After our initial surprise/joy fades, we would do well to remember that we are the conscience of America. While we elect our politicians with the hope that they will do at least some part of what they have promised us, politics is the art of compromise without looking like you're compromising. Most politicians don't seem to start with well-formed consciences anyway (I point to Ms. Granholm as an example; she might in all sincerity cling to her barbaric and ruthless beliefs, but surely that should be a signal that something is malformed in the conscience.) Many of our supposedly Catholic politicians and leaders seem to have little or no conscience or deep understanding of what the Church teaches and what it means. I was shocked when even Antonin Scalia--a supposedly well-informed, faithful Catholic announced his particular brand of cafeteria Catholicism (if it doesn't look traditional enough to me, I'll reject it.)
We must serve as the consciences of these men and women. Voting is the beginning of communication, but it becomes more and more imperative to continue to keep those lines of communication open. We must communicate and pray. The window is open for a very brief period. Everyone seems focused on things other than the issues most of us voted on. It is time to temporarily redirect their attentions to these issues and to get at least some minor relief in place for the unborn. We cannot rely upon the politicians to remember everything they have told us--the pressures of political life are such that it is nearly impossible. And so through our prayers and our letters, we need to remind them.
A suggestion--get a Mass Card from your favorite Church, Cathedral, or Society, and send it to your representative and/or Senator with a note that indicates that you are praying for them daily. Let them know that part of the electorate (a larger part than will be represented by Mass Cards) is truly Christian and truly concerned about both what is going on in Washington and the people themselves. Politics must be a lonely, ruthless, unpleasant business. People do not seem to be particularly happy--but then addicts generally are not. Most politicians are addicts to the power they have received. Sending them a note that encourages them and lets them know that we are thinking about them in something other than wholly negative terms will be a boost. More, it will keep the issues we are concerned with in their minds.
I suggest a Mass Card because it is something within our tradition that both supports our institutions and offers real help for those to whom we give them. But if it seems inappropriate--if your representative is Jewish or Christian of some other variety, buy a specifically religious greeting card that without apology invokes the name of God and send it. Send several in the course of the year. Let our representatives know from whence come our marching orders.
Perhaps we have too long been asleep. Perhaps it is time to be less apologetic (in both senses of the word) about our faith and more demonstrative of it. The best argument against an Evangelical or Fundamentalist who is seeking to convert Catholics is a life of exemplary faith. Even the most Evangelical or Fundamentalist among us would be hard-pressed to say something bad about Mother Teresa. We, that is all of us Christians, are the light of the world, and sometimes I think we've grown very used to the bushel basket secular society asks us to remain within. Now it is time to break out and to express ourselves not in political terms, but in overtly religious terms. The most important part of this expression is to let the person with whom we communicate know that they are loved, prayed for, and cared for by the God who loves us all. We must function as the well-formed conscience of the nation--we must not simply sit back and complain or make commentary, we must pray, pray, pray and let those in Washington know we are praying. Such an outpouring of prayer will certainly call down the Holy Spirit to convict a few who need conviction and to give courage to a few who need to move forward with the torch.