2016 ELECTION USA: A DEAD END FOR CATHOLIC AND CHRISTIAN VOTERS?
This year, the United States of North America chooses a new President, that is, not only the head of his Government and nation, but one of the world leaders with more influence over the fate of humanity. Within an electoral bipartisan democratic system as the American, the political parties and its principles had been, until recently, clearly defined and differential in conservative party and liberal party. But in recent decades the differences on the principles of these parties have been disappearing, especially in the area of human and social well being, leaving voters with more of the same.
This problem is becoming critical for Catholic and Christian citizens in general. Aalthough they constitute the majority of the population in that country, they are facing the dilemma of whom to vote for without letting down their Christian principles, because almost none of them are reflected in much of what the candidates propose. (1)
Faced with this reality, the American bishops have made a document that offers to their faithful a reflection on the complexity of the decision of this year´s vote . They offer general ideas of which topics are essential to the comunity progress within the faith they profess: (2)
• Unrestricted defense to the dignity of the person in regards to abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, cloning, in vitro fertilization and destruction of embryos with scientific purposes, torture, unjust war, genocide, racism, human trafficking, torture and inflicted suffering.
• Subsidiarity of natural groups and institutions with full respect and support of the family and its subsistance as society basic cell that must be cared for by larger institutions to respond to human needs
• The persuit of the common good and development of a person oriented economy and not all the way around, respecting the dignity and human nature of work in addition to the preservation and care of all the creation.
• Solidarity that gives priority to the weak and small in the decisions and actions, defending the most vulnerable.
• These four principles on important topics of the Catholic Social Teaching offers a moral framework that does not fit easily in the ideologies of the "right" or "left", "liberal" or "conservative", or in any political party programmes. They don't belong to any political party in particular and aren´t sectarian. They reflect fundamental ethical principles that are common to all people.
The electoral horizon in the light of this guide is not very encouraging:
None of the leading candidates has spoken out pro-life, nor have developed in their political careers a humanist trend (3). Only some independent candidates have had the courage to declare themselves in favor of life. Nontheless these candidates have other sensible issues that have to be considered, like supporting the recreational use of marijuana or guns. (4)
Many Catholics are thinking in opting for a lesser evil and others feel forced to vote to guarantee their survival as it is the case of Catholic Latino immigrants,whose life and work would be at risk by voting for a candidate who sympathize with the deportation of migrants at any cost, and thus,they have to betray their faith. (5)
This year the electoral preferences are showing a strong inclination of the “non_support” vote. To vote for one candidate in order not to vote for another one worse. This trend is erosive, because you are not really choosing a candiadte,you are avoiding another. This creates a false image of support to a partisan platform contrary to what people want. In addition it is a clear symptom clear that real options have not been offered to the citizen. (6)
What can Catholic voters do in this election of 2016?
• Do exercise the duty and right to vote, as civic duties are essential for the construction of the community and as believers we know that personal involvement is a must.
• Not only get to know what do platforms of the contending parties propose on important issues, but also know the opinion of the candidates in this regard.
• "When all the candidates have a position that favors a wrong intrinsic, the voter faces a dilemma.The voter can decide to take the extraordinary step not to vote for any candidate, or, after carefull deliberation, he can decide to vote for the candidate who will probably promote less of the morally defective position and who will probably support most of other authentic human principles." (7)
One voter's selection may seem like irrelevant in the world of politics and Government of a nation, but not voting or doing it without investigation can bring great consequences. That is why we support the final words of the American Bishops in the document:
"Ultimately these are decisions that every Catholic must take guided by a conscience formed by the moral doctrine of the Church." (8)
Ana Elena Barroso @mujer_catolica