It is possible to think different

How can you argue with the testimony of Catwoman?

I find Ron Paul the youngest thinking of all the candidates. Young people don’t carry the baggage of years of careless decision making. Many of us didn’t like Romney’s rise to power and prestige on the backs of workers, all the time further disenfranchising the powerless, the underdog. Nor are we happy with Obama who saved his skin at the expense of the entire middle class by not standing firm and tough against the avaricious gamblers in our financial markets.

I like Ron Paul because he changes my mind about things, makes me think in ways I haven’t before. I confess he’s even able to change my long-ago made-up mind about abortion. Now that’s moving a mountain. He shows me there’s perhaps a better way to think about the unthinkable.

Both parties sicken the daylights out of most of us. But I could tolerate a man who has such a refreshing sense of right and wrong, rule of law.

You don’t *have* to vote for the two wholly owned hairballs our system has barfed up for you to rubber stamp. You can vote for whoever you want.

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  • And piss away your vote. Voting for a third party is an act in futility.

    • Huh. Voting for one of the two major parties is an act of futility.

      • Chris M

        not to mention insanity (trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results)

      • You can look at your voting decisions in one of three ways.

        (a) You can decide that one particular political party fits 70 to 80% of your views and you support that party while trying to get it to shift on the 20 to 30% you don’t agree with.

        (b) You can decide election by election, candidate by candidate, which of the two people of the parties running best fits your views and you vote for him/her.

        (C) You can make a protest vote and vote against the two major party candidates.

        Options A or B are viable options in having your vote count and shaping the country. Each have their pluses and minuses, which I won’t get into. Option C is only meaningful if at most the protest vote reaches 5%. Usually the protest vote doesn’t even reach 2%. Neither of the parties, winners or losers look at such a protest vote as meaningful or significant. You have no voice in shaping the direction of the polis.

        If you make such a protest vote knowingly, then it’s an act of self centered egotism. It may make you feel good, but you did nothing. Sort of like masterbation.

        • Mark Shea

          Or you can realize that in a national election, the principal difference your vote makes is how it affects your soul, not how it affects the outcome of the election. The amazing thing is that a Catholic can say that not wanting to support grave intrinsic evil is “self-centered egoism”. The “come with us for fellowship” argument is a popular one, but still unpersuasive.

          • I’ve noticed Mark that you have to have the absolute. Well, the perfect is the enemy of the good. Instead of working to fix what you disagree, you say a plague on both your houses in what I see is an act of despair. Instead of supporting the 80% you agree with, you work toward nothing and get nothing for your vote. Nothing comes from nothing, as a great man once said.

            • Mark Shea

              And I’ve noticed that this particular rhetorical strategy for intimidation is a favorite with conservatives who place party over principle:

              • I have no strategy. I couldn’t care less if you piss away your vote. If anything you’re just as likely to vote for a Democrat as a Republican. I’m engaging the validity of your theme here: “It is possible to think different.”

                But the facts remain the same. Think differnet all you want. You’re vote is meaningless, based on self centered sort of act of despair. In essence you haven’t worked to the greater good.

                • Mark Shea

                  Obviously you do care or you wouldn’t be writing. Your main mistake is in thinking your vote *will* make a difference to the outcome of a national election. You may as well imagine that if you snap your fingers it will be heard in Beijing.

                  Your vote will not make any difference to the outcome of the election. All it will really affect is whether one more member of the electorate is willing to say yes to grave evil or not. Some think they have proportionial reason to do so and it’s not my job to judge them. But, as your rhetoric shows, you *do* think it your job to judge me try to strong arm and bully me into supporting your choice to support grave evil by accusing me of being self-centered, egotistical, etc. I’m not telling anybody how to vote, nor am I sitting in judgment of souls. You sound uncommonly like somebody who has appointed yourself the judge of the souls of those who disagree with you. If you think that is sound politics or morals, you’re doing wrong.

                  • How am I strong arming you? What’s the point of your blog? Do you want dissenting opinion to your blogs or do you just want to hear the choir substantiate your thoughts? The reason I responded extensively here is that cynacism irks me. Everything you’ve written is pure cynacism, and that’s a sister to despair.

                    Obviously you don’t want your ideas challenged. Obvioulsy you want to preach to the choir. I guess that makes you feel good. You can have the last word. It’s your blog.

                    • Mark Shea

                      Egotist? Masturbation? No rhetorical strong-arming here.

              • bob

                I can’t try intimidation, just reflect family history. My grandfather was an earnest puritan Methodist minister who voted for the Prohibitionist candidate for many years. His grown children eventually convinced him he was throwing away his vote when he was in his 50’s. They simply asked when was the last time a Prohibitionist candidate ever won anything or even came close? Same with a third party man now.

            • Andy, Bad Person

              I’ve noticed Mark that you have to have the absolute.

              If by “absolute” you mean “not intrinsically evil,” then guilty as charged.

              Well, the perfect is the enemy of the good.

              Um, evil is the enemy of the good.

            • If there was a party or candidate that I agreed with on 80% of basic moral principles, I’d vote for that party or candidate in a heartbeat.

              I honestly don’t care at all about particular policy decisions – I freely admit how ignorant I am of political science and economics, and I’m happy to let wiser minds guide me there.

              But I do know a thing or two about morality. I don’t see any reason to trust, much less support with a vote, someone who shows nothing but contempt for the moral priniciples I believe to be both true and vital to the common good. Yet these contemptable choices are the only ones allowed the status of “electablility.”

              I’m tempted not to vote at all; but voting QTP has at least some miniscule theoretical possibility of doing practical good, while moping in my tent like Achilles is guaranteed to do no good.

          • I wholeheartedly agree. I REFUSE TO VOTE FOR INTRINSIC EVIL (which unquestionably includes abortion, but is not unquestionably limited thereto)!

            Pax et bonum,
            Keith Töpfer

        • Jared

          First off, in our system, you cannot vote against someone. Secondly, condemning anyone who is happy with neither Obama nor Romney as egotistical is a bit…well, egotistical. You honestly cannot see how someone would not be satisfied with either of these poor excuses for a presidential candidate?

        • I live in Illinois, my one measly vote doesn’t stand up to the 10,000,000 people who will vote for Obama in Chicagoland (the living and the dead). I will vote 3rd, 4th or 5th party. Illinois will give all of its electoral votes to Obama as it is an all or nothing state.

          • Pedantic Classicist

            I am glad that Dr. Eric has brought up his difficulty in living in Illinois, as it brings something I’ve been wanting to ask you, Mark (and everyone). This year will be the first presidential election for which I will be eligible to vote in a truly swing state (you know, like Virginia, Florida, and Ohio; let’s just say I live in one of these three). While I usually agree with Mark on the importance of refusing to choose between bad and worse, the razor-thin margin in this state between the two big candidates gives me pause. Given the electoral college, isn’t the decision of a swing-stater kind of a different animal from, say, Dr. Eric’s? I hadn’t thought so, but now that I’m in a swing state, I’m starting to feel like it’s VERY different.

        • Beadgirl

          Where are you getting this 70-80% bit? I assure you, the views I have in common with either Romney or Obama are nowhere near 75% of my views in total, so option A and B are out. Am I still a self-centered egotist if I vote for someone else?

          And while we are at it, let’s say I do agree with 80% of what a candidate claims to stand for. How bad does that other 20% have to be before I can legitimately not vote for him or her?

          • Jmac

            From the site Mark linked to earlier, I’m 75% in agreement with both Mitt Romney and the Green party candidate, but what that extra 25% consists of is more than enough for them to lose my vote.

    • Dave G.

      The problem with third party is that it’s a catch phrase for a dozen or so different alternatives to the two main parties. It’s a generic protest vote. Since those who don’t like the main parties split among so many other alternatives, no one ‘third party’ has a chance, and won’t unless someone can rally all of those looking for something other than the main parties.

      • So why don’t we start rallying?

        I’m serious: there’s plenty of frustration with both Democrats and Republicans, “independent” voters are the fastest-growing demographic, and Catholic Social Teaching actually provides a coherent set of principles to build a coalition around. Looks like an opportunity to me.

        Heck, if the Tea Party can actually have an impact on politics, why can’t we?

        • vickie

          Precisely Robert, if the Catholic Laity do no stand up and be counted we only have ourselves to blame. It may not have to be blatantly political for everyone. Maybe cultural is more important. Maybe the producers of Bella did more for the Culture of Life than millions of votes for sort-or prolife politicians.

        • Dave G.

          The problem is assuming that the bulk of Catholic laity would rally around any one candidate who isn’t part of the two parties. It also assumes that all of the ‘Catholic Laity’ are on the same boat about a whole host of issues, or that they all think voting even matters. Start looking at it that way, and the grand coalition starts getting smaller and smaller.

          • I’m not talking about Catholic Laity. I’m talking about American citizens.

            I am a Catholic because I believe what the Church teaches is true, not because it applies to Catholics. I think it is possible to show the Natural Law foundations of Catholic Social Teaching in such a way that one need not be a practicing Catholic to understand and accept them. I know from personal experience that there are people from all faith backgrounds who find many, even most, of these teachings compelling.

            Catholics may (hopefully will) take the lead in this, but we must not – *must* not – try to create a “Catholic” party. The faith cannot be confined or limited to a political party, or to a single nation.

            On the other hand, I see no reason to disguise the role of the Church in originating and articulating these principles – so long as it is clear that this is a moral and political platform, not a religious one. Indeed, freedom of religion would have to be one of the prominent planks.

          • vickie

            Not so much rallying around one or another party or a third party candidate. It is how to break out of this song and dance of every four year of this being the “most important election ever” as our culture drifts to destruction. It is about developing spine of my own. When Bonhoeffer stood up for the truth, he didn’t seem to fret over how many people stood with him. I’ve heard that only about 10% of the populace were supp9orters of thee American Revolution. I do think times are coming when we can’t be Good Catholics and comfortable.

    • ivan_the_mad

      Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur.

    • Irenist

      Voting for any party is an act of futility for me: I live in Texas, which isn’t a swing state, so my vote doesn’t matter. That being the case, I perform my civic duty to vote with the intention of “sending a message” by voting for some third party with a well-known issue emphasis that will show up in the returns on election night in a way that a write-in vote won’t. Since Gary Johnson has kept his mouth shut about his doctrinaire-libertarian pro-choice views (he really needs to have a sit-down with Ron Paul on that), and has really emphasized ending narcotics Prohibition (which is slaughtering far more of our fellow Catholics in the land of Our Lady of Guadalupe than the entire American armed forces casualty list in “The War on Terror and Civil Liberties and Muslim civilians and Just War Theory”), I’m leaning toward using my vote to send that message. But “Stubbs 2012” is, of course, not to be counted out just yet….

      • Mark Shea

        Ah. Johnson is pro-choice. Well that one less candidate I need to bother with, which is a plus.

        • Chris M

          Yes, that ruined it for me. Unfortunately the Constitution Party guy seems a bit.. well.. nutty. And not in the fun Ron Paulesque way. More like the “OMGteh3vilM00SLIMS!” way.

          • Irenist

            Yeah. The Constitution Party remains a disappointment.

            • ivan_the_mad

              Yup. Gave them my vote in ’04. Haven’t been able to since then.

        • Irenist

          “Ah. Johnson is pro-choice. Well that one less candidate I need to bother with, which is a plus.”

          A sane response. If I thought Johnson had a chance of getting into office (as opposed to being a vehicle for a protest vote), I’d have to seriously rethink my vote.

  • Matthew

    This is why we nee IRV (instant run-off voting)
    I think this is the best way out of our present mess of two parties that are simply sides of the same coin.

    • Irenist

      IRV is a superb idea for all the offices in the country, including Presidents, Senators, Governors, etc.

      It would also be nice to scrap 2 USC § 2C, the portion of the U.S. Code that bars House districts from electing more than one representative, and allow states big enough to have more than one Congressman to pool all their districts into a single at-wide district with IRV and proportional representation–this would give smaller parties the ability to elect some Congressmen, and make the “people’s House” more like a House of Commons, featuring more views, more fluid coalitions, and less bipartisan zero-sum gridlock. Imagine if there could be, e.g., a “Christian Democrat” party in the House that voted with the G.O.P. on abortion and the Democrats on immigration? I image our bishops would be pleased. The exciting thing about this little-discussed option is that there is no Constitutional barrier in Article I. It’s just 2 USC § 2C, which could be scrapped tomorrow if there was a will for it.

      • Irenist

        Ahem. “At-large” district, not “at-wide.” Going to get more coffee now….

      • Pancho

        “Imagine if there could be, e.g., a “Christian Democrat” party in the House that voted with the G.O.P. on abortion and the Democrats on immigration? I image our bishops would be pleased.”

        Heck I would be pleased. Where do I sign up? (I’d probably vote Distributist too, if it were possible).

        • Irenist

          “(I’d probably vote Distributist too, if it were possible).” Me, too, Pancho; me, too.

          • Pancho

            You know, thinking about this it occurred to me that the situation many of us are in, as far as parties and elections are concerned, points to the failure of Catholic laity in this country over the past 30 to 40 years. Instead of effecting change in either party we have let them transform many of us, leaving the rest with frustrating choices at election time.

            • Pancho

              ps. thank you from me too, Marthe!

        • Marthe Lépine

          For your info: A Different Perspective
          From: Jack Quirk(
          Christian Democratic Party U.S.A.
          Posted: 19 Apr 2012 01:31 AM PDT

          On Mr. Quirk’s blog, A Different Perspective, there are a number of posts, starting with the above one, describing such a party. It might be a good idea to spread this idea through social media. Of course, it is only a suggestion, since I am a citizen of the US northernly neighbour…

        • Marthe Lépine

          PS: I discovered A Different Perspective because Mark once posted a link to it, and I have subscribed to it since. Unfortunately, I am not good enough at technology to add the proper link to this; however, I am sure you can find it if you are interested.

  • Irenist

    BTW: I could not be more grateful to Mark Shea for providing a forum in these posts for those of us Catholics who are trying to think our way through whom to vote for besides the Tyrant and the Tycoon. It’s helpful to read others’ thoughts here, and Mark’s own principled stand is a continuing inspiration to deepen my political thought.

  • ds

    Ron Paul is also a hairball. Won’t be a third party anyway. Of course doesn’t mean vote for Obamney, just choose another candidate.

  • ivan_the_mad

    “Ron Paul is also a hairball.” OH YEAH???? Well, your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberry!!!

    *daily RP trolling quota filled*

    • Now, now ivan_the_mad. It is my experience that ds has a certain expertise in recognizing hairballs, if you get my drift (does ITOTKO ring any bells?).

      Pax et bonum,
      Keith Töpfer

  • vickie

    The lesson here from Dr. Paul is how having a consistent message can persuade people. I saw a clip of him on Jay Leno talking about why he is pro-life. Too many of the right these days define themselves by “Any one but Obama”. That is not a way to build an alternative vision.

    • Irenist

      Couldn’t agree more, Vickie.

  • David

    Good for Julie Newmar! She was great as Catwoman and the devil in that season four Twilight Zone episode.

    To address some of the comments here, I think the wasted vote is voting for one of the two establishment candidates that nobody really likes. Ron Paul may not be the next president, but the revolution is gaining ground.

    Newmar is right about Ron Paul being the youngest thinker of the whole lot of candidates. My view as a fairly young person is to let all the middle aged neocon politicians and blog commenters fight the wars that they start and support. Let Dick Cheney, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and the neo-con Catholic bloggers march over to Iran and fight, and they can bring their families with them. Also, let them pay back the debts they are forcing on us too. And they can bail out banks with their own funds, instead of taxpayers. And, they should immediately voluntarily strip themselves of basic rights, to protect themselves from terrorists, of course. As such, they should buy their own porno-scanner costumes, so we can see at all times that they are free of any bombs. Why not? They should lead by example.

  • Marthe Lépine

    Just a question: I am not a US citizen and don’t know much about your country’s electoral system. But I wonder: Is it possible to write-in the name of someone else than the two official candidates on a ballot (like those people in Alaska did to elect a cat)? If so, I would suggest to start a “social media” campaign in favour of Ron Paul. Who knows? With the Holy Spirit working on the mind of millions of individual people, the results could be surprising… Even if Mr. Paul is not a Catholic himself, it might be worth a try, just for the fun of it.

    • Confederate Papist

      That can be done in some provinces in the USA.

  • Mark S (not for Shea)

    Manny’s Option A only works if you are 1 of 2 (preferably both) things:

    1.) Filthy rich, so that you can buy a candidate. This is the category into which most political backers fall.

    2.) Run for local office yourself and begin affecting the party. A notion which I applaud. But for those of us with children to feed an educate, this is rarely a viable option.

    • In some states (Washington State being one example) one can run for Precinct Committee Officer for any of the political parties. It is the PCOs who essentially run the party between election years. That is far easier to do than you might assume. I am running unopposed on August 7 (the seat was already vacant and no one else filed. As a result the County Chair has already appointed me to serve until the end of the current term and my name won’t even appear on the ballot owing to the absence of an opponent. The time committment is very substantially less than running for a local governmental office, so having to earn a living and feed and educate a family is much less affected.

      Pax et bonum,
      Keith Töpfer

  • vickie

    Another take on the current election is this: Obama has brazenly attacked the Church, and needs to be punished. Vote for Romney even if you spend the entire next four years opposing him.

    • David

      I do fear what Obama will do in his second term, and maybe on election day I will hold my nose, cross myself, splash myself with holy water, and select Romney as a candidate (followed by a thirty minute shower). However, I just can’t stomach admitting that what you suggested is an actual strategy. Our system is broken when we have two losers as candidates. I am sick of supporting the lesser of two evils, or to put it another way, the best of the absolute worst.

      • vickie

        Yes that is my dilemma also with the coming election. Dr. Paul is not a perfect. He is a true statesman in trying to talk about the underlying principles of an issue, not just sound bites. He has my deepest admiration for sticking to his guns all these years in the face of mockery. And because people have come to respect him, hopefully even libertarians will come around on the life issue.

        I realize now that I have to “go and do likewise” but participate as a faithful Catholic. That’s the long term… As for this current election I am stuck. Vote for the politician that I agree with 80% or vote against the Attacker of My Church (but for a very iffy “ally”. )

    • Mark S (not for Shea)

      Nah. Just because you don’t much care for Pilate doesn’t mean you need to jump into bed with Herod. Put not your trust in princes.

      My Catholic conscience won’t allow me to vote for Obama.

      My American patriotism won’t allow me to vote for Romney.

  • Ted Seeber

    After taking that poll earlier, I’m strongly considering voting my pocketbook- for minor candidate Jimmy McMillan of The Rent Is Too Damned High Party:

    He even kinda-sorta agrees with me on my gay marriage dissent- Get your government out of my church, and let men marry shoes in civil ceremonies.

  • Observer

    Why vote for Mr.Paul?

    RonPaul has actually voted during his term (1+.)
    He has consistently stood against legislative mis-use of authority (1+.)
    Not only defends life, is a working man (a doctor) who actually dealt with the problems facing expectant mothers by delivering their babies (1+)
    Defends freedom and aheres to true respect for the dignity of all people (crooked and innocent (1+)
    Is a Christian and upholds justice and law protecting conscience (1+)
    Will work to relieve policing world and reduce draining members of military (and their familiies +1)

    Is he perfect? No. (-1)

  • Anon

    IRV FTW! or at least not having “winner take all” for the election. Instead we should do it like Nebraska. Divide vote by districts of population.

  • Anon

    Also we need to change the electoral college soooooooooo bad….get rid of the extra votes states get regardless of population. That way everyone’s vote counts the same (about, some states will just be really small so their votes will still count more)