Voting for the Common Good in Election 2012
The 2012 election cycle will go down in history as the election where more money was spent than ever before, more attack ads were run on TV, and quite possibly where more Americans got sick of the entire process. Lost in the age of sound bytes and a 24 hour news cycle, is what really matters: we all need to work together to support the common good. A term that, these days, is seen in some circles as dirty, along with social justice and other like minded ideals. But through my experiences working at Catholics United—advocating for social justice on a structural level—I’ve come to more fully realize the truth that I first came to realize during my years at John Carroll University and as a Jesuit Volunteer—that the world is full of complex situations that require each and every one of us to not only look out for ourselves, but also for each other.
Throughout it’s history, Americans have been told that if you work hard, good things will come your way—that all it takes is for you to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and you can make it in this country. Unfortunately, in our complex 21st century world, with families unable to pay off mortgages, students burdened by debt, and jobs being shipped overseas as the middle class continues to shrink, doing things the “right way” no longer is a guarantee that you will “make it.” It really does take a village, and unfortunately, there are many Americans blinded by this fact, and many more too afraid to admit it.
If we really want to “make it” in America, it now takes not only hard work, but also the support of others, not just friends and family, teachers and mentors, but maybe even non-profit organizations and the government too. That’s what the common good is all about: everyone working together as a community to try to lift each other up. Because we’re only going to “make it” in America if we work together. And when we come together to try to change society for the better, when we truly advocate for social justice and make our voices heard, perhaps then more Americans will realize that we really are all in this together.
But how does the common good relate to this year’s election? If you ask anyone, no matter what side of the aisle that person is on, he or she will tell you that 2012 is an election of epic proportions. What gets lost in the shuffle is that no matter what happens on November 7th, we’re still going to have to work together to find solutions. Catholics United and our friends from the “Nuns on the Bus” have advocated against fellow Catholic Paul Ryan’s budget, which would make drastic and life threatening cuts to social safety net programs. People are beginning to take notice. And we’re also working together to find a solution. Our election year project, Common Good 2012 is one step in supporting the Common Good as it brings people together to talk about problems in their community.
When it’s all said and done, one things for certain: no matter who we vote for, we must continue to find ways to work together, because these days, we just can’t go it alone.