When the Nov. 3 elections are over, and all the ballots are tallied, roughly half of U.S. voters will be happy with the results, and the other half will be disappointed — at least with regard to the presidential race. Voters, of course, are determining the outcome of many other contests at the national, state and local levels. Here, too, voter happiness levels are likely to vary.
But whether or not we’re pleased with the election results, we all — as Americans and Catholics — still have much work to do. The responsibilities of faithful citizenship don’t end on Election Day. We must work with our elected officials — whether we voted for them or not — to make our communities and world better places to live for everyone. This requires an investment of time and effort.
Whether through voting or public policy advocacy, our aim — and the aim of public officials — should always be to protect human life and promote human dignity and the common good. For candidates you supported that won, make sure they keep their campaign promises that advance these moral principles and hold them accountable when they don’t. Also, be open to engaging with elected officials who didn’t earn your vote and continue to offer your perspective on issues. Respectful dialogue doesn’t always lead to lawmakers changing their minds, but sometimes it does. Take time to get to know your elected representatives better. They serve you and want to know what you and their other constituents have to say because it helps them to do their job better.
If this level of involvement is new to you, or seems intimidating, there are resources available to help. The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in the state, offers tools for learning more about major issues, identifying your federal and state officials and tracking the progress of bills. You can also sign up for MCC’s non-partisan Catholic Advocacy Network, which will keep you updated via email on important legislative activity as well as other activities related to the Church’s social ministry and policy advocacy. You can sign up at www.MNCatholic.org.
This has been a particularly contentious election year. The dust might not settle for quite some time. When it does, we need to help our nation to heal and move forward. We need to advance the common good of all, giving special attention to those on the peripheries because of poverty, racism and the inability to see others at all stages of life as our brothers and sisters. We need to do it by modeling civility and respect in the way we communicate and advocate. This is — or at least it should be — the Catholic way.
The Catholic way is also one of hope, and this includes our approach to faithful citizenship. I am reminded of the first-ever Catholics at the Capitol event in 2017 in St. Paul. The keynoter was Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska. “Trust in God’s providential plan, even when we don’t see the results,” he told an audience of more than 1,000 Minnesota Catholics. God is calling us to be faithful witnesses to truth in public life, he said. “Whether or not we see results, the Lord calls us to be faithful to that mission … and to trust in him.”
Let’s be faithful witnesses who engage our culture strengthened with the hope that Christ gives us.
Joe Towalski is the editor and the director of communications.
Photo credit: CNS photo/Mike Crupi, Catholic Courier