A conversation with my good friend (and my son's godmother) along with this post from Radical Catholic Mom, has me thinking about our elected representatives. For the most part, none of them actually represent me. It doesn't seem to matter what party or candidate you vote for. Almost everyone on the ballot will espouse something so completely contrary to Catholic doctrine that conscientious voters are placed in the unenviable position of supporting something they hate. And it seems there's nothing we can do about it, not given the entrenchment of our two-party system.
Voting is a double-edged sword, in my opinion. The right and freedom to elect our leaders carries with it an implicit responsibility to choose wisely...and a corollary responsibility for what our leaders then do with the power we give them. Our faith encourages us to vote, most especially because participating in our government is the best way to influence the activities, direction and philosophy of our society. We can sit out an election here and there, providing we do so for good reasons and not simply out of laziness, but for the most part we must vote.
Thus, we must support candidates and positions that we do not like. Most politicians view our votes as approval for their ideas and beliefs. We don't get to vote on the issues, just on the candidates. So how should we best communicate the fullness of our position when our vote alone can be misleading? My friend had a brilliant idea that I wanted to share with you all. Vote, and then go right home to write a letter to your representative.
Dear So and So:
I have just voted to elect you into office because I feel your position on the following issues most closely represents my own. I wanted to send you my best wishes and assure you that I will be praying for your term in office, that you might be guided by the Holy Spirit and given wisdom in all your decisions.
There are several issues on which we do not agree. I wanted to take this opportunity to speak to you about them, partly because I want you to realize my vote does not imply my approval of everything in your platform, but mostly because I believe you are a reasonable person with the best interests of our people at heart. This is why I feel the way I do about these issues. Please take this information into consideration when you are faced with legislation or choices that may affect them.
I love America and am proud to be a citizen of this great country. I hope we can work together to bring freedom and prosperity to everyone in this nation and around the world. God Bless you, and God Bless America.
Let's open the doors of communication and keep them open throughout our representatives' terms! I know from experience that writing one letter or sending an email to a politician puts you on their mailing list forever. How wonderful is that! We get to hear all about their activities and are provided with the perfect forum for expressing our opinions on them. Do we get emails and flyers when our favorite stores are having a sale? Do we have our favorite news sites bookmarked online or fed into our RSS folders?
Shouldn't we be as involved in the political process as we are with things that affect us much less drastically?