Yesterday I remarked to somebody…

…who was rebuking me for voting my conscience and not getting on board with either Rmoney or the One and darkly warning of the sinister effects if more Catholics vote their conscience instead of being good Party lackeys:

The problem with the electorate is not that too many people are voting their conscience.  The way we got to where we are right now is that conscience is seldom considered and expediency and winning are the primary goals.  Romney looks like he is fixing to actually manage to lose this election to a president conservatives keep telling themselves is “the worst president in the history of the US”–during a lousy economy, after gratuitous assaults on religious liberty, due process and civil right and a bungled foreign policy.  If Romney manages to lose to this guy, the takeaway conservatives *should* have is not “It was a vast left wing conspiracy” or “Shea brought us down with his mighty blog of a handful of readers”.  It should be “How in hell have we so corrupted our message that even now nobody voted for it?  Why are we losing so badly in the marketplace of ideas if our message really is what makes for human flourishing?”  That a moral void like Mitt Romney is the very very best we could come up with is an indictment, not of Obama, but of us.  The sooner we Catholics face that and stop acting as slaves and lapdogs of the GOP establishment, the better.

Today, Daniel Nichols sums up the basic blunder that the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism has made: choosing Mammon, Mars and Might over authentic Catholic conservatism just as the Left has chosen novelty and perversion over authentic Catholic growth and development.  The day will come when nemesis will visit the the hubris of the Left as it is currently visiting the hubris of the right.  But our task is to learn our lesson and seek first the kingdom, rather than the hollowed out expediency and cynicism that currently dominates our political discourse even within the Church.  We have the Holy Spirit and therefore the capacity for real renewal.  Let us search and try our ways and turn again to the Lord.

"I would agree. There has always been a large gap between our self image and ..."

All that Happened at the Border ..."
"Chile, 1980. Women disappeared. United States, 2018. Children disappeared. And the junta knows where they ..."

All that Happened at the Border ..."
"Evil is evil. Enjoy your word games."

The Umpteenth Iteration of “You Made ..."
"Why is the notion of moral trajectory unCatholic? Do you equate civilization with history?BTW the ..."

The Umpteenth Iteration of “You Made ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Kirt Higdon

    While I’m fully in agreement with the importance of forming a conscience in accord with the teachings of the Church in matters of public as well as private life, a couple of minor side points. The election was always and still is Obama’s to lose. The incumbent has the edge and usually wins a second term. This was never a gimme for Romney. Of more importance, the thing that used to be conservatism was never very compatible with Catholic teaching. At best it was and still is just johnny-come-lately liberalism. Post WWII American conservatism was pretty much the invention of William F. Buckley, Jr., whose dismissive quip “Mater si, Magister no” in response to Blessed John XXIII’s encyclical Mater et Magister showed clearly what that CIA bonesman thought of Catholic social teaching. Pre-WWII, there never was an American conservative movement as such. Post WWI European conservatism consists mainly of Toryism, Christian democracy, and the more moderate versions of nationalism. In practice it’s indistinguishable from European social democracy.

    • Tom

      Garry Wills said that, I believe, not Buckley, and he’s written all sorts of wacky stuff. Buckley, on the other hand, wrote God and Man at Yale and Nearer My God: An Autobiography of Faith.

      • sjay

        Garry Wills said it in conversation with Buckley, who then used it in the National Review. The two had close political views at the time and Wills was employed by Buckley at NR.

  • EMS

    “In practice it’s indistinguishable from European social democracy.” Which is why we NEED the US Christian Democratic Party whose candidate I’m voting for.

    • Balin

      I checked out the US Christian Democratic Party and I found Joe Shriner. Thanks for the tip.

      • Balin

        That should be Joe Schriner. He’s easier to find when his name is spelled right.

  • Carbon Monoxide

    “Shea brought us down with his mighty blog of a handful of readers”. — that HAD to have hurt.

  • David Kendall

    I’m holding my nose and voting Romney in this swing state. It’s not the same as voting in Washington

  • Melanie

    Here’s a question: Is a Catholic or Christian morally obligated to vote in an election of which the outcome has been manipulated and/or rigged and/or the candidates are owned/sponsored by the same immoral sources? Are we obligated to vote based on rhetoric on not based on deeds?

    They hold elections in Cuba and Venezuela and many other countries in order to give the illusion of “democracy” and “freedom” but it doesn’t take much of an effort to see it’s just a show sponsored by the status quo. When people show up to vote in an election that is an obvious fraud, I wonder, does that help the cause of freedom and democracy or hurt it?

  • Melanie

    Here’s another thought: As Catholics who have a moral obligation to participate in civil government to enact change, if the entire system is corrupt, do we then have an obligation to try and *change* that system to something that is honest so that we can *then* affect good change?

    Did anyone notice the shenanigans that happened at the Republican National Convention this year in order to prevent any discussion or protest of Romney’s candidacy? The new rules which gave the final death blow to the conservative grassroots voters? I mean, going on and on about “voting” like it’s so important when the whole system is a joke, is a little unproductive.

    Those who refuse to examine the status quo and ignore the obvious corruption (on both sides)… but proudly wear their “I Voted” stickers on election day, I wonder, are they the ones shirking their duty as Christians and Catholics?

    • ChrisKABA

      Yes, I noticed that RNC nonsense.

      The message there was “Don’t dispute what your masters have decided is best for you. Sit down, shut up, and don’t try to even suggest an alternative to what we’re shoving down your throat.”

      That right there told me that the GOP doesn’t care how I vote unless it directly stops their quest for ultimate power.

    • Ted Seeber

      I’m in a state where we have 3 weeks to vote and no stickers, I’ll be getting my ballot soon.

      The only hope I think we have at all is this: The Church survived the Fall of Rome, The Church will Survive the Fall of America. If Nero’s Lions couldn’t scare us away, what makes you think Obama’s fines based on a largely mythical superstition of a currency can harm us? Or Romney’s goons breaking up the Unions for that matter?

  • The problem is not Romney, or even Obama. There are approximately 90,000 governments in the United States of America. They all need better oversight. In terms of real world impact, I do not believe that it is the federal government’s impact on the poor that is the worst. I believe that zoning, overdoing it on building codes, business regulation, etc. are on your average day all collectively keeping the poor down worse than the federal component. It’s quite likely that next year there’s going to be an off year election for most of your US readers. The year after that will be mid terms, etc. We have a new shot to improve things every year.

  • ChrisKABA


    The “message” has been twisted from “Freedom”, into “Fearful aggression while making sure our corporate masters extract ever more wealth from us peons.”

    Romney embodies this new “conservative” message, while the “One” embodies a variant: “Feel good about yourselves while making sure our corporate masters extract ever more wealth from us peons.”

    If the choice is to be slaves in fear or in blissful ignorance, apparently the majority would prefer to feel good while they slave away…

    Swing state or no swing state, I’m voting my conscience because there is no “lesser evil”, the difference is simply in the cheap dollar-store wrapping paper around the evil box.

  • Rosemarie


    Has anyone seen this?

    Bishop Paprocki Warns of ‘Intrinsic Evils’ in Democratic Platform

    He doesn’t exactly endorse Romney but he does state that he doesn’t see any support of intrinsic evils or grievous sin in the GOP platform, unlike the Democrat one. Does he maybe have a point?

    • ChrisKABA

      I haven’t bothered to look at the GOP platform in years. Not since it became apparent that the only time the GOP bothers with it is to pretend to care about the things it mentions come election time.

      If it was actually followed, then yes, Paprocki might have the beginnings of a point…

    • Melanie

      “Have you ever met anybody who read the party platform? I’ve not met ever anybody.”
      -House Speaker John Boehner

      The party platform is for you and not for the politicians. It might mean something if Republicans were required to adhere to it, right?

  • Ray Rechtin

    Mr. Shea; You are correct that Conservatives in general and the Republicans in particular should be ashamed that “Mitt Romney” is the best that we can do. It was my thought exactly long before the primary in my state of Kentucky rolled around and it was all over but the shouting. I voted anyway and I did not vote for Romney. It was my “protest’ vote. But the stakes in the general election are much too high for a “protest” vote. If Obama wins a second term, I believe as many other Americans do that the gloves will come off. The HHS Mandate will look like small potatoes compared to what will be upon us. I do not want a repeat of Mexico in the 1920’s. Remember, our beloved legislators have already given the executive branch too much power. The Patriot Act was not enough, they had to add the NDAA. That is way too much power for a narcissistic Marxist-Socialist to resist.
    What am I looking for from Romney? Not a whole lot, just hopefully to hold the status quo until Catholics and like minded other Christians can get together to start a true grass roots third party. If a Republican dominated House could pass the NDAA without removing the most egregious elements, we have a lot of work to do. The Tea Party may have been a step in the right direction but since they refused to take a stand on any of the life issues, that movement was morally bankrupt from the outset.
    I am hoping to buy time. If Romney wins, and I mean “IF”, the work is not done. It is not even a beginning. It only buys time for people to wake up. Your are correct. Romney’s nomination should have been a wake-up call to the nation, but we are so morally anesthetized in this country that most people have not a clue what is upon them. They are more concerned about creature comforts and pensions than any other issue. We can no longer see a cause greater than ourselves. We can only see ourselves.
    I have seen the stark, cold capitalism of venture capitalists and corporate raiders up front an personal. I should hate them, but I do not. I pitty them. Romney and his ilk do not scare me. A committed ideologue with an agenda does.
    I am left to decide, would I rather live in a country where the Catholic Church and its message are ignored by the government or one in which the Catholic Church is openly and aggressively attacked. Do I want to live in a country where concerned citizens still have the right to organize and attempt to change the culture by peaceful protests, by writing blogs, by speaking out and by forming grass roots political parties that hopefully elect value centered candidates, or do I want to live in a country where every single “right” granted to us in our constitution is taken away. I must decide, do I walk away from the fray (as I walked away from the corporate world with its decent, if not good pay, its paid holidays, sick days, vacations, medical insurance, etc., etc. to become self-employed) and cast my vote for a candidate who has no chance to win. Or do I stay in this fight and get myself dirty and vote for someone for whom I have little respect but in all probability will slow the tide long enough for people like yourself to truly make an impact.
    Mr Shea, do not belittle your own impact. Do not under estimate the affects of each and every action. Words and actions have consequences We look at the world and say “What can I do? My actions mean nothing.”
    Mr Shea, an action, and a vote is an action, is like a pebble thrown into a still pond. It sends out ripples in all directions, and they impact objects and ripple back. And human actions not only ripple in this age and time, they ripple down through the years, from generation to generation. We are at a critical moment in our nations history and indeed in the history of our western culture. We did not get here by accident. We got here because average Americans did not want to get themselves dirty in an arena as filthy as politics. We can throw away our vote and throw away our future. Or we can vote to stem the tide and then get busy changing the future. The choice is still ours. It might not be for much longer.

    • Melanie

      Here’s the thing, Romney single-handedly provided for the Plan B mandate in Catholic hospitals in Mass. Pro-lifers in Mass consider him a huge traitor and enemy. Do you really trust him to protect the Church now? Maybe it’s worth the risk, maybe not. But he’s also beating the Iran war drums pretty damn heavily – more so than Obama. Unjust war and the bombing of innocents is a grave evil as well – especially against a country that has not attacked another in 100 years. Romney supports the Patriot Act and the NDAA, too. (But those are non-issues for most Conservative voters anyway.) Listen, it’s not a coincidence that we have to candidates that are practically the same in deed and marginally different in rhetoric. Special interests have goals in mind for our country and they have enough money and influence to make it happen no matter if there’s a D or an R in office.

      • Blog Goliard

        “…especially against a country that has not attacked another in 100 years.”

        You mean Iran, the country that’s been at war with us since 1979?

        C’mon people…just because you (rightly) don’t want war, doesn’t mean you have to whistle past the fact that the Iranian regime is extremely dangerous and is our mortal enemy.

        • I don’t think that war with Iran is a good idea either but the idea that they haven’t attacked anyone in 100 years is laughable. Perhaps they haven’t ventured abroad with tanks and planes but Iran is the top sponsor for groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, etc.

          • Melanie

            “Venturing abroad with tanks and planes” is what I’m talking about.

            Blowback for our meddlings in their country is a whole other issue and can easily be prevented by, hmm, let’s see, not meddling with their country any longer.

        • Leo

          “You mean Iran, the country that’s been at war with us since 1979?”
          1979. That was the year they finally overthrew the puppet government that we put in place by sponsoring a coup to overthrow their democratically elected government in 1953, right?

          Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran. All of the problems that we’ve had in that part of the world are of our own making. 60 years of one failed policy after another creating more and more problems.

          They don’t hate us because we’re free. They hate us because we keep meddling in their lives.

          • Blog Goliard

            Noam Chomsky? Is that you?

          • Melanie

            If another government overthrew our democratically elected leader because he wouldn’t cowtow to our private oil interests, that might anger a few people around here and they may not forget about it for long while. I am always amused and saddened at the same time how little we try to learn about our interventionist history in Middle Eastern countries.

            • Blog Goliard

              The clerics were fiercely opposed to Mossadegh. To the extent that we were responsible for his overthrow, the Khomenist faction were our co-conspirators. (Not that that is of much concern to those whose first question, whenever faced with a geopolitical disaster, is always “How is America to blame for this?”)

              And would it have been better to stand back and do nothing as the Tudeh led Iran into the arms of the Soviets?

              Now, it is true enough that the Shah did wind up enraging Khomeni, when he gave women the vote in 1964. Maybe we should apologize for not anticipating that he would take his liberalizing, modernizing project (which was ambitious, even if it was obscured by repression once his rule came under grave threat in the 1970s) that far?

  • Scott

    The reason that Romney can’t seem to pull away from Obama is that we may have already lost the country to the entitlement mentality. Why do you think it is in Obama’s best interest to have 47 million people on food stamps and a huge welfare state? People are equating getting stuff with Obama and Romney would be a threat to that. If Obama can turn that base out in large enough numbers he wins and we lose the country.

  • Didn’t realize new posts came on the weekends. Here are my quick thoughts. First, voting your conscience can come in a variety of ways. There is no obvious way that real Catholics who really love Jesus will vote.

    Second, we should ask if our system is so corrupt as to be beyond hope or not. If so, then trying an alternative would certainly be justified, if not recommended. But is it really beyond hope as it is? The two parties I mean. Are they beyond hope? Is the corruption that much of a forgone conclusion, or is there something folks could do within the system – realizing that no real alternative is without the same problems as the dreaded two party system.

    Third, the deplorable candidacy of Romney. Why does the GOP get such crappy nominations? I don’t know. It’s easy to say because the big money folks want it that way. But really, could it be more? Maybe the good folks don’t want to try, or wouldn’t make it anyway. Let’s be honest, if you are a GOP candidate, you’re going to get reamed up the tailpipe by the media. The country is in trouble we say? You’d never know it watching or reading most national media sources. A few bumps in the road, but we owe our salvation to Obama. Meanwhile if Romney (or any GOP candidate) so much as burps, they’re running three weeks of exploratory investigations and specials.

    Think of Ron Paul – since I know there are many Paul fans here. Think of what the media did to him. Typically they either ignore him, or they love the guy since he’s a Republican who spends much of his time trashing Republicans. Like McCain before him, many seem quite fond of him for this. But going into Iowa, for a brief moment, it looked as though Paul might, just might, get the Caucuses. And what happened then? Suddenly some obscure newsletter from decades before became the focus as Paul had to dodge question after question, suggesting his ties to the Nazis, his Antisemitism, does he have idols of Hitler, and so on. It pissed him off, and rightly so. But it also snagged and snarled his campaign when they could have moved forward. When he fell behind, where did those stories go?

    So that’s what any GOP candidate must endure – the gauntlet. Add to that the ‘thing that used to be conservatism’s” tendency for the circular firing squad. I’ve never cared for that label personally. Since I was old enough to pay attention, this was the thing always known as conservatism. By the time I was old enough, conservatism was defined in our culture as Frank Burns, Archie Bunker, Alex Keaton, the Duke Brothers – those were conservatives: ready to nuke babies for the American way and screw the poor for Wall Street.

    I also noticed that there were some conservatives who lived up to those stereotypes. There were others who didn’t. But there was an uneasy alliance. Maybe it was just me, but most I knew who voted GOP in the 90s didn’t think ‘wow, these guys care so much for Christian/religious/pro-life issues.’ They knew there were plenty who didn’t. Many who opposed such things. But there was an uneasy alliance because they saw this global revolution alternately named liberal, or progressive, or the Left as a greater threat. Whatever happened during the 00s to break the alliance, I don’t know. But the idea that suddenly the conservative movement changed? I don’t think so. Not because of this or that or Protestant mega-churches. I have a feeling it was growing hostility by those who paint the national narrative, with a few changes for the worst (the most notable being some conservatives officially willing to utilize torture) causing many to bail.

    So those are my thoughts as I get ready for some coffee. By now I doubt anyone will come back until tomorrow, but it got things off my chest.

  • Mike Walsh

    Some philosopher or theologian –Aquinas? I forget. — once said “You can’t always get what you want.” The fact is that the GOP –that messy, human, institution– is still a broad enough tent to include genuine pro-life members, and people of faith, while the Democrats have exiled them. Furthermore, “What Conservatism Used to Be” often included a whopping great dollop of anti-Semitism, justification for torture, and other unseemly things. If Obama is re-elected, the Supreme Court will almost certainly acquire an anti-religious, left-wing majority. All that is ever left of the kingdoms of this world is their dust. Meanwhile, we can make the best of what we have, in stead of whining about what we haven’t, while always bearing in mind that our true home is not here.

    • I wouldn’t be so sure on the Supreme Court anti-religious majority. Left-wing, sure, but the Hosanna-Tabor decision was 9-0 and shot down the Obama Administrations argument quite forcefully so I think even the ‘liberal’ Supremes, including both Obama appointees, are not likely to be anti-religious. That, I think, is ultimately where the HHS Mandate will fall because I really don’t think a President Romney will seriously address the issue (particularly after the actions of Governor Romney) regardless of what he says or doesn’t say between now and election day.

      Trying to vote based on supposed Supreme Court picks failed under Bush 1, almost failed under Bush 2 and it’s a pretty poor argument that it will be successful under Romney.

      • Blog Goliard

        Well, Democratic presidents have been batting 1.000 on nominating Justices who will pay no heed to the original intent of the Constitution or to judicial restraint (except when either or both of these principles will help prop up the ideologically-correct decision).

        Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II each gave us at least one solid pick. So their record is lousy…but still better. And, considering that if we lose the rule of law we lose our Republic no matter who’s in control of the other branches, this is a titanically important consideration.

      • sjay

        Hosanna-Tabor was initiated by the Bush Administration; the Obama Administration merely continued the case.

    • Blog Goliard

      According to Mark’s current temperament and views, I’m quite sure he would have anathematized the thing that conservatism was then, with just as much rigor as the “thing that used to be conservatism” now. No major political party or Presidential nominee that has ever been in existence in America could possibly escape the INTRINSIC EVIL tag if it were applied as unstintingly as it is here against Romney/Ryan.

      That’s not to argue that he shouldn’t apply it that way (even if I think Mark sometimes goes out of his way to interpret politicians’ words and deeds uncharitably). There’s a long noble tradition of Americans opting out of the political process for various ethical reasons (and yes, casting a Presidential vote for any person who is not on at least 270 electoral votes’ worth of ballots counts as opting out). But let’s not pretend that most of those opting out would have chosen otherwise, if only…if only one of the parties had nominated someone else, if only one of the parties was that much better thing it used to be in our nostalgic imaginations, if only our age were not so uniquely wicked…

      The “if only”s are just window dressing. They seek to reassure a person that he is not turning his back on mainstream American politics under any and all conceivable circumstances…but only for now, because things are so bad this election. (A curious echo of that THE MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION EVER thing, no?)

      Yet the situation in this election is the same as it ever was: both nominees are lousy and represent parties that are home to plenty of corruption. Nonetheless, there is clear disagreement on several critical issues, which makes one candidate clearly less lousy than the other for most Americans, and so they will vote for whichever one that is. This describes the choice that Americans have been presented in nearly every Presidential election we’ve ever had, and the way the vast majority of Americans have handled that choice. If you walk away from that choice, that is of course your right…but it says more about you than it does about this year’s election.

      Which, for you, may be a good thing! I offer no judgment on that. I only know that, personally, when I’ve walked away from the major-party Presidential choice in the past, what that has said about me is that I’m too proud, think myself too superior to my fellow citizens in intelligence, and am too prone to live in fantasy worlds of imagined politics instead of the real political world as it is. Your mileage may vary…and in fact I very much hope it does.

      • ivan_the_mad

        “and yes, casting a Presidential vote for any person who is not on at least 270 electoral votes’ worth of ballots counts as opting out” No, it counts as a vote for whoever that person is. Just because you don’t care for the decision doesn’t change the fact that it’s a vote.

        “I offer no judgment on that” Yeah, right.

        • Blog Goliard

          No person who is on fewer than 270 electoral votes can win the Presidency, even in the event that a hundred million Americans wake up on Election Day and decide to vote for that person.

          So voting for anyone other than Obama, Romney, Johnson, or Stein is opting out. That’s not a judgment; it’s a statement of fact.

          A judgment would be more along the lines of something I’ve said before, in reference to my own options: “I fail to see how writing in Virgil Goode would be any less self-indulgent than writing in my own name.” And I still fail to see it, which is one reason why I shall not be doing so.

          • ivan_the_mad

            I’m pretty sure that opting out means choosing not to participate in something. Voting for somebody who is on fewer than 270 electoral votes is not the same as choosing not to participate in the election. Abstention is closer in meaning to opting out.

      • Irenist

        “No major political party or Presidential nominee that has ever been in existence in America could possibly escape the INTRINSIC EVIL tag if it were applied as unstintingly as it is here against Romney/Ryan.”
        Hmm. Lincoln/Johnson 1864? I think Mark would’ve supported that ticket.

        • Mark Shea

          What’s wrong with Calvin Coolidge? 🙂

          Seriously though, I’d be curious to see some documentation on this claim that everybody all the time always advocates grave intrinsic evil throughout American history. I’m not buying it.

          • Irenist

            Oh, no intrinsic evils with Coolidge, either, IIRC. I just wanted to avoid any discussion of whether tolerating slavery involved intrinsic evil (it did: lots of torture along with assaults on the dignity of marriage like selling a man’s wife and children away from him, as happened to the slave Henry “Box” Brown, who later wrote about it), so I picked the first candidacy after the Emancipation Proclamation. (Yes, fellow Shea minions, I know it didn’t free the slaves in the North; no, I don’t want to talk about it.)
            If we’re going to try to find candidacies that didn’t advocate intrinsic evils, I think we’d be reasonably safe between, say, 1920 (when the anti-abortion agitation that began in earnest in the 1860’s had done its work and abortion was illegal in just about every state, the savage tortures of the Philippine-American War had ended, the media had come out against the use of “the third degree” of interrogation by local police departments in the U.S., and the 1920 passage of the Nineteenth Amendment had put behind us incidents like the torture of suffragist Lucy Burns for protesting at the Wilson White House) and 1932 (prior to the Dresden bombings, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the winking at the use of torture by Cold War allies, the bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War, and the Roe decision). So far as I know, none of the presidents–northern Republicans all–in that period supported the lynchings in the South, which I suppose are arguably torture. The one problem with the period from 1920-1941 would be U.S. interventions in Latin America–the Banana Wars, the Occupation of Haiti, and so forth. Whether any torture occurred during those I don’t know, although I’d presume it did. Whether any of Harding, Coolidge, or Hoover were complicit in it, I don’t know. I doubt they were advocating for it on the campaign trail, though.

        • Blog Goliard

          I find it hard to imagine that Mark would have supported the pro-war ticket in 1864. A more pro-death ticket, more hazardous to our civil liberties, is hard to imagine. (Whether or not you believe the right side won the war is surely beside the point…isn’t that just consequentialism?)

          More broadly, Mark, what I’m saying is that whether it’s war, torture, abortion, capital punishment, eugenics, racism, slavery, anti-Catholicism…if you’re looking for an OMG INTRINSIC EVIL deal-breaker, I can find you one for every single man who’s ever been elected President or nominated by a major party, going back to and including George Washington.

          Especially if we’re allowed to count insincerity, duplicity, and even ineffectiveness in pursuing a stated goal (e.g. “he says he’s against abortion, but he hasn’t done/won’t do a thing to actually stop it”).

          I don’t believe Romney’s a very good nominee, and I hold out little hope that a Romney Administration would make things much better. But at the same time, I think you’re constantly searching for ever more reasons to despise him, to the point where you effortlessly tune out contrary information, and don’t even see it when you’re being unfairly uncharitable. And I think if you took that approach consistently across the entirety of American history, yes, you would hate absolutely everybody always. Including Calvin Coolidge.

          • Mark Shea

            I don’t think that war, capital punishment, or anti-Catholicism are deal breakers. And I don’t even hate Obama, much less Romney. I just think them wretched candidates.

          • Irenist

            “A more pro-death ticket, more hazardous to our civil liberties, is hard to imagine.”
            Blog Goliard, neither war nor violations of habeas corpus are *intrinsic* evils. Neither, as Edward Feser has pointed out, is capital punishment. All Mark seems to be looking for is a candidate who supports neither abortion nor torture nor any other *intrinsic* evil. Of course you can say that every candidate for the Presidency has *sinned*, since neither Our Lord nor Our Lady has ever been a candidate for the Presidency! But Mark isn’t looking for a sinless candidate, just one that doesn’t advocate intrinsic evil. By conflating all evil with “OMG intrinsic evil!” you are attacking a strawman. That’s unlike you, Blog Goliard.

  • “That a moral void like Mitt Romney is the very very best we could come up with is an indictment, not of Obama, but of us. The sooner we Catholics face that and stop acting as slaves and lapdogs of the GOP establishment, the better.”

    Very well said. We have lost the moral high ground because we gave ourselves to a party that never saw us as anything more than useful pawns. Until we demand that our votes be earned by candidates who actually represent the positions we hold dear, then we will be stuck with pathetic choices like the ones we have this November.

  • MattyD

    “Why are we losing so badly in the marketplace of ideas if our message really is what makes for human flourishing?”
    Because the Thing That Used to Be Conservatism does NOT make for human flourishing. And a majority of voters recognize this.

  • unironic

    I could make good use of the NDAA and the like before dismantling those powers, as I probably wouldn’t trust anybody else to do so – no offense to the present company.

  • Ray Rechtin

    “The country is in trouble we say? You’d never know it watching or reading most national media sources. A few bumps in the road, but we owe our salvation to Obama. ” We are in for a long rough ride no matter who wins, except that we just will hear more doom and gloom from the media if Romney wins.
    Economists who have looked at economic plans of both candidates say that the Republican plan only slows the speed of the train, but does not avoid the train wreck. Meaning we will have more time to prepare under Romney than under Obama. Great news.!!
    The real issue is the House and Senate. That is where a third party can have the most impact no matter who controls the White House. Of concern to many is that for the past 15 to 20 years Congress has abdicated their responsibility and authority either to the Executive Branch or to the Judiciary. With a third party in the House and Senate, you do not have to have a 50% majority, just enough seats to force both parties to deal with you. A moderate, values driven, pro-life party might very well pull sitting congressmen from both parties. Until very recently, the Speaker of the House was the 2nd most powerful person in Washington. He usually held more sway than the Vice President.
    Also: “especially against a country that has not attacked another in 100 years.” Attacking another country’s embassy and holding its representatives hostage is an act of war. I am hesitant to call for immediate aggressive action against Iran, but we are dealing with a rogue nation that has little use for international law, much less respect for their own citizens. International sanctions will only work if the international community can agree. Russia refuses to co-operate for what ever reasons. China feels it is in their best interest to keep us absorbed with Iran rather than pay attention to what they are doing. Besides, China needs the oil Iran supplies them. Meanwhile we are playing into Iran’s hand by refusing to develop energy resources here that will alleviate our need for foreign oil and thus lessening world pressures and that allows Iran to play us off against China.
    There are ways to “cut off the head of the snake” but the more we delay in addressing the real war in the middle east, the less alternatives we will have. The real war is an oil war. We don’t want to produce it here and they don’t mind taking our money. Meanwhile, our money funds their extremism. Boy we are brilliant. It all reminds me of a quote from Vladimir Lenin, “The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them.” There is nothing new under the sun.

  • Merkn

    I think your expectations for a presidential candidate are entirely unrealistic. The mainstream national parties will never nominate someone entirely to your liking. But I agree with your stand. If you feel Romney is too far gone to vote for, you should not vote for him. My own view is he will be Bush III in terms of spending and social issues. He won’t be as bad as the incumbent but I certainly can’t criticize someone who will not vote for him. This “wasted vote” argument is a lot of nonsense. We can’t control outcomes. We try our best. We make an informed decision. We do the best we can. Sometimes things have to get bad before they get better.

  • They hold elections in Cuba and Venezuela and many other countries in order to give the illusion of “democracy” and “freedom” but it doesn’t take much of an effort to see it’s just a show sponsored by the status quo. When people show up to vote in an election that is an obvious fraud, I wonder, does that help the cause of freedom and democracy or hurt it?

    It is important to realize that ALL universal-suffrage democracy is like this. Voting in a modern democracy is a fundamentally liturgical act, a pinch of incense for the god liberalism, an expression of fealty to the regime by faithful liberals.

    • Try Saudi Arabia or Communist China, then you don’t have to worry about such things.

      • Yes, because only the god liberalism, the Messiah, can save you from tyranny; and it is never, never a tyrant itself.

        • Again, there’s nothing holding you back from moving to Saudi Arabia, Communist China, or a host of nations where such things as democracy burden the devout Catholic.

          • I am always puzzled that people find solace in that retort.

            • It’s not a retort. It’s a very simple way of gaining perspective. Live in a nation with no liberal values for a while, and suddenly those back home don’t seem nearly as bad. Just like working in the mission field among the truly destitute and poverty-ridden helps put a lower middle class income in perspective.

              • Whose perspective? Try living in the womb.

              • I mean, if we are going to beg the question of “perspective” then I can choose to be an aristocrat under monarchy, right?

                How about apples to apples: the poor working in the fields versus the dehumanized in the womb and under the bombs.

      • Communism, by the way, is just Stage Four liberalism metasticized. Communist elections are as meaningful as ours, for the same reasons.

        • And your experience living in a Communist regime brought you to that conclusion when? How long did you live in such an environment before you came to that conclusion?

          • Reading Marx is (among other things) what led me to the conclusion that Communism is just an advanced form of liberalism, actually.

            • It might be, but doesn’t have to be, any more than having free will means we must always sin. Liberalism that goes to crap is simply national version of people who use free will to go to crap. It puts the burden on the people, rather than the alternative of having no choice.

              • The fact that alternatives to liberalism are inconceivable is interesting. And yes, cancer can sometime be cured — by getting rid of it.

                • Of course there are alternatives, all of which could just as easily fall into some order of temptation toward an evil end. If folks have an alternative, it’s always worth listening to. But liberalism itself could, and has, shown to have benefits over the historic approaches. The modern American tendency to look back at the good old days of monarchy and inherited power usually goes to show the average modern American has long forgotten that freedom is not just another word for nothing left to lose.

                  • I thinks liberalism’s achievements are uniquely evil and vicious, and that this is manifest even in the crudest measures, such as body count.

                    • Well, it isn’t as if other approaches have been any better. The question is, what are the alternatives? What are the prices to be paid? Are the uniquely evils of liberalism inherent to liberalism, and not the greatest saints together could thwart them? Or are their benefits that, if properly guided, could outweigh bads that need not happen?

                    • Just about every other approach has been less bad, by orders of magnitude. The murders of feminism and Communism, the population bombings celebrated by “good” people, the nearly complete and pervasive moral debasement of culture … on pretty much every objective measure of its actual fruits, liberalism has been an unmitigated disaster straight from the pits of Hell.

                      I am of course discussing actual liberalism, in actual reality. I realize that most liberals hold to a mystical idea of liberalism which would have turned out differently if only, if only, if only.

                      Frankly, liberals have had their shot. They have pretty much owned all respectable political thought for the last few centuries, and we can see around us what that gets us: literally thousands of infants chopped to pieces by their own mothers every single day, technocratic consequentialism justifying the mass murder of civilians in war, the complete and utter destruction of family and marriage … I mean, the list is too long to even begin constructing it adequately.

                      By their fruits ye shall know them, and if liberalism isn’t literally begotten in Hell then nothing is.

                    • I’m not saying bad hasn’t happen, but let’s not hold to an idealized version of anything else either. Or lets not do to liberalism what is sometimes done to Christianity (if it happened in Christian culture, it’s due to Christianity). Are all of those horrors the result of liberalism? Did they never happen before? That’s the thing. When one can point to Holy Scripture and find cases of asking God that the brains of my enemy’s children be dashed on the rocks, can we really argue that it’s that rascally liberal ideal that caused the celebrated bombings (assuming that everyone did celebrate such things)?

                      Of course it, like anything tried by humanity, has had its bad points. But we better think, and I mean think damn hard, before we throw it out the window, baby, bathwater, and all. Because once we do, it won’t be like getting a bad haircut. If we change our mind, it won’t just grow back. So while I acknowledge the problems, I’m not sure any alternative will turn out better than an attempt to fix what we have at hand.

                    • Are all of those horrors the result of liberalism?


                      Did they never happen before?

                      No, not like this. Who is like unto the Beast, and who can fight against him?

                    • You’ve not studied Asian history? Try the history of the Asian subcontinent. Or the history of pre-Colombian central America. Or even what we are discovering in pre-exploration Africa. Heck the Middle Ages. To the same degree? Of course not. Industrialization and scientific breakthroughs increased the body count, as did the growth in population – more people, more to kill. And of course liberalism, like anything, has found humanity able to warp and twist any potential to the worst evil, rather than utilize it to the greater good. That might be the legacy, that liberalism shows no matter how promising the theory, once humanity gets its mangy paws on something, it’s doomed to be used for darkness. But to argue that liberalism is by default a source of evil doomed to Communist tyranny is to look at the cup, not half full, but missing entirely. Compared to the alternatives yet presented, it at least allows people the freedom to sin or do good, rather than oppress them to the whims and fancies of those who control their lives and enslave their wills. At worst, it will end up that way, but the truth is, it doesn’t have to.

                      Oh and please, please, please don’t take my defenses of what liberalism could have been as anything that is meant to cover up the pits to which it has descended today. I don’t look at our country today and say ‘wow, that just proves all that this whole democratic liberal experiment could achieve.’ My argument is that, despite what we see, it could have gone differently…and still can.

                  • And by the way, it is pretty telling that conceding the mass murder of the born and unborn, physical and spiritual annihilation on an unprecedented scale, is characterized as “acknowledg[ing] problems”.

                    At precisely what count of bodies and moral atrocities do we get to acknowledge that these aren’t mere “problems”?

                    I really tend to think the moniker I gave to Vox Nova a few years back – Debate Club at Auschwitz – applies very broadly to our society. But heck, we’ve got iPhones and Applebee’s so its all good.

                    And our public democratic rituals are designed to reinforce this.

    • Blog Goliard

      Good grief. Just because you’re not blind to modern liberal democracy’s faults, doesn’t mean you have to be blind to its virtues either.

      If you have trouble seeing the difference between voting in America and voting in Venezuela, you’re being willfully obtuse.

      • Or, quite possibly, the one is simply a more degenerate version of the same thing. Both share the same basic nature even though they look superficially different, like the difference between stage 2 cancer and stage 4 cancer.

      • Melanie

        The differences between Venezuela and our government are shrinking daily. I remember spending time in Panama recently and seeing all the Venezuelans at Immigration fleeing Chavez’s power grab of private property, etc. Ironically, sometime later, our president signed an executive order giving himself the power to seize all private companies, property, etc. during a “state of emergency” – an emergency that would be defined and declared by the president. (Anyone else keeping up with all those executive orders?) Throw in the Patriot Act, our private prisons, indefinite detention of citizens, recent monetary controls, the loss of habeas corpus, military drones used in neighborhoods, the arrests and release of people protesting the government, and so on, and you’ve got a beautiful foundation for a dictatorship.

        My grandmother’s family escaped Germany before the Nazi clamp-down, and my in-laws barley escaped Cuba under Castro’s take-over — my father-in-law with a court date set as a result of being arrested for protesting Castro on a college campus. When you talk to people who have experienced the closing of a free society, it doesn’t happen the way you think it does. The majority of the people stay in denial until it’s too late. That’s just the way it goes.

  • brian

    “How in hell have we so corrupted our message that even now nobody voted for it?”

    That will indeed be the salient question in the wake of an RR loss should it occur.