Historic turnover within the State Legislature presents both an opportunity and responsibility to make an impression on a new cohort of lawmakers. All 201 seats in the Minnesota Legislature are up for election this year. Minnesota Catholics must take advantage of this opportunity to transform the Legislature into a lawmaking body that places the common good over partisan rancor. Filling that tall order begins by forming our consciences and informing ourselves about the candidates who seek to represent us.
This year, there are more candidates than usual to get to know. Redistricting following the 2020 census has led to 51 retirements in the House and Senate—the largest turnover since 1972. Many legislators were no longer going to be representing their current communities, while others decided they did not want to challenge a current colleague for their new district seat.
Many of the August 9 primaries pit an incumbent against a newcomer who often represents positions that are further to the left or right than their predecessor. This deeper entrenchment along party lines creates the potential for a very polarized Legislature in 2023.
These partisan dynamics and the opportunity to engage a Legislature full of new faces is a calling for Catholics to build relationships that help advance the common good.
Fortunately, we are given a rich tradition of Catholic social teachings that are centered on creating the conditions for all to thrive. As Pope Francis has said, “good Catholics meddle in politics by offering the best of themselves.” Therefore, we have a responsibility to engage with those who are seeking leadership roles in our democracy but must do so as principled, faithful citizens— that is, the “best of ourselves”— rather than as partisans.
Minnesota Catholic Conference’s election resource page is chock-full of everything you need to get to know the principles of our faith and learn how to meet and get to know your candidates.
You can download a free candidate questionnaire that addresses many issues currently impacting life, dignity, and the common good here in Minnesota. You can then mail or email these questions to your candidates or even just keep the questions in mind for when your local candidates come by knocking on your door.
Another great way to get to know your candidates and to help your neighbors is to host a town hall at your parish. We have created a do-it-yourself townhall kit that will step you through everything you need to know.
Those striving to represent us must first know that we are present and why we propose what we do, grounded in principles reflective of the way God ordered us as persons and our proper relation to others and creation. We must take this opportunity to ask the questions that can help us get to know the candidates, and perhaps more importantly, we can help them understand why Catholics stand for life, dignity, and the common good.
Find all your election resources at www.MnCatholic.org/ElectionResources.