Vote for Hope

In 2017, 6 days after the inauguration of President Trump, I came here to write about my concerns for our country under his leadership.  I was scared because the new administration seemed to be so uninformed  about the beauty of the constitution and the workings of the government.   I asked you to join me in lighting a candle in your window to signify HOPE for the leadership of our government to put the people of the US and the world first over personal gratification and demagoguery. 

Right before the midterm elections I again wrote requesting that all like minded people continue with the candle in the window, but I also encouraged you all  to vote, to encourage everyone else  to vote and to support the candidates who would put duty first over the pursuit of wealth or popularity.

Now we are in a major crisis.  As of today, October 30,  2020, almost 240,000 people have died from a virus that was trivialized and ignored.   Once it made its  ugly presence known we realized that we were totally unprepared.  The greatest country in the world did not have enough masks, gowns and respirators to keep our health care workers and patients safe.  We cannot provide enough testing to assure who is safe to work and who isn’t.  The federal government alternates from making national pronouncements about behavior to abdicating responsibility to the governors of the states, then insulting them for taking needed measures for control of the situation.   The President releases from duty or fires any person who criticizes or questions his orders.  There is no one in charge who seems to understand the seriousness of the situation.  Again, it seems that our President is reading the first sentence of the report and ignoring the rest of the important information

The election is tomorrow.  So I ask you again to please put your candle back in the window to symbolize HOPE.  Hope that the world working together will find a cure for this pandemic.  Hope that our people will have sufficient food and necessities to get through this situation.  And as a reminder that we all must take seriously our duty to vote for the best candidate, one who is honest and thoughtful, who will choose a strong Cabinet and surround himself with those who understand that the US and the world need to work together for the good of all nations not only in this terrible situation  but in every daily activity.

A Few Words About Voting, To My Christian Friends

Most of us are regular folk, just trying to carve out a connected, contented existence in this life. Our voting values reflect this desire. I am prolife, as my church dictates, from natural conception to natural death. This means that I am anti-abortion, anti-war, anti-euthanasia, anti-death penalty. It also means I support extensive and immediate environmental reforms, affordable healthcare, government assistance, open and just immigration laws, social security, medicare, public education, civil rights, equal rights and paying my fair share of taxes to help this nation function.

I bet most of you are a lot like me, with a wobble to the right or left on certain issues. Which means you’re in the same pickle as I am—it’s damn hard to vote.  The candidate who reflects my values does not exist.

How do we vote? Historically, my church has encouraged me to value the sanctity of the unborn as primary to all other life issues. But the anti-abortion candidate is not always pro-life, sometimes glaringly.  Also, abortion rates are down and the threat to the environment is universal.

This is where Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego entered the conversation in a speech he gave in January.

You can read the whole thing—but here’s how he breaks it down:

Life issues ARE primary. And after years of doing not enough, the threat to our environment (and therefore our very existence) is equal to or more threatening than the evil of abortion. They must be considered equally.

But since the candidate who will legislate as both anti-abortion and pro-environmental reform does not exist, we have to add the other life issues to the scoreboard: abolition of the death penalty and euthanasia, open and just immigration and refugee reform, protection of worker’s, civil and religious rights, assistance for the poor and hungry, promotion of marriage and family, nuclear disarmament and the protection of religious liberty.

Even this is not enough. We do not vote issues or parties into office, but people. We cannot afford to ignore the person for whom we cast the vote, no matter how aligned we are with their politics. And this consideration is three-fold.

First, we must admit that our national discourse is dysfunctional, and as a result our government has done very little good in the name of all Americans. Our nation family requires healing, which in turn requires compromise. To true patriots, who believe in the rights of all Americans and not just their own interests, it then becomes essential to select a bridgebuilder, someone who can reach across the divide and craft collaboration.

Second, they must have the same principles we try to instill in our children: truth, integrity, honor, discernment and reflection. These principles are demonstrable, and should therefore be evident.  

Third, they must be competent: Mentally, emotionally, spiritually and in statecraft. They all have resumes. It is our responsibility as moral voters to research our choices.  

This can work. Even though it may mean voting for someone with whom I do not completely align—by using these guidelines, I can make a better, more faithful decision.

Lastly, we have to refuse to participate in the spectacle. When John McCain and Mitt Romney were running for President, they were running against my candidate and, caught up the rhetoric and vitriol that is our national election, I saw them as other and enemy. Although I know that my votes for Barack Obama were faithfully sound, in hindsight I see that either of these men would have also made fine leaders, by Bishop McElroy’s standards and my own. Our presidents and presidential candidates have not always been persons of integrity, but we know what men and women of integrity look like. They build bridges, unite others, seek compromise, speak truth, reflect, apologize and are humble enough to admit they do not have all the answers.

This soundness of soul and spirit is what we should seek in a leader, and what we deserve from someone who earns our vote.