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Living the Gospel of Life -- Study Guide

Paragraph Thirty-four

Reflection

Some people think that elections are contests between candidates. They're not. They are contests between two or more teams. The people of this nation have to decide what team they are going to be on in each election in which they are eligible to vote. It is the team better organized, more active, larger and more well prepared whose candidate wins. The team wins that gets more people actually out to vote.

There are things that the Church can do to call Christians, to call all citizens to their political responsibility. One of those things is to get them to register to vote. Some churches do voter registration campaigns. A non-partisan voter registration effort is perfectly legal for a Church to conduct. [For details, see www.priestsforlife.org/vote.]

You can also get your fellow citizens to register to vote through your groups, your organizations, your meetings, your bible studies, your prayer groups. It is time now in the meetings of those groups between now and whatever the deadline for registration may be in your state that you use those meetings as an opportunity to get people to register to vote.

Some people say, "Well I only have one vote." Of course we do. You can only cast one vote but you can influence thousands of votes.

One way to do this is to inform your fellow citizens about the positions of the candidates on the issues. One of the resources provided for this purpose, in regard to the presidential race, is a website called votinginfo.org. Votinginfo.org is a c-3 friendly website that will allow people to simply inform themselves on the positions of candidates. There are many other resources on the Internet as well regarding where the candidates stand (see www.priestsforlife.org/elections).

It is critical for people to realize that it is not morally responsible to go into the voting booth and just vote according to the letter after the name. You have to look at the name itself, at what that person stands for. Some people are in "automatic pilot" mode. "Oh my parents, my grandparents, we always voted for this political party." There is nothing wrong with belonging to a political party. There is nothing wrong with being loyal to a political party. But there is something very wrong when our loyalty to a political party is greater than our loyalty to God and to basic moral principles.

Every vote does count!

The bishops' assertion that "Every vote counts" is verified by many historical examples of close elections. In fact, entire elections are often swayed by numbers smaller than the active members of a single parish.

It would be hard to forget the lesson of the Presidential Election of the year 2000, won by a mere 537 votes in the state of Florida. In that same race, the margin of victory in New Mexico was 366 votes, in Iowa was 4144 votes, in Wisconsin was 5708 votes, in Oregon was 6765 votes, and in New Hampshire was 7211 votes.

In 2002, some of the close races were as follows:

Colorado District 7 - Republican Beauprez defeated Democrat Feeley by 121 votes.

South Dakota Senate - Democrat Tim Johnson defeated Republican John Thune by 524 votes

Utah District 2 - Democrat Jim Matheson defeated Republican John Swallow by 1641 votes.

And a recent mayoral race in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin was won by a single vote!

 

Discussion Questions

What are some examples of how campaign rhetoric can be misleading, and therefore needs to be analyzed critically?

Why is mere party affiliation not enough to justify one's choice in voting?

What are some examples of "self-interest" as a motivation in voting? Why are such reasons not enough in choosing a candidate? What are the alternative motives?

Click here to listen to a homily of Fr. Frank Pavone on "Political Loyalties." For a printed transcript, click here.

Click here to listen to Fr. Frank's address to the National Right to Life Convention on July 2, 2004. For a printed transcript, click here.

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