Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Your vote counts!

FRIAR’S CORNER (for January 20, 2008)

Your vote counts

This is one of those times of year that I miss living in New Hampshire. As we go through our every-four-year political cycle to elect a new president, there really is nothing like being in New Hampshire. Here in Connecticut, we’re not accustomed to actually meeting the men and women running for president. Heck, not even Chris Dodd, our own senator, made campaign appearances in our state.

Before moving here in 2004, I lived in New Hampshire for eight years. The running joke in New Hampshire is, when asked, “Which candidate are you voting for?” the answer is, “I don’t know yet. I’ve only met them four times.” I can recall several occasions being in people’s private homes along with anywhere from a dozen to more than a hundred people while someone like Carol King or James Taylor performs for you in the living room before the candidate sits down in the middle of the group to let everyone know what they stand for and to ask for your vote. If, as Tip O’Neill famously said, all politics is local. In New Hampshire, all politics is personal.

This is perhaps the most exciting election in a century. There is no incumbent, no presumed candidate on either side. We have a woman running, an African American, a Baptist preacher, a TV star, a Mormon, and someone who believes in UFOs. And, so far, no one has stood out of the pack. This is, I think, a good thing. Unlike so many elections, this one really seems to be in the hands of the people and not decided by special interests or pollsters.

The challenge for we people of faith is, as always, trying to find a candidate who supports our views. I came across a posting about finding the right candidate on the right candidate on a blog by another Franciscan ( that names the challenge well. He wrote:

“In order to qualify as a pro-life candidate, s/he must:

1. Be against all forms of abortion, at all stages and under all circumstances.

2. Be against all forms of capital punishment, and committed to helping us understand the absurdity of killing people in order to show that killing people is wrong.

3. Has never supported the ‘war’ in Iraq, and is prepared to issue an apology to the world for allowing ourselves to be tricked into going to war by incorrect and misleading information.

4. Is committed to abolishing the illegal Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

5. Is committed to a plan for immigration reform that respects not only the sovereignty of our country, but also the basic right of families to seek a decent living.

6. Understands that the reform of the incarceration industry is necessary if we are to avoid the breakdown of our civilization and to finally overcome our legacy of institutionalized racism.”

These are some provocative statements that really get at the heart of our challenge as Catholic Voters today. But, these are all issues that the bishops ask each of us to consider as we enter the ballot box ( But, I think there is hope in the open field. There is hope that if we speak out with a loud voice, the candidates will need to hear our concerns. Maybe the dissatisfaction with the way things are can be the impetus to change. Change is a big word this year – let’s make it a real change that preserves life, that cares for people, that makes our country and our world a better place.

Your vote counts. On February 5th and before, make it heard.

Love, Fr. Tom

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