Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Politics, Part III (Final)

"Truth?" said Pilate. "What is that?"
Really, what it comes down to for me is that I find discerning the truth about politics and politicians nearly impossible.

This year it took me an hour and a half to fill in my ballot. I visited each candidate's website to see what they said about the given issues, and did additional research through newspaper articles, voting records, and assorted Voters Guides.

I had a very difficult time finding hard facts, or even clear statements about a candidate's position on the issues. Although most devoted a large portion of their websites to "issues," the actual content didn't provide me a very clear picture. Every outside source I tried was unmistakably biased, whether it was newspaper articles, blogs, or watchdog groups.

Add to all this the negativity and propaganda that characterize a political conversation, and the truth gets even more obscured. I haven't been able to find a source of political discourse that I can trust. As I've already said in Parts I and II, I don't think voting for any candidate will make a real difference in the issues that matter most. In addition, I worry that whoever wins the election will harm vulnerable populations with faulty policies and misguided laws. Intelligent people argue both sides, and yet I can't fully agree with anyone.

I feel like I am wandering in a mire, trying to find my way out, and every now and then I come across a path covered in signs, but none of the signs make sense, and none of them seem to lead out. So I keep wandering. Even if I pick a path, I'm not happy or confident while I'm on it, so I'm prone to strike out and search for another one.

But the thing is, there is no perfect path. This is politics, after all: messy, complicated, full of gray areas and compromise. And if I don't pick any path, then I'm just wandering aimlessly.

So what's most important when choosing how to vote? To me, the answer has to be "What God wants." Luckily, He's left us a guide. It's called the Church. And in the last few years, the Church has made her position ever clearer. More than one bishop has come forth to say, in no uncertain terms, that a Catholic may not vote for a pro-choice candidate when there is a pro-life candidate on the ballot. With all my indecision and frustration, this at least is a non-negotiable guidepost to help me choose wisely.

If I cannot feel peace in voting for a particular candidate, can I at least feel peace in bending my will to the gentle nudge of my shepherd's staff? We are like sheep, unruly, unable to fully understand. Yet if we can respond to the voice of one sent to guide us, we might yet move in the direction appointed by our Master.

I admire and deeply respect my shepherd, Archbishop Chaput. I have read his book, "Render Unto Caesar" and found it both inspiring and enlightening as to the role of the faithful in public life. In his words, then:

"So can a Catholic in good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate? The answer is: I can't, and I won't. But I do know some serious Catholics -- people whom I admire -- who may. I think their reasoning is mistaken, but at least they sincerely struggle with the abortion issue, and it causes them real pain."

Of all the voices shouting opinions in our political climate, I have to choose one that I trust. I can't discern the truth on my own. Who better to trust than the shepherd appointed over my particular flock? In all honesty, there's no other voice I trust more.

Not even my own.

Picture credit.


Anna said...

Good post.

Sheila said...

Well said. I'm also in Colorado, and this was a very disappointing election time, with all the ugliness which was displayed. I'm honestly glad it's over, even though I was disappointed in the outcome sometimes. I do love the ability to vote at home where I have time to really think through my votes.

Robert said...

And what is "pro-life"? Can you be pro-life and be against health care? Or how about FOR war? Can pro-life be against feeding babies? Can pro-life be for cutting Social Security payments? Can Pro-life be for closing public schools?

Is pro-life just against abortion? Nothing else matters?

Amy said...

I'm in Minnesota. I listened to the candidates for governor debate on public radio. The Republican candidate was asked about his pro-life position, and he would only answer that he was going to be an economics-governor. He was going to be focused on the economy and growing jobs. He WOULD NOT COMMIT to making any statement regarding working to end abortion. He lost my vote. It helps to know I'm not alone in being anguished over voting. I just found your blog. I hope you continue to post.