A regular reader sent me this face-book posting from a friend of his. I think It outlines well the dilemma that many good Catholics are facing in trying to use the principles of our Catholic faith in making their choice for which ticket in the presidential election they might vote. Despite the pontificating of some, it is not an easy choice.
I am glad voting is such an easy thing for so many of my friends. In the recent months, the lines have been drawn and the troops allied on either side shooting at each other. I'm still hanging out in the middle, and I am taking fire.
For the sake of honesty, I should note at the outset that I am left leaning politically, but I am anti-abortion and it is a priority issue for me. I am a Catholic, and my faith takes precedence over all else.
I am deeply disturbed by the election choices this year.
I see on the one hand a man who would overturn the ACA. He says this often and proudly. Sometimes he throws a few pennies to the moderates who support the act, or most of it. He has, every so often, said that he would do something about the most popular components. But he has no firm plans, and the only clarity is that he absolutely will overturn. Setting aside questions of who can do what, this is not acceptable. My daughter has a genetic syndrome which has meant that her medical bills are incomprehensibly high. She has needed, and will need, multiple complicated surgeries. She has had multiple hospitalizations, for things like colds that barely keep most kids home from school. She has consulted with more specialties than I knew existed. I can credit a humbling number of doctors with saving her life, because her life has been saved more than once. She was diagnosed prenatally. I knew how complicated her life would be early enough that abortion was not just an option, but it was the option recommended to me by my doctor. Now, one candidate thinks that it is OK that people like me- who decide to cherish our unborn little one even when it is bound to be very difficult- should be bankrupted by medical bills. We have good insurance, and our insurance cannot kick us out when we reach a certain cap. If we did get dropped, another insurance company could not deny us based on her history. Thank you, ACA. The candidate that is comfortable with my family's financial ruin as a direct result of my choice to protect my wonderful daughter calls himself pro-life. The candidate who saw my situation as an emergency and fixed it, calls himself pro-choice.
I simply do not believe that Romney cares about the unborn. If you care about the unborn, you do not allow that they be punished for the crimes of their father. Either we are right, and the unborn are people deserving of the same protection as their older siblings or not. Or we are wrong. I just don't see the grey area here. If we are wrong, it is absolutely an assault on women to insist that they carry a pregnancy to term. If we are going to claim the moral high ground, we have to insist that the babies are babies. They are to be treated the same as their older siblings. The second we admit exceptions, (other than the life of the mother) we yield the moral high ground. Maybe it does not matter whether the candidates care about the unborn. Maybe it only matters what they will do to protect them. In that case, I have to weigh whether certain specific abortion restrictions will save more lives, or whether things like safety nets for women in crisis, affordable health care, and paid parental leave will save more lives.
I see one candidate who would throw a beloved family member out of the country because he has no documentation. He would leave behind a wife and daughter. This candidate calls himself pro-family. The other candidate seems to care, but has had neither the fire nor the political capital to address this assault, because my beloved family member is not among the most sympathetic of the undocumented. He was not dragged across the border as a child. He is not a grandmother. Nonetheless, I believe it is gravely immoral to break up his family.
I see one candidate who either does not understand the Catholic Church, or does not care. He is bound and determined to cut off her arms. The HHS mandate on contraception forces Catholics to violate the dictates of the Church. It is that simple. I am more angry than many of my Catholic compatriots on the subject. When Obama said repeatedly and specifically to Catholics, prior to his first election, that of course he would ensure that his healthcare reform would include strong conscience protection, I believed him. Now, he wants me to wait until after the second election to find out what accommodations his administration is willing to make to fix the promise he broke. I actually think that there is reasonable middle ground here. Conscience clauses have clear precedent. But any accommodation will bring out the noisiest rancor on the far left. Saying that women who don't want it don't have to get it is irrelevant. Saying that priests and parish secretaries are exempted is not enough. We, the Church, are our various ministries. We are charities, hospitals, schools, and universities. We hire and serve people who do not share our faith because the call to service is universal. We cannot choose between service and paying for contraception. You may think it is no big deal, but we think it is gravely immoral. We are not trying to make your choices for you. We just don't want to pay for them.
What about the economy? It is supposed to be the issue at the forefront of every thinking voter's mind this year. The truth is that the economy is not one issue, but many. Anyone who wants to reduce the economy to a numbers game does not understand what is at stake. It is also true that neither candidate is willing to be honest about how we are going to get out of debt. One candidate is promising rainbows and unicorns. No one will pay more and we won't cut anything. Yay! One candidate is pretending he can place the sole burden on the very wealthy. (You are supposed to hear, "not you." If you heard "you" than put another very in there. The very VERY wealthy. Not you, of course.) If anyone has sorted out who to vote for based on economic concerns, I am interested in your psychic powers. Now, of course, some of us will trust the democrats to act like democrats and the republicans to act like republicans. In that case, do I want raised taxes or tax cuts for not me? Do I want safety nets in place?
I will say this, the Ryan budget, which neither is espousing openly, has been condemned by Catholic bishops as immoral. Cuts are too deep and they leave too many falling through cracks which are widened into gaping holes by poor a poor economy.
Speaking of Ryan, that was an interesting choice for VP. Who is he? He is known for his immoral and unpopular budget. (That will pick up a few far right votes.) He is a Catholic. (That should sway some Catholics, and we are notorious swing voters.) And he has pretty blue eyes. What else? He actually has a record which we can assess- unlike Romney. He has a solid anti-abortion record, which he stands by. He is not good on crime, by which I mean, he votes for stronger sentences for juveniles and against alternative sentencing for rehabilitation. He is desperately bad on the environment. But here is where it gets interesting, at least to me. He voted against paid parental leave. He voted against mental illness being given the same standing as other healthcare issues. He voted in favor of denying treatment for lack of a Medicare copay, so long as it is non-emergency. (Just wait till it is an emergency, then come back.) Throw a little Ayn Rand in there and I just cannot get behind this guy.
On top of all of this, I am supposed to consider gay rights? War? More war? Not really a war, just a particularly violent non-war? The death penalty? Education? Euthanasia?
P.S. If one more person tells me to vote with my "lady parts" I swear I am going to scream. For those still out of the loop, women are not just baby making machines which are either currently functioning or not. We vote on the same variety of issues as men.