I rarely discuss faith matters here at Moms4McCain because, quite frankly, it opens a large Pandora's Box of important - but distracting - issues. But as a cradle Catholic with 12 years of Catholic school, the spectre of Catholics as The Great Undecided Demographic is too compelling for me to ignore. If you know undecided Catholic voters, please share this with them.
Catholics of good conscience should vote for John McCain. You've all heard this argument from academics (click this one, please), Moms, bloggers, Bishops nationwide. You know the drill: first I offer an impassioned plea about the sanctity of life and how respect for the unborn reveals a person's true character, and whether they value what is convenient over what is right. Then I point out that one candidate has a strong pro-life voting record, an adopted daughter from a Bangladeshi orphanage, and unanimous endorsements from pro-life leaders. But the other is more extreme than NARAL, voted to refuse care to infants born alive (twice), and has said overturning all abortion statutes through the 'Freedom of Choice Act' is quote "the first thing I will do as President." So why on God's green earth would anyone who chooses to be part of a church which calls abortion intrinsically evil think a vote for Obama is ever okay?
Well, they say, don't we care about other issues too? Frustrated pro-life Catholics here begin pontificating and pointing out the obvious distinction. But this is the wrong strategy. Of course we care about other issues too - and we should. The church is clear that respect for life cannot be fudged, overlooked, de-prioritized or ignored, BUT church teaching and common sense require us all to consider other issues of conscience as well. Unfortunately for "pro-Obama Catholics," while OUR candidate is a clear winner on life issues, their candidate does NOT have a monopoly on social conscience. McCain - in yet another refreshing departure from the Republican stereotype - cares too.
If you've been following his campaign, you know McCain's earliest stumping was in New Orleans, Appalachia, and other truly depressed areas of the country. Before anyone else was paying attention, John McCain was going to the forgotten places and planning and working for the needs of the forgotten people. Some of the key issues raised by Catholics include poverty, housing and homelessness, war and peace, environmental stewardship, the list goes on. To Catholics who really want a "values" reason besides abortion policy to vote McCain, here are a few.
McCain's personal and professional experience make him the best choice to bring about lasting peace. Some Catholics rightly note that our church opposes needless and unjust violence and say they hesitate to support McCain because he would "encourage war." (I've addressed this previously as well.) John McCain knows the costs of war more personally than anyone else who has been involved in this race. Beyond his own heroic sacrifice and service, he has two sons serving on active duty, running mate Palin's son is in Iraq right now. Very simply, it is not in McCain's political or personal best interest to exacerbate or provoke unnecessary military conflict.
Yet Democrats still find it attractive to paint McCain as some sort of demonic warmonger, when in fact, he is the only candidate with any military training or experience whatsoever. Obama claims to be a hero for giving speeches about bringing the troops home, but it is McCain's 'surge' - championed at great political expense - which actually stabilized the region and will speed the troops' return. McCain's commitment to veterans comes from personal, visceral experience, and the vast majority of currently-deployed troops agree he is the best choice. So when we look at the facts rather than the rhetoric, McCain is not only the pro-life choice, he is the pro-peace choice as well.
John McCain is committed to being a good steward of the environment. (And as Mac himself would say, he's got the scars to prove it.) He co-authored a key climate change bill with Democrat-Independent Joe Lieberman, and, like Obama, is committed to a cap-and-trade system of ensuring reduced carbon emissions. I've commented about my firsthand experience seeing McCain discuss this issue with a panel here in Seattle, and I was pleasantly surprised to see why Democrats can no longer claim a blanket 'moral high ground' when it comes to environmental responsibility. See McCain's environmental policy points here.
Perhaps even more importantly, John McCain has proven himself a good steward of American taxpayers' money. He reformed campaign finances (earning more 'scars' from both parties in the process), refused earmarks for a quarter-century while his colleagues (including Obama) took hundreds of Billions. Even though it cost him significant leverage throughout the campaign, McCain honored his commitment to accept public financing limits. Barack Obama broke his commitment to take public financing, even though he himself said doing so might destroy that option for future candidates, and now he is en route to spending over $600 million to run for an office that pays $400,000 a year. If Obama was really interested in helping the less fortunate, wouldn't it be more ethical to accept the fair, adequate alternative and direct his supporters to give the other $500 million to help those in need? Barack Obama has said his experience running the campaign is evidence of his 'executive leadership.' Americans need to look very closely at how he's managed his campaign and ask: how would this person manage MY money?
John McCain has specific, realistic plans to mitigate the risks of an unstable economy for struggling families. John McCain's "HOME" plan provides both short-term assistance to responsible homeowners impacted by volatile markets and unfair practices - but it also addresses the need for long-term reform and accountability to break the cycle. (Give a man a fish, AND teach him to fish, AND punish the stingy fishmongers who hogged all the fish in the first place.) Affordable housing is the linchpin not only of the fancy-pants investing community, but also fulfills a basic Christian need for as many as 400,000 American families who could keep their homes under this plan. And if homeownership is not the right choice, McCain's lower small business taxes would ensure landlords could keep rental properties affordable and properly maintained.
Both candidates' tax policies have varied as recently as this week, but some consistent distinctions show that McCain's strategy will protect the most vulnerable. McCain's lower investment taxes (capital gains, dividends, etc) and temporary freeze on mandatory withdrawals would ensure that seniors and those living on fixed income wouldn't abruptly lose the savings they dutifully stashed away. (Rich investors with wise advisors could take advantage of loopholes; regular people with modest but important savings would be most at risk.)
See the McCain Economic Plan here.
McCain's health care plan has realistic, immediate steps to help Americans most vulnerable under the current system. McCain's health plan provides for long-term reform for a broken Medicare system and protects people with pre-existing conditions, or who live in "less desirable insurance states" (like mine, which currently requires men to buy maternity care. Seriously. And we wonder why it is expensive!) Does McCain's plan promise an instant, priceless panacea for a fundamentally broken, bloated system? No. It offers short-term relief for families, addresses the injustices in the system: inflated cost of care, exclusion for pre-existing conditions, and portability when changing or leaving employers. The most vulnerable are addressed FIRST, rather than attempting an ambitious one-size-fits-all system sure to face resistance from taxpayers, employers, providers, and everyone in between. The goal of healthcare for everyone is an outstanding one, but McCain's plan will do more good, more quickly, to actually help those most in need. See "facts and fiction" of McCain's Health Care Plan here.
This list could go on forever. But since this election won't, and my evening won't, I will invite you to prayerfully consider a vote for John McCain. An informed conscience considers not only what is being promised, but what can actually be delivered. I believe in my head and my heart that McCain, not Obama, is the candidate who can deliver short-term support and long-term freedom for the most vulnerable among us. McCain's record proves he can bring otherwise antagonistic parties to the table, and he will govern in this spirit as well.
For more on Catholic voting, please see resources on Faithful Citizenship. For outstanding reasons to support John McCain, please see www.catholics4mccain.org and the official Catholics for McCain coalition.