Here's my response to Fr. Giussani's challenge not to be a presence and not merely react to the agenda which the political experts present us with.
The right and duty of parents to educate their own children is critical for building a healthy society. Along with this duty is the duty of the church to educate people in the Christian faith. The authority of parents and the church must be fostered for society to be free.
I watched the Democratic debate Thursday on CNN and was disturbed to see presidential candidates talking about the role of the national government in education. Public education has historically been a concern of the states in this country, and I would be disappointed to see this powerful instrument become even more a tool of centralized propaganda. Subsidiarity counsels us to keep education free by keeping it local.
"Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition of all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination" (Pope John Paul II, 1988, Christifideles Laici (The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World) , n.38).
Who is a prolife politician? Similar to Sharon, I question the uses of the prolife position by cynical politicians. How many conservative politicians have loudly proclaimed their opposition to abortion as a moral issue? Meanwhile, their campaign managers ensure that the public knows that their wives support abortion. Protecting human life at all stages is typically construed as a primarily moral issue, meaning that its supporters have already accepted its marginalization as a matter of private morality. I'll believe in those prolife politicians whose position includes not only morality but also the social justice of defending human life.
On the other side of the aisle, I'll take social justice politicians seriously when they admit that life is the basis of any other rights that they would advance, like healthcare, etc.
Realism vs. Ideology
I'm concerned about the ideological divisions in this country, in which partisans filter everything exclusively through their prejudices. In September 2007, General Petraeus testified before Congress about the progress of the Iraq war. It disturbed me to hear several politicians framing questions not to elicit information, but to push their own points. In a world of quickly changing events, a leader must have the capacity and willingness to look at what happens and to listen to those who have seen. Leaders must critically sift this information, but first they must look at it. As the burden on the chief executive increases, we must also look at those people around the candidates. Who will they be influence by? Is their network mainly realistic or ideological?