Politics and the Human Person
For whom do I vote? That is the question. As an independent voter in New Hampshire, with presidential primaries around the corner, it’s a very pressing question.
I am so grateful for what I have – especially right now with my dad recovering well from two surgeries and my undauntable mother giving her all – and happy with my life and home. But, that’s not enough. Self-centeredness is sin. I must consider my neighbors and their well-being, too. Are they suffering from some great unfairness? Are there starving people whom I could help or people who are in danger of being killed whom I could save? I cannot sit content with my own little lot, ignoring the plight of others. If there is something that we, as a society, can do together to help someone in need, then we should do it. And, reasonably, helping those who are vulnerable will help me when I am vulnerable, too. For much of the goodness of my life is safeguarded by a society that addresses the needs of the disabled – like me.
But, the goodness itself comes from God.
Nobody can guarantee happiness for anybody else. No government can solve every problem of the governed. We are created to seek the good and we create governments to help safeguard our right to seek it. Human rights are given by God, not the government – and no legitimate government can take them away. In the democratic republic of the United States, it is the responsibility of the people to vote to ensure that our government does what it should do and does not do what it should not do.
I was raised with a sense of civic responsibility. I will definitely be voting in Tuesday’s presidential primary. But, for whom will I vote… well, I, like so many of us in New Hampshire, am still undecided. I don’t consider myself a member of either the Democratic or Republican parties – I don’t want to be a member of any party. I’m an independent.
And I have no candidate.
It doesn’t help that I am both proenvironment and pro-life. Why don’t these two things go together in politics? I really don’t understand. If I want to protect all wildlife and natural habitats, if I am passionately against destruction and waste, then shouldn’t I also want to protect all human life, passionately defending people from being dehumanized and killed? And, yet, I so often have great difficulty in finding a candidate who shares my passion. Someone who doesn’t want government and paid employees to become more important and relevant than charities and volunteers. Someone who knows that the willingness to pay higher taxes isn’t the same as loving kindness for the person next to you. Someone who understands that the definition of a human person should not be based upon appearances or levels of dependency and ability.
It would also be nice to have someone who truly appreciates the value of every dollar, isn’t conceited, is brave and honest, and doesn’t fall into petty bickering and party politics.
But now I really ask too much.
If you have a candidate that you are passionately supporting, then you could probably tell me exactly how your candidate fits all that I need. But, you really can’t. No one person can fulfill my every need for a leader. That is why our society isn’t comprised of just one leader. Different parts of society look after different needs, like families, religious organizations, neighborhood communities, governments (local, state, and federal) and charities. They each have an important role to play, just as we each have an important role to play. That’s my very basic understanding of the Catholic concept of subsidiarity. (It’s way more complex than that, but, basically, if your elderly neighbor needs her driveway shoveled, shovel it if you can, or get your kids or grandkids to do it. This will not only be good for her driveway, but also good for her heart and soul – and yours, and your kids’, and your grandkids’. For those elderly people who are snowed in and don’t have good neighbors or family members, come together with your community to work out a program to fulfill their needs. Volunteers will be best. Legislated programs with paid employees should only be last resort.)
A national president is very important. But, we should never let everything ride on him or her. That would not be good governing – I think both parties can agree on that. But, I guess I really wouldn’t know. I’m not a party person (in more ways than one, she said with a smirk.)
This is what I comfort myself with when I have great difficulty picking a presidential candidate. All that I can do is the best that I can, staying as true as I can to my conscience. I’m not deciding the fate of the world with this vote. But… in the living of my day-to-day life, I should be more conscious of the consequences of my actions on my family, my neighbors, as well as my town, my state, my nation, and my world. We’re all in this together.
© 2016 Christina Chase
Christina Chase View All
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.
You hit exactly why the “Catholic vote” isn’t really reliably in either of the two major parties–neither one (nor any of the many minor ones) address all the issues appropriately. We make trade-offs according to our (hopefully well-developed) consciences.
Yes, “trade-offs”. May our consciences be not stretchy…
You’re right, it’s hard to tell how Catholics will vote. In the US, it was somewhat easier to gauge the “Catholic vote” before abortion became legal. Now, you find more Catholics in both major parties.