A freedom, a duty, a privilege
Some years ago I recall Warren Buffett confessing his gratitude for having been born in the United States in the 20th century. He acknowledged that mankind has never before enjoyed the level of cultural, scientific and physical advances Americans enjoy today.
During Legatus’ 2008 pro-life conference in Washington, D.C., we were privileged to have an audience with recently deceased Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In the Q&A that followed the justice’s remarks, a question lamented the fact that the courts, and in particular the U.S. Supreme Court, too often fail to confirm the Christian virtues we treasure.
Scalia’s response reminded the questioner and all present that the citizenry would be better served if it elected representatives at the local, state and federal level who exemplify ethical and moral norms consistent with our Catholic Christian faith.
Of course, Justice Scalia was correct that we, in the first instance, elect those representatives who will infuse the culture with a Christian tone and conduct. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes [and] to exercise the right to vote” (# 2240). A moral obligation! But isn’t the exercise of the right to vote more than an obligation?
I’ve been privileged to vote in local, state and federal elections for more years than I care to remember. However, I have always been struck by the sense of privilege, if not downright joy, with which voting citizens address this responsibility.
I had this experience in March as I waited in line to cast my ballot in the Florida primary.
The tone of the conversation among my fellow voters was one of shared responsibility for the task at hand — to elect representatives who will be responsible for serving the common good. It was clear that my fellow voters considered it an honor to have a role in the future of this great country. After all, the right to vote is an extension of all the freedoms we enjoy.
While the process of campaigning is often arcane, cumbersome and inefficient and while the public officials to whom we entrust our well-being are all too often found lacking, the freedoms we enjoy — including the right to vote our conscience — should be treasured as gifts worthy of our appreciation to God for continually blessing us. Truly, God has blessed America.
JOHN HUNT is Legatus’ executive director. He and his wife Kathie are charter members of Legatus’ Chicago Chapter.