The presidential candidates are making their closing arguments, racing around the States, and especially the swing states possibly still in play, along with their top surrogates. Church leaders are making their final appeals, turning out pastoral statements and letters to reach all the citizens in their dioceses and parishes, with the help of priests and ministers.
It’s time for the most consequential vote of our lifetime, as many politicians, scholars and historians have called this election. It’s no surprise that it comes out of a gasping sprint by the candidates.
Why it winds up being nearly a 50-50 split going into election day is a study in contemporary power politics of social agenda over party principle. The Democratic National Convention in August sealed that deal, with the platform committee rejecting any input from Democrats for Life and changing the Clinton reference to the desire for abortion to be ‘safe, legal and rare’ to just ‘safe and legal.’ After all, Jonathan Last told me on radio, suggesting that something like abortion be ‘rare’ implies a moral judgment of some sort. Any such implication was no longer tolerable to the party of tolerance.
The thing that struck me most about Monday, November 5th 2012, the day before this historic election, is that nearly every single pundit, analyst, historian and other expert I saw and heard interviewed on television and radio eagerly and nervously claimed no ability to decipher the data coming in from the country’s pollsters enough for a confident prediction of Election 2012′s outcome. Some of the older and wiser and most highly reputed ones were most vocal in their claims that this election was beyond the call.
So on the eve of it, we were facing…anything. A landslide had become a remote likelihood, but the extremes became more like whether we’d know the results by Wednesday, to whether we’d be locked in a recount into December, to whether the electoral college would have to split the decision for president and vice-president between the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Which makes Election Day all the more tense, exciting and nerve-wracking.
We’ve seen last minute fluctuations in support, like the New York Daily News.
“Four years ago, the Daily News endorsed Obama, seeing a historic figure whose intelligence, political skills and empathy with common folk positioned him to build on the small practical experience he would bring to the world’s toughest job,” the endorsement in part states. “We valued Obama’s pledge to govern with bold pragmatism and bipartisanship. The hopes of those days went unfulfilled.”
The endorsement also ticks off a list of reasons for why the daily tabloid is backing Romney in 2012 – including smaller paychecks, fewer jobs and higher subway fares and gasoline prices.
“America’s heart, soul, brains and muscle — the middle- and working-class people who make this nation great – have been beset for too long by sapping economic decline,” the editorial continues. “So, too, (have) New York breadwinners and families.”
Beyond the rhetoric, the paper backs up its decision with a salvo of numbers after the 2008 financial crisis – including a 7.9 percent national jobless rate and nine million fewer jobs.
The paper also points out the hometown crowd, with some of the most well-educated and well-paid residents in the country not spared.
The median household income for a New York family dropped by $54 a week over that period, the paper also points out.
The Daily News joins nearly a dozen other major U.S. newspapers in switching endorsements from Obama to Romney, according to the University of California, Santa Barbara’s American Presidency Project.
And the Wisconsin State Journal.
Not enough hope and too little change.
That is President Barack Obama’s record on the economy, debt and Washington gridlock after four years in the White House.
The State Journal editorial board endorses Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s presidential election.
Romney showed as the Republican governor of Democratic-leaning Massachusetts that he can find agreement across the partisan divide. And his vice presidential pick — Wisconsin’s U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Janesville — suggests Romney is serious about tackling America’s fiscal mess.
Romney has an impressive record of success in the private and public sectors. He’s a numbers guy who focuses more on results than ideology. That’s why so many of his fellow Republicans during the GOP primary criticized him for not being conservative enough.
Romney has been a strong leader in business and civic life. This includes turning around many troubled companies and the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Romney better understands how and why entrepreneurs and employers decide to expand and add jobs. He’s more likely to get the private-sector going strong again.
Of course, the disclaimers are there as well. Marriage redefinition, abortion rights, Obama’s likeability, George W. Bush’s fault for what Obama inherited, deflected praise for killing bin Laden. It’s a weak editorial, but it comes down endorsing change, this time in Mitt Romney.
On Monday, over 500 former Generals and Admirals took out a full page ad in the Washington Times to endorse Mitt Romney.
GEN Hugh Shelton (USA-ret) and GEN Tommy Franks (USA-ret) are among the military heavyweights who are taking out a full page ad in Monday’s Washington Times…
GEN Franks is probably best known as the commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM) from 2000 to 2003, during the war that ended the reign of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. He was appointed to head up the Middle East-centric command by President Bill Clinton and assumed command of CENTCOM on July 6, 2000. Franks served in the United States Army from 1967 to his retirement in 2003.
GEN Henry Shelton served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Clinton from October 1, 1997 to October 1, 2001. Shelton’s military honors include the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star with valor device and three oak leaf cluster. He also commanded the United States Special Operations Command.
The full-page ad says “We, the undersigned, proudly support Governor Mitt Romney as our next President and Commander-in-Chief.” A note at the bottom of the ad says that the officers all paid for the ad themselves. The list includes officers who served in the United States Army, the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, and the United States Air Force.
Meanwhile, Catholic bishops and scholars have made their final cases for the election. There are far too many to cite, but the Pennsylvania bishops’ statement gets to the heart of it all.
The 2012 elections take place during the Year of Faith. As Pope Benedict XVI explains, this year is necessary because, while many people continue “to think of the faith as a self-evident presupposition for life in society,” nevertheless “in reality, not only can this presupposition no longer be taken for granted, . . . it is often openly denied” (Porta Fidei, no. 2). Today it is no longer the case, as it was for our country’s Founders, that religion can provide a shared moral framework and vocabulary for a pluralistic democracy.
This is a key point. Re-read that last point and pay attention to the next one.
In fact, Americans would do well to realize that many of our country’s leading thinkers in law, higher education, and the social sciences simply no longer believe in the idea of inalienable natural rights guaranteed by a Creator higher than the State—one of the cornerstone principles of the American experiment.
This has serious implications because many of our most urgent political issues—ranging from the economy, immigration, and abortion to global security—raise profoundly moral questions. These questions cannot be resolved without a common understanding of right and wrong.
Right. That’s evident in most ‘comments’ sections of news sites and blogs these days. How do you reason with people who don’t resort to reason?
Consider today’s aggressive efforts to redefine the nature of marriage, to exclude parental authority in the choice of the best education for their children, and to force Catholic healthcare and social services to end their ministries unless they violate their religious identities through mandated support of practices contrary to the very sanctity of human life.
Religious liberty itself—“our first, most cherished freedom”—is no longer secure. At first glance, this may seem otherwise because religious freedom is so deeply ingrained in our national history. But democracy has no special immunity to losing its soul by little steps.
Well put. Another key point. Pay attention:
As Alexis de Tocqueville, the great chronicler of early American democracy, observed more than 150 years ago, “it is especially dangerous to enslave men in the minor details of life”—because the more the state provides, the more it inevitably controls.
And that is precisely where we are on Election Day 2012, with the decisive question at stake ‘What should be the proper size and role of government?’
Scholar George Weigel completes, or at least adds to, a series in First Things on Campaign 2012 with this commentary on What Voting Means.
Morally serious voters understand that casting a ballot is not an exercise in nostalgia, and that gratitude to FDR for giving grandpa a job in the Civilian Conservation Corps, or fond memories of the Eisenhower years, cannot be determinative of one’s moral judgment about the American future, and those who would lead us into it, in 2012.
Morally serious voters understand that the character of political parties changes over time, and that voting for the Democrats or the Republicans because “that’s what we’ve always done” is outsourcing one’s moral judgments to others.
Morally serious citizens recognize that voting a straight party line is an abrogation of moral responsibility, because the judgment one makes of a party’s candidate for, say, president, cannot be applied willy-nilly to that party’s candidate in House or Senate races.
Morally serious Catholics recognize that no one party in contemporary America fully embodies Catholic social teaching; but alert Catholics will also take notice when a party holds Catholic social teaching—including the Church’s teaching on such fundamental issues as the inalienable right to life and the nature of marriage—in contempt.
Denial of religious liberty and conscience rights goes beyond constitutional violation. It’s a matter of the common good and generational ethics.
Voters who think only of themselves, and do not take into account what kind of country their children and grandchildren will inherit, are being politically shortsighted and morally obtuse.
Voting is not simply a privilege; it is a noble privilege, because it asks each of us to bring our best judgment to bear on matters of grave consequence.
God help us make the right decision.