Last evening I listened to radio talks by the two Presidential nominees. And I decided that I had better do a little praying before I exercise my sovereign right and cast a vote. Perhaps all of us in our homes, our schools, our religious houses or our parish churches should do some special praying. Pastors might, it occurred to me, designate the Sunday before election day as one of prayer—steady, Mr. Blanshard! —not for the candidates of their choice, but for the voters. They might implore the Holy Ghost to guide all of us in choosing the man best fitted to lead our country in the present crisis.
This election is unlike any other in the span of my admittedly middle-aged memory. I don't know whom to vote for, and there seem to be a good many others in the same quandary. The independent voters, I think they call us. "Confused" would be a better word. And we have assumed a hopeful importance in the calculations of both parties. The problem is not acute in our State and local contests. Many of the nominees we know, or can find out about at first hand. Some have long records of political activity. But in the Presidential racel How can we know, with the issue so vast, the political scene so complex?
That the elections this year are of unusual importance, not only to our country but also to the whole world, is obvious. Added to this is the fact that seldom has it been more difficult for an open-minded voter to make a choice. We are presented with two men who are, you might say, surprise candidates. Both have apparent personal integrity; both are men of high caliber.
Our confusion increases when we observe the fact that party lines aren't what they used to be. Ructions within and agreements without the parties have caused the lines to sag considerably. On many issues, the two candidates seem to be in accord. As for the weaknesses within—many of us followed the national conventions on radio and TV. It was often a far from pretty sight. The old party lines are suffering, too, because our young people think for themselves more than we of the "golden 'twenties" did. A poll-taker who came to our door the other day expressed amazement at the number of potential voters who now class themselves as independent.
I almost envy those complacent souls who know—the experts in political science, the commentators and pundits, the inevitable hordes who have something to gain personally. But I am a strictly run-of-tlie-mine voter. I follow the radio talks and discussions. I try to understand the analyses made by papers and magazines in whose judgment I have confidence. And I have nothing to gain from the victory of either side except the welfare of my country and the peace of the world.
There are thousands like me, the little people, the average citizens, each with his still, small vote. And the time when we could be swayed by campaign slogans and political hoopla is, fortunately, passing. Shrill screams of "I Like Ike" or "We Need Adlai Badly" seem pretty naive when we consider that we must choose one of these two to deal with the immense problems of infiation and corruption at home, Korea and Stalin abroad.
But while most of us find time to pray for the persons and things we deem important, we seldom remember to pray for those who are guiding our country. This was impressed upon me some years ago when Paul G. Hoffman was appointed director of the Economic Cooperation Administration. We in South Bend were very proud of this distinction conferred on one of our former residents. A friend said to me: "I'd like to do something for Mr. Hoffman, Kate. He doesn't know that I exist, but I feel as if I share a little bit in this honor, and as if I should help him a little with the terrific responsibility. I'm going to say an 'Our Father' and a 'Hail Mary' for him every day, that God may guide him in this work for peace." A small thing, and Mr. Hoffman never knew of it. But it probably helped. If all of us prayed for our men in government as often as we criticize them, that would help, too.
This voter, at least, has decided to offer Mass and Holy Communion on November 2, the Sunday before Election Day, for the guidance of us all. I looked up the Mass for that day and, by a happy chance, it is, liturgically speaking, most appropriate. The feast of All Souls will be commemorated on Monday, November 3; so Sunday is designated simply as the twenty-second after Pentecost. We shall still be in the season of the Holy Spirit.
Very aptly, the Gospel tells the incident of the coin of the tribute, of which Christ said: "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's." The Gradual of the Mass makes a good point, too. "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." And the Offertory could hardly be more fitting: "Remember me, O Lord, Thou who nilest above all power; and give a well-ordered speech in my mouth, that my words may be pleasing in the sight of the prince."
That my vote, we might paraphrase, may be pleasing in the sight of my country and of Thee.