The Case for Voting for the Non-Intrinsic Evil Candidate

The Church’s argument for the Lesser of Two Evils candidates is simple and obvious: Better the corrupt guy who may accidently do some good or at least not be as passionate about doing evil than the guy bound and determined to do grave evil. Anybody can see the reasonableness of this.

The problem comes in when both candidates are, practically speaking, committed to intrinsic grave evils and, practically speaking, will see to it that those evils continue, even though one of them may do so with a sad face.

Zippy Catholic lays out the problem with supporting that when the Church makes the justification “proportionate reasons for remote material cooperation with grave evil”:

One outcome-independent consideration I’ve discussed before is that for most people, voting involves formal cooperation with evil. So even when you, dear reader, are well-formed enough to avoid formal cooperation with grave evil in voting, there is the scandal that most people are not. I’ve also argued that because the effect you have on the outcome is literally negligible, the particular outcome you prefer cannot be invoked as proportionate reason to materially cooperate with grave evil, especially when that grave evil is some form of murdering the innocent.

The highlighted point is, I think, very compelling. It’s this: the mathematical reality is that because the impact of your vote is, quite literally, utterly negligible to the outcome of the election, there can *never be* a proportionate reason to cast it for grave intrinsic evil since the impact of the vote on you will always vastly outweigh the impact of your vote on the election.

One of the ironic testimonies to the truth of this is the fact that those who object to the choice to support candidates who advocate no grave intrinsic evil virtually always do so by a) trying to argue that avoidance of grave intrinsic evil worthy of the everlasting fires of hell is “perfectionism” and b) by those same people routinely labelling those who wish to avoid the everlasting fires of hell as prissy self-regarding narcissists. Such arguments then typically go on to boasting about the critic’s own “realistic” willingness to manfully roll up one’s sleeves and “get our hands dirty” by supporting grave evil — oblivious to so much as the possibility that such a pose of manful courage is itself a form of self-regarding narcissism. Those who strike that pose should consider a) the fact that it is anything but “realistic” to imagine that one vote out of millions has any real impact on the outcome of a presidential election. They should also reflect on the fact that the rhetoric they use to hail themselves as “courageous” and those who take another path to limiting evil as fools for being concerned about grave intrinsic evil goes a long way to persuade some of us that Zippy has a very important point about how supporting candidates who advocate grave, intrinsic evil is a game not worth the candle since the effects on the voter seem to vastly outweigh his vote’s effect on the election.

  • Scott

    For me this election is quite simple: November 6th will be the one day in the last four years that I can categorically reject the abomination that has been the Obama regime. I can say like ala Donald Trump, “YOUR FIRED MR. PRESIDENT” and the way things are shaping up, it looks like he could be.

  • Rob

    I don’t know. I am not the slightest bit interested in voting for either of these two clowns, but the bolded line of argumentation in the post seems to prove too much. It basically says that the outcome of my vote on the results of the election is too small to ever justify even material cooperation with grave evil.

    But as Cadl. Ratzinger said: When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”

    He says that a vote for a candidate who supports grave evil (of the kind that murders the innocent) can be permitted for proportionate reasons. Therefore, I conclude that the line of reasoning in the bolded section must be incorrect. And I suspect that it is related to the attempt to tie proportionate reasons to the relative (in)significance of my vote.

    Did Cadl. Ratzinger not understand that a person’s vote is almost insignificant in effect? I suspect that he is smart enough to do basic math. So again, I conclude that this calculus as it relates to the liceity of material cooperation with grave evil is not relevant.

    None of which is to argue that there is a proportionate reason to vote for Romney. Nor that voting is an amoral act (i.e., that is has no effect on the soul).

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

      The problem with the statement in bold is that it implies you have heard what the Bishops have told you, but I say to you …

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

      I will simply note that Cardinal Ratzinger doesn’t tell us what would constitute proportionate reason; he just reiterates Church teaching that in the presence of a proportionate reason, remote material cooperation with evil is permissible. The Church has nowhere guaranteed that there is ever in fact proportionate reason to vote in a US presidential election for a candidate who supports murdering the innocent. That is left up to us to figure out.

      If people object to my conclusion that there is no proportionate reason in the case of a presidential election when the candidate supports murdering the innocent, even when that candidate is better in other respects to the other “viable” candidate, they have to actually argue with my reasons for concluding that there is no proportionate reason. I agree – everyone agrees – that in the presence of a proportionate reason it is morally permissible. Where we disagree is over whether, in fact, there is proportionate reason.

      When the Church says “if X, then Y”, and I argue “not X”, it is pointless to restate the fact that the Church says “if X, then Y”.

      • Andy, Bad Person

        The Church has nowhere guaranteed that there is ever in fact proportionate reason to vote in a US presidential election for a candidate who supports murdering the innocent. That is left up to us to figure out.

        This is a good point. Just as the Church’s teaching on capital punishment doesn’t explicitly state that no conditions exist that make it necessary, it pretty clearly walks right up to that line without crossing it. This is similar with voting.

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

          In other words, the Church more or less implicitly eliminates any justifiable reason while stopping short of saying there are no justifiable reasons?

          • Andy, Bad Person

            Pretty much. The Church is basically saying, “We all but want to make this impossible, but I have too good of an imagination to ban it outright.”

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

    Just a reminder that intrinsic evil as such isn’t eviler than plain old evil. A candidate may in principle propose gravely evil policies without proposing intrinsically evil policies, and vice versa. So I think this post is just as true if read without the word “instrinic.”

  • Matt Bowman

    I respect the position you and Zippy take in opposing a Romney vote for yourselves on proportionality grounds, just as you respect the position of people who will vote for Romney because he sucks less.  But Zippy’s position on mathematical negligibility is self-defeating.  If the impact of your vote is mathematically negligible, then it it similarly negligible for all purposes, including its moral impact on you.  If the vote is really meaningless, it is really meaningless.  A moral act, to stain you, must be flawed inherently, or in intent, or in circumstances.  We know it isn’t inherently flawed because Pope Benedict said that one may sometimes vote for the candidate supporting less intrinsic evil.  We propose, in discussing this, that the voter has the good intent of reducing evil.  And the circumstances are, either, that the vote means something, therefore for a proportionate good–or is meaningless and doesn’t bring evil on you at all.  So there’s nothing left where one can locate the moral stain, if Zippy’s position is correct.  It also seems to me that Zippy’s position is a rejection of Pope Benedict’s permissive view, because such a proportionality calculus is impossible unless you are voting for the mayor of Mayberry.  That is a strained reading of the teaching.  But Zippy’s position also strays into condemning all people who would vote for a Romney, because it sounds like he is saying the personal stain always overrides the mathematical calculus in a national election–not that it overrides it just for him personally.  I don’t see how you can take Zippy’s position and still say you respect the view of people who will vote for Romney because he sucks less.  Those people, under Zippy’s view, must be wrong for themselves too.

    • ivan_the_mad

      No, Zippy is specifically referencing an “outcome-independent consideration”, namely the view that one of these two guys is going to win, so you need to pick the lesser of two evils and vote for him. He means that *that* is not a proportionate reason for picking a candidate who advocates intrinsic evils. He’s not rejecting the Pope’s words nor is he condemning all people who vote for Romney.

      • Rob

        That makes more sense. Thanks.

      • ivan_the_mad

        Whoops, namely should be not.

    • Mark Shea

      Just because a vote has a negligible impact on a national election does not mean it has a negligible impact on you. A vote is a choice, and our choices matter immensely. The widow’s mites had a completely negligible impact on the Judean economy. They had a cosmic impact on the widow and on the Church because Jesus noticed her choice.

      • Matt Bowman

        A vote is a choice. But what is the thing it chooses? In our hypothetical Catholic voter trying to mitigate evil proportionally, its intent chooses a lesser evil. Its circumstances, under Zippy’s view, chooses nothing at all–like throwing a dirty tissue into a wastebasket. Its object is to give an additional vote to this particular candidate–which is not intrinsically evil, because it can be proprotionately justified–and which either moderately achieves the end of lessening evil, or achieves no end at all (under Zippy’s view). So I agree choices matter, but it seems to me that under Zippy’s analysis of mathematical negligibility, the vote is not actually a choice of anything.

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

          … it seems to me that under Zippy’s analysis of mathematical negligibility, the vote is not actually a choice of anything.

          Then you haven’t understood anything I’ve said.

          If you go to a pro football game and cheer for the Redskins it is, in fact, a choice of something. If you try to justify going and cheering based primarily on how your personal cheering affects the outcome of the game, you have made an error in your reasoning.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          A vote is a choice. But what is the thing it chooses?

          It has less to do with a choice for who becomes the president, and more to do with a choice for whom and what policies you will align yourself with. It’s about consensus, not principle.

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

      ivan_the_mad is correct that I distinguish between outcome dependent effects and outcome independent effects. The former are negligible (this is just a matter of mathematical fact, although people resist it to no end). The latter are not negligible.

      At the same time, I don’t pretend to have given a comprehensive account of outcome-independent effects and their significance. Matt Bowman is certainly correct to infer that I am not simply making a subjective point that applies only to myself. As I said in the combox at my place:

      I don’t pretend to give advice about what folks ought to do once they have an adequate grasp of the truth. It is hard enough work getting an adequate grasp of the truth out into the open.

      A few disclaimers: I’m not especially fond of Internet psychoanalysis, and I would not want to suggest that everyone who disagrees with me does so on purely irrational grounds. Of course because I think I am right I have to embrace the idea that when people disagree it is because (assuming I can’t find a mistake in my thinking) they are wrong. But that is the nature of any honest disagreement, and as I’ve said in other contexts the invocation of “free to disagree” or what have you is tantamount to “I’m shutting up now and I wish you would too.”

      So with those disclaimers I can speculate about psychological factors involved in disagreement, and your question raises one of them. I expect that at least some people recoil from the things I say because to accept those things would leave them in a state of not knowing what to do or how to think. Because I am the bearer of bad news – that the reality they thought they understood is inadequate and requires revision – they look to me for some comprehensive answers as to how to think about things.

      But I don’t pretend to have those answers.

      I do know though that nobody will find adequate answers by feeling around on the ground in the darkness. So if I can shine some light in the room that is better than just leaving everyone in the dark, even though my light bulb doesn’t come with a manual that answers every question raised when the real terrain comes into view.

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

      It also seems to me that Zippy’s position is a rejection of Pope Benedict’s permissive view, because such a proportionality calculus is impossible unless you are voting for the mayor of Mayberry. That is a strained reading of the teaching.

      And again, you are reading into the teaching something it doesn’t actually say. The teaching is that remote material cooperation with evil is morally licit in the presence of a proportionate reason. The teaching does not address the question of what conditions must obtain in order to have a proportionate reason.

  • http://www.HundredsOfCustomer.com Justin West

    Mark, Will you vote for anyone?

    It seems to me that, rather than abstaining lest the act of voting for Rom-Bot 2.0 damage the soul, a better option would be to vote cathartic-ly with a write-in (or even support for Gary Johnson who really IS the lesser of 3 evils). Thoughts?

    • Mark Shea

      Yes. I will vote for someone. A vote is a choice. I intend to use my choice to support somebody who does not support grave intrinsic evil rather than to hide my talent in the ground.

      • Stilbelieve

        “Yes. I will vote for someone. A vote is a choice. I intend to use my choice to support somebody who does not support grave intrinsic evil….”

        Who would the unborn babies vote for in this election if they could?

        The Pope’s reasoning is based on “the saving” of “the more innocent human lives.” It is not based on “purity.” “Prudential judgment” is “exercising prudence (especially in business matters).” Prudence is 1: “the ability to govern and discipline oneself by the use of reason. 2. sagacity or shrewdness in the management of affairs 3. skill and good judgment in the use of resources. 4. caution or circumspection as to danger or risk.”

        I guess you can say the “prudential judgment” is “doing what’s best.” The question is, best for whom? In this case, I’d say “best for the unborn.”

        Reducing the vote of the “better choice” for “good” opens the door for evil to cheat. There is a book out a few years ago entitled, “If It Ain’t Close, They Can’t Cheat.” It’s about all the elections the pro-abortion party loses by a small amount on Election Day, that they eventually get reversed with lawyers by challenging each and every vote. Al Franken, the Saturday Night Live comedian, lost the Minnesota U.S. Senate election by about 300 votes Election Day 2008, but won it 8 months later when their State Supreme Court ruled the lower trial court “did not err when it included in the final election tally the Election Day returns of a precinct in which some ballots were lost before the manual recount.”

        Al Franken became the 60th Democrat Senator in the U.S. Senate in June 2009, giving the pro-abortion party total control of the Senate which resulted in the Democrats being able to contrive various ways to get Obamacare through. Franken’s winning margin was 312 votes. I would guess that winning margin easily came from Catholic voters; I would even dare to say, from Catholic priest, alone. And look what the Church is having to go through today because of the “value” of those missing, then found “lost” votes from one precinct – the HHS Mandate- Obama’s attack on the Church and the U.S. Constitution. How much money, alone, is it costing the Church and Catholic businesses to fight Obama and the Democrat Party’s attack because of those few votes that gave the Democrats a Filibuster Proof Senate?

        Throw your vote away, Mark, if you want, but for God’s sake, don’t go trying to get others to join you or you might just find you have earned yourself a “milestone around your neck.”

        • Mark Shea

          Thank you for that outburst of irrational emotion and guilt manipulation. Your accusations will be treated with the consideration they merit.

    • Irenist

      Gary Johnson believes abortion should be legal prior to fetal viability (i.e., abortion would remain legal prior to 21 weeks gestational age at the very earliest). Thus, I can assure you with great confidence that Mark will not be voting for Gary Johnson.

  • PETER

    Kerry won Wisconsin in ’04 by 11,384 votes. I disagree with your premise that every vote doesn’t count in a close election.

    • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

      Wait, that Kerry/Wisconsin factoid is supposed to prove your point?

      • Andy, Bad Person

        Obviously.

        11,384 = 1.

        • Elaine S.

          The “your one vote can’t possibly make that big a difference” argument would be more believable if U.S. presidents were elected by direct, nationwide popular vote. There were 69 million votes cast in 2008 and if your vote were tossed directly into that massive of a “pool”, its impact would arguably be negligible. However, with the state-by-state electoral vote system, single votes can and do have the potential to make a difference in close elections — particularly if you think of them in terms of votes per precinct or per community. To use Peter’s 2004 Wisconsin example, while 11,384 does NOT equal 1, it DOES equal 6.32 votes per each of the approximately 1,800 cities, towns and villages in Wisconsin. So if just 7 or more people in each community had changed their vote from Kerry to Bush, Bush would have won Wisconsin’s electoral votes.

  • Irenist

    The infinitesimal electoral weight of one vote doesn’t persuade me much, since, in deference to Aquinas and Aristotle, I’m a virtue ethicist, not a consequentialist.
    That said, *this* snippet from Zippy’s “St. Compromise” post hit me like a thunderbolt, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it:
    “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.”
    Voting, Zippy convincingly argues, is part of what I’d call a Chomskyan process of “manufacturing consent” much more than an exertion of electoral power. It sustains esprit de corps among the subjects of our “bipartisan consensus” corporate-welfare / global-warfare state. Voting duopoly *is* more like burning incense to the divine Caesar than like speaking at a New England town meeting. Don’t do it! Better the lions of the arena than such a sin. (Ah, it’s only a venial sin, you say. Take it up with Cardinal Newman.)

    • Irenist

      Incidentally, this process of “manufacturing consent” is why I get peevish when people call the present regime “fascist.” Fascism was so obviously brutish that people bridled at it. The media-inculcated bipartisan illusion that “your vote counts” next to the lobbying prowess of politicos’ corporate paymasters is so much more subtle, so much more carefully calculated to avoid our bridling at it, that it threatens to actually endure for far longer than the adolescent few-decades eruption of fascist brutality in world history. Calling our system of manufactured consent “fascist” woefully underestimates how dangerous it is in the very long term. The veneer of popular consent over the power of greed and violence is a far more diabolically subtle foe than mere “fascism.”

    • ivan_the_mad

      “That said, *this* snippet from Zippy’s “St. Compromise” post hit me like a thunderbolt, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it:”

      That and the rest made me think of the following from GKC’s “What’s Wrong With the World”: “There is only one really startling thing to be done with the ideal, and that is to do it. It is to face the flaming logical fact, and its frightful consequences. Christ knew that it would be a more stunning thunderbolt to fulfil the law than to destroy it.”

  • Matt Bowman

    Voting isn’t cheering.

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

      Right. Cheering is imperfectly analogous to voting (every analogy is imperfect, or it would simply be the thing for which it is an analogy), and actually people often cheer (or not) for those they vote for. Voting is arguably a greater commitment than cheering, because it involves a concrete personal act of endorsement in a way that merely cheering does not. I can cheer for a team I oppose when they make a good play, but I wouldn’t vote for a team I oppose.

      • Matt Bowman

        I think this is the crux of our disagreement. I am not one of those people who think that to vote third party is to vote for Obama. But I do think that to vote for a Romney can be a vote against an Obama. Candidate voting can be a morally compromising act for a voter. But not because it is a vote for a particular guy. Voting for Barack Obama is morally wrong, but not on the theory that BO is a demon incarnate or the unman. HE is not an intrinsic evil. Voting for Barack Obama is morally wrong because the stuff he DOES is intrinsically, massively, indisputably evil, vastly moreso (and at least not less-so) than the alternate victor. So when one votes for a Romney, the vote has two potential moral pitfalls, either helping his policies to prevail, or desiring them to prevail. Just wanting a particular human to win an election is not an evil–it is only an evil to the extent of what he will do, wanting or helping THAT. We know that voting for a Romney is not intrinsically “endorsement” of an evil, not even imperfectly analogous to “cheering,” because if it was, it would NEVER be allowed even by proportionate reasons. Endorsement is formal cooperation. If it is endorsement of an evil it is never allowed. Since we know it may be sometimes allowed, the act of voting for such as him can’t necessarily be endorsement of an evil. Therefore the act of voting for a Romney is only evil if one does so desiring his evil policies, or helping achieve his evil policies. Our hypothetical, of the good faith Catholic voter, presumes that voting for a Romney is not done out of any desire to help his evil policies, but only out of an intent to defeat vastly more-evil policies of his competitor, in a race where the only way to defeat the other guy is for Romney to win. And a vote for a Romney is not impermissibly helping his evil policies for two reasons: either that help is proportionately outweighed by the help in defeating the more-evil policies, or under your theory of mathematical negligibility, you aren’t helping Romney get elected at all, ergo you aren’t helping his evil policies. Thus a vote for a Romney is neither an endorsement of an evil (he is not evil, and one need not endorse his policies), nor is it a desire to promote an evil (the desire is to defeat the more-evil alternative), nor is it helping an evil (because it is proportionately defeating a more-evil, or, it helps nothing at all).

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

          We know that voting for a Romney is not intrinsically “endorsement” of an evil, not even imperfectly analogous to “cheering,” because if it was, it would NEVER be allowed even by proportionate reasons. Endorsement is formal cooperation. If it is endorsement of an evil it is never allowed.

          Agreed. Voting for a candidate is personal, concrete endorsement of the candidate (something significantly more definitive than cheering for him, as already explained), not of every one of his policies. That is a given. You are quite right that endorsement of an evil policy is formal cooperation with evil, and so is impermissible full stop. No search for a proportionate reason is pertinent.

          At issue is whether, objectively, there is proportionate reason for an individual Catholic voter to personally endorse a candidate in a national election who – the candiate – embraces a policy of murdering the innocent. I’ve argued that for several different reasons that proportionate reason does not exist. Pointing out that the endorsement is of the candidate not his policies doesn’t really address any of my arguments.

          • Matt Bowman

            OK. If voting for him doesn’t necessarily mean endorsing his policy, then I don’t see the personal moral taint of voting for him as such. The moral taint comes from helping achieve his bad policy, or desiring to achieve it. The desire isn’t present, by stipulation. The helping is either outweighed by blocking worse evil, or if the vote is meaningless, no help occurs.

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

              As far as I can tell (an important qualifier) it has yet to occur to you that voting has outcome-independent effects.

              • Matt Bowman

                I have identified at least one outcome independent effect, the voter’s intent to reduce evil. I have explained why this effect is not a source of moral stain, and I have explained why they endorsement effect you identify is not actually present. So I don’t take the position, and don’t need to, that there no outcome independent effects. I just need to show that the one you identify is not problematic or not real, which I have done.

                • Andy, Bad Person

                  Intent isn’t an effect.

        • Kristen inDallas

          Man, wouldn’t it be nice if they just let us actually use our vote as a negative to solve all this muss. For the volks that really don’t care much between the lesser of evils and the long shot but just r”really don’t want *that* guy.” Then we’d probably wind up with about 25%FOR Obama and 20% AGAINST Romney, similarly 25% FOR Romney and 20% Against Obama, and about 5-10% for or against the other guys, and a somewhat closer race (and probably a whole lot more reporting on what it is these “other guys” actually DO stand for).

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

    The funny thing is, this:

    “35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable
    position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons.
    Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to
    advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental
    moral evil.

    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.

    37. In making these decisions, it is essential for Catholics to be guided
    by a well-formed conscience that recognizes that all issues do not
    carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose
    intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our
    actions. These decisions should take into account a candidate’s
    commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue.”

    isn’t really that hard. If it’s hard, it’s because we’re making it that way.

  • Jared B.

    They should also reflect on the fact that the rhetoric they use to hail themselves as “courageous” and those who take another path to limiting evil as fools for being concerned about grave intrinsic evil goes a long way to persuade some of us that Zippy has a very important point about how supporting candidates who advocate grave, intrinsic evil is a game not worth the candle since the effects on the voter seem to vastly outweigh his vote’s effect on the election.

    That wins the Longest Run-on Sentence Blog Award of the day ;-)

    I note that in addition to failing one’s own self-regarding-narcissism test, there is a kind of perfectionism too in an outlook on voting that always, without exception, will reject 3rd party candidates out of hand. The standards of that perfectionism are just different, revolving around the “viability” of a candidate rather than “avoid cooperation with grave evil”.

  • Ted Seeber

    The only blessing I can think of in this horrid political system is the fact that out of the five sins that cry out to Heaven for Vengeance, at least nobody supports slavery.

    • Irenist

      Well, none of our candidates endorses it. Just the global economic system that shelters it:
      http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/09/slavery-still-exists/262847/

      • ivan_the_mad

        That’s enough to drive one to despair.

      • Ted Seeber

        Ok, so now I’m to no good at all. All 5 of the “Sins that Cry Out to Heaven for Vengeance” are well represented.

    • ivan_the_mad

      Debt slavery doesn’t count?

      • Ted Seeber

        Hmm, hadn’t thought of that. Yep, guess 5/7 candidates do seem to support that too.

    • Kristen inDallas

      But one of them cuts fundings to progams that help victims of sex-slavery…

  • caroline

    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.

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

      Those are just people who died for our freedoms. We are the truly courageous who bravely risk the terrors of carpal tunnel syndrome to show just how worthless their sacrifices really were.

      • ivan_the_mad

        “who bravely risk the terrors of carpal tunnel syndrome” Speak for yourself, I’ve an ergonomic keyboard.

      • Mark Shea

        So my vote is precious even if statistically insignificant–except when I exercise on behalf of anybody who is not Mitt Romney. Then it’s worthless.

        • Stilbelieve

          It’s worthless if it’s not used for the “common good.” It is selfish – going for “your own good.”

  • Matt Bowman

    Andy it has a moral effect, independent of outcome, which is one kind of effect broadly speaking that Zippy and I are taking about.

  • KMT

    The idea that abstaining from voting for either candidate preserves one in a bubble of moral purity is absurd. The non-action IS a form of action. But go ahead, and watch as church-related schools, hospitals, and colleges are shut down by the HHS mandate when Obama is re-elected. And remember that many individual instances of decisions not to act contributed to this.

  • http://hollydaze-holly.blogspot.com Holly murphy

    I found this post wordy and difficult to read. We have a moral and religious obligation to vote. Even evil cannot make changes in our govt. automatically…it moves slowly and usually with checks and balances. Voting in the best possible choice incrementally brings us closer to the goal and then we can work harder for the next election and push for a more appropriate candidate. Yes, vote for the least evil.

  • Mary

    How about this? Obama’s HHS mandate, Supreme Court appointments who will never overturn Roe v. Wade, and he fully supports abortion. He also supports same-sex marriage.

    You want this man as a leader? He thinks pre-born children are a subhuman group! I am voting Romney/Ryan because I will not leave a single Obama vote unchallenged. To say your vote doesn’t matter is ignorant of the electoral college. Obama’s actions allow mortal sin to exist…we don’t want any more lives destroyed or relationships with God broken. Get out there and VOTE!!

  • http://www.winefredswell.blogspot.com Winefred

    There certainly is a lot of energy being expended here on a theoretical point that has nothing to do with this presidential election. The use of the word “evil” to describe Mitt Romney robs the word of any discernible meaning. Like all people, and certainly all politicians, Romney has weaknesses of character, and may at one time, for whatever reason, have called himself pro-choice. If he didn’t really mean it but was just posing in order to get elected, he did a foul thing, but by no means as foul as actually believing that abortion is acceptable. He may be sincere now in his stated belief that abortion is wrong, having changed his mind (people do that — who among us doesn’t know someone who HAD an abortion and later changed their mind about the issue?) — or he could be posing in order to get elected (HIGHLY implausible). But surely we must reserve to ourselves some way of distinguishing a man like Romney from someone like Rudolph Guiliani, a thrice-married, pro-choice and pro-gay rights lapsed Catholic. Even then, because Giuliani supported aggressive pro-American foreign policy, strict law enforcement, and constructionist judges; did not even pretend to be a practicing Catholic, like the Kennedys all do; and showed absolutely no inclination to actively pursue social policies (on abortion or gay rights, for example) which most Americans do not support, I think one could strongly argue that a vote for Giuliani would have been morally acceptable had he been the candidate against Obama. The word “evil” MUST be reserved for the politician who voted four times against protection for babies born alive after a failed abortion, and the term “lesser evil” reserved for people like Giuliani, with Romney earning nothing more damning than “tending lukewarm” on some but NOT all social issues — not the heartiest endorsement, but a very,very long way from the “evil” he in no way deserves. To vote for Obama is to facilitate evil, for a whole lot more reasons than just abortion and the HHS mandate. To refuse to vote for the only possible candidate who can prevent an Obama re-election is a grave sin of omission, and, I would argue, material cooperation with evil. But more than that, a vote for Romney is, by any rational measure, a vote for a great many goods, not least of which are the economic policies which will keep America (and its many unofficial dependencies) from the catastrophic collapse, with all its concomitant social degradations, which a second Obama term is virtually certain to bring about. Whether one thinks Romney’s pro-life claim is sincere or not, he has positioned himself so as to make any reversion to a pro-choice agenda utterly untenable. He would never get away with it. His Vice President, whose pro-life bona fides are impeccable, would never stand for it. But, of course, there is absolutely no reason to believe that Romney would want to — I don’t understand why supposedly rational people keep working up a sweat pretending otherwise. Obama MUST go. To do ANYTHING which undermines that effort is just WRONG.

    • Mark Shea

      It is evil to advocate for the deliberate destruction of innocent human life. Both Romney and Obama do so. Therefore they both advocate evil.

  • Michael F.

    Mark, you write, “The highlighted point is, I think, very compelling. It’s this: the mathematical reality is that because the impact of your vote is, quite literally, utterly negligible to the outcome of the election, there can *never be* a proportionate reason to cast it for grave intrinsic evil since the impact of the vote on you will always vastly outweigh the impact of your vote on the election.”

    “Always”?

    Then how would you vote in the following scenario according to your philosophy and what would you be publicly advising others to do? Note: You’re in a battleground state.

    Candidate A is for gay marriage, abortion on demand — at any time during pregnancy and for any reason, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, euthanasia and even supports something like the HHS mandate. Candidate B only supports abortion in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother (less than 5% of all current abortions). Candidate C is against all of the above, without except.

    On the day of the election, all the polls have the election this way: Candidate A: 49%. Candidate B: 49%. Candidate C doesn’t even register on the polls.

    So – how would you vote in the following scenario according to your philosophy and what would you be publicly advising others to do?

    I asked Zippy on another post what candidates over the last 20 years would meet his criteria for voting and he refused to answer the question. He couldn’t give me an answer.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2012/10/perfectionist.html/comment-page-1#comment-121453

    So what practical good is his philosophy, Mark?

    • Michael F.

      “without except” – should have been “without exception”

      “So – how would you vote in the following scenario according to your philosophy and what would you be publicly advising others to do?” – should have been “So – how would you vote in the above scenario according to your philosophy and what would you be publicly advising others to do?”

    • Michael F.

      I think you’re also forgetting the fact that you are publicly advocating for this voting behavior, Mark. It’s not just your vote in isolation. 269 votes in Florida made the difference between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Had that many votes switched, it would have been Gore.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X