23 October 2016 + Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
THE CATHOLIC VOTE
I appreciate the positive comments I received from last Sunday's homily regarding the upcoming national election. I hope it was helpful. I also mentioned in my homily that since I was able to vote, I was always, and still am an independent voter. I have never felt an allegiance to a particular political party and have always tried to vote for persons who most embraced the religious and social teachings of my Catholic faith. Party fights are just not part of my experience.
I received an email from one of our parishioners regarding Sunday's homily who made a good point. He said that while there is a lot to be desired in both presidential candidates this year, one party platform (the Republican platform) is clear about the respect for life, and that this should be an important factor as Catholics vote. He makes a good and valid point, and there is no doubt that the teaching of the Catholic Church places the defense of innocent human life at the top of our moral duty. But I also believe that there is more to the story, and that we have to be careful about placing too much emphasis on party platforms.
In days past, party platforms were adhered to more by their respective candidates than they do today. Political pundits often refer to "political posturing," when candidates sway from left to right or right to left depending upon where the base of their support is. Republicans are much more likely to be "pro-choice" today than in days past and there is a growing body of Democrats who are "pro-life." If you just "pull the switch" for one party you have no assurance that all those candidates are aligned with the party platform. I have seen this happen to people who thought they were voting "pro-life" and ended up voting for someone "pro-choice."
While party platform is one important consideration, you still need to look at each individual candidate on the ballot to see where he or she stands on Catholic social teaching. You see, when it comes to making laws and voting on the floor, it is not the party platform that votes but the individual elected official that votes. Good Catholic citizenship is tough these days because it requires being informed about the convictions of individual politicians.
I will give you an example. Just recently I was talking to a former Catholic student of mine from McDonell High School who is running for public office. He told me that he, too, was always an independent, but as he looked at entering political life, knew that his only chance was to run as a candidate for one of the two major political parties. Though he is a staunch "pro-life" advocate, he chose to run as a Democrat because of the local influence of the Democratic Party in our area, and in hopes of being a strong pro-life influence in the Democratic Party. Now, if you only looked at the broad sweep of political platforms you would miss a candidate that, in fact, may be closer to the Catholic vote than his opponent. I invite you to "Google" two websites: Democrats for Life and Republican Majority for Choice. I doubt you will find it easy to simply use party platforms as your sole guide.
More next week….