Six things to remember as we approach Election Day:

1. The stakes are high, but we’ll be okay. Scary music, sensational quotes, and apoplectic narrators invade our television sets each night, warning of the destruction and utter hell that Obama or Romney will unleash on America should he win in November. But the reality is, we’ll be okay. This nation and the world have faced worse times than these, and we’re still here. For most of us, our daily lives won’t be too altered by who wins the White House. This election is important, and we should all vote, but stepping back for a moment would allow us to reduce the craziness a bit.

2. The other guy is more than a defective product. Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are brands to most people, products we’re told to love or hate depending on who’s peddling the ad. But the reality is that they are human beings, presumably with good intentions to better the lives of Americans. I was asked in college to introduce a severely conservative Southern US Senator in my role as a student ambassador. I was skittish, but agreed to do it. He and I had a few minutes alone together in the green room before he went on, and I remember being struck by what a decent guy he seemed to be. I’m not totally naïve; he was obviously a good schmoozer if he became a Senator. But still, connecting on a human level eases some tension and helps lessens the vitriol.

3. There’s more than one way to fix a problem. Perhaps expanding access to healthcare and childcare will reduce the abortion rate more than outlawing the procedure? Maybe eliminating some government entitlements will foster a stronger culture of financial responsibility? Same-sex marriage might strengthen a culture of monogamy and commitment, rather than lessen it? The point is: just because you disagree with someone’s tactics doesn’t mean you don’t share a common vision. There are many paths that lead to the same destination.

4. There’s no ticket that is more Catholic than another. Barack Obama loves abortion and bull dozing Catholic churches filled with priests and nuns. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan despise the poor. Or at least that’s what we might believe if we watch only Fox or MSNBC. Both parties have their strengths and weaknesses, but the reality is neither fully encapsulates Catholic social thought. After carefully considering options, a Catholic could reasonably vote for either ticket.

5. We have a responsibility to care for the poor. As Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput said earlier this month, “Jesus tells us very clearly that if we don’t help the poor, we’re going to go to hell. Period. There’s just no doubt about it. That has to be a foundational concern of Catholics and of all Christians.” Both Obama and Romney have been pitifully silent on issues of poverty, and voters should demand more. (Some more thoughts on poverty over at Busted Halo.)

6. Either way, prejudice will be defeated just a bit. Barack Obama’s election in 2008 was a proud step for all Americans to celebrate in the long struggle of civil rights in this country. If he wins again, it will be another step toward fulfilling MLK’s vision. Should Romney win, a Mormon and a Catholic will hold the nation’s two highest offices, both members of religions that have endured religious bigotry.

Comments

Mike Evans | 9/21/2012 - 1:27pm
I cannot contemplate a GOP / Tea Party election victory with any equanimity. It would be an unmitigated disaster and set this entire country down a road of crass selfishness bathed in a false American 'exceptionalism' giving us the permission to dominate the world. The false call to peace whatever the outcome is akin to the warning about being 'lukewarm.' It also tells people that their ideas, their dreams, their aspirations, their good intentions just don't count; only the profits and measureables are important. Finally the huge degree of racism now so prevalent and obvious will just continue, fed by continued hate and fear of otherness. Immigration reform? Tax reform? Help for the massive numbers of discouraged unemployed? New war initiatives? Health care available to all? If any of these points are important, your vote matters and to have to suffer defeat is a serious and heart-breaking loss.
Mike Brooks | 9/20/2012 - 1:50pm
"This nation and the world have faced worse times than these, and we’re still here."

With all the focus on economic policy and social issues, attention on US foreign policy has been practically ignored.  Meanwhile, there is mayhem in the Middle East, talk of Iran developing a nuclear weapon, China is militarily engaging Japan over disputed territory, and Obama is talking appeasement and defunding our military.

As long as there are nukes and worldwide strife, I don't know that anyone can say with any assurety that we'll be ok.  "Can't we all just get along" is not a foreign policy that makes me feel safe.
Michael Iafrate | 9/20/2012 - 8:02am
I have two comments, Michael:

1) When you say ''The stakes are high, but we’ll be okay,'' who is the ''we''?

2) I am puzzled about how you can say ''[J]ust because you disagree with someone’s tactics doesn’t mean you don’t share a common vision'' only to follow it by pointing out that ''Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan despise the poor.'' I have generally had a Chomskyan view that there is not much difference between the two parties. But Romney and Ryan's overt hatred of people who are poor makes me question that Chomskyan assumption and is indeed, to use the bishops' own language, a ''disqualifying issue.''
Thomas Rooney OFS | 9/20/2012 - 1:40pm
"2012" in the 1st line of my previous post should have read "2008".  Getting ahead of myself...
Thomas Rooney OFS | 9/20/2012 - 1:38pm
I think the enthusiasm factor is far lower this presidential election cycle than 2012.  Partly because of the President's lackadaisical performance in the last 4 years (yes, yes, I know he inherited all those problems from W...but the bottom line is, it's on Obama's watch, so he politically owns it).  Partly because of the milquetoast ticket the GOP has put together.   Had the Obama Administration not gotten Bin Laden (again it's on his watch, he owns it), this might be a very different election cycle. 

But OBL is gone.  Gaffes abound all over the place from both candidates.  Neither candidate thrills me about voting, neither strikes me as particularly compassionate, and I don't feel either has really earned my vote.  And as Michael O points out, both come up woefully short regarding policies on poverty.

So I'll vote come 11/6...for the lesser of "who cares?".
J Cosgrove | 9/20/2012 - 11:59am
''while the rest of the world copes with climate change.''


Move south.  The Antarctic has record ice which should lower the sea levels a little south of the equator.


http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2012/09/19/antarctic-sea-ice-sets-another-record/


''they see the handwriting on the polling place wall. ''


The polls have been purposedly skewed to favor the Democrats.  When the polling organization do the polling they ask if a person is a Democrat, Republican or Independent.  Then they use a percentage to weigh the responses of each.  Apparently a lot of them are using 2008 turnout percentages to do this weighing.  I saw a poll last week that was highly cited in the news and had Obama up by 6.  But the internals showed that independents preferred Romney 56 to 40.  How could Obama have such a lead if independents make up a fairly large segment.  The answer: it is called the ''enthusiasm'' factor.  In 2008 the enthsiasm factor greatly favored the Democrats.  Guess where is will be in 2012 and you will be a polling genius.  They use it to weigh the segments.


http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/may/13/obamas-chief-edge-is-enthusiasm-factor/?page=all
T BLACKBURN | 9/20/2012 - 11:36am
I am a little bit disturbed that "we" at 7 and 9 don't have a stake in this election. However it turns out, I can't see any change in the U.S. being a serial assassin or being guilty bystanders while the rest of the world copes with climate change. If that's being OK, well, I guess OK. But I see our position as having a stake in the election but no dog in the fight.
ed gleason | 9/20/2012 - 11:28am
I have said the same thing to my wife as Michael has written.. It won't make much peronal  difference to us. We are old and  well off and live in San Francisco [ better off than Massachusetts ..Amy?] 
Maybe #4 & #5 have  missed the point of the post and are more upset because they see the handwriting on the polling place wall.  
Vincent Gaitley | 9/20/2012 - 10:26am
If you want to help the poor, then create wealth.  And vote accordingly.
Amy Ho-Ohn | 9/20/2012 - 9:06am
"When you say 'The stakes are high, but we’ll be okay,' who is the 'we'?"

Michael and I will be OK, because we live in Massachusetts. The rest of you just might be up a creek.
Shayne Labudda | 9/20/2012 - 8:49am
It seems correspondents #4 and 5 have missed the overt rhetorical flourish of the author in describing Romney/Ryan regard for the poor.  It's an overstatement, born of the hyperbole of our political races, much like the immediately preceding overstatement that Obama loves abortion and bulldozing churches.  Now, if you don't see that as an overstatement, then there are bigger issues at hand.
J Cosgrove | 9/20/2012 - 7:59am
''Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan despise the poor.''


Incredible statement.  You no longer can use the lie that the Ryan Budget has draconian cuts in it or hurts the poor so let's make up a new lie.  Is this how one tries to balance the books by an outright lie.  I know the weasel words are used to qualify it but that is what they are weasel words.  You said they despise the poor.  You chose the words to put into print.  No hiding behind what someone else may be implying.  It is your article.


Mr. O'Loughlin, I suggest you learn more about economics, the causes of poverty and the history of poverty in the United States.  It might just be that Romney and Ryan are doing the right things to help alleviate poverty and Obama is doing all the wrong things. If that is the case and there is pretty good evidence and a a strong logical argument that that is true, then the books have not been balanced by your incredibly wrong statement.  And one side, namely Romney and Ryan, are much closer to the Catholic model of helping the poor than the other.
Amy Ho-Ohn | 9/20/2012 - 7:31am
The really important thing to remember in election season is not to say anything you won't want to live with after the election is over. It's easy to get carried away in the excitement of the race, then look around yourself the day after the election and find you accidentally smashed friendships, professional relationships and reputation for the sake of some dirtbag politician who doesn't even know you exist.
Tracy White | 9/20/2012 - 4:27am
I think bot the parties should first break their silence on the issues of poverty, we would love to know their views.
Ready to assemble cabinets
Anonymous | 9/19/2012 - 11:37pm
After Al Gore lost the 2000 election, my wife and I had a long talk about what we would do, personally, to make the world a better place and live out the gospel. It was a catalyst for social action.

So I would add,

7. The morning after, go out and live the Gospel. Regardless of who won.
Stanley Kopacz | 9/20/2012 - 10:55pm
Re #11

Forbes seems like a good place to get superficial, propagandized science.  For a more thoroughgoing explanation of a complex phenomenon 

http://www.skepticalscience.com/antarctica-gaining-ice-intermediate.htm

The Forbes rubbish is the typical cherry picking and misrepresentation of data by the smugly ignorant, the know-it-alls who know nothing.  We know what they're about and it isn't getting a better scientific understanding of the physical universe.  It's about making a quick buck and ignoring the externalities, the biggest one being the ruination of the climate.
Tim O'Leary | 9/20/2012 - 6:46pm
I know Michael O'Loughlin includes some tongue-in-cheek remarks, but there is a clear difference between the parties regarding Catholic morality, probably more than at any recent election.

The Social safety net will grow under both parties, but the need will decrease under the Republicans. The Republicans want the social safety net to be re-organized so it can be sustained. They will enact minor prolife legislation that will affect abortion in the margins, but still save some thousands of lives. The most important benefit they will bring will be a serious response to the debt and employment. They will get the annual deficit down below $500M, GDP above 4%, unemployment to under 5%. The safety net will still grow but the improvement in the other numbers will greatly reduce the burden and deficit.

The Democrats will grow our debt another $4-5 trillion (nobody there speaks about doing anything serious about it) and at best will get the unemployment rate down to 6-7% and the GDP up to 2%. Inflation will begin in earnest as our nation's credit rating will plummet. Abortion will be covered by government funds (at least abroad, but probably at home also). Religious Liberty and the Catholic hospital system will be truly weakened and Obamacare will add another trillion to the deficit. The poor will be hurt primarily by a bad economy and high gas and food prices (a continuaiton of what has been going on for the last 4 years).

Iran will get worse under the Democrats. America will be well thought of by the Europeans because we will be weaker, but more despised for being weak everywhere else.

Jobs, Debt, Gas, Iran, Abortion, Religious Liberty - Change is our only Hope.
ed gleason | 9/20/2012 - 2:01pm
The GOP MANTRA ..'polls are wrong' is whistling in the dark to keep the demons away. How many of the millions of young people who have reached voting age since 2008 and have been called by Romney 'moochers' will vote for him?. How many even know what a land line is... to be polled by?
We old Dems now need to encourage these youngsters to take their IPad with them to the long lines at the polls to keep their boredom within bounds..election over.