The National Catholic News Service offers American Catholics a challenge to the way they 'usually' select a political candidate. The article begins:
Rejecting a political climate based on "powerful interests, partisan attacks, sound bites and media hype," the U.S. bishops call Catholics to "a different kind of political engagement" in a document to be voted on during their fall general meeting Nov. 12-15 in Baltimore.That engagement must be "shaped by the moral convictions of well-formed consciences and focused on the dignity of every human being, the pursuit of the common good and the protection of the weak and vulnerable," they said.
Further into the article is this:
"As Catholics, we should be guided more by our moral convictions than by our attachment to a political party or interest group," the draft document says. "When necessary, our participation should help transform the party to which we belong; we should not let the party transform us in such a way that we neglect or deny fundamental moral truths."
Attachment to a political party or interest group is a loaded phrase. I'm wondering if this specifically targets fundamentalist Catholics as a voting bloc? I like the next sentence about helping transform the party. I would be curious to know who many of the 153 Republicans in the House who voted against SCHIP were Catholic. I would hope not too many because Catholic Social Teaching highlights the needs of the many over the few.
In his speech in Toledo last evening, journalist Joe Klein warned us exactly as the bishops did in the opening sentence: about choosing a candidate based on powerful interests, partisan attacks, sound bites and media hype. He noted the 2004 election as a perfect example of 'sound bite' psychology. Klein said, "If the 2008 election copies that of 2004, we, as a nation, will be in very serious trouble." He went on to say that electing the president of the United States ought to be for the voter a very thorough search of the qualifications and policies of the candidate.
Serious stuff. Hats off to the bishops.