November 5, 2012

On a certain kind of voting attitude

With just a day remaining before what looks to be a pivotal election, and having heard a few of my friends and acquaintances discuss their particular reasons for choosing to vote or not to vote, and realizing that many of the issues surrounding us this year are so profound and complex that it would take a month of daily blog entries to unfold, I rant––not at any person in particular, but at an underlying attitude: an attitude that may very well endanger the civic lives of faithful Christians and others in the public square.

In my own life, I have always considered the ins and outs of each decision I make, including every fine detail about how my decisions affect others as well as myself. I’m sure you’ll agree that you, the reader, do the same to some degree. By extension, some of us are quite careful when we think about the expected results of what we do and what we choose not to do. They want the best for themselves and perhaps for others as well. Even in this political environment, the desire to do good deeds for others is especially strong for everyone on both sides. It is when one does such deeds and expects perfection to come of them immediately that one runs into the unnecessary and preventable dilemma of rendering the perfect the enemy of the good.

Anyone who is undecided and well-informed knows that neither the incumbent nor the Republican candidate are perfect by any stretch of the imagination. They are not perfect because they don’t fit all of the standards of the particular side of the political spectrum that they’re appealing to. Obama isn’t perfect for liberals because he hasn’t given more money to Planned Parenthood and independent abortionists to make abortion less expensive for women. Mitt Romney isn’t the perfect candidate for conservatives because he states opposition to abortion in every case except rape, incest and to save the life of the mother in an emergency. Neither is perfect for some moderates because, well, they’re just not that different -- or so it would seem -- with regard to the issue. They expect better of them...perhaps so much better of them that they don’t believe either candidate can effectively and immediately serve the common good completely.

Personally, I know that while Romney’s particular qualities and promises don’t quite fit in completely with Catholic social teaching (the kind that Popes Leo XIII, JPII and BXVI taught, among many others) and moral tradition, they could be much worse. One look at the Obama administration’s HHS mandate and its effect on our insurance premiums, as well as the strain it places on the consciences of law-abiding citizens and business owners, should tell one well-meaning person all s/he needs to know. Looking at the big picture and where this country stands at this point in its 237th year of existence, I and many other concerned citizens recognize the need to get our fiscal house back into solvency, to ensure that the 14th Amendment covers every human life in and out of the womb, and that the federal government does its part to curb its prodigal enthusiasm, including and starting with the hundreds of millions of federal dollars subsidizing Planned Parenthood. With all of these desires in mind, and promises laid out before us, the choice is clear. The choice for every Christian citizen is clear. No matter how long it takes for us to get there, we must believe in this future. We must make this future together.

In short -- if you want to make a choice this year, just do it. The President is only one (albeit an important one) of many pieces to the ultimate puzzle of our society. No one likes to look at a nearly completed puzzle with a gaping void, let alone solve it.

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