Glendon: economic, cultural concerns make 2012 election historic

Prof Mary Ann Glendon former US Ambassador to the Holy See Credit Harvard Law Record CC BY 20 CNA US Catholic News 5 29 12 Prof. Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. | Harvard Law Record (CC BY 2.0)

Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, believes that the 2012 presidential election will be a historic crossroads for the United States.

"I think this may be the most important election in many, many years, and the reasons for saying that are both economic and cultural," she told CNA on Aug. 24.

Glendon says American voters face a choice between a Democratic Party that is "very devoted to and willing to give priority to what I would call the 'lifestyle liberties,'" and a Republican Party that is more supportive of "the family and the small institutions of civil society and religion."

As a grandmother of six, she also worries that the current level of government debt "is going to impose a burden on the next generation and the generation after that," such that, "contrary to the American dream our children will not have a better life than we have had."

Her analysis has led the respected professor at Harvard Law School to accept the co-chairmanship of the Catholics for Romney group.

And yet, when it comes to the American electorate, she rejects the concept of a Catholic voting bloc.

"There is nobody here but us Americans, including the Catholics, and this election is going to be a very close election. The population is divided, families are divided; it's like the Civil War when some wore blue and some wore grey and (they) were often brothers."

A former Democrat who left the party over its stance on life issues, Glendon is now a registered Independent. She explained that she has never joined the Republican Party because some sections within it have failed to "place a high enough priority on our need to be responsive to the needs of the poorest people in our society."

With this in mind, she welcomes the addition of Catholic Congressman Paul Ryan to the Republican presidential ticket.

"Ryan is best known in the United States for his ability to articulate complex economic issues in a clear, understandable and, here is where Catholic social thought comes in, a humane way."

Her greatest fears, however, are about what another four years of President Obama being in office will do to both the economy and culture of the United States.

"The current administration will regularly subordinate rights relating to human life, rights relating to religious freedom, to their agenda items on the gay rights agenda and the abortion rights agenda," she stated.

The issue of religious liberty is of particular interest to Glendon. She was recently appointed Vice-Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

She is concerned that the Obama administration has downplayed "its statutory commitment towards promoting international religious freedom" because it comes into conflict "with a major foreign policy priority of the U.S. State Department, which is the promotion of the gay rights agenda."

Given that a second-term president "would not be concerned about being re-elected," Glendon fears that "these trends might become stronger" if Obama is returned to the White House in November.

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