In response to Catholics who had pressed concerns about Obama's positions on issues such as abortion, Campbell had responded that the pro-life movement had achieved nothing over the last forty years, while:
At bottom, the behavioral crisis facing this country — as reflected in homelessness, violence, substance abuse, gangs, abortion, family dynamics, and so forth — is a spiritual crisis. It is a function of the failure of the individual to realize intrinsic relationships, e.g., love, compassion, understanding, mercy, etc....Perhaps some will label me as cynical, but I don't think that an eddy of flowery words is all that is needed to cure the host of ills that besets our society. Obama has run a classy and high-minded campaign. I'll certainly give him that. The contrast between his level of discourse and Clinton's is pretty stark. But he is, so far as I can tell, a fairly standard liberal Democrat who simply speaks very well and tends towards the higher-minded variety of rhetoric.
The logic inherent in the atomistic individual leads directly to wide-spread spiritual alienation. This alienation is the root cause of dysfunctional behavior. The formal cause of human behavior is always spiritual....
Watching Obama closely, one can already see such dynamics at work.... there are signs of a new political imperative appearing in the body politic. A new kind of politics is beginning to emerge, one that transcends the narrow and fragmenting dynamics of interest group politics. To be sure, we have been conditioned to believe that interest group politics is all there is. But it is not. There is also a politics that inclines individuals to noble purposes and thereby reduces the fragmentation and atomization of society.
Well and good, but the body politic does not live by rhetoric alone. While it's true that societal ills such as homelessness, violence and family breakdown have a spiritual root, our spirits are not healed simply because we watch on TV as some man in a suit give a speech about hope.
For some in the middle and upper classes who like to follow such things, perhaps it's easy to imagine that simply electing a man who gives speeches that make them glow with excitement will make the world better overnight. However, the concerns of those who really are in desperate straights tend to be much more concrete. Rhetoric may sound good on the TV, but it's less than filling at the dinner table.