Archive for Election 2008

An open letter to President Elect Obama

NOTE: To sign and send this letter, go here.

“The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth,
but from the enduring power of our ideals…;”
“This victory… is only the chance for us to make the change.”
-President Elect Barack Obama

President Elect Barack Obama:

As our nation approaches the celebration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. we write you with great hope. We know you are a man of compassion, wisdom and vision.

At this time of your inauguration as our President, your words echo the words and vision of Dr. King which ring true for the challenges facing our nation today. His vision of hope, justice and peace were not superficial adjustments to the status quo. He called for “a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin… the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society.” (A Time to Break Silence, King, 1967)

His words about the expenditure of our nation’s tax dollars on war instead of investing in people are a scathing indictment of the way things were/are, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

President Elect Obama, we urge you to heed the call of Dr. King and reject the pressures of war profiteers who erode our economy, community and nation’s soul. We support your agenda for an inclusive just society and for the change so desperately needed: set as your top priority the needs of our citizens- provide education, healthcare, and job opportunities; invest in our nation’s infrastructure and renewable clean energy needs; and heal our nation’s relationships in the world – reject U.S. reliance on military might, instead help heal the sick, support self-reliance, be an unwavering proponent of the rule of law and diplomacy, and increase economic well-being and human security for all.

President Elect Obama, we ask you to embrace Dr. King’s call to “transform the dynamics of the world power struggle…, which no one can win, to a creative contest to harness man’s genius for the purpose of making peace and prosperity a reality for all the nations of the world.” (Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, King, 1968)

Thank you for your pledge to make the world our children inherit better than the one today.


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Election reflection on three who opposed Obama

By Michael Humphrey

For the past year I have been focused on the 2008 presidential election and especially on the Republican Party’s role in it. I covered the Republican National Convention and wrote several other stories involving conservatism, Catholicism and this historic race, all for the National Catholic Reporter.

It has been a memorable experience. Watching a seminal election such as this through the lens of the losing ticket comes with its own subplots. I got the sense in all of my conversations that Republicans were pressing against the force of inevitability. I watched messages that once had firepower doused in the wave of a spiraling economy and the promise of change. This was definitely the case for those Republicans pressing for Catholic votes.

It is impossible when covering Catholicism and elections not to address the issue of abortion. So many of the Catholic conservatives I spoke with at the convention and elsewhere pointed to abortion as the core reason for their support of John McCain, though none stated it as the only reason.

It would be easy to paint these people with a broad brush, but it would also be wrong. They represent a wide spectrum of human inclinations. Three examples from the past election – each with local ties and a national voice, each opposing Roe v. Wade and each considered heroic by some and controversial by others – provide insight into just how vast that spectrum can be.

The first example is United States Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). During the convention week, I found him at a breakfast meeting in a downtown St. Paul hotel and he was readily willing to do an interview. We spoke about John McCain and Sarah Palin, about the Catholic’s role in this election and, inevitably, about abortion. But he surprised me, at his own prompting, by widening the conversation.

“We have ceded the social justice message to the Democrats for too long. I want to say, (Democrats) are wrong on life and marriage,” Brownback said, “and here is our social justice agenda. We haven’t gone that distance. We’ve said, you get the social justice agenda, we get the life and marriage agenda. And I’m pushing at this cloth of being pro-life and whole life, and that applies to the immigrant, the person in prison, to those is poverty and those in Darfur.”

Brownback’s vision for what the Republican Party can be is a vision of hope for all who care about peace and justice issues. And more importantly, in the person of Sam Brownback, I found an honest seeker who was trying to bring that inward debate to his role as a legislator.

The second example is Randall Terry, who founded Operation Rescue in Wichita and continues to fight on several fronts to end abortion in America. Late in the election, Terry mobilized hundreds of people in key battleground states to pass out fliers at churches and Wal Marts that essentially stated it was against Catholic teaching to vote for Barack Obama. There were questionable tactics, especially making the flier he passed out to Catholics look very similar to the Church’s official brochure on Faithful Citizenship. He and several of his volunteers were arrested, because they trespassed on parish properties to disseminate the tracts.

In a series of phone calls, I spoke with Terry about his strategy. He was open and honest about his intentions. He made it clear that he was being true to his calling and that he would not apologize for it.

“I recognize in many people’s minds we are skating on thin ice,” Terry said to me, “but so was St. Thomas More and St. Catherine of Siena, and many prophets who spoke the truth when it wasn’t sanctioned.”

This is the same philosophy that has sent many people to the streets and jails to peacefully protest what they see as atrocities. Agree with him or not, no one can argue that his nonviolent attempts to sway voters is part of a long tradition of American dissent that has mostly enriched our country.

The third example was not part of my reporting. Like most of us, I was simply a consumer of the news when Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn told a radio talk show host that by voting for Obama, “you make yourself a participant in the act of abortion and you mustn’t do it because your eternal salvation is tied up with that important choice.”

When I think of the other men I’ve mentioned, I think of people who are blending their points of view with their self-chosen roles in our society. Bishop Finn would also make an excellent activist, unencumbered by the heavy duties laid upon him as bishop, but the statement he made about Obama is deeply troubling for a pastor to make.

At the bishops’ fall meeting last week, Bishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, S.D. stated, “A prophecy of denunciation quickly wears thin. We need a prophecy of solidarity with the communities we serve and the nation we live in, which needs healing. We must be, and be seen to be, caring pastors as well as faithful teachers.”


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The Clean Energy Initiative

The Clean Energy Initiative requires Missouri investor-owned electric utilities (Aquila and KCP&L among them) to get 15%of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Twenty-five other states have adopted this policy. This policy would not raise rates, but in the long run would shield consumers from spikes in energy prices. But just to be sure, the Clean Energy Initiative includes a 1% rate increase cap.

170,000 signatures have already been gathered in Missouri and it will be on the ballot in November. But more signatures are always welcome as are Organization and Business supporters.

NOTE: See for all the information

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