A Catholic Worker’s Thoughts on Election Day

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I am a Catholic, and I sincerely “…believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church teaches, believes and proclaims to be revealed by God.” I am also a wife, a mother, a teacher, a youth minister, a member of a Catholic Worker community, an employee of our local chapter of Right to Life, and a pacifist.

Every single human life matters a lot. And I want to vote for someone who believes that.

Tomorrow is election day, and I must confess that I have genuine confusion that springs up every time I am confronted with voting for local or national candidates running for office. There seem to be reasonably intelligent, good hearted people in the world of politics, and I think that some, maybe even most, are interested in bettering society and what philosophers might call “the common good.” And yet, there are the wild inconsistencies in our political system that stop me dead in my tracks in front of the voting booth.

I do not understand why an intelligent and compassionate person running for office cannot oppose all abortion and all war. I do not understand why men and women with higher degrees who profess faith cannot work in office for the marginalized and the poor and seek to protect the religious freedom of those who are being asked to act against their conscience. I do not understand why a congressman or woman cannot be open and accepting of immigrants and against changing the definition of marriage. I do not understand why someone cannot be against the death penalty and euthanasia.

These are inconsistencies to me. These are the illogical, strange, paradoxical realities of our two party political system, and I am seriously at a loss as to why they must exist.

Must they?

Perhaps they do not have to exist. I think it is possible to imagine a political race where the candidates genuinely agree on most issues. I think it is possible to imagine a debate in which two intelligent, compassionate people are arguing not whether or not abortion is wrong but rather the most effective way to eliminate it and the need for it in our society. I think it is possible to imagine a platform that supports investing more money in all children and their education instead of in unjust wars. I think it is possible to imagine a senator or, why stop there, a president who believes and acts on the belief that every human being has dignity and should be protected, no matter what race, gender, age, or socio-economic class.

If this sounds idealistic, I want to know why. Why does money and partisanship have to draw the lines so starkly between right and right, making one of them wrong? Why do business and economic measures have to tell us what a candidate can or cannot stand for?

Perhaps I’m too removed from the complexities of politics to understand how these things work. But maybe that gives me the advantage of thinking that it’s a lot simpler than the system makes it out to be. People are important. All of them. Even the little ones not yet born. Even the ones in other countries who carry weapons to defend themselves against our military. Even the ones crawling under fences to get into our country. Even the old and terminally ill ones who think they’re just a burden. Every single human life matters a lot. And I want to vote for someone who believes that.