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The RoundTable

Electing a Just Society?

…On Elections, Responsibility, and Resistance

Spring 2008


Major Articles

  • Two Minutes and Twenty Years – Mark Chmiel
  • To Vote - Carolyn Griffeth
  • Not to Vote – Eric Anglada
  • Meet Me in Utopia – Annjie Schiefelbein
  • From Where We are to Where We Should Be: Tools, Actions and Ideals for Forging the Path – Jenny Truax
  • An Open Letter to Mark Scheu – Bill Ramsey

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Regular Features

  • Cover – Artwork by John Carroll
  • Why This Issue – John Carroll
  • Centerfold – Catholic Worker Politics: Personalist Action for the Common Good - Teka Childress and Jenny Truax
  • From Abroad – Mozambique – Mary Becker
  • From Little House - Mary Ann McGivern, SL
  • From Karen House – Timmy Cosentino
  • RoundTable Talk – Megan Heeney

Why This Issue:

As it comes time for voting Americans to choose the next “Leader of the Free World,” there seems to be a lot weighing heavy on the minds of the U.S. Media, like whether or not a woman or a black man could (or should) be elected, or which candidate is most in (or out of) touch with the average U.S. citizen. As November nears, though, it seems that coverage of issues will begin to simplify and idealism will begin to fade. A certain cynicism seems to reign over my thoughts, as it seems that presidential candidates will declare Open Season on each other, on credibility, on Terror (with a capital “T” which rhymes with “D” which stands for “depleted uranium”), on Iran, on fair and accountable voting procedures, or on anything that ends up in front of their political spin doctors.


I am lucky, though, and glad to know so many inspiring people who are able to provide hope and offer clarity during these whirlwind months leading up to the election that determines Bush’s successor. Our authors have put forth great effort to discern what is the right path for them, while taking stock of the complexity and breadth of the election issues. How should we vote? Why should we vote? What more can be done? Is casting a ballot a step towards Utopia or sidestepping the major problems?


It is amazing to me the amount of consensus that our authors reach in this issue of the Roundtable, given that not one saw another’s article before turning in his or her work. Howard Zinn, the primacy of love and personalist relationships, utopia, certain criticisms of current American politics, a great deal of story-telling, some practical advice, and of course poetic reminders of what our world could be like.


Mark Chmiel takes us outside the boundaries of “thinkable thought” and the “preferential option for the rich” as it manifests the exceptional destiny of America vs. the unexceptional destiny of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran. Eric Anglada and Carolyn Griffith explore the complexities of trying to stay true to ideals while considering the issue of participation in the dirty mechanics of our

voting system. Annjie Schiefelbein gives us a whimsical description of what a Catholic Worker Utopia could look like (in Nebraska). Annjie’s description of Utopia is then followed by Jenny Truax who lays out a map of how we can get to where we would like to be. Jenny not only gives us a quick refresher on the “Aims and Means,” but a series of tangible, often St. Louis-specific suggestions on living our ideals into reality. Bill Ramsey investigates our relationship to and our responsibility within systems of power. Finally, we hear from a new community member (there are many recently) in “From Karen House”, and we hear from Mozambique in “From Abroad.” I’ll leave you with a whim and a rhyme:


Whose voices could we amplify,

what values could we exemplify,

what future could we ratify,

by our actions in elections

Whose voices are we hearing

as November comes a’nearing,

who’s guiding our projections

as we’re making our selections

As soundbites keep on shrinking,

and in glorious rhetoric we’re sinking,

what major modes of thinking

could aid our autumnal calculations

Dear Reader, keep on reading,

as electoral politics take a beating,

and our authors know what you are needing,

to make your careful evaluations


- John Carroll



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