View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Getting political

A discussion in another site with a Republican leaning Catholic (Paul of Thoughts of a Regular Guy - got me to thinking about my own political leanings and voting record.

I registered with the Democratic Party when I turned 18 in 1973 - though I had been involved in the Party the year before during the Presidential campaign. At 18, I even served on my hometown's city committee. I later helped with a friend's campaign for a judgeship. And more recently, I helped to organize the New York chapter of Democrats for Life.

My public involvement has been limited, however, by my jobs - 13 years as a full-time newspaper reporter and editor, and nearly 21 years as a weekend radio announcer and newscaster.

I've also had the added twist of faith. I am a consistent life Catholic. The consistent life ethic covers such issues as abortion, the death penalty, war, economic and social justice, etc.

So over the years I've often found myself split over who to support.

This one opposes abortion, but supports the death penalty and laws that hurt the poor.

That one works for worker rights and social programs, but supports abortion.

I find myself constantly trying to balance positions when voting.

Abortion obviously plays a major role in those decisions. A supporter of the death penalty might be "responsible" for the death of a dozen people, but a supporter of abortion might be "responsible" for more than a million deaths a year.

But then you have to throw into the mix the cost in lives due to economic and social policies, unjust wars, etc.

By the way, I don't like it when candidates take a wishy-washy position on abortion. "I'm personally opposed to abortion, but I don't want to impose my religious beliefs on others."

Balderdash! We impose our religious beliefs on others all the time when it comes to other issues.

I also will sometimes vote for third party candidates to send a message - especially when the results are a foregone conclusion. In New York State, a Democratic presidential candidate will usually easily win - Gore in 2000, for example. Thus I have over the years voted Right to Life and even Green.

Never for Perot, though!

When I think of my own presidential voting record since 1976 (when I could first vote in a Presidential election), the tally is: five third party, two Republican, one Democratic.

In local elections, where many of the issues are more basic, I've tended to vote Democratic - though not exclusively. A county legislator would have little to do with decisions about abortion, war, or the death penalty, but would have a lot to do with local policies toward the poor, the uninsured, the homeless. I've generally found Democrats to be more sensitive to these issues.

So I'm, a Democrat - with an asterisk.

By the way, I'm also a history teacher, and one of the things I did for fun one time was rating the Presidents of the 20th Century (beginning with Teddy Roosevelt).

Here it is, for discussion purposes.

I looked at what they did, what they tried to do, how they affected the nation and our polices both during their terms and thereafter, world and national issues they faced, etc.

My ratings are successful, mixed, and failure. I also gave incompletes to some Presidents who did not have full terms either due to death (Harding, Kennedy) or to political situations beyond their control (Ford - who I actually liked).

Successful: both Roosevelts, Wilson, Truman, Eisenhower.
Mixed: Taft, Coolidge, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton.
Failures: Hoover, Carter, Bush senior
Incompletes: Harding (but heading toward the failure bin), Kennedy (but heading toward success), Ford (he was in a no-win situation).

Some of these ratings caused me to blanch.

I had to hold my nose when trying to be objective about Nixon and Reagan. Nixon barely made it out of the failure bin.

Clinton just disgusted me - the only Presidential vote I have ever come to regret (`92). Some of his policies troubled me (mishandling health care and welfare reform, for example). He had the skills to have have done so much, but he blew it. (sorry!)

Carter was a good man - but not a good President.

In case you are counting:

Successful: 3 Republicans, 2 Democrats
Mixed: 4 Republicans, 2 Democrats
Failures: 2 Republicans, 1 Democrat
Incomplete: 2 Republicans, 1 Democrat

The only president who will ultimately rate as one of the greats is Franklin Roosevelt.


Blogger Steve Bogner said...

Lee - I'm a Republican with a * for similar reasons you mention. You might be interested in the discussions at 'CelebrateVida':

7:30 AM  

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