, 2240:

“Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country.”

Voting serves the common good, and thus it serves the Natural Law, as well.

We all should seek justice, liberty, and peace for all members of our nation. We must discern the best candidates and vote for them, so as to help them to win. Then we must hold them accountable to enact laws and fulfill their duty to serve.

CATHOLIC VOTING RECORD HISTORICALLY AN INDICTMENTAs great as the importance of voting is, sadly Catholics, at least here in the US, do not have a good track record. This must change!

Five of the last six Presidential candidates who won the popular Catholic vote also won the election. This means that the majority of self-identifying Catholics voted into office Barack Obama (twice), George W. Bush (once), and Bill Clinton (twice). The lone exception was in 2000, when Al Gore won the popular Catholic vote (by two points), but lost the election in the electoral college.

That is frightening.

In 1998, the US Council of Catholic Bishops issued a document called, “Living The Gospel Of Life: A Challenge To American Catholics.” I think it sums up perfectly why Catholics have failed at the ballot box.

I want to direct your attention to the spot-on observation in section 24 of this “Challenge:”

“Today, Catholics risk cooperating in a false pluralism. Secular society will allow believers to have whatever moral convictions they please—as long as they keep them on the private preserves of their consciences, in their homes and in their churches, and out of the public arena.

“Democracy is not a substitute for morality. Its value stands – or falls – with the values which it embodies and promotes. Only tireless promotion of the truth about the human person can infuse democracy with the right values. This is what Jesus meant when he asked us to be a leaven in society.

“American Catholics have long sought to assimilate into U.S. cultural life.

“But in assimilating, we have too often been digested. We have been changed by our culture too much, and we have changed it not enough.

If we are leaven, we must bring to our culture the whole Gospel, which is a Gospel of life and joy. That is our vocation as believers.

“And there is no better place to start than promoting the beauty and sanctity of human life. Those who would claim to promote the cause of life through violence or the threat of violence contradict this Gospel at its core.”

We would do well to recall the words of our bishops and to heed them. We can start with this election.

IN CLOSINGWithout the right to life, no rights exist or matter. That’s why it is the foundational criteria by which any candidate must be measured by a faithful Catholic. If a candidate does not support the right to life from conception to natural death, he or she is disqualified from properly serving office.

I hope you agree on the importance of voting. Now, get out there and vote pro-life!

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