I liked William Gould’s thoughtful take on politics and Catholicism. He echoes a sentiment I’ve expressed on several different occasions – namely, that a holistic assessment of the candidates’ positions is the best way to vote for the sanctity of human life. Here’s Gould:
The second reason I find Kmiec’s position helpful is that, while clearly speaking from within the prolife movement, he provides much-needed correctives to two unfortunate tendencies within that movement. The first is the propensity of many prolifers—including many church leaders—to attach so much significance to opposing abortion that they end up effectively dismissing every other issue as unimportant or of minimal importance. (Indeed, in a recent pastoral letter, Bishop Martino approvingly quoted the view of his predecessor, Bishop Timlin, that “abortion is the issue this year and every year in every campaign.”) While opposition to abortion is surely an important part of Catholic teaching, it does not begin to exhaust the riches of the Catholic social tradition. On the contrary, there are many other important matters—issues of foreign policy (including questions of war and peace), health care, whether and how we are going to meet our obligations to the poor, just to name a few—on which the Catholic social tradition has much wisdom and insight to contribute. To reduce Catholic teaching to opposing abortion, which many bishops are very close to doing, is to present a truncated version of the Catholic tradition, and Kmiec is to be commended for pointing that out.
I don’t think this approach precludes Catholics (or other people of faith) from voting for McCain. In my view, Gould isn’t arguing that religious voters must accept the superiority of Obama’s approach to foreign policy or social justice. Simply that Catholic voters should embrace a more nuanced decision-making calculus when it comes to presidential politics.