A reader writes:
I have been giving this some thought and I wanted to run this by you. One of the ideas that I have picked up from reading your web/blog is the idea that voting is not so much about election consequences (who could win, etc.) but, how it impacts the person who casts the vote. I get that. But, I am finding it hard to apply that standard this year without either a) not voting at all or b) voting for Romney because as the media tells us he is the only Republican who can win or c) following you and others into support for Ron Paul on the basis of his positions on limited government while ignoring the rest of his beliefs and positions ( IIRC, Paul is a conspiracy theorist who believes that the FED is conspiracy of the monied interests, that the UN is a conspiracy of the global elites, that the government participated in the 9-11 terrorist attack, etc. It would not surprise me if he also said that Rome was an agent of Satan and the Pope the anti-Christ as other Conspiracy minded non-Catholics believe.) The other alternatives are the two remaining Catholics. Both of which you seem to find morally insufficient.
I don’t move in conspiracy theory circles so I’m not up on what, if anything, Paul thinks about such stuff. I do know he’s actually quite friendly toward Catholics (I think his son is a convert). I’m skeptical he’s a 9/11 truther. I realize there’s something rather kooky about him. But then Reagan seems to have put some stock in horoscopes and similar rubbish. My main reason for supporting him is that he’s got his head screwed on straight about federal overreach, and in particular, about our unsustainable empire. And he opposes grave intrinsic evil. He’s not perfect, but he’s not asking me to endorse evils directly repugnant to the Faith. Good enough for me.
Here is where the question comes: Both Santorum and Gingrich have made mistakes, I get that. Neither is doctrinally perfect. But, it dawned on me that what I am voting for is their Catholicism. As a voter, that is the interest that appeals to me. That is the sin my vote would engender. I am voting for the Catholic ideal. In a race where there is no ideal candidate — why is that not a sufficient justification?
Because both advocate—as policy—evils which are intrinsically and gravely immoral. That means they advocate things that are impossible to reconcile with the Catholic faith: sin worthy of the fires of hell. For my part, I refuse to be party to that any more.
In the past people have told me not to be charitable to those panhandling for money. “They are just going to use it to buy alcohol or drugs,” etc. But, I remember thinking then and still believe the following (maybe in error), that it was not responsibility to worry about how they would use it or pre-judge them in that fashion. My heart was telling me to give, so I did.
You do well.
It is the same when I give money to charities and people say things like “you know only 2% of the money actually goes to the recipients”, etc. If that is true, that really isn’t on me is it? It certainly doesn’t justify doing nothing. Which leads me to this: Neither Gingrich or Santorum are perfect Catholics, but I take them at their word that they are Catholic. My heart tells me to vote for one of them. AT this point, I don’t see that as sinful and my conscience is clear in regards to how my vote impacts me personally at that point. That has to be at least as good a rationale as voting for Paul, because he is limited government?
He’s about more than limited government. He insists that we do *not* have to support the grave intrinsic evils of abortion (Santorum has voted for abortifacients), pre-emptive war, or torture (both Gingrich and Santorum cheer for these, and Santorum cheers for murder of civilians). None of this is Catholic. None of this is “prudential”. All of it is directly repugnant to the faith. And Paul opposes it all. Works for me.