Panel discusses politics and the common good
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 17:11
“Is it furthering the common good?”
That was the question of the night Thursday at the Texas Faith Public Forum, “Elections and the Common Good.”
Moderated by William McKenzie of The Dallas Morning News, the panel of six local leaders from faith and political communities sat before a crowd and shared their hopes forthis year’s fast-approaching presidential elections.
“The purpose of the election is to choose the individual who…will promote the general welfare, the common good.” William B. Lawrence, dean of the Perkins School of Theology, said.
He began his speech by focusing in on the Constitution, speaking on its “mandate to foster common good.”
It’s something he felt the country’s political teams have failed to do.
“We focus not on common good, but rather the ‘private bad,” Lawrence said.
Both campaigns thus far have included several personal attacks on the opponent—most notably Romney’s personal finances and Obama’s birth place. Lawrence said that petty attacks such as these “need to be set aside so we can actually focus” on the real issues.
Mike Ghouse, president of the Foundation for Pluralism, said these personal attacks are partially brought on by the public itself.
“It’s very tempting for the candidates to pick on small things. I think they’re doing it because we tune into that.” Ghouse said.
Gordon K. Wright, local attorney and a North Texas leader of the Church of Latter-day Saints, echoed the need for the candidates to dig deeper into what the country really needs. He said neither party can continue to skirt around issues out of fear of losing a certain voting group.
“Of course the questions are hard questions. They’re supposed to be hard questions.” Wright said.
Wright also explained the immense opportunities for Americans to become educated with each election. But he says it takes more than merely observing and voting—the real benefit comes from being engaged throughout the process.
Wright said that this election especially provides “a way for the common good to be increased” because it “allows for ideas to be exchanged”—thus, the common good of the country is increased by the people themselves.
“People who participate in elections tend to do better in our society.”
It’s the idea of the common good that writer and producer Katie Sherrod said creates the two political sides.
“It’s about two different visions of the common good.” Sherrod said. “That choice between being independent on or dependent from the government is a decision that overall “affects the lives of countless people around the world.”
She believed that complete independence from the government is no longer a viable option in today’s world—people live with the promise of fresh water, a right to education, available food sources, and more — according to Sherod.
This is not to say that America relies directly on the government. Rather, Sherrod asserted that America is dependent within its community.
“We are interdependent, and interdependence requires some public rules. This is the government.” Sherrod said.
All panelists tied their points back to the necessity of an active society.
Wright said, “If we’re going to address real issues, then I think we have to…get to a point where society [asks those questions].”