Privilege and Responsibility

One might imagine that since the friars were living a somewhat isolated life here at St. Anthony’s back in 1952, they would be unconcerned with the affairs of the rest […]

One might imagine that since the friars were living a somewhat isolated life here at St. Anthony’s back in 1952, they would be unconcerned with the affairs of the rest of society. And further, since this was a religious community, one might imagine that politics was a subject to avoid. However, the November 1952 Chronicle tells us the presidential election had seeped into these hallowed halls and held the friars’ attention.

Elections. Politics continued to dominate recreation conversations as the intense campaigns of the Republicans and Democrats ended in a flourish of oratory and political extravaganza. In order to permit intelligent voting, the clerics were allowed to follow the campaign issues and, on the eve of the election, Father Mark turned the radio on after night prayers for the last minutes coast-to-coast programs of both political parties. Election day itself, November 4, was free. All who could vote, and a few who could not, walked or rode to the polls at the town hall. To get the election returns, Fr. Mark once again permitted the clerics to listen to the radio. By 9:30 it was evident that the country was going Republican. After 20 years under Democratic regime, the country faced the prospect of new faces in Washington. Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon were the winners in the presidential race. The losing candidates were Adlai Stevenson of Illinois and Senator Sparkman of Alabama. The results of the State elections were also predominantly Republican: Governor Kohler was returned to office for another term and Senator McCarthy, the controversial junior Senator for Appleton, was elected for another six years. Local offices followed the same pattern.

Politics is not a common subject for this Chronicle either, but Election Day 2022 will be upon us next week, November 8. Although it is a mid-term election rather than the presidential election, there certainly has been a “flourish of oratory and political extravaganza”, and WAY too many political ads. Like the 1952 election, there is plenty of controversy and intensity in this election, too.

Perhaps there are some things we can learn from our brothers of 70 years ago. First, the clerics wanted to be well-informed about the candidates and issues, despite their somewhat focused and isolated lives, and their teachers and mentors agreed and supported that opportunity. Second, they saw the election as serious and important enough to be engaged in the process and get out to vote, and their leaders supported that by giving them the day off from their studies. Third, they did what they had to do to get to the polls – the distance and difficulty of the journey did not deter them. It is clear they took voting as a privilege and serious responsibility.

As we approach Election Day 2022, we give thanks that we live in a country where we still have the opportunity to participate in our government. Like our brothers before us, may we also see voting as both a privilege and serious responsibility. May we educate ourselves on the issues and candidates. May we find a way to get to the polls, no matter what obstacles we may face and no matter which candidate or party we support. And may we pray for the grace to accept the outcome of the elections and witness a peaceful transition of power.

For all the blessings of life in this country – the privilege of voting, the resources to be informed voters, and the freedom to participate in our government – and for the grace to accept the outcome and support whatever candidates are elected to serve, and for the faith to pray for wisdom and courage in those elected to serve all the people, we say Deo Gratias!

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