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Studying the Sign of the Times of This Election Season

October 13, 2016

Viatorians join with Pax Christi USA — and its mission statement guided by the spirituality of nonviolence — in examining the issues of the presidential election. We also draw from the wisdom of Scripture and Catholic social teaching as our guide.paxchristi-banner

 

The competing candidates’ views on these and other critical issues vary sharply, as evidenced by their differing positions regarding:

* The desirability of national policies designed to mitigate global climate change

* The appropriate role of government in improving the lives of the poor and elderly * The role of diplomacy in international relations

* The proper function and beneficiaries of targeted tax policies

* The degree to which our immigrant nation will embrace new citizens from other lands

* The government’s role in redressing hunger and homelessness

* The composition of the judiciary

* The appropriateness of enhanced regulations governing financial institutions

* The future of the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, and other aspects of our nation’s social safety net

* The need for, and proper focus of, environmental conservation

* The need for widespread prison reform

* The proper response to the killings of unarmed Black citizens by police officerspaxchristilogo

The fact that the candidates espouse dramatically differing positions on these and other key issues is not itself unusual, in a national election. But what is notable this year is the intense heat of the political rhetoric, which is disturbingly abrasive, dismissive, divisive – and dangerous.

Equally disturbing are the many overt efforts in voting districts around the country to disenfranchise voters. The targets of these efforts continue to be largely people of color, and the poor. Yet, while the courts have recently overturned a number of those efforts, still, blatant actions to prevent individuals from exercising their right to vote persist.

We reject these efforts to divide us. As members of the beloved community, we accord equal respect to all, and recognize the imperative of empowering those among us who — by virtue of race, class, or other social constructs — have been repeatedly denied the opportunity to help determine the policies that impact their own lives. Those among us who have benefited by greater access to the halls of power, or to the workings of government, have a moral duty to share our access with our sisters and brothers who have been denied them.

The right to vote — with each person having an equal right to cast a ballot – is the hallmark of a democracy. Our democracy plays a critical role in the protection of human rights, both here and abroad. Yes, as in past years, it is anticipated this year that concerted activity will take place in a number of election districts across the country to undermine that democracy, by actively discouraging, frightening, or even preventing voters from casting their ballots.