In a few weeks we, as Americans, will once again be able to exercise our right to vote. As Catholics, we should see our individual votes as opportunities to express ourselves and make a difference for good in our nation. Over the course of the next couple of weeks it will be good to re-visit the basic principles we should keep in mind in our voting.
When we vote for a person we should know what that person stands for. A simple call to a candidate’s campaign office can get answers. If the person already holds elected office he has a voting record that can be easily checked online.
Also, we should not be afraid to disqualify a candidate from our votes. Suppose a candidate says that he supports terrorism and/or the killing of Jews. Would you say that you disagree with him, but then ask what his health-care plan was? Don’t think so. So it is with abortion and embryonic stem-cell research. Any candidate who says some people do not have a right to life has disqualified himself or herself from public office.
Traditionally, American politics was about different policies or ways to achieve goods in our society. The principles of the candidates were basically the same, but they differed as how to go about achieving the principles. For example, a principle would be that crime is bad and people deserve to be protected from it. The policies would be the different candidates’ methods as how best to fight crime. However, when a policy dispute between candidates involves whether people deserve protection from crime in the first place, the policy IS the principle. The argument is no longer merely about legitimate differences as how to go about achieving the same good. The argument becomes a difference of the good even being a good, i.e. people deserve protection from crime. There are such ‘policy’ disputes nowadays that are actually disputes over principle:
1. Killing the tiniest humans through destructive embryonic stem-cell research, abortion and partial-birth abortion.
2. Killing the disabled and promoting euthanasia and assisted suicide.
3. Denying religious freedom, such as the freedom of doctors, and many others to refrain from actions they hold to be immoral.
4. Denying the nature of marriage as between one man and one woman; the dignity of the human person made male and female by God.
5. Denying the right to self-government, when candidates view judges and courts as lawmakers, rather than the people, acting through their duly elected legislators. (Our founding fathers were clear that the legislative branch of government would make law and the judicial branch of government would interpret the law – not change it.)
Candidates who support these ‘policies’ actually oppose fundamental principles of American democracy. Furthermore, candidates who support the first five ‘policies’ oppose fundamental principles of morality. By so doing, such candidates disqualify themselves from our votes.