The theologian Alasdair MacIntyre wrote a piece during the last presidential election entitled The Only Vote Worth Casting in November arguing that not voting for either of two candidate can be a positive moral action. The first paragraph:
When offered a choice between two politically intolerable alternatives, it is important to choose neither. And when that choice is presented in rival arguments and debates that exclude from public consideration any other set of possibilities, it becomes a duty to withdraw from those arguments and debates, so as to resist the imposition of this false choice by those who have arrogated to themselves the power of framing the alternatives. These are propositions which in the abstract may seem to invite easy agreement. But, when they find application to the coming presidential election, they are likely to be rejected out of hand. For it has become an ingrained piece of received wisdom that voting is one mark of a good citizen, not voting a sign of irresponsibility. But the only vote worth casting in November is a vote that no one will be able to cast, a vote against a system that presents one with a choice between Bush’s conservatism and Kerry’s liberalism, those two partners in ideological debate, both of whom need the other as a target.
MacIntyre is coming from that “consistent pro-life” position, maintaining that we need to be pro-life (which disqualified Kerry) AND pro-economic justice (which disqualified Bush). But if all such ideological purists refuse to get into the fray, wouldn’t that just mean that they are standing up for neither?
HT: Rod Dreher