Faithful Citizenship

I confess that I have been somewhat flippant in my posts on the presidential campaign, and perhaps not been treating the subject with as much gravitas as it deserves.

I encourage all readers to be informed by our Catholic bishops about their proper rights and responsibilities. Their wise counsel is to be found here in a wonderful document about faithful citizenship.

One paragraph in particular caught my eye. We are often told that we mustn’t be single issue voters, however at times there is a single issue that is so important that it is the foundation of all other issues. Thus the issue of abortion strikes at the very root of human life and the existence of the human family.

The bishops say this in paragraph 42 of the above document:

As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.

In other words, you shouldn’t vote for a candidate over a single issue, but it is legitimate not to vote for a candidate because of his position on an important issue.

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  • In other words, you shouldn’t vote for a candidate over a single issue, but it is legitimate not to vote for a candidate because of his position on an important issue.But aren’t Catholics who vote for McCain/Palin voting for a candidate because off his position on a single issue?Or do all the Catholic supporters of the GOP support, for example, the immoral war, or the party’s general disregard for the poor?What am I really getting at? There are more than two options. Why not vote third party, so you can actually vote for a candidate who agrees with you, and not “the lesser of two evils”? The two-party system is a false dichotomy.

  • Billy points out quite a conundrum – a catch 22, perhaps. However, he is right about a third party. Both Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr are pro-life.

  • OK. I will be a broken record. Look beyond the President. He will be there for 4-8 years. Look to the justices who will be there much longer and whose work is far more lasting and pervasive. The country will “run” fine with either candidate, but the legacy of his court could carry far more significant impact.

  • Interesting–in my diocese, the second sentence is being used to eviscerate the first of all meaning. In our diocesan presentation, we were told the “other issues” we should take into account and may consider to outweigh the candidate’s support of one or more grave evils can actually be stands that involve non-intrinsic evils (ie, okay, Candidate A supports abortion, actually wants to get rid of all restrictions on abortion, wants public funding of abortion, supports embryonic stem cell research, and supports same-sex marriage, all of which are intrinsically evil, but I like his stance on the war–war itself not being intrinsically evil–and his plans to help the poor better, so I can vote for him even though the other candidate doesn’t support abortion and is a much better bet at restricting abortion and passing pro-life laws). That kind of logic doesn’t seem to hold water–either their are intrinsic evils we must always oppose or there are not. Opposing intrinsic evils cannot mean tolerating them as means to achieve another good (ie, poor relief).

  • Billy – let’s look at it this way … Europe, Hitler is gassing people that he tells others are subhuman. This is similar to Obama and Biden – they are permitting the innocent babes to be slaughtered by an immoral law.If you were to be against Hitler for gassing/killing people would you be a single idea person, or would you be thinking – well, that Hitler, he is doing these horrible things, but look at how strong our military is, look at how the railroads are working, look at how the economy is doing…Friend – the ‘single’ issue IS THE ISSUE! We have children being slaughtered because we are silent. 50 MILLION and counting, every single day since 1973. We have children slaughtered because people like you, say “vote third party” which does nothing. We have people like you who take us to task because we KNOW that LIFE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE.We can always do better with our poor, we can always withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq – but we cannot make human life.

  • I am struggling with the issue of criminalization as I have commented in the past. In 1970 or so we agreed to criminalize marijuana use to ‘discourage’ its use. But this year we jailed something on the order of 800 thousand or so marijuana users. That is not what we had in mind when we criminalized marijuana. The criminalization industry claims it is ‘super potent’ and ‘helps terrorists’. I don’t think it would help terrorists if it were legal, and as a scientist I feel the ‘super potent’ argument is hogwash. Even if the THC content is increased, that a user would just smoke less of it. Knowing that cancer patients would benefit from marijuana, I am troubled by the staunch stance of conservatives who down beers and wine with glee but culturally are opposed to a ‘hipee drug’ that is not physically addictive and non-toxic (you can’t even get even measure an LD50 on it if I recall correctly.Now back to the topic at hand.As someone who feels that the government cannot be trusted to moderate its criminalization of behaviors, a government that currently creates black markets rather than treatment centers in the drug war, how am I to trust this political party to responsibly restrict abortion without spending trillions in jailing people and creating a mafia-laden black market?That’s my issue anyway. I’m just saying that if you want my vote on this single issue when I am already upset about the Iraq war and McCain/Palin’s belicose verbiage towards Iran – If you want my vote someone is going to have to come up with a way to convince me I can trust the government to responsibly criminalize something.If for example, the GOP were to announce a more responsible platform with regard to Marijuana and other ‘vices’ I would be more inclined to trust them with criminalization of abortion.I might even be convinced to abstain from voting for Obama/Biden since, as Fr. L and the Bishops point out, they actively support abortion. But there’s no way I’m pulling a McCain lever in November when I have so many issues (like pre-emptive war) on my conscience in addition to abortion. And when I don’t feel I can trust the criminalization industry in the US.

  • Chimakuni’s post made me wonder when the world abortion casualty total will exceed that of all war, or has it already happened?

  • OBPoet,I know, I know. I’ve heard the statistics. The global violent crime rate may also exceed the death toll of wars. But pre-emptive war is an overt act of will by the commander in chief, it is something over which he or she will have direct control. Iraq was one of the few acts of pre-emptive war the world has known and thought of encouraging it or voting for a candidate that espouses it sickens me quite a bit.So does partial birth abortion. But a president has indirect control over abortion. All that will matter is the supreme court nomination that the senate won’t confirm anyway. Please explain to me how McCain is going to appoint a litmus test pro-life supreme court nominee.

  • There are other factors too: Sarah Palin is on the record lying several times. Even if you don’t like Andrew Sullivan, his point here is irrefutable: can we even trust Palin with the delicate job of appointing a supreme court justice who will be unable to publicly admit to being pro-life lest they create a conflict-of-interest for themselves should a case come up? Are we to trust a liar for that job?Then there is George Will: if you don’t trust Andrew Sullivan due to his role as a gay activist, George Will is a fairly formidable conservative thinker – it is difficult to dismiss his concerns.

  • marcus,Sarah Palin is not “on record” as lying, unless your definition of lying is that of Al Franken – a reliable source, there. If Sarah Palin’s statements are “lies” then the flips that Obama has made are beyond lies – he’s making up things out of whole cloth. There is nary a mention of Palin in George Will’s article you cite. And am I right in observing from your previous post that you are comparing the evil of the slaughter of innocent children to that of smoking marijuana? Just checking…

  • John,Your quite wrong. Obviously abortion is worse than smoking pot. I was stating the fact that I am reluctant to trust the government with criminalization because I think the drug war is senseless in its tactics, spending, and heavy handedness.At least in driving marijuana underground women aren’t bleeding to death in back alleys. Everyone’s told me that the ‘pro-life movement’, not that it has a central command exactly, will not prosecute women. To me that makes no sense. Criminalization is criminalization. Once that train leaves the station I see a mafia, a black market, and back alley procedures.I also think Palin looks shady in her bridge to no where cover up if nothing else. Why should I trust her to appoint a pro-life supreme court justice? That is the only good she could possibly do for me. But she can do a lot of evil, like provoke a war with Iran.

  • A litmus test isn’t needed, as Roberts and Alito have demonstrated. I shudder to think whom Kerry would have nominated.

  • “I might even be convinced to abstain from voting for Obama/Biden since, as Fr. L and the Bishops point out, they actively support abortion. But there’s no way I’m pulling a McCain lever in November when I have so many issues (like pre-emptive war) on my conscience in addition to abortion.”Marcus,You’ve captured what many of us have been arguing for some time, i.e. the essence of a reasoned, prudential judgment.Supporting Obama is problematic. Not supporting McCain is not.

  • Billy,As a Catholic supporter of the GOP, I must say that I support both immoral wars and a general disregard for the poor. Therefore, I am technically voting for McCain/Palin because of their positions on “two” issues, not a “single” issue.

  • has anyone seen the Newsweek article on Palin? think he is spot-on in this assessment.

  • Thank you, thank you for saying this. We support McCain/Palin and it is because of the intrinsic difference of their personal stands on abortion. That being said, there are many other reasons why I would NOT vote for Obama the greatest of which is his too fast rise to where he is now at. I am very distrustful of who is in the background controlling things.

  • Annie,I agree. Our shadowy overlords have fast tracked Obama to the top for some dark purpose.

  • Hi M.A. – very glad to read that I am not alone in this thinking. I have not generally shared this thoguht. I am a Catholic conservative working in a very liberal academic environment. Sometimes it gets really interesting around here. Fortunately, there is also an abundance of personal respect among us so things are never uncomfortable.

  • Well I will still be a faithful citizen and Vote for Obama. In my opinion, he is the only one who really cares for the American people. McCain has demonstrated over and over again that he will continue the legacy of President Bush. The legacy of lip service, and I am shock that no one here sees that. We can talk abortion all we want, Bush has had 8 years to do something about Abortion and has not reduced nor stopped it, do you think McCain will do the same?

  • afro seminarian,The President did two things about abortion. Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. McCain may do the same. Obama most likely will not.

  • Christopher,Bush did that with a Republican controlled senate, having only a filibuster to negotiate around. The next president won’t have that happy situation. McCain even threatened to go maverick against one of Bush’s nominations as I recall…As I will mention in your other post, the President has FAR more power to use the military with or without congressional approval:KoreaVietnamYugoslaviaSomaliaBeirutPanamaThe list goes on. Political Science 101: The presidency, since Lincoln, has dramatically expanded the powers of the office.That is what Ron Paul was trying to say. That we need to go back to the constitution. No congressional declaration of war, no war. He was also pro life. Ron Paul was a catholic dream candidate, but catholic conservatives, forgive me for saying, were simply too dense and bellicose on Iraq to wake up to that fact.