It’s the Big Election Super Fun Pak!

Since I keep getting the same arguments over and over, I’m rounding up my responses into a single super fun pak of replies so I don’t have to keep saying the same things again and again to an assorted and seemingly never-ending onslaught of well-meaning newbies, illiterates, incorrigible unteachables, or Machiavellian slanderers. Here they are, in no particular order. Please click the links under each question for the full reply to your question.

1. Aren’t you really supporting Obama? Admit it!

Although I have no doubt your soul-reading abilities are usually quite acute, in this case I have to point out that you should really read my words to discern my true views on Obama:

Kyle Cupp Gets It

John C. is Perfectly Wright

Dear Obama Voter: This is on you

In Our Name

In short, I will never vote for a pro-abort candidate like Obama. Never. And that includes pro-abort candidates like Romney.

2. Why do you spend so much time talking to faithful conservative Catholics and critiquing Romney if your true agenda is not to elect Obama?

My audience is largely faithful conservative Catholics. Those to whom much is given, much will be required. People who make no pretense of caring what the Church says (like Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden) are not going to tempt my readers to believe their banana oil. But I hear from conservative Catholics every day, telling me I should ignore my conscience because the Republican party says it’s okay to do that in order to win, or claiming that the ends justify the means, or trying to get me to believe that it’s wrong to point out that Romney advocates grave evil since it damages our shot at winning to do so. It is our friends, not our enemies, who convince us to start using drugs, get drunk, and help them rob houses. The Church has always feared temptation to sin from within more than the threat of persecution from without. Do not fear him who has power to destroy the body, but him who has power to destroy the soul. What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul. It is the Thing that Used to be Conservatism, not Obama, that constitutes the greatest danger to my particular readership as it tempts them to do evil for the oh-so-good ends it promises to (someday) deliver. Obama constitutes a grave danger to the readership of the National Catholic Reporter as he tempts that particular subculture to embrace his favorite sins for a good end.

3. By voting third party, you are making the perfect the enemy of the good. We aren’t electing a saint or a Pope. Even Jesus Christ would not be good enough for you!

Thanks for demonstrating how deeply corrupting our politics is on our thought as Catholics. It’s a new moral theory that opposition to grave moral evil is fussy perfectionism.

4. Who says Romney advocates grave moral evil?

Romney does. It is gravely evil to advocate for the deliberate destruction of innocent human life. And his sole contribution to our national discourse so far has been to get a formerly prolife Veep to move from opposing the destruction of all innocent human life to supporting the deliberate destruction of unpopular forms of innocent human life when they threaten Romney’s shot at power–and to get most prolifers to make excuses for that.

5. You are saying that anybody who votes for Romney is a sinner.

No. I’m not. I get that many people feel bound, in conscience, to vote for Romney to limit evil. If that’s what you are doing in voting for Romney you not only are not sinning, you are attempting virtue, which is all the Church asks.

However, many people can’t just rest with the Romney Sucks Less Than Obama argument. Rather, in attempting to construct an argument for their choice, they often (indeed, typically) tend to batten on all sorts of profoundly unCatholic rationales for doing so: everything from ‘It’s okay to do evil for a good end” (a beloved American heresy called “consequentialism”) to sneering at concern over mortal sin as “perfectionism” to actively denouncing the exercise of conscience to deliberately repeating “useful” lies to pretending that Romney is “prolife”.  Not all Romney supporters do these things and (as Dale Price shows) it is possible to simply make the call for Romney as the Sucks Less Than Obama candidate without larding on any bad arguments for doing so.  “I’m trying to limit evil by voting Romney” is a perfectly respectable position.  It’s just not my position.  I’m trying to limit evil by voting for somebody who does not advocate grave intrinsic evil.

6. That’s unrealistic, since your vote won’t change the outcome of the election. A vote for Romney is Realistic because only one of these two can win.

Perhaps you should revisit the concept of Realism.  Reality is that neither my vote nor yours will “change the outcome of the election.”  The impact of your vote on the outcome of a national presidential election will be like the impact of an air molecule on an oncoming train.  Not zero, but utterly negligible. Here in Obama Takes All Washington, a vote for Romney is as wasted as a vote for Chthulu, and without yielding any of the benefits of satisfaction at landing a satirical punch on our stupid political system. (Relax. I’m not voting for Chthulu. We’ll get to that.)

7. I don’t care. Voting is a precious right which people have died for. My vote may be statistically insignificant but exercising my right to vote is truly a proportionate reason for casting it. My vote stands on its own no matter how statistically insignificant it is.

I agree completely.  What matters most in voting is not the impact of your vote on the outcome of the election, but the impact of your vote on the voter–and the accumulated effect of that on the electorate (aka, the common good).  That’s why I’m voting for somebody who will not ask me to be an accomplice to grave intrinsic evil and urging others to do likewise.  My vote and yours is a precious expression of the only thing we have to give in this election: our choice.  I choose not to give my widow’s mite to any candidate who would make me an accomplice to grave intrinsic evil and both major candidates pledge to do exactly that. I refuse. I urge you to do likewise.

8. But voting Third Party is really voting for Obama, except when it’s really voting for Romney. Look at how Perot gave Clinton the election!

Ummmm…. remember just a minute ago when we established that our vote a) will have virtually no impact on the outcome of the election and b) our choice “stands on its own no matter how statistically insignificant it is”?  Now you are back to saying our vote is insignificant when we exercise it on behalf of anybody who is not Mitt Romney.  Or it’s hugely significant because it’s really voting for somebody we’re not voting for.  But it’s not what you just said it is: your own no matter how statistically insignificant.  The notion that our choice is actually for the person we’re supporting and not for somebody else at all is something almost no “realist” is willing to consider even though it is the only actual fact about voting for a Third Party candidate. Instead the “realist” keeps appealing to one of the most enduring fantasies in American politics: the complete and utter myth that Perot stole the election from Bush and gave it to Clinton. Here is reality for Realiists: He didn’t.

Meanwhile, here is what all such arguments are *really* trying to say:

9. Romney has a *right* to your vote. You *owe* it to the party and are depriving him of his rights by denying him your vote!

No. I don’t serve the party any more than I serve the state. Romney is applying for a job from me. I don’t owe him a job and frankly, his resume is lousy and his reputation is as bad as Obama’s. I owe them nothing. They serve us, not we them.

9b. Tom Kreitzberg remarks: The version of #9 that I hear most is, “Romney has a *right* to your vote. You *owe* it to the unborn and are depriving them of their rights by denying him your vote!”

To which a sufficient answer is, “No one will live who would otherwise die, and no one will die who would otherwise live, due to my vote for president.”

10. The Church *commands* us to vote for the lesser of two evils. Not to do so is a sin.

No. She does not and no it is not. The Church tells us to try to limit evil as best we can and leaves it up to us as to how best to do that. Some people (see #4) think voting the lesser of two evils is the best way to do that. Some think that there is no proportional good that justifies cooperation with grave moral evil. Both routes are permitted by the Church. Only one route is permitted by Romney partisans who think somebody died and made them God and able to pronounce on the “sin” of not voting for Romney.

11. You are a vain self-regarding narcissist who keeps his skirts all pure and clean while *real* men do the hard and dirty work of winning elections and achieving real change, even if their candidate isn’t a stainless perfect saint.

Guilty as charged. I am a vain self-regarding narcissist. But the question is, does that personal flaw of mine mean that people have to vote for somebody who advocates grave evil? No. It doesn’t. Meanwhile, doncha wonder, just a little bit, if people who perpetually hold themselves up in contrast to all us “scrupulous purists” and commend themselves for their “courage” in “rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty” by “bravely” endorsing people who are committed to grave sin aren’t also, you know, vain self-regarding narcissists? Perhaps it would be better if we left ad hominem fallacies out of it altogether and just stuck to the main thing: Are we morally bound by the Church to vote for lesser of two evils as the sole approach to limiting evil or are there other ways to limit evil? The answer is “No we are not and yes there are.”

“Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.” – John Quincy Adams, Vain Self-Regarding Narcissist

12. If you can’t tell that Obama is evil and Romney is prolife then you are a moral idiot.

I should have thought that naming Obama an enemy of God was a fairly clear indication of my measure of the man. But that does not magically make Romney “prolife”. To quote Tom Kreitzberg:

Anyone who says that Mitt Romney is pro-life is speaking a material falsehood.

Romney is not pro-life. He is anti-abortion-in-most-cases. To be anti-abortion-in-most-cases is to hold a morally evil position. To be pro-life is to hold a morally good position.

If you can’t tell the difference between good and evil, then you shouldn’t tell Catholics how to vote in the general election.

I’m perfectly aware that Obama is evangelically committed to abortion and crushing religious liberty when it does not conform to his secular vision of pan-pelvic liberation while Romney merely does not care and lies however it suits him to get the votes of prolifers. I am not persuaded that this will practically affect anything in our national political life. Especially since Romney has made very clear that he approves of abortion “for the health of the mother“. What is that code for? Paul Ryan explains:

So when he gets to making SCOTUS appointments, expect this.

Similarly, Romney has just made clear that in a contest between the vote of aging EWTN viewers and other prolife Christians concerned about religious liberty vs. the large and growing demographic of “Sex and the City” female voters in Gen X and Y who expect as a fundamental human right that they get their free contraceptive candy paid for by their employer, Romney will make empty chatter to trick a vote out of trusting Catholics hoping for some relief from Obama’s evil act of tyranny:

…but when the pressure is on he will, in language identical to that of Obama, tell EWTN and related organizations they have no right to stand in the way of Sandra Fluke’s fundamental human right to contraceptive and abortifacient candy and assure Fluke and Co that the Mandate tyranny will continue:

Some people have tried to de-contextualize these remarks to say that Romney is just trying to assure us all that he opposes employers trying to tell their employees they can’t use contraception–as though that is a live issue in the real world that Romney needs to address. No. Romney is not trying to take a brave stand against the rising tide of bosses following their secretaries to the drugstore during the lunch hour and threatening to fire them if they buy birth control with their own money. He is responding in pandering panic to the demographic of “Sex and the City” female voters–the legion of Sandra Flukes out there–whom Obama has just very effectively assured will get free contraceptive candy courtesy of the HHS Mandate. Romney’s remark in context, is this:

“I just note that I don’t believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not, and I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they have contraceptive care or not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.”

This is, I repeat, exactly the same language the Administration uses in telling Catholic employers to knuckle under, deny their consciences, and bend over for the HHS Mandate. Why does Romney do this? Because the audience of EWTN is old and getting smaller, while the audience for HBO, Oprah, and Fifty Shades of Grey is large, young, and growing. So Romney does what he always does: he panders shamelessly about religious liberty to Raymond Arroyo’s audience while pandering shamelessly to Oprah’s audience at the debate. Who will he ultimately side with? Compare the ratings of The World Over with the ratings of Oprah and you will have a hint.

Sure. He *may*, as Dale Price faintly hopes, conclude he has everything to gain and nothing lose by overturning the Mandate. I certainly hope he does. But he did not, at the debate, act that way. He acted like a man terrified by Obama’s advantage with the “Sex and the City” demographic. And why not, since his manifest betrayal of those concerned about religious liberty was met, not with outrage, but with the normal calls for prolifers who can see what he was obviously signaling to be quiet and Stand By Their Man. As long as we are willing to do that, instead of threaten him within an inch of his political life every time he betrays us, he has not a reason in the world to care what we think. But *we* should have a reason in the world to care what we think because such a response to such two-faced behavior once again illustrates that we are not leavening the the politics of our country, it is leavening us.

13. So you *are* saying voting for Romney is evil.

No. I’m saying that refusing to vote for any candidate who advocates grave intrinsic evil is as morally legitimate an option as voting for the Sucks Less candidate in this election. Both are prudential attempts to limit evil and I lean toward thinking that voting for the candidate who rejects all grave intrinsic evil is a better option while recognizing that others may legitimately differ from that view. I further say that attempts by “Sucks Less” advocates to condemn Third Partiers with threats, condemnations, bad logic and abuse only serve to illustrate my main point.

14. And what main point is that?

It is that your vote will not affect the outcome of the election in the slightest, but it will have a great effect on you. I would argue that the reason we are where we are today is that we have conceived of voting almost exclusively in terms of how it influences the struggle for political power and have given almost no thought as to how it changes us. Our politics is geared entirely toward winning elections and actively discourages us from contemplating the words, “What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Because of this the prolife movement is suffering from a ton of mission creep and is in grave danger of the salt losing its savor entirely.

15. But you are talking about wasting your vote!

No. I am saying that however you spend your vote, it is mathematically illiterate to say that a vote spent in a national election makes anything more than a negligible difference to the outcome of the election. Whether I vote for Romney, Obama or Humpty Fratz my vote will have virtually no effect on the outcome of the election. You might as well say an air molecule will stop an oncoming train. Here in Obama Take All Washington, a vote for Romney is as wasted as a vote for Chthulu, and it’s not even fun!

16. Then why vote?

Why pray? God needs your help, opinion, and input even less than Romney does. We vote for the same reason we pray: because our choices matter for a lot of other things than their practical impact on power politics. We vote to serve the common good as best you can. Voting, like work and prayer, does not dignify us. It is dignified by the fact that we do it since we are creatures in the image and likeness of God.

17. Okay. I get that a single vote affects precious little. But since the vote, if not done DUE to the candidate’s support for something intrinsically evil, is NOT formal cooperation but material cooperation, why is it something that could imperil one’s spiritual state?”

A good question. Remote material cooperation doesn’t necessarily imperil one’s spiritual state. However, in my experience, any attempt to move beyond (in, for instance, this election) “Romney sucks slightly less so I will roll the dice and hope he does a slightly less crappy job” typically has involved Catholics embracing all sorts of dangerous nonsense to argue for Their Man. So I am told such falsehoods as “He doesn’t advocate grave intrinsic evil” when he manifestly does. Or I’m told that rejection of mortal sin is “perfectionism” and is even positively sinful. Just this morning a reader was telling me I *must* embrace consequentialism (ie. the notion that good ends justify evil means) in order to WIN. And that is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the corrupting effects conservative political discourse is having on Catholics.

18. Apparently you are too holy to accept that Romney has had a conversion. I hope nobody treats you like that, since you are a convert as well.

Scripture says to bring forth the fruits of repentance. It also says to be wise as a serpent and innocent as a dove. Romney’s fruits have been lies that he governed Massachusetts as a prolifer, despite the obvious fact that he did not. Denial of the past is not “conversion”. This principle also applies to Veeps. A voter tasked with making a prudential judgment is responsible to be aware when faced with evidence that a “convert” is lying about his conversion. Particularly when the “convert” makes abundantly clear that he has absolutely no interest in doing anything serious about abortion.

18.1 But Romney *could* have a conversion! Why do you doubt the power of God?

Note how selective your faith is. Your argument could just as easily be applied to Obama. God *might* work a miracle of conversion in his soul too. But as a general rule, we don’t vote for people with track records of supporting grave evil on the theory that, at some future point, God may work a miracle. We vote for them on the basis of common sense and prudence. Common sense and prudence tell us that Obama is wedded to the sacrament of abortion and that Romney will not lift a finger to change the current regime beyond a couple of token gestures designed to shut prolifers up and buy their spaniel-like support for whatever it is he is really interested in doing, up to and including maintaining the HHS Mandate (think about 2016! We can’t let somebody even worse get elected!), as well as resuming torture, launching a war with Iran, and continuing Obama’s policies of secret, unilateral murder of four year girls in Pakistan.

19. We have to support Romney now. But, once elected, we will hold his feet to the fire. So please stop critizing him and get behind him! He has promised to reinstate Mexico City and defund Planned Parenthood!

If we wink at his manifold betrayals now while he is most vulnerable to pressure, what possible reason is there to suppose we will stand up to him when he has our vote and can safely ignore us? Mexico City and (maybe) defunding PP will be about it. With the silence of prolifers bought by these token gestures, he will then set about commanding our support for what actually interests him, as previous Republicans have done. And we will give it, up to and including zealous support for torture if that’s what the Administration demands. We did it for Bush, we’ll do it again. And this is bearing in mind, of course, that Obama likewise promised to “immediately” sign FOCA (remember the panic on the Right over that?) but still hasn’t gotten to it (thanks be to God). Moral: Pols promise red meat to their base in order to gin up the vote and then, having secured that vote, go do what they actually care about. If you think Romney cares about abortion, I have a bridge to sell you.

19b. A reader notes the weakness in trying to simultaneously pretend Romney is prolife while also regurgitating “we’ll hold his feet to the fire” rhetoric:

If — as so many “conservative” (and, influential I might add) — folks keep *insisting* that Romney Is Pro Life, then why hold anything to the fire, feet or otherwise?

Excellent question. Here’s some more reality for those who imagine silence now will buy anything but more contempt for prolifers from Romney, courtesy of Kyle Cupp:

There’s enough difference between Romney and Obama on abortion policy that pro-life voters, particularly those for whom outlawing abortion is their single, decisive issue, will be lining up for the Republican candidate in a few weeks. This ad

may irk these voters, but it probably won’t lose Romney many votes from among them. Nonetheless, it is kind of a raised middle finger flaunted in their general direction.

Prominent religious leaders, including some Roman Catholic bishops, had given Romney moral support by declaring loudly and publicly that a Catholic could not in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports abortion, considered the “gravest of intrinsic evils.” Romney is now on record approving of the messages that 1) innocent human life is not in fact inviolable because abortion should in some cases be an option and 2) the national debt is of graver importance than abortion. With this ad, Romney has upended the pillars some big name religious pro-life leaders had erected for him. This won’t matter electorally, but it nicely captures the contempt the Romney campaign has for his ardent pro-life supporters.

20. If you don’t plan to vote for Romney, then who will you vote for?

Someone who doesn’t ask ask me to be an accomplice to any grave intrinsic evil. Maybe Virgil Goode. Maybe somebody else like Joe Schriner.

21. But Goode has some problematic policies.

Of course. They all do. But as I am constantly reminded, we mustn’t make the perfect the enemy of the Goode. :) (Thanks! I’m here all week! Try the veal) UPDATE: Upon further research, it appears Goode is yet another member of the Rubber Hose Right who supports the use of torture. So he’s off my list. Alas, the pun on his name was too perfect and is a shame to lose.

22. Isn’t there any hope in our political process?

That’s like asking if there is any creativity in a pen. Hope, in human affairs, lies not in the machines we build (and a political process is a machine) but in the uses we put that machine to. We have, in the American system, a remarkably clever, adaptable, and multi-faceted machine that has survived an awful lot already and may survive a lot more if we treat her right. But the real place hope is won or lost is not in our politics but in our hearts. That’s why I write, since our hearts come from God, not from politics.

23. Why do you talk about politics on your blog? Why don’t you stick to religion?

John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” My interest, as a Catholic writer on the intersection of Catholic faith with culture, is to see that our faith leavens our culture rather than vice versa and my grave concern with our political process has been how little of the former is happening and how much of the latter. Mysteriously to me, many readers seem to be under the impression that our political judgements bear no relation to all the other moral judgments our faith compels us to consider. I am mystified by their confusion and think my political judgements are rather obvious corollaries to and expressions of my faith in Jesus and his Holy Church. I do not, as should be clear from what I have said above, regard my prudential judgments as the only way to do such moral calculus. But I do think it obvious that my moral calculus is inseparable from my faith. So I’m always puzzled when people tell me to “lay off the political stuff” and “get back to stuff related to Catholic teaching”. Everything in heaven and earth is related to Catholic teaching. That’s what Catholic means.

24. What is the single most arresting thing you have read this year concerning the intersection of Catholic faith and our political culture?

“Voting is a specific, personal, concrete act of endorsement of a particular candidate.   When we look at the history of Christendom, there does happen to be a particular kind of act that is very analogous to voting, inasmuch as it involves a personal quasi-sacramental act of personal endorsement.  But I don’t think the example of offering a pinch of incense provides much of a boost to the “you MUST vote for my candidate even though he supports murdering the innocent” shibboleth; because what is notable about such personal endorsements is when Christians refuse to make them.  St. Polycarp’s choice isn’t notable because he offered a pinch of incense to the lesser pagan gods to limit the evil of the greater pagan gods.  So if we are all called to become saints, as the Church teaches that we are, we can add “teach us not to do the saintly thing” to the list of lessons that regular ritualized personal endorsement of evil candidates teaches.” – Zippy Catholic

25. Isn’t there anything you enjoy about the elections?

Sure! Political Humor!

26. Tom Kreitzberg remarks:

My personal favorite is,“What if everyone voted the way you do?”

Um… then the candidates for whom I cast my votes would all win, right? And I’m supposed to think that’s a *bad* thing?

(Of course, more often it’s, “What if enough people voted the way you do that the eviler candidate” — oh, who am I kidding — “that the Democrat wins?” Which is still a funny question, because a) to a first approximation, nobody’s going to vote the way I do (half the time *I* don’t vote the way I do); b) if “make sure the Democrat doesn’t win” were my guiding principle, I’d already be planning to vote — I’d already be campaigning — for the Republican.)

27. You have an obligation to support the best viable candidate!

Here in Washington, that means I have an obligation to support Obama, who is the only viable candidate. This is the apotheosis of what is wrong with the prolife movement abandoning principle and focusing solely on how one’s vote can assist in WINNING! Instead we must be focusing on how one’s vote affects one’s soul. I will not vote for somebody merely because they are “viable” for the same reason I will not concede a man is right in an argument merely because he can beat me up.

28. In a national presidential election, you have to think pragmatically.

Actually, being pragmatic is the one thing you cannot do in a national election. Not “must not”. Cannot. It is literally impossible to cast a pragmatic vote in a presidential election, just as it is impossible to “pragmatically” base your family income on buying lottery tickets.

29. All this is nonsense. If you really wanted to remove yourself from a corrupt, implicitly evil system, you would withold your taxes. It’s much easier and cushier to withold your vote and say, “what a good boy am I!”

I suppose. But since I do not wish to remove myself from my country but reform it, your argument makes no sense.

30. Yes! Finally somebody who I saying what I’m thinking! What Mark Shea is trying to do with these discussions is enormous to for the future of this country. We got to put our hearts together and work to change this government system!

Actually, what I’m trying to do here, as with my vote, is of almost no consequence to the future of this country. But that’s no reason not to do it. God calls us to be faithful, not gigantically influential or successful. Enough puny people, choosing to take their puny widow’s mite and put it in the Temple of God’s treasury and not Caesar’s will not make a mighty army of Judeans capable of overthrowing the power of Rome. But it can, over time, help make an army of saints capable of overthrowing the kingdoms of this world. Don’t think big. Think small, like Chesterton. Small is where it’s at.

31. We have an absolute moral obligation to vote!

Two things. First, as a reader points out, we

have an obligation to be a responsible citizen informed by your faith. But you aren’t required to vote, as the USCCB reminds us:

“When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate”

So it is an urban legend that there is some sort of absolute moral requirement to vote bound upon us by the Church. If you choice is Hitler vs. Stalin you can abstain rather than lend legitimacy to either creep by casting a vote for him. Abstaining might even be the morally best alternative.

That said, in this election I’m not abstaining. Why? Because there are candidates who do not advocate grave intrinsic evil and I want to be able to say to my children, “You don’t have to choose between Hudge and Gudge. You can throw sand in the smooth running of the world’s machine. You can vote your conscience even if you are the only one. And the good news is, you will usually find you are not the only one.”

32. This whole ridiculous line of argument is an utter novelty in the history of the Church. What matters in voting is the common good, not your vain and prissy concerns about how voting impacts the voter’s conscience.

Ahem: “What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”

The common good and the practice of virtue are not, in the Catholic tradition, opposites at war (and still less an occasion for submerging conscience to the needs of the Party) but a natural unity. And the Church is, in fact, clear that conscience has primacy in moral dilemmas about ordering the common good:

“26. Every day human interdependence grows more tightly drawn and spreads by degrees over the whole world. As a result the common good, that is, the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment, today takes on an increasingly universal complexion and consequently involves rights and duties with respect to the whole human race….At the same time, however, there is a growing awareness of the exalted dignity proper to the human person, since he stands above all things, and his rights and duties are universal and inviolable….Hence, the social order and its development must invariably work to the benefit of the human person if the disposition of affairs is to be subordinate to the personal realm and not contrariwise.”

The Party was made for man, not man for the Party.

33. John Zmirak says, “The prudence of voting for this deeply imperfect person INSTEAD OF A PERSECUTOR is obvious.”

Actually, my moral calculus is based in part on the ideas of a man for whose work I  continue to have a high regard: Dr. John Zmirak.  I thought he called it  very accurately when he wrote of the deep corruption our fealty to the GOP has  wrought on conservative Catholics when  he said of Catholics who bent over to make excuses for the GOP:

“This faithful, angry “remnant” would soon find itself in hock to  Republicans disdainful of other Catholic principles – such as just war theory.  When the hype machine that lied America into the Iraq war started churning, it  was all too easy for most of us who’d found our aid and comfort from secular  nationalists and fideistic Protestants to convince ourselves to support the war – if only out of political expedience. “What harm could it do? WMDs or no WMDs,  even if ‘preventive war’ violates some non-infallible encyclical, we’ll give  them their war in return for the next three Supreme Court justices,” I remember  people saying – under their breath.”

And I think the nomination of Mitt Romney and his repellently cynical  treatment of conservative Christians as useful tools (all while signaling his  intention to leave the abortion regime intact, his intention to leave the HHS  Mandate intact, and his intention to launch more unjust wars and reinstitute  torture) is just a continuation, deepening and apotheosis of what John was talking about  there.

John is very concerned about Obama as a persecutor of the  Church and an enemy of God.  So am I.  However, historically speaking,  the great danger the Church has always feared more than persecution from without  is corruption by sin from within.  “Do not fear him who can destroy the  body,” says Jesus, “fear him who can destroy both body and soul in hell.”  Arguing that Romney sucks less than Obama is sound.  Bolstering that argument with sneering claims that fear of mortal sin is “perfectionism” or that  people who have troubled consciences are stupid and should ignore them is not  sound.  It is a laboratory demonstration of what John Zmirak was warning  about when he complained about conservative Catholics suppressing their  tradition in order to meet the needs of the GOP.

34. Yes, yes. You can vote for whoever you want; you live in Washington. But you still have the moral obligation to tell *other* people to vote for Romney because you are such a hugely influential public figure.

While it is always gratifying to vain self-regarding narcissists like me to hear people imagine the enormous power I allegedly have to sway the election, I have to say that I think such assessments are massively overblown. I think I have heard from a handful of people who have, as a result of what I have written, decided to think differently about the act of voting and actually change their vote to somebody they actually want instead of to the guy their party commands them to support. Some of them have been Romney supporters. A few have been Obama people. (So much for “If you vote Third Party you are *really* voting for Obama.”) All I really did for them was put into words thoughts they have already been thinking. I suppose some of those people may be in battleground states, but I still think the math is massively against saying that my impact has been anything other than negligible on the outcome of the election. However, if my impact on a single person is to get them to think about the impact of voting on the voter, then that’s a win as far as I am concerned. The argument “Okay. Go ahead and express your conscience in a vote, but for heaven’s sake don’t express it in words because you might persuade others to vote their conscience” seems to me to be fundamentally tone deaf to the entire point I’m trying to make.

35. I’m not voting for Romney. I’m voting for Ryan. He’s a deeply Catholic man. So I will support Romney even though he advocates grave intrinsic evil because I hope that, in the end, Ryan will be President and he will finally give us the prolife victory in his court appointments.

Several things in reply. The notion “I will cooperate with whatever evils Romney intends to do now so that I can achieve some good end later” has given us, not a staunchly prolife Catholic Veep candidate, but a formerly prolife Veep candidate who has abandon his commitment to the propoosition that it is always wrong to deliberately destroy innocent human life. So he is not a deeply Catholic man. He is a shallowly and conveniently Catholic man whose principal political formation comes, by his own admission, from Ayn Rand, not the Magisterium. Is he a “real Catholic”? Such questions are a foolish waste of time. If he claims the name of Catholic that’s good enough for me. If the Church welcomes him, so do I. But that does not mean I have to pretend he is actually putting faith before political allegiance. He’s not. He has made clear in debates with Biden that he bows to his bosses will and supports the destruction of innocent human life inconvenient to his shot at power. If he does this when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry? When, when he runs in 2020, should Ryan not take exactly the same positions he is taking now and pursue (as he is now) the marginalization and exploitation of prolifers while (as he is now) focusing on the economic matters that so clearly occupy his attention? Ryan is on the ticket in order to create the illusion that Romney cares about prolifers and social conservatives–all while persuading prolifers and conservatives to celebrate the destruction of some innocent life as an “improvement” that justifies ignoring the fact that Romney is exploiting them and manipulating them to support him in what he really cares about. Romney’s *sole* contribution to our national conversation on abortion has been to convert a prolife politician into an advocate of killing a certain class of unpopular innocents. He has had *no* effect on changing Romney.

  • freddy

    Mark,
    Thank you for articulating this so clearly! I’ll be referring to in often in the coming days and asking my voting-age children read it as well. God bless you for doing the hard work!

    (“don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the Goode.” *snicker!*)

    • Michelle

      Seconded! I answer to God first and think if everyone who is voting for Romney because they’re AFRAID not to would pick a better candidate, maybe the pro-life movement could move forward instead of begging at the heels of whomever we get stuck with.

  • Scott W.

    We are told from the Obama camp that a vote for anyone but Obama is really a vote for Romney; in the Romney camp we are told that a vote for anyone but Romney is a vote for Obama. Therefore, the correct answer is either not vote or vote third party thereby voting for both candidates and canceling them out. :D

    • Kristen inDallas

      I think I’m going to post a Craig’s List ad in the next day or two offering a vote trade. I will promise not to vote for Romney in exchange for some jaded liberal in my district promising not to vote for Obama. Then we can each vote however we’d like and still be able to *sleep at night* knowing that we didn’t accidentally just cast a vote for the *wrong guy.* (Snark)

  • Ann

    I don’t think this post has enough information on it….kidding.
    There are two realities you consistently ignore….

    1. We live in a two-party system, winner-takes-all. A third party vote in a presidential election is a vote that might as well be thrown in the garbage. We are not voting for Parliament here.

    Actually, I do take that into account. Here in Obama take all Washington, a vote for Romney is as wasted as a vote for Chthulu.

    2. Some votes are more significant than others…..You live in a state where you can vote for Mickey Mouse, congratulations. A couple hundred votes in Ohio could swing the election this year….such voters have a much higher burden of discernment on their shoulders.

    Read the links at #6.

    • B.E. Ward

      We only live in a two-party system because everyone thinks we live in a two-party system….

      • Italo

        No, we live in a two-party system because our elections are “winner takes all.” If our elections were decided on a proportional system, we’d have a multi-party system. I prefer a multi-party system myself, but as a dual national I get to vote in both systems, although the choice of candidates stinks either way.

    • ChrisKABA

      1) Although plurality voting/”winner takes all” systems tend to reduce the number of political parties, the system itself does not require only 2 contestants who can participate.

      2) It doesn’t matter whether one vote could change the election result. Whether the god king or Willard win, everyone loses.

    • Will

      Yep. We live in a two-party system of Democrats and Whigs. This new-fangled “Republican Party” is clearly a hallucination, since the sacred two-party system can never ever be changed.

      Britain has a two-party system where “every boy and every gel that’s born into this world alive is either a little Liberal or else a little Conservative.” This new-fangled Labour Party is clearly a hallucination. Everyone must ignore it and vote for a Viable Candidate.

      Does the phrase “self-fulfilling prophecy” hold ANY meaning for you?

  • ivan_the_mad

    This is great, a comprehensive refutation of many most much silliness. The constant repetition in the comboxes of #8 and #9 are the ones that have most annoyed me this election season.

    • ivan_the_mad

      Speaking of annoying, I just spammed my friends and family with this gloriousness :D

    • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

      The version of #9 that I hear most is, “Romney has a *right* to your vote. You *owe* it to the unborn and are depriving them of their rights by denying him your vote!”

      To which a sufficient answer is, “No one will live who would otherwise die, and no one will die who would otherwise live, due to my vote for president.”

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    I’ve concluded that the best way to approach the issue is to assume that those voting whatever way are doing so because they actually have given much thought and consideration to the issues at hand. It’s when I start assuming otherwise that the sparks begin to fly, and rightly so.

  • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

    My personal favorite is, “What if everyone voted the way you do?”

    Um… then the candidates for whom I cast my votes would all win, right? And I’m supposed to think that’s a *bad* thing?

    (Of course, more often it’s, “What if enough people voted the way you do that the eviler candidate” — oh, who am I kidding — “that the Democrat wins?” Which is still a funny question, because a) to a first approximation, nobody’s going to vote the way I do (half the time *I* don’t vote the way I do); b) if “make sure the Democrat doesn’t win” were my guiding principle, I’d already be planning to vote — I’d already be campaigning — for the Republican.)

  • Ciaran

    Applauds*

    Excellent article Mark ~ highly informative.

    Ciaran in Ireland.

    • http://tellingitasitisirl.blogspot.com Young Ireland

      Agreed. An excellent article once again. If I had a vote, I would also vote third-party.

  • Josh

    I have a question that I’ve been pondering lately: Is there a heightened danger particularly when discussing politics that we will commit the sins of speech that we are explicitly warned about by Jesus in Matthew 5:21-22? Even if we ourselves do not cross that particular line are we in danger of committing scandal by drawing our brothers across the line of sinful speech if we are not very careful about using our political speech judiciously and charitably?

    • Mark Shea

      Yes.

  • HBanan

    Wow, Mark.

    You must really HATE immigrants! Too bad you don’t realize your own family were immigrants at one point, and that the Church teaches us that we should welcome the stranger.
    Or maybe the truth is that you are just choosing the lesser of multiple evils, like all the rest of us. Goode lucke to your candidate!
    jk. Thanks for putting all your thoughts in one place.

    • Mark Shea

      Yes. I’m voting for Goode because I hate immigrants. And of course, a vote for Goode means that I and all Americans will be forced, by law, to never welcome immigrants. And that is gravely and intrinsically immoral.

      Have a Tina Fey Eyeroll on me.

  • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

    Very well articulated! And how pleased were you to be able to make the good/Goode pun? :>

    • Mark Shea

      It was deeply satisfying, yes.

  • Will

    Bulletin from 1856:
    “You abolitionist perfectionist won’t acknowledge that this ‘Republican’ Fremont is not a serious candidate! By not voting for Fillmore, you are really voting for Buchanan!”

    Does the phrase “self-fulfilling prophecy” mean anything to any of you.

    And again… in New York any vote not for the Democrap is “wasted”. So does this mean I have an obligation to vote for Obama because he is “the only viable candidate” as far as I am concenred? Or forget about voting? Or what?

    Vote Halloran! Send a real heathen to Congress!

    • Elaine S.

      Abolititionist “perfectionists” did not want to vote for Lincoln in 1860 either. He was considered too “soft” on slavery for their taste because he did NOT advocate abolition of slavery in existing slave states; he merely opposed expanding slavery into new territories. Hard-core abolitionists in the Republican Party strongly preferred William Seward and were very disappointed when Lincoln ended up as a compromise nominee. Also, once the Civil War started Lincoln made it very clear that abolishing slavery was secondary — not unimportant, but secondary — to preserving the Union. The Emancipation Proclamation specifically excluded the “border” slave states that stayed in the Union because Lincoln didn’t want to alienate the slave owners in those states and possibly tip them toward joining the Confederacy. Yet he ended up being the president who gets the credit for freeing the slaves.

      • Will

        And how does all this prove the dogma that the two-party system is immutable?

  • Irenist

    Mark, you rightly write that the political process is leavening the Faith, rather than the Faith leavening politics. Sub specie aeternitatis, that is indeed the threat to watch for, and it seems to be worsening every election cycle.

  • Ellen

    I don’t think Romney is “owed” my vote, and I really wish we had a truly pro-life, Catholic-like 3rd party (that would be pro-life AND pr0 helping the poor, since that seems to be people like Biden’s argument-you’re a “Cafeteria Catholic” if you’re not for massive government spending on welfare programs, since the Church says we must take care of the poor, therefore Ryan is just as much out of communion with the Church as Biden and Pelosi are, just for different reasons. I don’t know why fiscally conservative Catholics don’t start using and equivalent of the socially liberal Catholics rational: “I personally believe in government funding to help the poor, but I can’t impose my belief on others, or tell other people what to do with their own money.”). Anywho. I’m voting for Romney, simply because I believe that he will rescind the HHS Mandate, and will likely nominate SCOTUS Justices who will vote agains Roe v. Wade if it comes before them. I don’t think he’s awesome, I don’t think he’s 100% pro-life, but I do think he will do some good, whereas Obama will continue to do more evil.

  • Mercury

    Mark, you don’t say it, but other bloggers either say it outright or strongly hint at it that a vote for Romney is a mortal sin. You also never seem to correct anyone who adamantly proclaims that it is so, or that there are certainly no proportionate reasons. On another post someone said there really are no proportionate reasons ever, but the Church basically has to say there are so they don’t shoot themselves in the foot. This went unchallenged.

    What I do not understand is this: certainly a position of “abortion is okay in some cases” is an evil position. But we live in a country where abortion is easy, cheap, an has NO restrictions whatsoever. Now it seems that in such a climate, “anti-abortion-for-certain-reasons” is not advocating any NEW evil, but actually would severely limit the evil that already exists an would continue to exist otherwise. So could a voter not vote for such a candidate because he believes that candidate will limit evil in some way, without approving of what is allowed? Are people really saying that Catholics can never participate in any incremental reduction of abortion in any way whatsoever – that we HAVE to always vote all-or-nothing or we go to hell? What is wrong with saving what we can and working towards a goal? Don’t we have to work with what we have?

    Let’s imagine a hypothetical candidate who was personally agnostic on the morality of abortion, but fervently intended to have Roe repealed, kicking abortion law back to state legislatures. Would we NEVER be able to vote there either?

    I do not believe Romney is pro-life, but I’d rather see a limited reduction of the evil status quo than its inevitable massive and evangelical expansion. I do not see that as voting for evil – I wish he were better on these issues. I do not see how this is “doing evil so that good may come”, since there will be no NEW evil being done. The only thing the President can do is revoke Mexico City and PP funding, as well as appoint good judges. II think the prospects here are good with Romney.

    I have seen it indicated that I will go to hell for voting for Romney, that I will go to hell for not voting, or for voting for a third party (same as not voting for me, since there is no third party I really believe in).

    The Constitution Party is unavailable in my state, and I don’t know if the other ones are okay or not.

    Am I wrong because I’d rather vote Romeny or not vote instead of voting for te Prohibition Party, who literally want a Fundamentalist theocracy based on the King James Bible? They’re crazy, but do not support any grave evils – just a radical expansion of the death penalty and a harsh stance on immigration. But according to the logic of some I have read, not voting is not an option if there is someone who does not advocate grave evil, then I HAVE to vote for them, even if I severely disagree with them and would rather not vote.

    • Ellen

      This is my rational, too Mercury. Abortion is now legal on demand for all nine months of pregnancy, and Obama believes that children who survive abortions don’t deserve life saving treatment, and he believes Catholics and others who are morally opposed to abortion and contraception should still have to pay for it. Romney won’t be expanding abortion. If by some miracle Roe v. Wade were overturned, and Romney outlawed all abortion except rape, incest and life of the mother, 97% of babies who die from abortion would be allowed to live. But, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with voting for a 3rd party, either, if someone really can’t stomach Romney. I used to think it was ok not to vote, but I’ve been reading things that seem to indicate that morally, we do have an obligation to vote for *somebody*. So I’m not sure about that one anymore.

      • Mercury

        What if the only choice is between Romney, Obama, and the insane fundamentalist Prohibition Party? According to some here, I have an obligation to vote for the Prohibition Party.

        • Ellen

          I don’t know anything about the Prohibition Party, but if they’re fundamentalists, and revere the KJV Bible, wouldn’t they be radically anti-Catholic? (most KJV Only Fundamentalists are) I think then it would be wrong to vote for them, too, just like we wouldn’t vote for someone in the “Sharia Law Party” (hypothetically), just because we know they would never allow same sex marriage, kwim?

          • Mercury

            They advocate no intrinsic evils though …

        • Mark Shea

          Don’t borrow trouble by inventing hypotheticals. Focus on the real world.

          • Mercury

            I’m trying to understand how the principle works and how far it extends. Yes it is hypothetical, but it seems it is being said by some that the Chirch would require us to vote for theocratic fundy Protestants if they were the only option not advocating a grave evil, and that not voting is not an option.

            And in my state (Louisiana) it may not be hypothetical. The only third parties that are not revolutionary leftists are George Wallace’s American Independence Party and the Prohibition party.

        • Irenist

          Mercury, I think the “some here” may include me, since I have certainly said things in that vein about “voting duopoly” that were too stridently phrased. For that, I apologize. FWIW, my take is that if you think, after a careful examination of conscience, that you have proportional reasons to vote for Romney, Obama, Goode, Johnson, Stein, or whomever else, not because of any evil (intrinsic or not) they may support, but despite it and to fend off still worse evil, then it’s hard for me to see where you would be sinning in that case. However, I think Mark’s and Zippy Catholic’s warnings that said examination of conscience must be careful indeed, and that we should not allow the cant of our preferred political tribe to metastasize into a cancer corrupting our view of our Faith, is a prophetic witness we all need to heed.

          • Mercury

            Irenist – I wasn’t thinking of you, and your criticism of the “duopoly” are apt – although it does seem that all multi-party European democracies have been able to do is make themselves irrelevant by handing over their countries to Brussels.

            I have been angry that Romney was the candidate since before he was the candidate. I have no illusions about the hopeless state of the Republican Party. But I also have no illusions that Obama will persecute the Church in every way he can, until it’s out of the public square completely.

            And no matter which way it is explained, I am still convinced that voting for a third party candidate one is not avidly supportive of just because you “gotta vote for someone” is fundamentally the same thing as not voting.

    • Mark Shea

      Merc:

      It is not only not a mortal sin, it is not a sin at all, to vote for Romney (or, by the way, Obama) if your goal is to try to limit evil and not support their gravely evil policies. One may be in error about how one is doing his moral calculus. But one is not sinning if one is trying their best to do good and limit evil. Obviously, I think supporting either candidate *is* doing one’s moral calculus in error. But it’s not my place to say that somebody is committing a mortal sin when they vote–unless they explicitly tell me “I’d doing this because I defy the Cburch’s teaching on abortion torture and other matters of grave sin.” I can’t be responsible for what other people say and I don’t see every comment. Don’t borrow trouble by attributing to me things other people say. Your life will be happier that way.

      • Mercury

        I would never attribute that to you. You have been more than fair in expressing your view and giving others room. I thank you for that.

  • http://abolishhumanabortion.com Ian John Philoponus

    Excellent stuff. We hear all of these very same talking points and inane accusations.
    Glad to read that we have brothers out there holding the same line, standing on the same principles, and refusing to compromise with evil so that good may come.
    Abide in Christ and keep on speaking the truth with love,
    IJP
    Abolish Human Abortion

    • Mercury

      Abolish Human Abortion, but it can never, ever, be done incrementally? All or nothing?

      • Mark Shea

        Of course.

        • Mercury

          Of course it can be done incrementally, or of course it must be all or nothing?

          • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

            I talk about the specifics of a legislator voting for a “three exceptions” law, which you may find pertinent to your question about incremental change, in this post:

            http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/thespians-and-the-hhs-mandate/

            The actual subject of the post is formal cooperation and the HHS mandate; but you may find it useful with respect to questions of incremental approaches. As usual it is based on Church teaching but involves significant reasoning steps of my own which I try to make explicit, so it obviously may contain errors.

            • Mercury

              Very good article, Zippy.

              So, what I don’t get is, if someone wants to vote for a candidate *because of the restrictions* he is putting on abortion and not because of the allowances he makes, and in fact would himself never make such allowances and hopes to eventually have laws which exclude even those allowances, why then do people keep saying it must be all or nothing, and that pro-lifers can never vote for anyone who wants to make these restrictions unless they go all the way?

              I do believe that the snake Romney will at the very least defund PP and reverse the Mexico city policy, and maybe even lead a repeal of the HHS mandate. I also believe the judges he appoints could well be judges who will eventually lead to an overthrow of Roe. I do not like the exceptions Romney makes at all, and I wish he did not, but is a voter in the same situation as a legislator who kows his best shot at limiting abortion is to vote for an imperfect bill?

              “The situation with the good pro-life legislator is that he faces an omnibus choice: he does not support the three exceptions themselves and did not propose them himself, but if voting for the bill results in an overall better state of the law it is acceptable for him to vote for the bill.”

              Does that not apply to voters too?

              • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                Does that not apply to voters too?

                Yes, it does. However (and I think this may answer your other questions, or at least give you my perspective on them) the situation of a voter in a mass-market universal-suffrage national election is fundamentally different from the situation of a legislator in a legislative body. I talk about that basic difference here:

                http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/reconciled-to-the-king/

                • Mercury

                  I see your point. But if I vote third party I will not be voting principle, either, since there is no third party in my state who I really can support (MAYBE the American Independents, but they seem pretty shady right-wing), and even if I did vote for one who I thought was kind of okay, I will STILL be hoping Romney wins on election night, simply because it would mean an end to Obama. I think a Romney presidency will have its pitfalls, but I’d rather live under him than 4 more years of Obama. I will not be able to help but be happy to see the Republicans win.

                  • Mercury

                    Also, if I cannot vote for Romney and cannot vote for Obama, why MUST I vote for some dude who I only kind of approve of just because he doesn’t advocate a grave evil.

                    The ultra-fundy Prohibition Party does not advocate any *intrinsic* evil (maybe more death penalty than Catholics would like), so do I HAVE to vote for them on pain of sin, or can I simply not vote?

                    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                      You may have already seen my answer below. You don’t have to vote for anybody.

          • Mercury

            And if I were in charge of course it would be all or nothing. What I mean is, if one can ONLY get anything done by working with others and must do it incrementally – is that always illicit?

            • Mark Shea

              No. I urge you to read Evangelium Vitae. The Church *typically* works incrementally. She knows we are made of weak stuff. The big enemy of the Church down through most of her history is the rigorist extremist such as the Donatist, who walks over people like you who are struggling to do what is right. That’s why I’m urging you to not listen to the scrupulous rigorist in your head. You’ve got enough on your plate.

              • Mercury

                I think I have it printed somewhere. I think I’m going to sit down and read it on Sunday.

          • Mark Shea

            Of course it can be done incrementally. Evangelium Vitae addresses this.

            • Mercury

              Sorry I misunderstood you. Zippy’s article was a help.

  • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy
  • Mercury

    Also, one thing that bugs me is – when is an intrinsic evil bad enough that it becomes necessary to advocate using government force to stop it? Is it when lives are destroyed and only then?

    What I mean is, we hear that contraception, masturbation, and homosexual acts are gravely and intrinsically evil, yet I do not hear that Catholic must advocate criminalizing these things or be accused of promoting them.

    Other grave evils are likewise able to be tolerated by the law – no Catholic HAS to advocate the criminalization of adultery, fornication, or perverse sex acts. Or a Catholic who pushed for a campaign to relegate pornography back to the gutter (say by making it so that users would have to “opt-in” for Internet pornography) – would he be accused of promoting it? Or a Catholic President who has no position at all on smut – woudl he be advocating it by default?

    So it does seem there is something special about life issues that do not pertain to other evils, even intrinsic ones.

    • Mark Shea

      Do you see the Church pushing for laws in these areas? Then don’t borrow trouble by twisting yourself in knots over them. One thing at a time.

      • Mercury

        Are supposed to eventually be pushing for laws criminalizing masturbation and perverse sex acts? What do you mean one thing at a time?

        I’m asking what the difference is – it is because the life of the innocent is at stake?

        Someone who does not want to criminalize sodomy or adultery is not considered as advocating these grave evils.

        • Mark Shea

          One thing at a time means stop borrowing trouble by imagining yourself bound to pushing for laws that nobody is pushing for, that the Church does not demand, and that only serve to key you up with a fresh load of scruples.

          • Mercury

            I’m not pushing for these rules – no indeed.
            What I am asking is what is the line whereby some intrinsic evils cannot be tolerated ever, and others need not or even probably should not be legislated against?

            Is it the life of the innocent that is the issue? I am personally against sodomy, but I don’t think I’d criminalize it – but how does that make me different from those who are “personally against abortion but don’t want to impose their beliefs on others?” Is it simply because the life of another is at stake?

            • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

              Maybe my reasoning isn’t sophisticated enough, but I do think it is as simple as a life being at stake. The pre-eminent human right, after all, is the right to live.

              On a practical level, it would be utterly impossible to criminalize every action that is a sin, and to enforce those laws and prosecute offenders (and that’s assuming you can get the human, fallen legislators, police officers, and lawyers to agree on what is a sin and what isn’t). And then there is the fact that criminalization is not always the best way to get people to stop sinning. So we need to draw the line somewhere, and again, whether there is a life at stake is a good place to start.

              We are way over-legislated as it is, and our criminal courts are heavily burdened. As Mark implied, we have to have priorities.

              • Mercury

                I think you are right, too, that life is the priority.

                Of course, if we could theoretically criminalize and prosecute every action that is a sin (lets say we had some sort super computer technology), would that be right in the first place?

                • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

                  And spy on married people in their bedrooms, to make sure they’re not doing anything they’re not supposed to? Read the thoughts in everybody’s mind to make sure there’s no dwelling on impure or sinful thoughts? Go to every sick person on Sunday to determine if they are really sick enough to justify staying home from Mass? Forcing people, even non-Catholics, to attend Mass? Monitoring everybody’s speech or emotions to avoid the sin of pride or anger? I’m pretty sure none of this would be right.

                  And wouldn’t it lead to the massive, nanny-state government that conservatives are always complaining about?

                • Mark Shea

                  No. Not every sin should be criminalized, for the reasons Beadgirl gives. It is Calvin’s Geneva, not Rome, that believes in a Christian Police State.

                  • Mercury

                    Of course that is a bad idea.

                    I’m just wondering where the line needs to be drawn. After all, adultery WAS punishable by death in some places, and the medieval countries executed sodomites – even recently, sodomy was a criminal act in most Western countries.

                    I am not at all saying we should go back to that, but just wondering when does it go from legitimate use of government to uphold moral order and protect the innocent to busybody theocracy using the state to do the Church’s job?

                    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                      I’m just wondering where the line needs to be drawn.

                      In general the line needs to be drawn as a matter of prudence. In specific, there is always a bright line at laws or policies which explicitly authorize the murder of the innocent.

            • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

              If you read Evangelium Vitae you’ll discover that laws explicitly authorizing the murder of the innocent have special status here, according to the Magisterium. The foundation of legitimate government authority is the protection of the common good. A government which explicitly in law authorizes the murder of (any category of) innocent people undermines its own authority. Catholics are not permitted to vote for such laws or to participate in any propaganda campaigns in favor of such laws.

              That – direct citation of or indirect reference to Evangelium Vitae – is why you will find the qualifier “policies authorizing the murder of the innocent” or similar language in most of my own writing on this subject.

              • Mercury

                That makes a lot of sense then.

                So a Catholic who doe snot want to criminalize sodomy or adultery, or who even wants to decriminalize an act that was formerly criminalized (such as the above), can be making a prudential decision without being accused of supporting the act in question. Thus, Augustine and Aquinas could say that outlawing prostitution may carry evils of its own.

                But when the issue is innocent life, there is a positive obligation to do all in one’s power to save it, correct?

                • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                  But when the issue is innocent life, there is a positive obligation to do all in one’s power to save it, correct?

                  I think even that may be an overstatement. The basic problem arises when a right to murder is explicitly embodied in law. But you are better off reading EV in its entiriety than having me interpret it.

            • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

              For some olde-timey insight, try Thomas Aquinas:

              Now human law is framed for a number of human beings, the majority of whom are not perfect in virtue. Wherefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain; and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained: thus human law prohibits murder, theft and such like.

              • Mercury

                As always with him, pretty clear!

                Though “more grievous” could mean a lot: theft is probably less serious than sodomy, for instance, and shoplifting is and should be illegal, but fornication is not, and probably should not be, though it seems to be a more grievous sin. Then again I guess it’s tricky to compare sins of different species like that.

        • c matt

          “Intrinsic evil” describes a type of act, not its severity or gravity. In other words, it’s a different category or characteristic from how grave an act is. You can have instrinsic evils that are venial (the “white lie”) or mortal (eg, contraception, prostitution, etc.). Non-intrinsic evils, e.g., acts that are not evil in and of themselves, such as capital punishment or going to war, but that can be evil if done without the right intention/reasons/conditions, may in fact be more grave than an intrinsic evil.

          • c matt

            Think of it as Intrinsic/non-intrinsic = type of fruit (apple or grape)

            Gravity/seriousness = color (red or green).

            So if intrinsic evils are apples, and non-intrinsic evils are grapes, some apples may be red (grave) or green (venial). Same with the grapes.

  • http://pewlady.blogspot.com Kelly Thatcher

    I hadn’t heard #19, but since you have then at *least* some Romney supporters agree that he is *not* pro-life. But since you bring it up, yeah, the time to “hold his feet to the fire” is *now* — not after the election. Of course if — as so many “conservative” (and, influential I might add) — folks keep *insisting* that Romney Is Pro Life, then why hold anything to the fire, feet or otherwise?

  • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

    One thing I thought would be helpful is for folks to talk about what they are doing other than voting. You know, the Bishops seem to suggest that taking part is more than just casting a vote. Especially for those arguing against the usefulness of voting, what are other things that are being done? What are you doing if not voting (and voting for Mickey Mouse doesn’t count)? I just thought about that driving home today. If not voting, or voting in some way that can’t impact the outcome (if any can), then what are things that can be done, and what are things that are being done?

    • vickie

      If you have given up on the political process – pray outside of abortion clinics, right letters to the editor, let people know that you are pro-life, profamily (and be prepared to be hated for it).

      If you think there is hope for your political party – getting involved locally is crucial. Go to local political meeting and advocate for the innocent.

      • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

        Oh, I am. I’ve stood prayer vigil outside abortion clinics, been involved in our local and state level governments, met with elected leaders, campaigned for those local folks I felt were good candidates and all. Times being what they are, this time around I haven’t been quite so involved. But I guess I was saying why don’t we discuss more the other options, and focus on what we each are doing, and throw that out for discussion. Like the fellow below says, and this of course applies to those who aren’t voting, that’s not exactly the pinnacle of bravery and sacrifice. What can we *do* otherwise? That’s what I was thinking.

        • vickie

          Wow that’s great Dave! And it seems like we are making progress changing hearts – I read that most democrats agree with some abortion restrictions. IMHO I think it is the leadership of the parties that are invested with abortion ideology. What was your experience working in your part of the country? I live in Maryland; life issues seem very secondary in my neck of the woods.

          • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

            I’m in Ohio. It’s a whole ‘nuther ballgame in this neck of the woods. We are a blue state with red blood, or a blue blooded red state. I still haven’t figured out which. That’s why I almost envy those who live in states where the outcome is a foregone conclusion. FWIW, in addition to other things like the economy, life issues are a hot ticket, but because of the flex back and forth, you have two groups: The passionately pro life (or at least anti-abortion), and those who figure going too far in that direction will simply tip the scale the other way and lose the entire war. Sometimes there’s as much infighting there as anywhere. And you still have a fair share of old time blue collar Democrats who will go blue until their last dying day, but strongly oppose the more liberal, post-Christian tendencies of their own party. In my particular county, we are bit more traditional leaning, but recent years have seen an influx of more progressive ideals, especially in the school and county levels regarding abortion rights and gay rights. In addition, in my part of the state, there is a not-so-small Ron Paul/Libertarian presence. So it is an interesting mix to be sure.

            • vickie

              Maybe the thing is to promote non-heated discussions. I attended a protest outside a local Planned Parenthood clinic. Some pro-lifers were really in the women’s faces … If it was me I would get pissed and more entrenched by that sort of behavior. The in-your-face person left…. After two people got on their knees on the hard concrete and just prayed. A lady went in, came out, brought them a pillow to protect their knees. Then the discussion happened – she brought a relative for an abortion but she knew it was wrong. Maybe that conversation brought her to repentance where screaming at her would not have worked.

              • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

                If not avoid heated issues, at least approach them in a non-heated way. I think more of that can never hurt.

              • ivan_the_mad

                Indeed. The cudgel vs. the cross.

  • Jess Harvey

    All this is nonsense. If you really wanted to remove yourself from a corrupt, implicitly evil system, you would withold your taxes. It’s much easier and cushier to withold your vote and say, “what a good boy am I!”

    • Mark Shea

      I suppose. But since I do not wish to remove myself from my country but reform it, your outburst makes no sense.

      • Jess Harvey

        My point is that not voting for a viable candidate does nothing. It doesn’t send a message, it doesn’t force anyone to change. It affects absolutely nothing. And there are no negative consequences to you. My question is: What is your expected consequence of your action? You’ll be written off by candidates who want to get voted in, and so the prolife movement gets further and further marginalized.

        • http://janalynmarie.blogspot.com Beadgirl

          But the whole point of Mark’s writings is that it DOES have consequences, on his own soul.

          As for the marginalization thing, isn’t that going to happen anyway if we keep agreeing to vote for candidates who a lukewarm on abortion and don’t actually do anything once in office?

        • Andy, Bad Person

          My point is that not voting for a viable candidate does nothing.

          Neither does voting for a viable candidate.

        • Mark Shea

          I think the existence of this thread and the conversation and though it is generating demonstrates that not voting for a viable candidate does plenty. There are other forms of good than winning elections.

    • Irenist

      Mark is not withholding his vote. He’s just voting for someone other than Obama or Romney. It’s not like Romney “owns” Mark’s vote and Mark is refusing to return it to him.
      As for Thoreauvian tax protesting, I would keep this in mind:
      “Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country.” Catechism, 2240.
      There are complications to that, but I think it’s a good place to begin reflection.

      • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

        There is nothing wrong with withholding your vote. Faithful Citizenship contemplates this as an “extraordinary step”. Extraordinary conditions require extraordinary steps.

        • Irenist

          A prudential judgment I respect entirely.

        • Mercury

          Zippy, Faithful Citizenship says:

          “36. When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.”

          This is what scares me – does this mean one would have to vote UNLESS a candidate support a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the voter MUST vote for someone?

          I.e. If the Prohibition party wants to ban low-stakes poker and beer, and wants to impose God knows what else kind of Calvinist police state, yet supports no *intrinsic* evil, would anyone be obliged to vote for them if they were they only party not supporting such an evil?

          • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

            Positive obligations to act are NEVER unqualified. They are ALWAYS a prudential judgement As Veritatis Splendour puts it:

            In the case of the positive moral precepts, prudence always has the task of verifying that they apply in a specific situation, for example, in view of other duties which may be more important or urgent.

            If someone interprets a Bishops Conference document in a manner inconsistent with a Papal Encyclical, the Encyclical wins.

  • Art

    What if all the candidates from whom I have to choose are pro-abortion? Do I have to abstain from voting at all? What do I do?
    Obviously, one of these candidates is going to win the election. Thus, in this dilemma, you should do your best to judge which candidate would do the least moral harm.

    As Pope John Paul II explains in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), “…when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”

    Logically, it follows from these words of the Pope that a voter may likewise vote for that candidate who will most likely limit the evils of abortion or any other moral evil at issue.

    • Mark Shea

      Right. I never said otherwise.

      • Art

        Let me start out by saying I am confirming what you stated with a little JPII. I believe that those who do not vote 3rd party may find the solution of voting 3rd party to not be a viable option.

        So to respond to what you stated…. Yes Mark, I know you never stated otherwise as you mentioned in #10 that, “The Church tells us to try to limit evil as best we can and leaves it up to us as to how best to do that. ”

        Most of us realize by now you will not vote for either candidate based on everything that you have posted for month/years. I may disagree with your position, but I respect it. You stated,

        “any candidate who advocates grave intrinsic evil is as morally legitimate an option as voting for the Sucks Less candidate in this election. Both are prudential attempts to limit evil and I lean toward thinking that voting for the candidate who rejects all grave intrinsic evil is a better option while recognizing that others may legitimately differ from that view. I further say that attempts by “Sucks Less” advocates to condemn Third Partiers with threats, condemnations, bad logic and abuse only serve to illustrate my main point.”

        I believe numerous conservative Catholics are going to go with the the “sucks less” candidate, which most believe is the better option in that realistically only 1 of the 2 candidates is going to realistically be elected.

        Numerous conservative Catholics are disagreeing with you. I believe they have unfairly characterized you in numerous things I have read. Needless to say numerous devout and faithful Catholics are going to differ with your reasoning to vote 3rd party. At least you are not going with the flow right?!

        I believe the reason that many are doing so is because they know that 1 of the 2 candidates is going to win the election. So numerous conservative Catholics who are voting are going to do their best to judge which candidate would do the least moral harm.

        My 2 cents, no ill will toward you my friend. I kindly disagree with the approach and I honestly believe it is a no win situation for a litany of reasons.

  • Mercury

    In Louisiana, the only parties that do not seem to be advocating any intrinsic evil are George Wallace’s old American Independent Party (Hoefling) and the fundamentalist Prohibition Party whose candidate has a picture on their webpage with an actual sword (“sword of justice”) and promises to govern according to the King James Bible (so, KJ-Only theocrats).

    The AIP seem alright on their website, but you never know what kind of kooky crap lies under these right-wing groups. How do I know they’re not some David Duke guys who whitewash their more unsavory beliefs? Does anyone know about them?

    And if Prohibition is the only party I could vote for, I’d rather not vote, but according to some, that is a sin (including Archbishop Chaput).

    Romney leads by over 20 points here, but I still can’t get over the idea that voting for a third party candidate that I really don’t believe in and who makes me leery is any better than not voting.

    I’d preferably like to vote for Romney even though I can’t stand him, just to be able to say I did *something* against Obama, even though it technically won’t matter in my state. On that night, I will be watching the election results hoping Romney will win – so I do not see how that is morally different from voting for him. If not that, I’d rather leave the “president” slot blank and just vote for my Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana’s first district. But I am at a loss of who to vote for if I HAVE to vote for SOMEONE.

    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

      You don’t have to vote for someone.

      • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

        And yet, he can vote for someone. Freedom still rocks after all these years.

        • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

          Not necessarily. Is it literally inconceivable for conditions to arise in which it would be wrong to vote?

          • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

            No, it’s not inconceivable. But if someone doesn’t think it’s to that point now, then yes he can vote.

            • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

              Don’t you mean “if it isn’t objectively at that point now”?

              The way you say it you make it sound like there is no objective truth to the answer, just subjectivity.

              • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

                No, I merely point out you could be wrong, which is true. Isn’t it?

              • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                Sure. But the way you worded it, you made it sound (to me) like the bishops have given everyone a blanket permission to vote for whomever they choose to vote for, as long as the voter’s reasoning takes on the correct “limiting evil” form. That isn’t the case. Whether I am right or wrong in my particular judgements, objective standards apply. And if objective standards apply, people are not free, in a moral sense, to vote for whomever they choose. Faithful Citizenship is a starting place for right reason, not a moral permission slip.

                • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

                  No, they are not free to vote for whomever they choose. But they are free to vote. At least as of now. That was my point.

      • Mercury

        I know I don’t but I just keep thinking of what archbishop Chaput said.

        I think if I lived in a swing state I may have an obligation to vote, even to vote for Romney. But i my state it doesn’t matter.

        does anyone know anything about the American Independence Party?

  • Joshua

    Great stuff! I’ve used several of these arguments before, and it’s awesome to see a comprehensive list.

    Regarding your choice to vote for Virgil Goode, I have a question: I found out that he voted to extend the Patriot Act while in Congress, and to me this is a big deal if for no other reason than it’s a gross violation of the Constitution and thus requires the violation of the oath to uphold the Constitution. Perhaps you already knew this, but I’m curious: does it affect your willingness to vote for him? I don’t think he’s on my ballot, but the Constitution Party usually has been in the past and I’ve voted for them before, and was planning to again until I read this. Just curious to hear your thoughts.

    • Mark Shea

      I actually set the bar pretty low in terms of how much evil I’m willing to put up with. Namely, grave intrinsic evil. The Patriot Act, while evil, is ultimate an assault on that set of human prudential arrangements called the Constitution, not only the law of God. So I’ll consider him.

  • anna lisa

    I would approach the matter differently if I lived in a swing state instead of a blue one. I am not sure that Obama is worse than Romney, but I think he is.
    1. My disgust for Obama trumps my disgust for Romney.
    2. My slight happiness at the thought of Obama having to pack up and go home, trumps my disgust for Romney moving into the Oval Office.
    *Not* voting for “W’ in the last election still bolsters my sense of personal dignity.

  • Merengue

    I am not a fan of Romney, but will vote for him as a vote against Obama. Mark, the problem with your reasoning anent your “other party” vote not really helping Obama (because you live in WA) is that you are publicizing your reasoning and thus likely influencing readers in battleground states. At a minimum you should state that you would reconsider your stance if you lived in say, OH. Or maybe you should just move there and make a real difference.

    • Mercury

      You know, I used to like the electoral system, but now I realize that most of our votes really don’t matter because of it. It’s a bit disenfranchizing.

      I’m all for the electoral system as defined in the Constitution (and to get rid of it, you’d need an amendment – fat chance on that) and even understand why it’s okay to have the electoral vote trump the popular vote sometimes, but the winner-take-all arrangement we currently have gives disproportionate power to voters in just a few states.

  • Paul Combs

    I hate to admit this, but in Texas my vote for President means nothing. If Jesus ran as a Democrat He’d lose, and if Charles Manson ran as a Republican he’d win (how else do you explain 12 years of Rick Perry? do you know anyone who’s ever actually voted for him?). There are only about 12 states where the outcome is not already etched in stone.

    Given this, and since neither Obama nor Romney are fit to run a car wash, let alone the country, this year I will write in a vote for Fr. Joe Strickland, bishop-elect of Tyler. He won’t win, of course, and is actually prohibited by Church law from holding public office. But we agree on pretty much everything, he supports no intrinsic evils, and he’s a really good person. That’s something I can’t say about anyone I’ve voted for in 30 years.

    And if my Republican friends are worried that my one vote could swing the state to Obama, I have two words for you: Rick Perry.

  • ED

    Mark… very good job!!!

    BUT… to be honest… who the hell cares who wins. They are *both* part of the same team… aren’t they?

    What I find so *disheartening* in all these types of threads is how so many *good* people (of many religions) don’t feel totally upset about being so used and abused over-and-over again.

    Why in the world would anyone over the age of 30 not realize by now that our 2-party election process/system in this country is so totally *corrupt* and *broken*? Have they all been sleeping? [zz-zz-z]

    Are they drinking the wrong water? [sip-sip]

    Why do WE AMERICAN CITIZENS let this *pitiful* and *deadly* political game continue in this country without any SERIOUS and MAJOR protest what-so-ever?

    Is it simply a case of STUPIDITY… or NO GUTS???

    In any case… it sadly appears to me that the future for the USA is quite *dismal* indeed!

    Just saying…

  • Jacob S

    Just a thought -
    First, I’m a “Sucks-Less Republican,” just so you’ll know where I’m coming from.

    It is true that an individual’s vote is nearly meaningless, this is why you hear about voter blocs. But there is a non-neglible mini-block of voters who think Obama is terrible and Romney is slightly less terrible. Convincing an appreciable portion of this block to not vote for Romney based on the fact that their vote is negligible could, in a close race sway in a state’s election. In 2000, for example, Florida had a voter difference of 500 and some other states of a few thousand. 500 people. That means that a couple Catholic parishes could have changed things.

    Am I saying that you should then shut up? Of course not. But we should keep in mind that arguments based on the idea that voting won’t effect the outcome are only true as they pertain as individuals, and remember that people talk about voting blocs not only because individual votes don’t matter, but because there are large portions of individuals that think the same way. So if your argument is convincing enough that convinces me not to vote Romney because my vote won’t change anything anyway, then it is likely convincing enough to convince many of the people who think like I do, and the number so swayed by your argument and arguments of others who agree with you could have a non-negligible effect.

    Again, I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t argue against Romney, all I’m saying is that telling large swaths of people who would otherwise all vote the same way that their votes don’t matter is only a negligible activity if you expect most of them to ignore you.

    So how an individual votes doesn’t matter, really. But how a bloc, even a small bloc in a swing state, votes might. The problem is that a bloc is made of individuals, and while it doesn’t matter if one or two (hundred, in most cases, thousand in some) stay home or what have you, those who stay home and those who don’t also individuals. So I do not think it makes sense, in a swing state where the election will be close, to vote third party and just hope that enough of those who think like you don’t think so much like you as to do the same thing and result in another Obama.

    Now, if you’re in a swing state and vote third party because your conscience dictates that you do so to avoid cooperating with evil, I can respect that. I think you’re making the wrong choice, and I’d be happy to argue that with you (and I think claiming that Ryan is not pro-life – though the Romney-Ryan ticket is obviously not prolife – or that Romney will uphold the HHS mandate is silly, and would be happy to argue that as well).

    But if you’re going to vote for a third party because you think that’s the moral choice regardless of the fact that either Romney or Obama will certainly win, then you are saying that you are ignoring the likely consequences of the election and voting on principle, and if you are really ignoring the consequences, then you should also ignore the fact that your vote doesn’t matter. That is, vote third party because you think you should, not because you think you can get away with it because either a) enough people will vote Romney that you don’t have to in order to get the possible option you would like to get or b) no matter what you do, the option you don’t like will win.

    It is not voting on purely on the principles espoused by the candidates to say “X or Y will win, I slightly prefer X but I’m gonna vote for Z because he’s better than X plus some moral argument and besides it won’t change anything.” Leave off that last part and it’s fine, at least a priori, but add that last part on and your now voting based on consequences just like us Sucks-Less people. Which isn’t bad. But if you are in a swing state where it is likely that the election will be close, and if you have decided that you will factor immediate consequences into your decision, then part of considering consequences is not only “what will my vote by itself do” but also “am I relying on others who think like me to achieve the less bad possible result by voting in a way different then I plan on doing” or “am I discounting the impact those who think like me could have, and voting contrary to the best that that impact could do.”

    Not because it matters what you do, and not because you should vote how you would like everyone to vote, but because it does matter how the majority of people who think more or less the same as you do vote, and we are much less negligible in that majority.

    I mean, take a poll, read around on the blogs, etc. I’m gonna bet that Catholics who dislike Romney, but dislike Obama more is a pretty significant number – not significant enough to elect a third party, but probably enough to tilt a swing state from one to the other. And again – if you don’t care, if you refuse to vote for Romney on principle, then I disagree with you but can respect that. But if you think that the fact that your vote does not matter is what allows you to vote third party or stay home, I think you had better be pretty sure. Remember – 500 people in 2000, and chances are most of the people who share your views are going to do the exact same thing. It’s not enough to consider only what you’d like everyone to do, but if you consider that sort of thing at all, you’d have to consider what you’d like pissed of Pro-Life Catholics disillusioned with the current parties to do. Personally, I’d prefer them to vote Romney, although right now I’d probably vote for my dog over Obama. At least my dog won’t aggressively shove more and more abortion down our throats.

    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

      You might be assuming that Mark has convinced more people not to vote for Romney than he has convinced not to vote for Obama. That might not be a sound assumption.

      • Jacob S

        I’m not actually assuming either way. Although I think it likely that, given what he says in the piece about his audience, he is mainly talking to people who would vote Romney, my primary point actually doesn’t rest on which candidate sucks less or which one any person in particular thinks sucks less – though I do of course have very specific views on this.

        All I’m saying is that “vote on principle rather than consequence because you won’t effect the outcome” (which I am in no way saying is the sum of Mark’s article) is not a sound argument, both because if your lack of effect is what motivates you to vote third party then you are in fact including consequence in your reasoning and because the “my vote doesn’t matter” assumption is only nearly true in many cases.

        • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

          because if your lack of effect is what motivates you to vote third party then you are in fact including consequence in your reasoning

          Ah. So discounting X as irrelevant is including X in your reasoning. It is a cute tautology, but I don’t think it helps to counter Mark’s or my arguments.

          and because the “my vote doesn’t matter” assumption is only nearly true in many cases.

          You should take the Disputations Election Challenge and make some free money. Heck, it is just like buying a lottery ticket.

          • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

            Heck, it is just like buying a lottery ticket.

            (Links split into two posts to get past the moderation monster).

          • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

            Grrrr. We hates the moderation monster, precious.

        • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

          because if your lack of effect is what motivates you to vote third party then you are in fact including consequence in your reasoning

          Ah. So discounting X as irrelevant is including X in your reasoning. It is a cute tautology, but I don’t think it helps to counter Mark’s or my arguments.

          and because the “my vote doesn’t matter” assumption is only nearly true in many cases.

          You should take the Disputations Election Challenge and make some free money.

          • Jacob S

            You did see the “it’s nearly true” part, right? I’m not gonna explain it again, because it took me about 3 times what should be the optimal length of a combox post to explain it the first time, but it’s not about your vote, nor even about “if everyone voted your way,” but rather about “if the couple thousand or couple hundred people who think almost exactly like you do all vote the way you do”. And only sort of about that. Again, I spent way too much time trying to explain it before.

            And again, I wasn’t trying to say that this means that it is impossible to decide to vote third party, or even that it’s bad to try to convince others to do so, only that saying “vote this way because you shouldn’t vote based on consequences, and anyway your vote doesn’t matter,” which, again, I am not saying was the entirety of Mark’s point but only one part of it, is a little bit odd logically.

            • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

              What I see is that you are saying that a sound argument isn’t a sound argument.

              • Jacob S

                Perhaps if I phrase it in terms of the tragedy of the commons? It doesn’t matter if one disgruntled Catholic lets an additional cow graze on the common land, but if they all do, the land will be over grazed and destroyed. This is why voting a certain way BECAUSE your vote doesn’t matter is problematic. Your vote doesn’t matter true. But it does matter if people in general vote as though their vote doesn’t matter, and the only way to prevent that from happening is to prevent individuals from doing so. And again, there are limitations on this idea which I won’t repeat.

                But aside from that, and let me repeat, to say that you will, as a matter of principle, ignore the consequences of a vote but only because your vote has no consequences is a contradiction. To include the phrase “my vote has no consequence” in your reasoning is not to ignore the consequence of your vote.

                Which is fine. But if you aren’t going to ignore consequences a matter of principle, then you really should consider such things as what I said above. And again, this might not change anything in your case. Or it might. Once again, I point to Florida in 2000.

                • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                  But it does matter if people in general vote as though their vote doesn’t matter, and the only way to prevent that from happening is to prevent individuals from doing so.

                  I think though that you’ve misunderstood Mark and myself. It isn’t that you should act as if your choices about voting don’t matter in some cosmic sense. It is that it is literally irrational to act as if your vote is a pragmatic act, rather than an idealistic or principled act.

                  • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                    Once again, I point to Florida in 2000.

                    Quoting myself from another discussion:

                    Playing the lottery though isn’t an “absolute” irrationality either. Somebody wins. Although in that sense the irrationality here is greater than the irrationality of playing the lottery, because no one person has ever decided a Presidential Election.

                    Tom half jokingly modeled the math as a probability. At some point it might be fun to model it as a signal to noise ratio. But the main point is that your personal “signal” is so infinitesimally small, even aggregated over your whole life, that you have literally no reason not to act as an idealist rather than a pragmatist.

                    That makes pragmatism literally irrational: it is doing something you have no rational reason to do. The lottery winner might claim otherwise, but that is because he makes a category error, chalking up a miracle of Providence – the fact that he in particular won – to a material cause.

                    At bottom the reason most people find my arguments counterintuitive despite their clarity and decisiveness (hah!) is because materialism is in the air we breathe.

                    • Jacob S

                      “[Voting pragmatically] is doing something you have no rational reason to do.”

                      Again, I think you misunderstand me. As I have said many time, I am well aware that no single person’s vote matters.

                      But in light of the quote from you above, I’ll again point you to the tragedy of the commons. The problem with the tragedy of the commons is that each individual has no rational reason (considering their actions in a vacuum) to refrain from grazing more animals on the common land. The harm done by their animals is negligible if they refrain from so doing and their neighbors don’t, the land will still be destroyed. If they do so it won’t particularly increase the speed at which the land is destroyed by any noticeable amount. But if most people act in such a way, then the land is destroyed. And the only way to keep most people from acting this way and save the land is to keep individuals from acting this way, because “most people” is a collection of individuals.

                      Again, I am not saying it makes any difference whatsoever if I, Mark, you, or any particular person votes third party because he doesn’t think it will change anything. What I am saying is the “vote as though your vote won’t effect anything” idea only works if you assume that MOST people, and in particular most people who share views nearly identical to your own, won’t do so. I’m going to quote myself: “it does matter if people in general [and in particular those who think as you do] vote as though their vote doesn’t matter, and the only way to prevent that from happening is to prevent individuals from doing so.”

                      Let me repeat. I am not saying one individual vote will change anything. What I am saying is that lots of votes will, and lots of votes are in fact a collection of individual votes. It is a question of whether you are grazing your extra cow on common land because you think you can get away with it, and besides your contribution to the destruction of the land is negligible, or if you are voting third party for PURELY IDEALISTIC REASONS that do not depend on the reasoning “what I’m doing won’t hurt things that much.”

                      Or to put it in a slightly different way: would you be ok with enough people voting as you do so that which ever of Obama or Romney you think sucks more wins? Because enough people won’t vote your way to elect your third party. If so, or if you aren’t considering that at all, fine. If not, then you are voting contrary to how you want the majority of people who think like you to vote, so you are saying that you can vote on principle only because so many others won’t. Which isn’t really voting on principle.

                      See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons

                    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                      I have been familiar with Game Theory for decades, and I’ve answered the “what if everyone did it” objections many times.

                      In a tragedy of the commons, small amounts of harm are done by large numbers of people. The consequences of his own act to each individual are small or nonexistent, but the overall harm to society is cumulatively significant.

                      I leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine in what sense mass-scale “vote for the lesser evil” behaviour is a tragedy of the commons.

                    • Jacob S

                      And again, I would say whether or not it is significant depends on where you are. In Washington State, for example, it seems likely that there are not enough people refraining from voting who would change the election, so chances are it is not. But this is why I keep bringing up the 2000 election – though I think the better candidate won in that election, there were many states that were close enough that a tragedy of the commons situation would apply – if 500 Gore leaning people stayed home or voted third party in Florida because they didn’t think their vote mattered then had those 500 voted for a candidate with a chance of winning it would have changed things, whereas if just 1 or 2 or 300 had it would not have.

                      And again, I am not saying that this makes it impossible to vote third party, only that it means that doing so because you think your vote doesn’t matter is an idea that needs to be examined more closely.

                    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                      Oh I agree with you that our presidential elections are a tragedy of the commons. I just don’t think it is driven by Catholics standing on principle and refusing to vote for the lesser evil candidate.

                      Also, you have the wrong perspective on your own example. I’ve explained why, but you don’t seem to have read my explanation because you keep repeating the example as if you hadn’t.

                    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                      Here is a question:

                      Historically in the US, how many Presidential elections have been won by a worse candidate because too many Catholics stood on principle and refused to vote for the lesser of two evils?

                    • Jacob S

                      I’m not sure what explanation of yours I’ve missed, as best I can tell you just keep telling me that it’s like playing the lottery. I just skimmed over the link and past posts to see if I missed something, but if so I haven’t found it. I’m fairly certain I addressed all of your points, but if I missed one please let me know. My point which seems to be most related to what you are saying is that a smallish group of Catholics (or any like minded group) acting together may be able to flip a swing state if they act together to do so, but would be unable to elect a third party. The lottery has no equivalent scenario, because there is no canceling out effect, there is no scale where a small(ish) pressure could flip a result that will occur into a more favorable position.

                      And again, I am not aware of any election that was decided by Catholics voting pragmatically – that would require more detailed information about who voted how than I have.

                      But as I’ve said, the 2000 could have been so decided. Florida was within 500 votes. I’m pretty sure there are just a few more than 500 Catholics in Florida. If 500 of the ones who preferred Bush had voted third party because Bush was imperfect, Gore would have won. Had 500 voters who thought Gore was better but voted 3rd party instead decided to vote Gore, Gore would have won.

                      That means that you could say, if you wanted, that 500 Catholics (or any other group) in Florida who thought Bush didn’t suck quiet as bad as Gore did decided the election when they decided to check his box instead of staying home or third partying it.

                      Furthermore, I say that it makes no sense to say that it is irrational in a pragmatic sense to vote pragmatically. If you use pragmatism to decide how to vote, then you are voting pragmatically, you’re just not voting for either of the candidates who have a choice who you prefer. It’s like saying that you refuse to join the army and go to war because you’re a pacifist, but you’re only a pacifist because you’ve calculated that you joining the army would have no effect. That’s not pacifism. Real pacifism would be “I refuse to go to war because I think it’s wrong, and regardless of either the outcome of the war or the impact that my participation would have on it.”

                    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                      I’m not sure what explanation of yours I’ve missed, as best I can tell you just keep telling me that it’s like playing the lottery.

                      Pretty much the whole thing. Let me know when you personally – not someone else, but you personally – change the outcome of a presidential election. It isn’t ever going to happen, and telling just so stories about how it might doesn’t make it any more reasonable.

                    • Jacob S

                      Ah I see. No, this is exactly the argument that I was responding to. I think I’ve said probably about a thousand times that no one person would change anything. This is why I went on at length about groups of people who think like you, etc, and mentioned that in states like WA it doesn’t matter at all.

                      You told me that you understood the tragedy of the commons. Perhaps I should not have taken you at your word, as if this were true, then you would not be repeating this stuff about a single vote not mattering as though you were making a point. That’s the whole point of the tragedy of the commons – a single vote doesn’t matter, so a whole bunch of people act as though a single vote does not matter, so things change.

                      And there’s only one way to avoid the tragedy of the commons – convince enough people to vote as though their vote matters even though it doesn’t individually. A large group is just a collection of individuals after all.

                      The Florida thing is not a “story”. It is fact. If 500 more Republican-leaning people who didn’t like either party had said “well I guess my vote doesn’t matter, so I’ll vote third party or stay home,” the entire election would have changed. 500 is not that large a number.

                      You do realize that all the people who vote are individuals, right? The elections are decided by lots of people who’s votes don’t matter pretending that they do so that, taken as group all these meaningless individual contributions determine who will be president. It’s relatively good approximation to infinity times zero, really, but infinity times zero can be any number at all.

                      I think perhaps you don’t understand the tragedy of the commons after all. Or perhaps I’m wrong, and you can explain to me how a thousand people can change an election without a single one of them doing anything because their vote doesn’t matter?

                    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                      So now your story about something that didn’t happen is a fact?

                      And sorry, if you think I’ve ever suggested that votes in aggregate do not matter then you definitely have made a mistake.

                    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                      In the unlikely even that anyone is still reading this:

                      The premise is established that an individual vote cannot influence the outcome. Only relatively large aggregations of votes that happen to take place in just the right circumstances at just the right time can influence the outcome. (Even then it is arguable whether our electoral system is even capable of accurately resolving a “signal” of 500 votes or so over an entire State. I’d bet on winning the lottery before I would bet on that proposition). So do the math.

                      Invoking tragedy of the commons is just warpaint over the contention that while individual votes don’t affect the outcome, votes in aggregate do affect the outcome: a straw man argument, since I’ve never said otherwise.

                    • Jacob S

                      Alright, last post since you’re still not paying attention:

                      We agree that votes in aggregate matter. We agree that individual votes don’t matter, considered individually. However, votes in aggregate are just a collection of individual votes, and THE ONLY WAY TO GET VOTES IN AGGREGATE TO GO THE WAY YOU WANT IS TO GET INDIVIDUAL VOTES TO GO THE WAY YOU WANT.

                      The tragedy of the commons comes into play because lots of people like you, that is, voters in aggregate, realize that individual votes don’t matter by themselves, and so vote in the way you describe. But this is an set of votes in aggregate going third party because of lots of individuals making what is, considered in a vacuum, the rational choice. And this does matter.

                      Now, if you would continue to like to tell me that a mixture of things I haven’t said (that individual votes matter) and things that are indisputable (such as, for example, that a small group of people could easily have changed the 2000 election) are silly, feel free. But you’ll have to do it by yourself. I mean, I’m running out of ways to tell you that groups are made out of individuals. I guess maybe you think they aren’t? Maybe there are these mystical voter aggregates that appear out of the ether on election day and overwhelm us individual voters, only to disappear afterwards? Or perhaps it really isn’t thousands of voters voting as if their vote matters that decide the election, but the mythical “thousand-voter”, a creature who somehow gets to vote a thousand times? Might make sense in Chicago. In any case, good luck with that. I really do hope you re-read up on the tragedy of the commons, then you might understand how your vote can not matter but how it can still matter how (people like) you vote.

                    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                      THE ONLY WAY TO GET VOTES IN AGGREGATE TO GO THE WAY YOU WANT IS TO GET INDIVIDUAL VOTES TO GO THE WAY YOU WANT.

                      Right. And you are kidding yourself if you think you as an individual have the power to get the votes in aggregate to go the way you want in this election happening next month, through whatever influence you exercise. Post-facto storytelling about Florida 2000 is just like the Lotto winner claiming – correctly, post facto – that his odds of having won are 100%. It is true, but it is completely irrational – it is a category mistake – to use that as if it were a prior probability that you can apply to your actions now.

                      Therefore it is irrational to hold your nose and vote pragmatically, choosing the “lesser of two evils”. The only rational course of action is to vote or abstain idealistically, on principle.

                      I’m not the one who isn’t listening. I understand your point of view perfectly, and it is wrong.

                    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                      your vote can not matter but how it can still matter how (people like) you vote.

                      You’ve made the case for principled action right here. You should act how you wish everyone would act. So if you wish everyone would choose the lesser evil, choose it yourself. If you wish everyone would do better than that, do better yourself. Act on principle, not as if you have any actual influence over the outcome yourself.

                    • Jacob S

                      I’m going to make myself a liar and reply one more time, just because I’m now really amused. It seems we have some agreement, which is a possibility I did not foresee when I bowed out.

                      “You’ve made the case for principled action right here. You should act how you wish everyone would act.”

                      That’s very nearly exactly what I’ve been trying to say (with the slight modification of “everyone” to “everyone who thinks like you, given that people who don’t think like you will do weird things that make no sense to you”). I’ve also been trying to say that if you are relying on (or hoping that) most people who think like you to vote for a lesser of two evils in order to enable yourself to vote third party, then something odd is going on, and you aren’t really following this advice.

                      However, I’ve also tried to say (although mostly towards the beginning of this argument, as I thought we had drifted away from that point) that if you think all people should vote third party (or whoever whatever set of principles you are using points to) as a matter of principle regardless of how this will effect the election, then this particular argument I was making wasn’t aimed at you.

                      It seems our primary disagreement is on how we want whatever group of people we belong to to act (and whether principled third party candidate who will lose is better than lesser of two evils), but that’s an entirely different flaming row – er, discussion.

                      So it may be that there is more agreement than we thought, at least on some of the basics and in regards to this particular argument if not in how we vote. More than I expected in any case

                    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                      However, I’ve also tried to say (although mostly towards the beginning of this argument, as I thought we had drifted away from that point) that if you think all people should vote third party (or whoever whatever set of principles you are using points to) as a matter of principle regardless of how this will effect the election, then this particular argument I was making wasn’t aimed at you.

                      OK, I guess I missed the part where we were disagreeing. I’ve been making the case – since well before the last two Presidential elections – that the “hold your nose and vote for the lesser evil because of the potency of your nose-holding act in limiting evil” position is fundamentally irrational: it is, in the parlance of the current discussion, an endorsement-in-principle of the lesser evil, not the practical attempt to limit evil that it pretends to be. You seemed to directly contradict this above when you said “… ‘vote on principle rather than consequence because you won’t effect the outcome’ … is not a sound argument.” Yet here we are, agreeing that it is a sound argument. So I’m confused about where the disagreement came from.

                      It seems our primary disagreement is on how we want whatever group of people we belong to to act (and whether principled third party candidate who will lose is better than lesser of two evils), but that’s an entirely different flaming row – er, discussion.

                      One observation is that you are deciding which group of people you belong to in how you act. This decision is independent of the actual outcome of the election, and has consequences independent of the outcome of the election. My argument all along has been that when we evaluate our choice under the principle of double effect, we have to evaluate it based on these outcome-independent effects: the effects of us personally joining Team Romney, not the effects if Romney wins. We cannot justify joining Team Romney – we cannot claim proportionate reason – based on an appeal to the outcome: of how (say) things would be better under Romney than under Obama.

                    • Jacob S

                      I think we’ve just been using words differently. For example, I would say that the principle I vote by is “vote for who you would like others (who think like you) to vote, given the things that are for all practical purposes unchangeable (i.e. the president will be a Republican or Democrat),” and I would call this pragmatic voting, not because it was not voting on principle, but because the principle includes reference to knowledge of the outcome, and the idea that if all those who thought like me voted the way I wanted them to it could change the outcome – and I tend to think “considering outcomes” to be the essence of pragmatism, regardless of the power of the action to help bring the outcome about or even actually accomplish anything at all. Pragmatic in principle, if you will, because the principle includes references to pragmatism, but the action it espouses cannot really be said to be pragmatic in itself.

                      I would also agree that voting for the lesser of two evils certainly has no pragmatic power to bring about the lesser evil in itself, but rather than saying that it endorses the lesser evil I’d say it endorses the idea of unfortunately choosing the lesser evil given that one of the two evils will certainly occur. Analogous to endorsing the idea of being shot at with a hand gun rather than being shot at with an Ak-47 – not an endorsement of being shot at by a hand gun, but that, given one or the other will occur, anyone in a position to choose should go with the hand gun.

                      In light of this last, I don’t even consider voting Romney, or even campaigning Romney if it’s done honestly (which I imagine Romney wouldn’t appreciate – I don’t think I’d get hired based on a “vote for this guy, he sucks less” add series), to be joining team Romney, but only supporting the idea that a train conducted by Romney will get in a slightly less devastating wreck than one conducted by Obama and that it’s generally good to minimize damage done by train wrecks.

                      Again, we can disagree on whether there are proportional reasons to use this sort of pragmatic in principle voting to choose the lesser evil, but I would tend to argue that if one candidate seems obviously slightly less bad than the other, and if it is known for certain that one of those two candidates will win (this must be known not because of the effect that you will have, but because it’s part of the ‘given the things we cannot change’ of the principle), then proportional reasons automatically exist. It appears to me that that that this is exactly what proportional reasons means – it means you cannot favor the principle of everyone voting for (not endorsing) a bad candidate unless such a principle (regardless of your actions under it or lack thereof) would, if followed to maximum extent that it could be expected to be, prevent harm.

                      And again, the fact that we can choose a lesser of two evils was explicitly stated by then Cardinal Ratzinger, and I’m fairly certain that he was aware that individual votes don’t change things. Granted, his statement was not infallible, but I tend to accept that he knows what he’s talking about, and that he was talking about how we actually vote in normal elections. It sounds like (I may misunderstand) from your reasoning that you oppose the lesser of two evils vote in at least any situation where an individual vote doesn’t do anything, and I do not think that in light of the then Cardinal’s statement we can be sure that such opposition is always warranted.

                      Also as a note to which group we belong to – we choose that to a point, yes, but not entirely. Because of some stuff that is pretty close to the core part of who I am, I belong to the group people who dislike both 2012 candidates, oppose abortion entirely, think gay marriage is a farce that shouldn’t be enshrined in law in any form, and oppose forcing an incorrect secular world view on religious people no matter how cool said world view seems to the people who hold it. It’s possible, of course, that some of those ideas could change in the future (if, say, I sustain a head injury), and I suppose I could choose to change them myself (if, say, I choose to sustain a head injury) but that would only mean that the group of people who think like me would be different in the future than now, and the election is now(ish). It is also true that “people who think like me” is a fuzzy concept, given that, depending on how strictly you define ‘like’, the group grows or shrinks. But I think the idea is clear enough to be useful. For the most part the group I mean is the group of people who agree with the views I just stated, though it could probably be refined.

                    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                      I would tend to argue that if one candidate seems obviously slightly less bad than the other, and if it is known for certain that one of those two candidates will win (this must be known not because of the effect that you will have, but because it’s part of the ‘given the things we cannot change’ of the principle), then proportional reasons automatically exist.

                      This is just the usual move of pitting one very implausible possibility (a non-major-party outcome) against a different very implausible possibility (your vote having an effect). I’ve already shown why this fails to produce a proportionate reason.

                      Also as a note to which group we belong to – we choose that to a point, yes, but not entirely.

                      No, you choose entirely, and are entirely responsible for choosing, whether you will or will not belong to the group of people who are Romney voters. This “it is just how I am made” thing might work for Jessica Rabbit, but it isn’t going to fly here.

                    • Jacob S

                      “This is just the usual move of pitting one very implausible possibility (a non-major-party outcome) against a different very implausible possibility (your vote having an effect).”

                      No, it’s not. It’s voting according to the principle “how would like everyone else to vote, given the things that cannot be changed,” i.e. that no matter what happens roughly half the people won’t vote like you would want them to and a third party candidate won’t win.

                      “No, you choose entirely, and are entirely responsible for choosing, whether you will or will not belong to the group of people who are Romney voters. This “it is just how I am made” thing might work for Jessica Rabbit, but it isn’t going to fly here.”

                      Again with the arguing against the things I’ve never said. Please read, think, and try again.

                    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                      At this point I will simply resign myself to the fact that you don’t see the selectivity in your argumentative use of “things that cannot be changed”. Thanks for the discussion.

                • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                  And so, to address the Kantian “what if everyone did it” point, it has been pointed out many times over the years that if everyone acted as we do it would be a much greater force for good than everyone playing rope-a-dope with the “Go Slow Liberalism” of the Republican party.

  • Jim Mazzarelli

    Mark – You are obviously very intelligent … and faithful … and a man of many gifts, which you are generously and justly using to share the Gospel. And with that, you have a very large following, which creates some extra responsibilities for you. Voting is still, thank God, a private matter, and if YOUR voting was just a private matter, than I would take no issue with and would respect your position. But because of your larger responsibilities, I think you cross the line of leading people to a choice that could have grave consequences in this election. By the way, have you made public who it is you voted for in the 2008 Presidential election?

  • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

    #34. Yes, yes. You can vote for whoever you want; you live in Washington. But you still have the moral obligation to tell *other* people to vote for Romney.

  • Kelly Grant

    It’s not a vote for Romney it’s a vote for Ryan. I believe Ryan is a true Catholic and if Romney gets elected this year with a Republican Senate, then we can start moving the ball in our direction. Is Romney ideal, no, but after two terms of Romney and if they are successful in stemming the flow against us practicing Catholics and successsfully turning the moral compass of the country towards God and the Church’s teachings, I think Ryan will be elected and the real progress will begin, especially in the Courts and regulations which attack the the Church and its works. Romney is just the instrument which the Holy Spirit is using to get us on that path. God Bless

    • Rob B.

      Kelly,

      I wish I could be as confident as you are regarding Ryan’s chances in today’s GOP. True, he has the orthodox economic beliefs (which concern me greatly, as I cannot stand Ayn Rand), but I doubt that a real pro-life candidate will get nominated unless there’s a major shift in the party thinking. In the current GOP, the pro-life plank is a dead letter, as evidenced by Romney’s unwillingness to support it.

  • Rob B.

    I have no love for Romney and I certainly don’t consider him to be truly pro-life. I am, however, going to vote for him because unlike Mr. Shea, I live in in a battleground state (Colorado). For the first time I can remember, I’m seeing Planned Parenthood running political ads. IF PP is this afraid of a Romney presidency, then I feel a little better about voting for him. Does this make me a “sucks less Republican?”

  • http://rfilips@hartel.net rfilips

    Wow! I wish I was so holy I could turn down a chance to stop 98% of abortions to demand that until we can stop 100% of them I will not help any of the babies. Are you really that holy, or are you that committed of a Republican-hater that you will use any excuse to not vote for one?

    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

      Exhibit #233,567,987 of an outcome independent effect (an effect which obtains no matter who wins or loses the election).

    • Rob B.

      Read it again. As a citizen of Washington State, Mr. Shea’s vote for Romney would mean next to nothing. If he lived in Colorado (as I do), he would probably hold his nose and vote for Romney.

      However, if I am wrong in my interpretation of his post, I hope he will correct me.

      • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

        The “Exhibit” I was referring to was the comment. That comment, and the behaviours and attitudes behind it, are a direct product of someone’s voting decision. It is also there no matter who wins the election: an outcome independent effect.

      • Mark Shea

        Actually, I still wouldn’t vote for Romney. I don’t owe him my vote and a vote for a third party is not a “vote for Obama”.

        • Rob B.

          Fair enough. Forgive me for having misrepresented your views.

    • ivan_the_mad

      Are you a really big fan of false dilemmas, or are you a really big fan of false dilemmas?

      • Mark Shea

        “Mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose wisely.” – Woody Allen

    • Mark Shea

      11 and 9b.

    • Kristen inDallas

      More like a *chance* at stopping 48% of abortions and increasing the number of men falsely accused of rape to account for the other 50%. There’s nothing “holy” about pretending evil isn’t still evil when we feel really bad for the person commiting it.

  • http://decentfilms.com SDG

    Really, really well done, Mark. You know I haven’t always agreed with the way you’ve expressed yourself on this subject, but this discourse brings a truckload of clarity and then some.

    To your analysis of “The Church *commands* us to vote for the lesser of two evils” I would add this: As I’ve argued at length, I believe it is always permissible to vote for the least objectionable viable candidate (meaning by viable candidate one who may actually win the general election; the vagaries of state-by-state viability, though interesting, don’t affect the logic of my argument). I do not think it is obligatory to do so, and voting for a better non-viable candidate can also be a salutary and prudent way of advocating for the good. So I support your moral right to vote quixotic, as long as you don’t claim that voting pragmatic is a sin, and I’m glad that you support my moral right to vote pragmatic, as long as I don’t claim that everyone else is morally obliged to vote pragmatic too.

    • Mark Shea

      Thanks, Steve. I respect your opinion a ton, so if you are happy with this analysis, I am too. Much obliged!

      That said, I would argue that voting pragmatically in a national presidential election is not sinful, but simply impossible: See #28.

      • http://decentfilms.com SDG

        Mark: In this connection I take “pragmatic” to be reasonable shorthand for something like “voting for the least objectionable viable candidate,” where “viable candidate” is shorthand for “candidate who has a plausible chance of winning, or who offers the most realistic alternative to the candidate with the best chance of winning.”

        I don’t care to quarrel about words; if you don’t like the word “pragmatic” in this connection, feel free to offer an equivalent term (where “equivalent” is among other things shorthand for “reasonably neutral, non-pejorative” ;-) ).

        • Mark Shea

          Fair enough, Sorry for the pedantry.

  • http://servusfidelis.wordpress.com Dave

    From EWTN’s A GUIDE TO CATHOLIC TEACHING AND VOTING http://www.ewtn.com/vote/brief_catechism.htm

    8. What if none of the candidates are completely pro-life?

    As Pope John Paul II explains in his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), “…when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.” Logically, it follows from these words of the Pope that a voter may likewise vote for that candidate who will most likely limit the evils of abortion or any other moral evil at issue.

    9. What if one leading candidate is anti-abortion except in the cases of rape or incest, another leading candidate is completely pro-abortion, and a trailing candidate, not likely to win, is completely anti-abortion. Would I be obliged to vote for the candidate not likely to win?

    In such a case, the Catholic voter may clearly choose to vote for the candidate not likely to win. In addition, the Catholic voter may assess that voting for that candidate might only benefit the completely pro-abortion candidate, and, precisely for the purpose of curtailing the evil of abortion, decide to vote for the leading candidate that is anti-abortion but not perfectly so. This decision would be in keeping with the words of the Pope quoted in question 8 above.

    10. What if all the candidates from whom I have to choose are pro-abortion? Do I have to abstain from voting at all? What do I do?

    Obviously, one of these candidates is going to win the election. Thus, in this dilemma, you should do your best to judge which candidate would do the least moral harm. However, as explained in question 5 above, you should not place a candidate who is pro-capital punishment (and anti-abortion) in the same moral category as a candidate who is pro-abortion. Faced with such a set of candidates, there would be no moral dilemma, and the clear moral obligation would be to vote for the candidate who is pro-capital punishment, not necessarily because he is pro-capital punishment, but because he is anti-abortion.

    I totally ascribed to this evaluation of the present situation. You must live with your conscience and thus you are required to follow your decision on this. However, the Church has no problem with these guidelines.

    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

      The Bishops actually are not OK with those guidelines:
      http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2006/11/usccb-no-guides-from-outside.html

      • http://servusfidelis.wordpress.com Dave

        The USCCB statements are not binding on any Catholic: http://www.ncregister.com/site/article/communion_statement_stirs_controversy/
        FROM THE ARTICLE ABOVE: LAST SECTION

        Cardinal Ratzinger

        In response to the defeat of amendments to the Communion document, Lincoln, Neb., Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz told the conference the statements have little weight regardless of what they say. He quoted various past statements of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before he became Pope Benedict XVI.

        “He said we must not forget that the episcopal conferences have no theological basis,” Bishop Bruskewitz said. “He said ‘they do not belong to the structure of the Church, as willed by Christ, that cannot be eliminated. They have only a practical concrete function.’

        “He said, quote: ‘No episcopal conference as such has a teaching mission. Its documents have no weight of their own save that of the consent given to them by the individual bishops.’

        “He said quote: ‘It is a matter of safeguarding the very nature of the Catholic Church, which is based on an ecclesial structure and not on a kind of federation of national churches. The national level is not an ecclesial dimension.’”

        Said Bishop Bruskewitz, “I just say this to contextualize all of the various productions of this episcopal conference.”

        • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

          The same can be said for the Faithful Citizenship document, as far as its Magisterial status is concerned, and also of the Cardinal Ratzinger letter.

          Nevertheless, when you said “the Church has no problem with these guidelines” you were at the very least making an incomplete statement. The Bishops are not OK with those “voters guides”. The Church hasn’t spoken to them on a Magisterial level, but she has declared, in an authoritative Magisterial act, that assuming the opinions expressed in those voter’s guides are true just because the Church hasn’t condemned them in an authoritative act of the Magisterium is, itself, a heresy.

          • http://servusfidelis.wordpress.com Dave

            Well we are in a heap of trouble then, my friend. My Bishop, whom I am obligated to obey, has accepted for my diocese the Faithful Citizenship guide for his flock. Now by Canon Law I am obligated to obey the teaching office of my Bishop unless he asks me to do something that is a known violation of official moral teaching. No such charge has ever been brought up by anyone in regards to his fidelity to Church Teachings. As regards Fr. Toracco he died without so much of a hint or charge against his fidelity to the teachings whether in word or in writing.

            As far as I am concerned, the argument is a bit like saying that the pew sitting Catholics should disavow any advice or direction given to them by the USCCB, Cardinal Ratzinger as the head of the Congregation for the Defense of the Faith, or by our own Bishop’s who are the one’s we are required to take our direction from. Now supposing that you are right about it being illicit to vote for either candidate, then the average Catholic has avoided mortal sin only by the sacrament of ignorance as Fr. Amorth calls it. Isn’t it the Bishop’s who are to inform and guide their flocks in determination of what is sin and what is not sin? You stated before that this was not the purpose of the Church to think for themselves – which I completely disagree with when it comes to ethical behavior. All of our theology was born of such questions which eventually were answered by the Church and then taught to Her members for the salvation of their souls.

            Determination of the application of de fide teaching is the purview of the Bishops until such time that the Church definitively refutes an error in their application of our teachings or disciplines the Bishop for teaching a false doctrine. If that happens, I will obey the Magisterial Teachings. Until then, I will follow my Bishop’s lead.

            • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

              I have no idea what you are talking about. I think that FC and Cardinal Ratzinger’s letter are correct and true as guides to insure that you have a right intention when voting. (Having a right intention is a necessary but not sufficient condition for a good act).

              Unless I’m mistaken it was you who called into question the authority of the bishops, when you rejected their rejection of third party voter’s guides. At this point I don’t think you are even talking to me anymore: you are just talking at me.

              • http://servusfidelis.wordpress.com Dave

                The point was that it is not the USCCB that makes their writings binding on the Catholic, it is your diocesan Bishop. He has the last say. Simple point.

    • Mark Shea

      Nor do I. However, I think these guidelines are not addressing most of the points I am making here. Apples and oranges. These guidelines are primarily concerned with how voting may affect the outcome of an election. I’m arguing that the great overlooked issue in almost all our political discourse (including this guide) is how voting impacts the voter. In discussions of proportionality, this needs to be included in our considerations and currently this almost never happens. Result: a prolife electorate that now regards its as “bizarre” (to quote one reader) for prolifers to vote their conscience.

      • http://servusfidelis.wordpress.com Dave

        I see it as a “Sophie’s Choice”. Except in this version, one choice 850,000 babies are killed, the other choice, a few thousand, perhaps. No choice: voting for someone who is merely satisfying his conscience for not making choice 1 or 2 is complicit in keeping the status of a regular 850,000 babies per year being slaughtered. It is a no win situation from the point of conscience because you know what your ‘non-vote’ will accomplish – more of the same. I understand the argument of the ends do not justify the means but it seems to me that the choices are not as “free” as we think. Our choices are coerced by the present circumstance that evil at some level will result from whatever choice is made. I only want to save as many children as possible without sitting at home which is an option that is about as effective as writing in a candidate.

        • Kristen inDallas

          Tell you what, if Romney wins, and in his first term only 1000 babies are aborted… I will officially shut up about politics forever and defer al my future votes to your insight.

          • Kristen inDallas

            Sorry reread your statement, will give it to you for anything less than 10,000 babies killed…

  • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

    as long as you don’t claim that voting pragmatic is a sin

    Well, here is the thing. We all need to be appropriately humble about our conclusions, because we are all fallible human beings. That includes me as much or more as anyone else.

    However, if it is actually irrational to vote pragmatically, that means it is also imprudent to vote pragmatically. Now someone can act imprudently because of non-culpable ignorance. I am sure we all do that frequently, myself included. But that doesn’t turn it into the kind of free pass that folks seem to want. As Pope John Paul II said in Veritatis Splendour, “It is possible that the evil done as the result of invincible ignorance or a non-culpable error of judgment may not be imputable to the agent; but even in this case it does not cease to be an evil, a disorder in relation to the truth about the good.”

    Furthermore, we all have the obligation to seek the truth. So I can’t concur with this “agree to disagree, everyone play nice” notion without qualification. We should be able to agree to disagree and play nice out of appropriate humility; but we must not agree to disagree out of a commitment to moral relativism.

  • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

    How did we get the the point where the statement, “I will not vote for a political candidate who advocates grave intrinsic evil,” is flat beyond the comprehension of significant numbers of Roman Catholic Americans?

    That’s not a merely rhetorical question, though I think I will treat it as one, since I’ve learned to never ask a question if you aren’t prepared for the answer, and I’m increasingly worried that Zippy’s ravings might actually provide part of the answer.

    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy
    • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

      We probably got to that part when a number of Internet Catholics decided to attempt to convince people that their own approach to the issue is the one that the Bishops were really talking about for really smart people who really love Jesus. It’s an old Protestant fundamentalist trick: You’ll clearly approach the election this way, if you really love Jesus and you interpret the Bible correctly. The difference is, Catholics have more than the Bible to turn to, so they have the ability to make it sound so much more philosophical when they do it.

      • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

        Right. Or, possibly, people are arguing for what they think is true.

        • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

          Arguing for what they think is true is fine and dandy. But there’s always that thin line between arguing for what I think is true, and – however so subtly – implying (or outright saying) that there is only one acceptable conclusion for really smart people who really love Jesus. In fundamentalist circles, you’d be surprised at how often that line gets crossed.

          • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

            But there’s always that thin line between arguing for what I think is true, and – however so subtly – implying (or outright saying) that there is only one acceptable conclusion for really smart people who really love Jesus.

            There is only one truth. Therefore there is only one acceptable conclusion. It does not follow that people who are ignorant or who make non-culpable errors in judgement don’t love Jesus.

            You seem frankly uncomfortable with the notion that there is one truth: that when there is disagreement it necessarily means that someone is wrong. By coupling disagreement and lack of charity together, you as a practical matter advocate a relativistic attitude toward the truth in these discussions. You should stop doing that, in my view. Of course I could be wrong.

            • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

              I might suggest that you seem uncomfortable with the notion that people who don’t agree with your conclusions are otherwise comfortable with the notion that there is one truth. :)

              And I’m fine with disagreement. That’s what debate is all about. But again, there’s that line I can cross when I start assuming that if people aren’t seeing what I have concluded to be true, that it somehow reflects on their spiritual or intellectual side. Especially as a Catholic, I better have something to back me up if I’ve come to that conclusion.

              • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                You would be wrong.

                When I argue against the soft relativism you are always pushing, it is not from the premise that I am always right about everything. Quite explicitly the contrary.

                • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

                  Who’s arguing against soft relativism? I merely argue that folks have come to different conclusions than you have, and if you’re OK with that, then there’s really nothing else to say.

                • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

                  I meant who’s arguing for soft relativism. It isn’t easy commenting while watching Cleveland lose.

                  • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                    Obviously something else is bothering me, because I liberally pepper my language with qualifiers and acknowledgements that I could be wrong.

                    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                      typo … bothering you about me …

      • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

        You’re referring to the people who think, “I will not vote for a political candidate who advocates grave intrinsic evil,” means more than it does.

        I had in mind the people — including several commenters on this post — who flat can’t comprehend the idea of not voting for a political candidate who advocates grave intrinsic evil.

        • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

          Actually, I have in mind anyone who is attempting to say “You’ve heard what the Bishops have said, but I tell you what they really mean.” Whether not voting, voting for Romney, Obama, third party, Donald Duck, each group sports some who aren’t content with leaving it where the Bishops left it. Oh, we can debate, and that’s fine. We can say ‘this is why I am voting this way or the other.’ We can certainly attempt to convince others. But it’s all too easy to take that additional half step, and begin to insinuate that it’s not just my approach, but it’s the only obvious approach for *serious* Catholics who think and really love Jesus.

          • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

            Consider the proposition:

            There is only one truth. Therefore, when people disagree about what is true, at least one and perhaps all of them are wrong.

            Do you agree or disagree with that proposition?

            • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

              Of course. Where truth is concerned and not mere opinion. But simply acknowledging that does not suddenly make my particular conclusions about something the indisputable truth coequal with Church teaching.

            • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

              Who is saying the things you are arguing against? Please be specific, with citations.

              • http://davidgriffey.blogspot.com/ Dave G.

                You are. I’ve read your posts, your views are noted. You have made your case. That is fine. But I’ve caught a definite tendency, especially on the link Mark posted a couple days ago, of suggesting that what the Bishops have said about voting isn’t enough, that somehow the real Catholic formula must be discerned, and only then can you vote the way the Bishops didn’t say, but clearly meant. Again, that’s just a Catholic version of Perchik’s rule, even if it wasn’t intended to be.

                • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                  …suggesting that what the Bishops have said about voting isn’t enough…

                  If what the Bishops have said was enough, then they would have actually told you who to vote for. They themselves have told you that you must find a proportionate reason. This idea that I am somehow off the reservation for exploring in more detail what would constitute a proportionate reason is ludicrous on its face.

                  Some people seem to want the Church to tell them everything so that they don’t have to think for themselves. The Church doesn’t do that. I could be wrong about my own arguments and reasons, of course. I don’t think I am, or I wouldn’t argue for them. But this soft relativism you are pushing, basically an attempt to say “shut up, Zippy” politely, is just flat wrong. Comparing me to protestant Bible fundamentalists is frankly a slander.

                  And I notice that you are making it all about personalities and delivery rather than about the actual arguments. That is called ad hominem, and you can’t make it any more valid by insinuating some sort of guilt-by-association with protestant Bible proof texters. That just takes you further into the land of red herrings and soft relativism.

  • Jehu

    “What is needed at present is to form whatever alliances can be formed (within the pale of moral action, of course) and defeat this act of tyranny. ” — Mark Shea, speaking on the HHS Mandate

    Romney offers such an alliance.

    Here’s some more:
    ____________________
    Confederate Papist says:
    February 7, 2012 at 11:18 am
    Victory for the sake of claiming victory means nothing if that victory is just window dressing or a temporary hold…

    Reply
    Mark Shea says:
    February 7, 2012 at 11:29 am
    Worry about that after victory is achieved.
    __________________________________

    Agreed. Shea is dead-on in this one too. Worry about that after we remove the only President who put the HHS Mandate in place.

    More? Okay:
    ___________________________

    Mark Shea says:
    You really are more interested in hating Obama than in defeating him.

    The point is to defeat this assault in religious liberty.

    Mark Shea says:

    I will accept the help of a fool if the fool can help.

    ______________________________________

    Hmm.

  • http://servusfidelis.wordpress.com Dave

    If voting for Romney is also material cooperation with intrinsic evil and is forbidden by the Church, then the Church Herself is in material cooperation with intrinsic evil by not making it clear that we cannot vote for either candidate. Is that even theologically possible? Is the whole Church complicit with this sin by its silence? A 3rd party vote might make you feel like you skirted the issue but is the same as staying home and not voting as they are not legitimate choices that America is giving us on the ballot. I guess I could vote for Donald Duck but am I really voting for or against anything other than my own reluctance to stand up against someone who changed the law to allow taxpayers money to go to foreign countries for abortion, opposes Freedom of Religion, supports abortion on demand, supports free contraception and same sex marriage. There is a choice to be made whether you want to make it or not. That is up to your conscience and you should follow your conscience as I will mine.

    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

      Voting for Romney is not forbidden by the Church. But the fact that something is not forbidden by the Church is not evidence that it is morally licit. See here.

      • http://servusfidelis.wordpress.com Dave

        “In a case like the one just mentioned, when it is not possible to overturn or completely abrogate a pro-abortion law, an elected official, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support proposals aimed at limiting the harm done by such a law and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.” __ Evangelium Vitae, Section 73, Bl. Pope John Paul II.

        Now, obviously the Pope was speaking to Catholic legislators themselves within the context of this paragraph. But, can I not see the same rationality in reforming the context of his thought to that of the voter? In other words, would the following be considered a rational moral guideline for a voter?

        “. . . a voter, whose absolute personal opposition to procured abortion was well known, could licitly support a pro-abortion candidate aimed at limiting the harm done by voting for a more pro-abortion candidate and at lessening its negative consequences at the level of general opinion and public morality. This does not in fact represent an illicit cooperation with an unjust law, but rather a legitimate and proper attempt to limit its evil aspects.”

        Simply because the Pope did not write the reconstruction does not refute the logic of the premise: to attempt to limit the evil aspects of a law is a licit action, as long as you are not condoning the other illicit stance held by the one you are voting for. The stances of the 2 candidates are not equal in their severity of evil being propagated upon the population.

        1st, formal and material cooperation with evil is not tacitly being given by the individual who votes to limit the evil that is already present in our law.
        2nd, it is unlikely that the vote will alter the law of the land and is therefore a moot point at best.
        3rd, the Church would Herself be complicit by not following Her own advice from the Catechism: 2489 Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. (Are we not asking Her to make this truth clear to us? Is She abandoning us to a likely cooperation with evil, if She will not respond?)
        4th, I fail to see the connection from the Denzinger 1127 reference about litigation of published books to any relevance in this situation. It seems a bit of a stretch. Again, the Church should qualify the teaching and unambiguously state this to all Her people: we are not all theologians and the Church’s silence would be complicit in our sins if She withholds a simple and direct condemnation that might imperil our souls, which is inconceivable to me.

        I want a modern authority, not a blogger or a reference to litigation on books from the mid 17th century to settle the question. The authority is the Church – and I can’t produce Her direct condemnation or recommendation outside of the one cited from JPII. Can you? If so, then the Church should scream it from the mountain tops. If not, then I will use my reason and will not accept your interpretation that my reasoning and consequent actions are illicit within Church Teachings; to you maybe, to the Church, not at all.

        • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

          But, can I not see the same rationality in reforming the context of his thought to that of the voter?

          You can extrapolate from what the Magisterium says if you use correct reasoning. I’ve already shown why it is a category error to compare a legislator to an individual voter in a mass market election.

          …to attempt to limit the evil aspects of a law is a licit action, as long as you are not condoning the other illicit stance held by the one you are voting for.

          That is true inasmuch as you are insuring that you act with a right intention. But moral evaluation of acts does not stop once we’ve concluded that we have good intentions.

          I want a modern authority … If so, then the Church should scream it from the mountain tops.

          In my experience, people who say what the Church should and should not be creaming from the mountain tops are not thinking with the mind of the Church. It is not the mission of the Church to save you from having to think for yourself.

          • http://servusfidelis.wordpress.com Dave

            First, try to tell that to the schlub in Church that is illiterate and gets all of his teachings from his priest during his homily.

            Secondly, Zippy, with all due respect, you seem to place your opinion on a par with the late Fr. Stephen F. Torraco, PhD who was the expert EWTN used for moral theology for many years. His interpretation is far different from your take on things. I, believing that EWTN is completely orthodox in its teachings, find it hard to think that we should just dismiss his expertise in moral theology for a lesson in theology from you unless you have greater expertise in these matters and can or will share them with your readers. At least then, I could say that we have a dispute between two highly qualified moral theologians who disagree with one another.

            • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

              In what way does this ad hominem attempt to focus on me personally rather than my arguments help your case?

              • http://servusfidelis.wordpress.com Dave

                Simply by the fact that you have indicated that you were able to “extrapolate from what the Magisterium says if you use correct reasoning” which you assume you have. That is implying that Fr. Torraco could not do what you claim to see as a conclusion that should be obvious had he used correct reasoning. Now that does imply again, an expertise on your part that is lacking in others. Your arguments are fine and I, in fact, enjoy reading them. But my objection is always when someone cloaks his arguments with an air of infallibility or great expertise. I think when that is done, credentials should be forthcoming. It is not a personal attack, Zippy, as I respect your opinion as simply that: opinion, nothing more.

                • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                  Has Fr Torraco actually addressed any of specific the issues I’ve brought up? (E.g., voting as a game-theoretic sorites contest, how to evaluate double effect in a large scale sorites building contest, etc).

                  If so, a link to where would be appreciated. If not, it seems like you are just blowing smoke.

                  • http://servusfidelis.wordpress.com Dave

                    Would he need to? Sorry but he and JPII are dead and you can be assured that I would have not a bit of interest in reading everything Fr. Torraco has said or taught during his theological career. I am only interested in the licit or illicit use of the right to vote in this election. It is not I that made the argument: it was Fr. Torraco. The fog, or smoke as you call it where you seem to dwell. I only want a straight answer and I will choose my Bishop, Ratzinger, JPII and yes, even the esteemed Fr. Torraco whom you seem to brush off as a hack. Then I will use, I am instructed by JPII to use both faith and reason to make my determination on this mater. My reason is telling me that the only smoke about this issue is coming off the internet. I have yet to see any Bishops make your case.

                    • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

                      I actually have no idea what you are talking about now, or what it has to do with anything I’ve said.

  • Jessica

    Mark – Your arguments have convinced me thus far. I have looked at Joe Schnieder and I have one concern – he’s a rookie. It’s like the college intern applying for the position of CEO – he will get trampled because he has no experience. I don’t seriously want him in the job, it would be bad for the country and it would be bad for him. I’m at the point where there are NO candidates that meet all of my concerns.


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