Reminding Us What’s at Stake

New York women embrace after looking through remains of homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy (CNS photo/Shannon Stapleton, Reuters)

As I write this post, much of the East Coast is suffering through what CNN is now calling Superstorm Sandy. More than two feet of snow is burying West Virginia. Maryland, New Jersey, and New York are flooded. Nearly 10 million people are without power from Maine to Virginia. Damage will run into the tens of billions of dollars, and people will suffer over the coming weeks as they try to repair their homes, cars, and finances.

If you have been watching cable news, checking Facebook and Twitter, or logging on to Google news, you might forget that we’re less than a week away from the presidential election. President Obama canceled rallies to return to the White House to monitor the storm, and Governor Mitt Romney suspended campaigning for a few days. And while politics was somewhat absent over the past few days, government was not.

New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie, an ardent Romney supporter, explained that the President had called him to ensure the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was serving Garden State residents well. Christie told him that FEMA was working well, and the President asked Christie to call him personally should he need any assistance. Democrat Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and an Obama surrogate, praised Christie for his leadership and said that state and local officials were in constant contact to provide for the safety of citizens.

This campaign has been so ugly that it’s sometimes easy to forget that the aim of this whole project isn’t to win an election, but to form a government that protects citizens and sustains society.

As cleanup continues, the aftermath of the storm is a good reminder of what’s at stake.

In this column over the past several months, I’ve touched on many topics that we might consider before we cast our ballots next week:

Earlier this year, I wondered if Romney’s hardened stance on immigration would make his path to the White House more difficult. He tried to moderate his views a bit, though in a heated exchange during the second debate, he referred to undocumented people as “illegals,” and it appears that he will lose the Latino vote by historically large margins. Which candidate will respond more effectively to the Catholic call to welcome the immigrant?

Drone Warfare
President Obama has expanded the controversial drone program in which unmanned aircrafts drop bombs on remote targets with the aim of taking out suspected terrorists but often maiming and killing innocent civilians in the process. Which candidate will consider respect for human life when making decisions of war and peace?

By choosing Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, Romney effectively endorsed the wing of the Republican Party that believes that government is the problem and therefore should be reduced in size, and that all individuals should pay even less in taxes than the historically low rates on the books today. Catholic nuns, bishops, and theologians have been critical of this approach, which asks the poor to sacrifice even more. Which candidate will use government resources to serve the poor and lift families out of poverty?

Busted Halo has produced “Voting Catholic,” a video to help voters consider these and many other issues and finalize their vote. Despite what some may tell you, there is no party or candidate that is more Catholic than another. We face complex issues that demand serious answers. It’s been a long couple of years, and Election Day is finally near. Vote and make your voice heard.