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Archives YCV: Keeping faith at the forefront as you vote

October 17, 2012

By Kristina Dean
Staff Writer

During the last election, I entered into a discussion about politics with my family. Big mistake. And actually, it wasn’t really a discussion. What started out as a comparison between Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin became a very loud argument. A very loud in-your-face kind of argument. In front of my mother’s guests. Oh – and our family pastor.

Thus began one of my rules in life – don’t ever discuss politics. And I carried this through all mediums, including phone conversations, email and social media. I have seen lots of advertisements, news articles, and friends’ posts, but I have not been inclined to join.

Until now.

What has caused this decision? One reason is I have changed the way I make decisions. And I also feel that this year there is so much at stake, especially for us as Catholics. Although our vote is always important, I believe we are part of a swing vote that can change the course of the elections.

In the past, I’d made decisions about how I would vote based on my party affiliation, candidates speeches, and - although I am ashamed to admit it - the news media and advertisements. If a candidate was a particularly good speaker, they won me over. I didn’t bother to research their records, beliefs, stances and previous decisions.

Shame on me.

During the last election, I voted because I wanted a change. I also wanted to be part of a voting constituency that voted for the first African-American president. I was proud to do so. I felt like I was part of history. I figured, if I couldn’t have a female president, let us have one with a different skin color. Although this is a fine idea, it blinded me to issues.

Before the past presidential election, I was a different person. I had yet to go through the Catholic women’s ministry called Women of Grace. I hadn’t yet attended Rachel’s Vineyard, a healing retreat. I had been away from the church for a very long time. I was just getting back into it. I set my religion away from me – almost as something I only thought about on Sunday – and neglected it when I made decisions.

I have decided that this time I will wear my faith at the voting booth. I am examining issues through my Catholic lens. 

Even though I am often discouraged with both candidates, sick of the amount of money wasted on campaigns, and tired of the bashing, I can’t afford to not vote. I will use what I consider “non-negotiables” to make my decision.

I struggle with the parties because I always seem to be stuck in the middle. I never seem to totally agree with either. I am strongly pro-life, but it always seems that even though one candidate may stand against abortion, usually I don’t agree with their economic policy, plan for education, etc.

Thus I have a dilemma.

A wise priest once told me that as a Catholic, I would never find a “side” that I totally agreed with, that we would always feel torn between them. Catholic candidates who vote with their beliefs are few and far between.
How do we draw lines and make decisions? “Non-negotiables” are those extremely important beliefs that as a Catholic I need to uphold. I feel – and this is for me extremely personal – that the sanctity of life is my top priority.  So this year I will base my vote on the candidate that stands against abortion. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not trying to tell you for whom to vote. I just want you to be informed.

I would encourage everyone to look into these “non-negotiables” and to decide what you think can’t be overlooked, even if you don’t agree with all the candidate’s policies or beliefs. Certainly, you don’t need to agree with all of mine. But don’t make the same mistake I did. Don’t be blinded by a good speaker or even worse, decide not to vote because you are sick of the whole thing.

I would encourage you to research for yourself. One helpful link is www.womenofgrace.com. Once on the website, at the top click on the red “Take Action” box. Under a brief letter are many sites to click which offer helpful guides to voting as an informed Catholic, including information from Priests for Life, Fr. Frank Pavone, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

We as Catholics must keep our faith at the forefront always.

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