Obama says road ahead will be tough, asks voters to stick with him
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In accepting the Democratic nomination to retain his seat, President Barack Obama reminded people of progress in his agenda and cautioned that "I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now."
In a Sept. 6 speech closing the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Obama touched on many of the themes of the Catholic bishops' quadrennial document offering Catholics guidance for election decisions. On a handful of points, his positions are in contradiction to those taken by the bishops. But on others, he echoed their stance.
Pictured: U.S. President Barack Obama waves with first lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia, after accepting the U.S Democratic presidential nomination during the final session of Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., Sept. 6. (CNS photo /Jason Reed, Reuters)
Obama wove a theme of "we're all in this together" into outlines of his agenda and a listing of goals accomplished: U.S. troops withdrawn from Iraq and a plan to withdraw from Afghanistan; passage of a health care law; auto industry jobs saved; new fuel consumption standards for cars; doubled use of renewable energy and reduced dependence on foreign fuel; a program to defer deportation for qualified undocumented immigrants; changes in student loans to reduce costs; academic gains at poorly performing schools; and improved relationships abroad, while helping advance human rights and new democracies, while keeping terrorist organizations at bay.
Many of those topics are addressed in "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship" a 45-page discussion of Catholic teaching, how people can be involved in public policy, how church teaching relates to policy issues and what positions the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops takes on those issues.
Some of what Obama cited fits within the goals for public policy included in "Faithful Citizenship." Others are in contradiction to the document's goals.
For instance, the document's section on human life counts avoiding war and promoting peace among the principles Catholics should value. Its sections on social justice and global solidarity raise protection of immigrants, access to education and supporting United Nations peacebuilding efforts as goals that echo some of Obama's list.
But the bishops' document first emphasizes ending abortion, the death penalty and euthanasia in its human life section. The section on family life explains the church's teaching that marriage should be between one man and one woman.
Obama made note of his position supporting the right to "decide who you can marry, or control health care choices that women should be making for themselves." He did not talk more specifically about those themes in his speech, but his administration stopped legally defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
The administration has been battling with the USCCB over provisions of the health care law that would require most employers -- with few religious exemptions -- to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, which the church opposes as an infringement upon religious rights.
Much of Obama's speech dealt with economic issues, emphasizing again and again his opposition to tax cuts for the wealthy, a distinction between his platform and that of his Republican opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.
"I don't believe that another round of tax breaks for millionaires will bring good jobs to our shores or pay down our deficit," he said. "I don't believe that firing teachers or kicking students off financial aid will grow the economy, or help us compete with the scientists and engineers coming out of China."
He put some of his arguments in terms of poverty, one of the major themes of "Faithful Citizenship."
"I refuse to ask middle-class families to give up their deductions for owning a home or raising their kids just to pay for another millionaire's tax cut," he said. "I refuse to ask students to pay more for college, or kick children out of Head Start programs, or eliminate health insurance for millions of Americans who are poor and elderly or disabled -- all so those with the most can pay less. I'm not going along with that."
Throughout, at times citing Scripture and his prayer life, Obama urged voters to stick with him.
"I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now," he said. "Yes, our path is harder, but it leads to a better place. Yes, our road is longer, but we travel it together. We don't turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon, knowing that Providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on earth."
By Patricia Zapor, Catholic News Service