…but this and his comments to Erin, Tom K., and Zippy was not his finest hour.
The simple truth is that the Church calls us to vote to limit evil. It does not demand that we vote for the Lesser of Two Evils candidate. The Church merely says we can vote the lesser of two evils if we can find a proportional reason to do so. It does not command us to do so and leaves it up to our prudence to find other ways to limit evil (such as not voting for candidates who support grave evil at all if our conscience demands it) if that seems best to us. Both prudential judgements are open to us. As I noted yesterday, I can respect those who make the Sucks Less case for Romney as Dale Price does. What amazes me, though, is the absolute contempt some Romney supporters heap on those who, moved by conscience, make a different prudential judgment.
John accuses those who make a different moral calculus than him of a posturing prissy self-regard, as though wishing to avoid mortal sin is selfish. He accuses them of onanism, as though anything but a vote for Romney *is* a mortal sin. But these claims are quite obviously false. In my own blue state of Washington, a vote for Romney is as wasted a vote as a vote for any third party. So why should I not spend my choice on supporting virtue and not supporting somebody I know to be a cynical duplicitous liar with no interest in the things that matter most?Similarly, the reality is that, quite obviously, a desire to avoid mortal sin is not selfish but is attempted virtue that should be commended, not sneered at or treated with contempt.
And that brings me back to the point I’ve been banging away at. John is primarily interested in the effect a vote has on the outcome of the election. I think this is like fretting over the effect an air molecule will have on an imminent train wreck. The principal effect letting the GOP manipulate the prolife movement has had is to make prolifers perpetually willing to sacrifice more and more of their principles to the GOP till, with men like Romney and Scott Brown, we are now hailing as prolife heroes men who transparently view us as useful idiots and who, in Brown’s case, actually celebrate Roe and repudiate us even as they take our votes. It has resulted in things like John’s editorial: a sneer directed at Catholics trying to do their conscience. Result: we now have a prolife movement that spends virtually all its energy telling prolifers who are aware of Romney’s cynical duplicity to shut up (on pain of being called “onanists”) rather than spending its energy telling Romney that if he betrays us there will be hell to pay.
I can respect people who feel forced to make the Sucks Less choice for Romney. It would be nice if such people could extend the same respect to those–like the thoughtful, kind, and good Erin Manning–who cannot, in conscience, vote for either major party.