Mr. Bush's inauguration is an occasion for introspection for most soulful Democrats. So much passion and so much money invested in bringing some civility back to our country, and now so much triumphalism to suffer as the Republicans once again take office.
But as Catholics and Christians, we are no strangers to adversity. The earliest Catholics risked their lives for what they believed. We are called now only to persevere in fighting the tyranny of the present moment. The Administration continues laying the groundwork for a perpetual military presence in Iraq, no matter how many people may be killed in the process, and we must fight it. News stories emerged this week about plans to undermine the government of Iran militarily, and we must fight this reliance on the use of force as the first resort to conflict resolution.
On the economic front, a new CBS/NY Times poll shows 50% of Americans have bought into Mr. Bush's lie that Social Security is in crisis today because of a shortfall that may or may not happen 50 years from now. Meanwhile, the Administration prepares to permanently extend tax cuts heavily weighted to the top 1%--money that will largely come from a Social Security surplus, headed toward $3.5 trillion, disproportionately built up with our payroll taxes. For all the tax-cutting ardor on Capitol Hill, you'll never hear a Republican advocate cutting payroll taxes for the working poor. Job insecurity is as great as ever. Disposable income for working Americans is declining. The number of people without health insurance will continue to climb as health costs soar unimpeded.
A self-deluded 43% of respondents said they thought most abortion would be illegal by the time Mr. Bush leaves office, even as the statistics show a sea change toward more abortions under Mr. Bush after years of declines. Here in Massachusetts, our governor has sought to reinstate a death penalty that has so many safeguards that virtually no one would ever qualify for it—thus a purely symbolic use of state-sponsored death, and to what end?
As Catholic Democrats, in solidarity with our Bishops, we will stand ardently opposed to those who seek to kill a few convicts as a balm for the collective guilt over violence in our society. We will search for ways to fight abortion that actually prevent abortion, without further dividing our society over the question. We will fight efforts to impoverish the elderly by cutting their Social Security. We will seek new solutions to care for those with illness as Jesus urged us to do, and to protect our environment. We will fight to end the holocaust of preventable disease in the developing world. And we will tell truth to power as Mr. Bush seeks to install the apologists for his killing and torture in Iraq in new positions of authority in our government.
A voice cries out in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord. What other choice do we have? Fortunately, God has given us the gift of one another, and a deep-seated call to answer.