“Lessen Evil” Votes for Hillary? (vs. Mark Shea)

“Lessen Evil” Votes for Hillary? (vs. Mark Shea) April 7, 2017


Photograph of Mark Shea from You Tube, posted on his “Books, CDs, and DVDs” web page.


This exchange (slightly edited to stick to this immediate subject matter) took place on my Facebook page today. Mark Shea’s words will be in blue.


[Note: it’s true that in the Facebook discussion I did confuse the primary and general election vote in analyzing Mark’s statements, which came out later, but Mark did urge folks in some situations to vote for Hillary in the final election (which I argued, was even more indefensible). That was my concern: voting for her, period, whether in the primary or the general election. I will edit accordingly, so as not to confuse readers further (keeping my first sentence the same). I have admitted and retracted my mistake on those specifics, and anyone can read the original exchange at the Facebook link above (i.e., I’m not trying to hide anything).]


Mark Shea urged folks to vote for Hillary Clinton in the primaries, and also certainly believes (like all Never-Trumpers, aka Never Rational Rationalizers) that she is more sensible and stable than Trump. [I knew that Mark voted third party, not Democrat, and said so later]

No I didn’t. I urged those in swing states to vote for her and would have done so myself had I lived in one. Not to “support the lesser evil” but to lessen evil–the massive evils Trump is now doing And I would have done so with a clear conscience before God. But the election is over. Hillary lost. Move on. Stop living eternally on 11/8/16. The problem you face is that you are still defending, right now, every lie, cruelty, folly and incompetence Trump and his party is doing. I am free to praise him on those exceedingly rare occasions he is right. You seem to be absolutely bound to praise him for the all too common and daily occasions when he is wrong. That’s the problem: the “prolife” movement is wasting its time and energy defending, not the unborn, but Trump’s lies, cruelties, incompetence and folly. Whatever happened to “holding his feet to the fire”?

Glad you came to comment, Mark.

You urged a vote for her in some circumstances. I would never do that unless it was a case of someone being more pro-abort than her, running against her. And it’s pretty tough to be more pro-abort than Hillary. I am not aware of defending anything I believe to be “cruelty.” Nice try, though.

And, I repeat, I never told people to support Hillary (a terrible, terrible candidate) in the primaries. I never told people to support anybody in the primaries. I did urge people to defeat Trump in the general election. But the election is over now. Move on.

 You did urge people to vote for Hillary in the [general election] in certain states and situations. And I would never do that, unless it was a case of her running against a pro-abort more bloodthirsty than she is. That’s the difference between us. I am more consistently pro-life — as a non-negotiable matter of moral principle — than you are.

I understand that it was in certain swing states only and that it is not carte blanche endorsement. When many people have said that you were a liberal I always corrected them and said that you were third party. When people have said nothing of yours is of any value, I always say that your apologetics are excellent: among the best.

I do say, however, that in many ways your arguments are indistinguishable from that of secular liberals, to such an extent that one might be excused for categorizing you as a useful idiot for the Democratic Party.

It does show that Mark has less consistent pro-life commitments than I do, as a pro-life activist for 35 years and former rescuer. I always vote pro-life when there is a choice between that and pro-abortion. That includes voting for pro-life Democrats on the state level. There hardly are any on the national level anymore.

It makes your statement false. I never urged anybody to vote for Hillary in the primaries. I also never supported and in fact specifically condemn her pro-abortion stance. What I said was that Trump stance is the same as hers and that he will do nothing whatsoever to change our abortion regime. That’s why he sent Ivanka to suck up to PP [Planned Parenthood] and that’s why Roe will still be in place when he’s gone. My purpose, perfectly in line with what Ratzinger wrote in 2004 was to lessen the evil that Trump would do, not support the evil Hillary would have done.

“When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour 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.” – Joseph Ratzinger

I don’t think you slandered me. You made and error of fact. I didn’t support Hillary in the primaries. I don’t think “he sounds like a liberal” is slander either. I just think it’s dumb. The reason question is “Are my views compatible with the faith” and the answer is Yes. I’ll worry more about the judgment of a demographic that despises Francis and adores Trump when they stop being epically wrong about almost everything.

On July 19th, 2016 on Patheos, you wrote:

The Case for Hillary is Simple

She’s not Trump. That’s it. That’s all. I support Hillary with the white hot passion of a thousand shrugs. Which is to say I’d vote for her if I had to (if I lived in a swing state), but will vote a third party protest both against the both of them since I live in ultra-violet blue Washington and don’t have to vote for her for her to carry the state.

In the combox you wrote: “I say one can vote for Hillary, not one must (and prove it by not voting for her.)”

On May 13, 2016 on Patheos you wrote:

Given, therefore, that Trump really is–to any prudent and sensible person–the documentably worse choice of two terrible choices, I will not sit in judgment of any Catholic who, using his or her prudence, feels bound in conscience to take Pope Benedict’s permission to heart and vote for Hillary in order to hand this dangerous fascist and his followers the crushing defeat they richly deserve. Indeed, if I lived in a swing state, I would not only feel free to vote for Hillary with a clear conscience in order to stop Trump, I would actually feel bound by my conscience to do so, precisely *because* of my Catholic–prolife–faith.

Happily, I do not live in a swing state. Here in Violet Blue Washington, a Hillary win is a foregone conclusion and does not need my help to defeat Trump. So I have liberty to register a protest vote for Joe Schriner against both parties.

[you then go on to argue at some length that no consistent Catholic could possibly vote for Trump without warring against the Church, whereas they could vote for Hillary, to “lessen evil” etc.]

Thus, you state in the combox: “For prudent people and not those blinded by propaganda, it is clear that Trump is vastly worse. Given that fact, I will not sit in judgment of Catholics who feel bound in conscience to stop him with a vote for Hillary.”

I was writing with the general election in mind, not the primaries. Because it was obvious who the candidates were going to be in the general election.

If I’d had my druthers, Sanders would have been the Dem nominee since, while not perfect, he has a sense of civic duty. But since I live in the real world, I knew that we were stuck with Clinton vs. Trump and that Trump was, by far, the worse candidate.

It’s even worse to urge a vote for her in the general election, since in the primaries there is a strong pragmatic and tactical / strategic element. It’s unconscionable for any Catholic or pro-lifer to vote for her, against Trump, since Trump advocated (whether one believes him or not) a pro-life position and she did not. That was the choice. And it was a very clear choice.

We’re already seeing the pro-life fruits on several fronts. They would have never been there if Hillary had won. 60 pro-life groups strongly supported Judge Gorsuch in a letter on March 20th. They just had the anti-Planned Parenthood vote in the Senate (Pence being the tie-breaker). The short-lived RyanCare bill defunded Planned Parenthood (for a year).

This in contrast to the pro-abort zealot Hillary would have appointed . . .

Trump was a transparent liar on abortion and that transparency has only been borne out. He doesn’t care about it and hasn’t changed his position not matter how many lies he tells about it. Meanwhile, on every other issue he is the same as Hillary or worse. And in terms of sheer psychological fitness for the job, he is is unfathomably worse. So yes, there was plenty of proportional reason to oppose him.

Meanwhile, I say again: Hillary lost. Move on. The issue is not how people voted. It’s that you are *still* defending every lie, cruelty, incompetence, and bungle this guy is doing. Focus. Live in the present.

Prolife fruits. Mexico City: which does almost nothing but keep “prolifers” on the reservation. Gorsuch who says Roe is settled law and the fetus is not a person. PP still funded with Ivanka holding secret meetings to such up to them.

Prolife losses: They are now zealous defenders of a sex predator who will not say if he personally paid for abortions for his conquests. They are ardent defenders of denying poor women maternity benefits, as well as of placing immense pressure on the poor to abort via low paying jobs and removal of health care benefits. They are, in percentages greater than the general population, opponents of the Church on unjust war, torture, and the death penalty. They cheer for the rejection of refugees, but never saw a bomb they didn’t love. They also spend vital prolife energy defending an NRA that like to help those who accuse the parents of Sandy Hook of staging a hoax. They are also the most passionate enemies of “commie” Pope Francis.

On the whole, I’d call it a net loss.

I do appreciate the fact, Mark, that you have come here and have been willing to engage the discussion. It’s at least an exchange of some sort, where both sides have been heard, and that is rare enough these days, with the huge social and idealogical divides crossing the Church and political discourse.

No one in the Church (or a fellow Christian of any sort or pro-lifer) is my enemy, and so we ought to be able to talk. No one, period, is my personal enemy, as far as I am concerned. I’m willing to talk to anyone of any persuasion, as long as it is civil and a true exchange.

We disagree profoundly on political and social issues. I continue to think you are a great writer and apologist, and don’t question your sincerity or motivations. I think you have massive false premises that you build upon, and hyper-polemicize upon [in political discussion], to generally ill effect.

I will be making this a Patheos dialogue, because I think it is a good back-and-forth. I always try to present opposing views to my readers and let them decide for themselves.

I don’t say Gorsuch is not prolife. I say that his public statements give me no reason to think Roe will be overturned, which is the only thing that matters about his appointment from a prolife perspective. The monomania of thinking that Roe’s repeal is just around the corner is absurd. It’s not going anywhere.

[Y]ou have declared . . . that I support abortion by opposing Trump in the general election. Not feeling the love.

Whatever our disagreements, I have sent several sincere compliments your way in this thread and many times in the past several years, and you have sent very few my way. I’m not looking for them, but I think it is a very telling contrast.

Brian Chovanec (also active in the discussion thread) wrote:

Dave, your 9/24/2015 Patheos article [on pro-life so-called “single-issue” voting] was good. I agree that abolitionists and MLK were right to choose one issue as focus in those times. Where you disagree with me and Mark is in thinking that the Republican Party is doing the same today with abortion; you think that the Republican focus is for life, we think the Republican focus is pretending to be pro life but in reality being for a bunch of other things as their real priority.

There have been a massive number of abortion restrictions on the state level. They came from Republican pro-life commitment. They sure as hell didn’t come from the Democrats, except for the few pro-life Democrat politicians on the state level.

The legal permissibility to pass these restrictions in the first place also came from GOP appointees to the Supreme Court. A Democrat-appointed pro-life Justice hasn’t occurred since 1962 and Byron White. It’s 100% pro-abort record after that.

Our record is mixed, but it remains true that any pro-life Justice in the last 55 years has been from a Republican President.

That in turn allowed state restrictions (after 1989) that have resulted in many thousands of saved lives and a significant reduction in overall childkillings per year.

If we say that the GOP is not 100% committed to pro-life above all else or is 100% consistent, I would readily agree.

But — that granted — it remains true that any gains we have made in the pro-life movement have been as a result of Republicans, with just a handful of pro-life Democrats on the state level.

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