Last night, when Sister Simone Campbell, the Executive Director of the Roman Catholic Social Justice Organization NETWORK and one of the “nuns on the bus,” addressed the delegates and the American people at the Democratic National Convention, she outlined the sharp contrast that exists between the proposals outlined by Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan and the policies enacted by President Obama’s administration. When one really examines Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s plan for America, people of faith are led to share in her sentiment: we are better than that. The Ryan budget, written by Congressman Ryan and endorsed by Governor Romney, does fail “a basic moral test, because it would harm families living in poverty,” a sentiment shared by Sister Campbell and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. It is supposed to balance our nation’s budget, but proposes to do so on the backs of society’s most vulnerable members. It rejects shared sacrifice and ultimately fails to do what it claims to do: balance the budget.
The Affordable Care Act, signed by President Obama, has expanded healthcare coverage to millions of Americans who otherwise would not have access to affordable, life-saving treatments. It ends discrimination against those with preexisting conditions. It eliminates lifetime caps on coverage, an incredible relief for Americans like Stacy Lihn who have sick children. Romney and Ryan want to repeal the entire act.
In reviewing these two core elements of the Republican ticket’s policy plan, what becomes obvious is that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan fundamentally reject the moral truth that we have obligations to our fellow citizens, especially those members of society who are most vulnerable. The Republican vision dismisses the concept that “we are all in this together” by falsely suggesting that this notion of community threatens our country’s principle values of self-reliance and personal responsibility. But as Sister Campbell said, we are our brother’s keeper, our sister’s keeper. Responsibility extends beyond our own interests and those of our immediate families. We have responsibilities to one another and the common good.
Policy proposals that hurt the poor, ignore the sick, and are specifically designed to further the interests of the wealthy and well-connected cannot be justified and do not reflect our values as Americans, and they certainly do not reflect our values as Catholics. In her speech, Sister Campbell rightly noted that when it comes to the proposals offered by the Romney-Ryan ticket, “we are better than that.” As people of faith, we have little choice but to come to this same realization and we must make every effort to ensure that those charged with the business of leading our country share that same view.