Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Apolitiking

I'm doing my best to keep the blog a politics-free zone, but I
couldn't let election day pass without a few of my favorite apolitical
messages ... the dates, speakers and personal politics of the
individuals simply don't matter, so I left them out.

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"While the so-called religious issue is necessarily and properly the
chief topic here tonight, I want to emphasize from the outset that we
have far more critical issues to face; the humiliating treatment of
our President and Vice President by those who no longer respect our
power--the hungry children I saw in West Virginia, the old people who
cannot pay their doctor bills, the families forced to give up their
farms--an America with too many slums, with too few schools, and too
late to the moon and outer space.

These are the real issues which should decide this campaign. And they
are not religious issues--for war and hunger and ignorance and despair
know no religious barriers.

But because I am a Catholic, and no Catholic has ever been elected
President, the real issues in this campaign have been
obscured--perhaps deliberately, in some quarters less responsible than
this. So it is apparently necessary for me to state once again--not
what kind of church I believe in, for that should be important only to
me--but what kind of America I believe in.

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is
absolute--where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should
he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his
parishioners for whom to vote--where no church or church school is
granted any public funds or political preference--and where no man is
denied public office merely because his religion differs from the
President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic,
Protestant nor Jewish--where no public official either requests or
accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National
Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source--where no
religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon
the general populace or the public acts of its officials--and where
religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is
treated as an act against all.

For while this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of
suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be
again, a Jew--or a Quaker--or a Unitarian--or a Baptist. It was
Virginia's harassment of Baptist preachers, for example, that helped
lead to Jefferson's statute of religious freedom. Today I may be the
victim--but tomorrow it may be you--until the whole fabric of our
harmonious society is ripped at a time of great national peril."

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"We can pounce on some gaffe ..., or we can speculate on whether white
men will all flock ...

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we'll be
talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then
another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come
together and say, "Not this time." This time we want to talk about the
crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and
white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native
American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells
us that these kids can't learn; that those kids who don't look like us
are somebody else's problem. The children of America are not those
kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a
21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room
are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health
care; who don't have the power on their own to overcome the special
interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it
together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided
a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale
that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region,
every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the
real problem is not that someone who doesn't look like you might take
your job; it's that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas
for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and
creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under
the same proud flag ... We want to talk about how we'll show our
patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the
benefits they have earned."

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