As a young news reporter for a Catholic network, I have three perspectives on the midterm election, and I intend to share all of them: first my thoughts as a Catholic, then as a reporter, then as a young person.
For a Catholic, the midterm election this year seems pretty encouraging. There were many pro-life politicians who won their way into Washington, and we will now have a Catholic Speaker of the House whose views and voting record actually reflect the teachings of the Catholic faith. Five members of the Stupak 12 (who flipped and voted for health care at the last minute) lost their bids for reelection to pro-life Republicans.
Granted, life issues are not the main talking points on Capitol Hill right now, but at least we can feel confident that if any pro-death provisions try to sneak their way into legislation, there will be people strong enough to stop it – and wise enough to not be fooled by meaningless promises like executive orders that don’t carry the full force of law.
As a news reporter, though, I don’t see much encouragement. Outside the pro-life/Catholic sphere, the prominent concern, of course, was the economy – and the electorate was driven by anger over this issue. People are angry over job loss, bailouts, corporate greed and governmental incompetence. The Democrats lost because they have no clue how stop this bleeding economy.
But here’s a newsflash: The Republicans don’t have a clue, either! It’s a sad state of affairs when neither party has any idea how to fix our economy.
This might turn into a problem for the pro-life movement. Big gains this time around don’t necessarily mean they will stick (as evidenced by the Democrats this year). The Republicans might feel that they have a mandate thanks to the November 2nd shellacking, but with that mandate comes high expectations. If they don’t deliver and provide some concrete solutions to clean up our economic mess, they aren’t going to have a chance to make headway on any other issue of importance – including life issues.
I want to get back to the issue of anger as I progress into my viewpoint as a young Catholic. My generation isn’t angry (yet), but apathetic. Every election year the exit polls show who is voting, and the young adult percentage is always the lowest. This year preliminary exit poll data from the Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement show that young adults made up 9-10% of all voters in the 2010 midterm elections.
All I can say is that as we get older and become more involved in the political process, I hope we are not as fickle as the voting population is now. Not that I’ve been around very long, but I have never seen such a political mood swing in such a short amount of time. While it worked out in a faithful Catholic’s favor this time, it may not work out the next time. As a young person, I look at the older generations and think, at least politically-speaking, they do not know what they want. As Catholics we have a hierarchy of issues that should factor into how we vote in any race, and anger – one of the seven deadly sins – should not be the motivation.
We can’t predict how the 2010 midterm elections will play out in history, but for now we can relish a victory for the pro-life movement. Don’t get comfortable, though, because there’s very little time before the next election cycle.