Bonchamps Offers a Very Respectable Catholic Case…

Bonchamps Offers a Very Respectable Catholic Case… August 16, 2012

…for supporting Romney. If I undersand him correctly, it boils down to “Obama is, unlike previous Democrats, an obvious and clear enemy of the Church and his war on the Church is a game changer.” I’m refreshed that he doesn’t try to pretend R2 are some sort of great ticket, merely that they suck less than the Tyrant and his vendetta against the Church.

Given that Ratzinger says that it is legit to vote for somebody who supports grave intrinsic evil if there is a proportional reason to do so, I can respect that. What I have not settled in my own mind is the question of whether Obama’s war on the Church is the game changer that makes a vote for the Plastic Android a valid proportional reason. But it is something I am mulling.

I’d be interested in hearing, particularly from people who share my skepticism about both parties, what they think of Bonchamps argument. Please, zealous partisans, let the folks who share my views speak and don’t suck all the oxygen out of the comboxes with partisan bickering.

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  • I’m very much impressed with Ryan, but still reluctant to do what I did in 08 and vote for the VP and ignore the presidential candidate. I think there is equal danger with Romney in that I know–Rush Limbaugh himself said it over a year ago–that the GOP leadership wants the moral conservatives to, as someone at a dinner in the Hamptons put it to Rush “just shut up and vote for us.” In the UK, a “conservative” Prime Minister and “conservative” government just not only legalized “same sex marriage” but required churches to participate in it. I fear the same will happen hear under Romney, and by showing once again they’re willing to vote for any candidate with an “R” after his name, regardless of how milquetoast he is on abortion, I think pro-lifers are once again shooting themselves in the foot. So if there’s any truly pro-life candidate on the ultimate ticket, I may follow my usual practice of voting Third Party. I suspect I won’t make my final decision until, with much prayer, I make it in the voting booth.

    However, I think Ryan on the ticket makes Romney a bit *less* dangerous than what I initially feared. If Romney ends up doing an otherwise “good job” from a voter perspective, Ryan has a good chance of succeeding him as VP.

    • Mark Shea

      Yes. And the most amazing part is that the moral conservatives are now so docile to the will of the Party Elder who contemptuously exploit them that they are the ones who shout loudest “Shut up and vote GOP” at those of us who are reluctant to buy Romney.

      • Keep an eye out for PublicCatholic’s (Rebecca Hamilton) series “Stop Slogan-Voting.Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated.” which she had originally posted over on WordPress before coming over to Patheos and is going to start posting again on Monday. In particular I really liked her post “Vote Pro-Life=Slogan Voting”.

      • Bob

        Educate me: What is the grave intrinsic evil that Romney supports? Or just give us a linj.

        • Mark Shea

          Abortion. Gay marriage. Forcing Catholic hospitals to dispense the morning after pill. Torture (a huge applause getter with the Rubber Hose Right). You can believe the Etch a Sketch candidate’s claim to have “changed”. I don’t. But on torture, he’s perfectly consistent. And his closest foreign policy advisors are all the geniuses who sent us to Iraq.

          • Problem is, Obama is worse on all counts except, perhaps, torture (I wouldn’t know), but his drone warfare may be morally worse than the torture. I am not remotely a fan of Romney (disclosure: I’m much more a fan of Ryan), but I think that, of the two realistic options, he is the clear choice. Obama is worse in every way.

          • Also, I really don’t know how Obama’s war on Catholicism tips the scales. Surely, it’s bad, but Obama was already undeniably worse. The scales were already tipped. Elect a wishy-washy everything-bad-about-liberals wolf in sheep’s clothing who might, just maybe, mean it when he says he’s changed (Romney) or elect someone who we know is a raving devotee of aborting as many babies as possible, destroying families, and legalizing gay marriage. In negotiables, Obama’s worse, but much more importantly, he’s worse in non-negotiables, even without accounting for the religious freedom issue.

    • My pastor told me that those with marriage impediments (or same sex marriage) could stand in front of the altar saying vows until they fell over. Marriage is an act of God. Someone also told me that with the Act of Supremacy many people took it in Latin and changed the words. If the Parliament wants these things done they better do it themselves. If Obama wants to deny conscience and free will, he better do these things himself.

  • Thomas R

    I think Britain’s situation is somewhat different than ours. Their overall society is much more secular with a larger element against religion. As I recall PM Cameron made it clear he was like a “New Tory” and more socially progressive. (There is the Cornerstone Group, the Conservative Christian Fellowship et alia but their significance is likely limited) British voters either largely support mandating churches do what the state says, which in fairness is arguably part of British tradition, or they just don’t care.

    As for the guy’s argument I’m not sure there’s anything that strikes me as particularly new. Although if you have a Ron Paul level distrust of the government than neither side may work. Sure the Republican Party is more resistant to mandate things of any faith, but if the concern is the State’s powers than this likely only gives a temporary reprieve. Maybe not even that as Republicans often believe in the State having strong powers on matters of security and crime.

  • Alma Peregrina

    I am no american, so I guess that I don’t know much about your internal policies (I am in touch with the HHS mandate, though). However, in my country, I have been voting for a long time in a tiny pro-life party, with no absolute chance of winning. I do this because of my utter disgust with both the right and the left-wing parties, who show absolutely no alignment towards the Church Social Teaching. So I can sympathize with you.

    However, the HHS mandate is so out of line, that I think that Bonchamps may be up to something.

    Think about this: You contend that while pro-lifers and catholics keep being suckered towards voting crappy candidates, with no interest in the CST, you will be constantly ignored in the elections, because your vote is so cheapily sold and easily captured.

    You are right.

    But, let’s face it, neither party will give you what you want, because. They. Don’t. Care. About. You.
    You will never be able to prove that a Catholic (a “real”, not a “cafeteria” or a “part-time” sort of one) is a good and viable candidate and a good and viable President. Both parties will continually flee from your “dream candidates” because they are afraid of being associated with minority, fringe, “extemist” groups.

    But this logic can be put on its head. It is true that, while you keep voting towards non-acceptable candidates, they will continue to appear and you will not get a chance of having a true democratic expression of your ideals. HOWEVER, if you vote out a strong candidate AND they understand that their defeat is due to this “minority, fringe, extremist group”, they would no longer be able to ignore or underestimate you.

    In short, if you can’t show your electoral force by voting a good candidate in, maybe you can show your electoral force by voting a bad (and strong) candidate out.

    Imagine that “first-black-president”, “first gay president”, “hope and change”, “yes we can, I’m so awesome”, “secular messiah extraordinaire”, “all powefull godkind”, “liberal media sweetheart”, “winner of the 2008 election because of the catholic vote” BARACK OBAMA is trashed in this election. That he becomes the next Jimmy Carter. And that his defeat is associated with the catholic vote (that he lost), with his views on abortion and gay “marriage”, with his utterly tyrannical and caesaropapist attitude towards the Catholic Church.

    That would be a “Golliath fall” sort of thing. Both parties would have to start treating catholics seriously. They would have to recognize that Catholicism is an electoral force to be reckoned with. And they would understand that he who messes with the Church, pays a dearly price.

    I believe that both voting the GOP or “third way” are good options. I have been voting “third way” all my electoral life. But I can see a hidden victory here. You can’t be democratically represented because you will not have a candidate good enough for you, because they won’t let you have it. BUT you CAN be democratically represented IF you defeat a candidate too bad even for you, because YOU won’t let THEM have it.

    Pax Christi

    PS: Sorry any English errors that you find.

    • Alma,

      I like the way you think.

      Plus, I really, really do believe that Obama is not merely “at odds with” or “in disagreement to” Catholic teaching. I believe that he is systematically trying to force the Catholic Church underground, to make it impossible to be a public Catholic (or Evangelical non-Catholic Christian, for that matter).

      And, Mark, you wanted to hear from people who don’t trust both parties: I voted for Chuck Baldwin in 2008, the only one to do so in my precinct (Obama 68%, McCain 30%). Increasingly, I believe that one party will take us on the “fast track” to disaster, while the other one will take the “scenic route”, but get there nonetheless.

  • Kirt Higdon

    I don’t buy Bonchamps’ argument, but many people will. Voting for the lesser evil is pretty ingrained and explicitly permitted by the Church. Keep in mind that many faithful Catholics will calculate that Obama is the lesser evil. I figure the chances are great that I’ll make a mistake just trying for the good, let alone deliberately aiming for an evil. I’ll add that the choice of Ryan as running mate doesn’t give me any more confidence in Romney, if anything less confidence.

    • Mark Shea

      Ryan gives me no confidence. But the point I’m wondering about is if the war on the Church is a new wrinkle that alters the equation from previous years and actually introduces a proportional argument that did not exist before.

      • Beadgirl

        My fear is that the war on the Church will continue, perhaps slower under Romney but perhaps not. My other big fear is that as horrible as Obama has been on matters of foreign policy/military action/drone killings/violations of Constitutional and human rights, it will get even worse under a conservative Republican regime. And then there is the fact that despite being pro-life I am very liberal in general, so I worry about certain domestic issues under the Republicans (welfare and other social services, the environment, immigration, the poor and middle classes, unions, etc.) And then, of course, is the fact that I don’t think any Republican ever is going to do anything meaningful about abortion. And so I truly, genuinely don’t know which would be worse — a Romney administration or another Obama administration. Whoever wins, we are all going to lose big in one way or another.

        I’m in NY which will go to Obama no matter what, so I can vote third party to ease my conscience and “send a message” without having to worry about the larger consequences. But that just reinforces that I feel like a lone voice in the wilderness, and I cannot change even a little bit our broken political system.

        • Jmac

          This a thousand times. Except for the “standard” pro-life issues, I’m entirely confident that Romney would continue the Bush/Obama program of ever-increasing executive power, terrorist fear-mongering and desensitization to war. My one hope is that if Romney does get elected, the democrats will pretend to care about issues like this again.

          It does suck about the various social programs, true. But hopefully the economy will continue to be on the mend. The underlying issues with giant government-influencing corporations hasn’t been dealt with at all, but maybe some of the pain will go away.

  • JB

    My objection: that article is overly America-centric. Although American Catholics have a proper interest in protecting themselves from persecution, the American President’s jurisdiction does not encompass the entire Church. Catholics are persecuted in China too, yet the Church prospers throughout the world.

    • Mark Shea

      It’s about an American election. Don’t be silly.

      • JB

        Not silly, the implication seemed to be that the fate of the entire Church will be determined by America’s internal affairs. I might be misinterpreting.

        • R.C.


          Respectfully, which article were you reading? I don’t see a hint of “fate of the entire Church” in the article. It’s hard for me to see even “fate of the Church in America” in the article.

          The notion of someone’s war on the Church being a “game changer” has nothing to do with whether the Church will survive; of course she will; she’s immortal, because she is the body of Christ, who is risen to immortality.

          Forget that it’s U.S. politics being discussed (which distorts things because the U.S. is currently large and influential). Pretend instead that it was some smallish and not-very-influential Central American country. Imagine that…

          1. You saw a citizen of that country discussing, in his country’s language, whom to vote for in an upcoming election, and saying that Doofus Incumbent Politician X and Doofus Challenger Politician Y were equally bad (albeit in different ways);

          2. That, as a result, he normally would have no opinion about which to vote for, and might vote for neither;

          3. That, however, Doofus Incumbent Politician X tried to use the power of his country’s government to attack the church (not only in violation of morality, but in defiance even of his own country’s political traditions) and that Doofus Challenger Politician Y had not, and had even criticized X for doing so;

          4. And, that maybe this was a “game changer”…

          …does it seem more reasonable to conclude that “game changer” meant “something that might affect the fate of the Church worldwide,” or “something that might give me an objectively sound reason to vote for Y in hopes of defeating X?

    • Thomas R

      I guess this isn’t what you meant, but I thought maybe you were concerned the guy is downplaying foreign policy issues. That maybe a Republican administration would be worse in abetting regimes that persecute Catholics.

  • I believe all governments are enemies of the Church (protestant included). It’s really a debate between how overt that opposing is. If one lizard declares outright war, while another lizard declares benign indifference…
    You don’t have to be happy about the choice (and indeed, I think we should be concerned when we get too happy about picking – there’s an idolatry point there, but I won’t go into it now), but you can be smart about it.

  • A Philosopher

    Here’s an argument against the relevance of these sorts of proportionality considerations:

    In voting, you are being asked to rank-order the candidates in terms of their ability to serve as president, and then report on the top position of your ordering. If you think there is a third-party candidate who is preferable to both Romney and Obama, then you should still think this, independent on questions about how bad Obama is and how likely any particular person is to win. (For the geeks: this is roughly Arrow’s IIA axiom.) So if you, in light of proportionality considerations, set aside your most-preferred third-party candidate and vote “Romney” (or “Obama”), you are lying about your preferences, and the usual moral considerations regarding lying apply. If Mark is right that lying can never be justified by extrinsic considerations, then you should never vote major party if there’s a minor party candidate you in fact think is better.

    (A crucial question here is whether voting should be thought of on a “report” or “support” model. On the “report” model, you’re just reporting on a matter of fact (your preference ordering), and the lying considerations apply. On the “support” model, you’re making an act of will, not a statement of fact, and lying ceases to apply as a moral consideration.)

    • As a speech act, casting a secret ballot is mighty constrained. It is the statement, “I vote for X,” and since the statement itself constitutes the vote (Zippy might be happy to point out the similarities with a sacrament), I don’t see how it can be a material falsehood.

      What it can be is inconsistent with one’s judgment of the candidates and circumstances of the election, and depending on the inconsistency it could be evil for me to vote for a candidate.

      Personally, I think the statement “I vote for X” ought to imply, at a minimum, that I prefer that X serve the elected term rather than at least candidate Y who is on the ballot. So though I don’t think one should do it, I don’t think it’s a *lie* to vote for, say, a fifth party candidate who would lose a head-to-head election against Mickey Mouse and whose sole regnative interest is in setting aside land for unicorn preserves.

  • Bob

    Umm… Cameron has not yet legalized ssm, let alone required anybody to participate in it. It might be looking that way, but there are strong elements against it. My own reading of the (UK) situation is that a third party vote would be a good thing (although which third party? The most popular alternative, the UKIP, sounds extremely unappetizing), even if it brings about a (far worse) lab-lib government. With apologies for distraction.

    But if I were an American, in the current US election, I’d hold my nose, vote GOP, and pray that another war doesn’t break out, since the alternative is a greater and more present threat, and in relation to all the other things that Catholics care about (unjust war, torture, the state of the poor, etc…), the Democrats are no better – it seems to me – than the Republicans.

    • I think the prayer might be better stated as ‘that another war isn’t started’

      • Bob

        Correction accepted with thanks. Wars don’t just happen.

    • Elaine S.

      Not to derail the thread here, but I had the impression that the effort to “force churches to perform same sex marriages” in England referred to a PROPOSAL by ONE Member of Parliament, that would deny LEGAL recognition to marriages performed in churches that “discriminated” against same-sex couples. I don’t know that it’s even been voted on, let alone passed.

      It’s my understanding that in England (any Brits on this blog feel free to correct this Yank if she’s wrong) every wedding, in order to be legal, has to be witnessed by a registrar or civil official. Anglican clergy have the legal authority to witness weddings, but if you marry outside the Anglican Church, you have to have a civil official witness the wedding ceremony to make it legal. If this PM had his way, civil registrars would no longer be allowed to witness weddings in churches that didn’t allow SSM. These churches could still perform weddings, they just wouldn’t be legally recognized, and couples who married in those churches would have to have a separate civil wedding in order for it to be legal. This situation already exists in other countries and has for centuries. Personally, I could see it eventually happening in the United States at some point; it would be a bad thing but not necessarily the end of the world, and it wouldn’t stop couples from marrying in the Church if they wanted to.

  • Bob

    Oh, and I wouldn’t expect any positive outcome as a result of my voting for the GOP, only the absence of *some* negatives.

  • More evil at a slower pace is the negative view. More good at a faster pace is the positive view. Both can be true. Is the glass half empty or half full? Consider the positive view as well. Who could bring the most good?
    Also, if one is contemplative, one thinks of being in the present moment. In this present moment there is no time to build up another candidate who could do more good (or less evil).

  • rachel

    I still can’t bring myself to vote for Romney. I can’t do it this time. I fear that Romney will get us into another war and this time could be much more worse. It can mean intervention in Syria and possibly attacking Iran. We don’t want this. As for as the HHS mandate, Obama can do what he likes. I honestly believe that the Church should ignore it and civilly disobey. If he presses the issue further after that, then we will live with the persecution. In perspective, it is egregious but not the most persecuting thing that has been done. I agree that I don’t think it is the game changer that some people have said it is. There are worse things that have happened in this country to Catholics back in the 19th century (remember the No-Nothings, KKK, etc). What can change (I hope) is our complacency. We have had it soft and easy for a very long time while many of our Catholic brothers and sisters have had it rough in other parts of the world but like another poster has said, we have prevailed even in the midst of trial.

    Things are going to get tougher soon. I’m not just talking about possible persecution. I’m talking about more severe economic problems, etc. Both sides are wrong. The GOP is thirsty for another war. Listen to the rhetoric from Romney, Ryan, Santorum, etc. All of them have drummed the mantra of “bomb Iran” for their non-existent nuclear weapons program. Even if Iran had one, it would still not be justified to attack them. The sanctions are taking a severe toll and all they are doing is hurting ordinary Iranians.

    Listen to the rhetoric. It sounds to much like the type that was all over the media just before the Iraq war. This is what I fear. We are hastening our downfall the more we intervene in other countries. Its time we stopped doing this but Romney is all for it. A guy who has had zero military experience. A guy who NEVER had any of his sons go off to war. The GOP claims to be pro-life but that is only to pander to the pro-lifers for votes. Sadly, many of these pro-lifers will cheer on the next war, thinking that we are exceptional, and that the country (whichever it is) deserves it. This is why it is dangerous to vote for either one. They are both evil and I don’t think either one is the “lesser” of two evils. Both have demonstrated that they will use the force of the state for their own ends. Will Obama start another war too? Its possible. Right now he’s fine with drone attacks that kill people who are suspected of being militants in countries we are not at war with (Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia). All this is going to do is create actual terrorists (militants who fight our troops in Afghanistan, etc aren’t terrorists) who will attack us again.

    So, because I am pro-life and I care about what the Church teaches not only on sex issues but also issues of war/torture, etc I will NOT vote for either one.

    • Irenist

      The warmongering is probably my single biggest worry about Romney. However, if Obama may be *more* likely to wage war against Iran than Romney, for reasons discussed by Jeffrey Goldberg:
      * * *
      “Barack Obama is the one who’s more likely to confront Iran militarily, should sanctions and negotiations fail. He has committed himself to stopping Iran by any means necessary, and he has a three-year record as president to back his rhetoric. Romney has only rhetoric, and he would be hamstrung in many ways if he chose military confrontation.

      Romney, who is visiting Netanyahu in Jerusalem this weekend, isn’t soft on the matter. He told a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention this week that, “A clear line must be drawn” with Iran: “There must be a full suspension of any enrichment, period. And at every turn, Iran must know that the United States and our allies stand as one in these critical objectives. Only in this way can we successfully counter the catastrophic threat that Iran presents.” He went on, “I pledge to you and to all Americans that if I become commander-in-chief, I will use every means necessary to protect ourselves and the region, and to prevent the worst from happening while there is still time.”

      But Romney would face several critical challenges in a conflict with Iran that Obama would not:

      — Romney would be a new president in 2013, which could plausibly be the year for a preventive attack. He will be inexperienced, and his national security team will be new and potentially inexperienced as well. The learning curve on Iran is steep, and the Iranian regime knows it. The Obama team is deeply knowledgeable, appropriately cynical about Iranian intentions, and has had the time and confidence to make course corrections.

      — Romney, by all accounts, is uninterested in inheriting the mantle of President George W. Bush, who invaded two Muslim countries and lost popularity and credibility as a result. Romney, despite his rhetoric, is more of a pragmatist than Bush, and far more cautious. An attack on Iran is an incautious act, one that even Bush rejected.

      — The unilateral use of force in the Middle East for a liberal Democrat like Obama is a credential; for a conservative Republican like Romney, it could be an albatross. I argued in a previous column that Romney is more likely than Obama to oversee a revitalized Middle East peace process. That’s because conservatives are better positioned to make peace; liberals are generally better positioned to launch preventive strikes at the nuclear programs of rogue nations. We know that U.S. voters, and world leaders, allow Obama extraordinary leeway when it comes to deadly drone strikes, precisely because of his politics, character and background. (We are talking about a man, after all, who won the Nobel Peace Prize while ordering the automated killing of suspected Muslim terrorists around the world.) Romney will get no comparative slack. ”


      • Bob

        I agree with your analysis. Obama is just as, and probably more, likely to start a war/torture/introduce draconian security measures than a Republican, and is certainly less likely to be strongly opposed, on account of his being a Democrat.

  • From what I can tell, at least in reading most comments on this blog when the issue has come up, the vast majority of those saying they will vote for Romney are more or less saying just that – they see it as the only feasible way to stop this first baby step in officially stripping away religious freedom. As a proud independent myself, that’s how I see it. I wish there was a valid and viable alternate candidate that folks would rally around. I do. But there isn’t. Not as far as I can see.

    So I’m guessing at this point, despite Romney’s attempts to thwart me, I will do what I can to stop what Obama has done. Not because what Obama did is some sort of game changer. But because what Obama did with the entire HHS mandate was appeal to a growing attitude that was already firmly established, and one that will run afoul of my freedoms in the not-too-distant future if nothing is done to stop it.

  • John C

    I agree with Bonchamps. America is a Protestant country, and I have never expected to vote for an orthodox Catholic candidate for president. We have never had a Catholic president, (unless you count the whoremaster Kennedy). We have always had to choose a decent non-Catholic candidate, and that guy this time around is Romney. I place a lot of emphasis on family values, and business and governmental experience. I have no problem with voting for a wealthy, successful candidate, particularly when he or she comes from a good family. In my opinion, the last great president was Eisenhower, and I would suggest that you all read up on Ike. In any event, I will be voting for “the business of America is business”, because in the long run it’s best for the common good.

    • Mark Shea

      I’m not asking for an orthodox Catholic. I’m asking for a candidate who does not support grave intrinsic evil and I’m wondering whether there is a proportional reason to vote for him now that Obama has begun to make war on the Church.

      • Ted Seeber

        Do you know of any Protestant groups that do not support what we Catholics would consider “grave intrinsic evil” in one form or another? The only one I can think of is the Amish/Mennonite branch of Christianity, and they usually keep out of politics.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          I would argue that there’s a difference between supporting intrinsic evil and pushing it as policy. Most Protestants have no problem with contraception, but not all of them will force employers to provide it.

      • Thomas R

        Like I’ve said elsewhere good luck finding a viable candidate, ever in US history, who doesn’t support: condoms, nuclear weapons, pre-emptive war, and retributive executions. It won’t happen because Americans support all those things. (What Bush did different was do pre-emptive wars in the Eastern Hemisphere. Coups or invasions of North American nations not threatening us was old hat)

        • Thomas R

          But replace “nuclear weapons” with “total war” as nuclear weapons didn’t exist for most of US history.

  • The federal government has accumulated to the size of Barad-dur, with the only difference between Republicans and Democrats being where they choose to focus the Eye of Sauron. (There are a few politicianss, such as Ron Paul, who actually want to try to throw the ring into Mount Doom.) Since Obama and the Democrats have chosen to include the Catholic Church under the eye of Sauron via Obamacare and the HHS mandate, I think I agree with Bonchamps; it may be prudent to *gag* vote for Romney. The reasons are: I do not think the Church in America will survive four more years under Obama’s Eye of Sauron, and I do think a Republican administration will divert the gaze of the eye from the Church, sort of like the attack by Gondor on the Black Gate, which diverted the Eye from Frodo and Sam.

  • MarylandBill

    Hi Mark,

    In general, I think he makes a fairly good case, though I am not sure I would agree that we can put aside all of those other issues. Of the Church’s survival, I have no doubt. I also am not convinced that in the long run embracing a candidate who sees nothing wrong with “enhanced interrogation” will be good for the members of the Church; short of a major change in American values, I suspect that another Democrat like Obama will take power before too long… and then might use “enhanced interrogation” on us.

    That being said, I do believe for all his faults, Romney actually does probably understand how important religious freedom is (perhaps even more so than most Catholics given his Mormon background) and that Obama is currently at war with traditional religion and values .

    So, I am not sure I will vote for Romney or a third party candidate (as I have pointed out before, if there is any chance that Maryland will swing republican in this election, Obama has already lost). If I do vote for him, it will be for the following reasons.

    1. Romney does get freedom of religion… he may not agree with our specifics regarding morality but he will probably do our best to support our personal choices (like not requiring employers to pay for contraception).

    2. Romney may not be reliably pro-life, but he won’t push a pro-choice agenda. We know that Obama has and will continue to promote pro-choice and try to build support for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.

    3. On foreign affairs, the difference between the Romney and Obama comes down to the issue of “enhanced interrogation”. While torture is intrinsically evil, when compared to the evil that Obama is doing with respect to abortion and the HHS mandate, Romney definitely falls under the lesser of two evils.

    4. While I believe that federal government does have a role in regards to welfare and medical care in this country, I also believe that these are prudential issues. Romney and Ryan might be wrong, but they might be right and certainly their positions are not intrinsically evil unless they hold them specifically to enrich the rich at the expense of the poor.

    • 1. I’m not sure how anyone could say that with a straight face: Romney was forcing Catholics to provide contraception before Obama did.

      2. He’s pushed a pro-choice agenda in the past and has continued to undermine the pro-life cause even after his proclaimed conversion.

      3. In regards to unjust war Romney’s record is even worse than Obama’s own. He’s just as bad on torture and has expressed no problem with assassination. How Romney not being as bad as Obama regarding abortion makes this okay I have no idea.

      4. I believe that the federal government’s benevolence programs are illegitimate, do far more harm than good, and usurp the role of the church and private charity. However, I don’t trust Romney and Ryan for one second to do the right thing here. Their records make it clear that they will cut these programs in complete disregard for those dependent on them while continuing to expand our war spending and bailing out the rich. They Will feed the rich at the expense of the poor and so will Obama (although his tactics are different; Obamacare doesn’t benefit the poor it is contrived to benefit the insurance companies, the rich and to hurt Obama’s enemies). Obama and Romney are cut from the same cloth here – after all they share the exact same financial backers. They may try to differentiate themselves in their rhetoric but their actions are nearly identical and, regardless of which flavor of despotism you vote for, you’re electing Goldman Sachs to office.

  • This is my take: for every person voting for Romney because “Obama is worse,” there’s someone on the other side saying the exact same thing about Romney. A lot of people who voted for Obama four years ago are regretting it now: he’s broken practically every one of his promises, abridged religious freedom and has granted himself unilateral license to kill (a power which Romney approves of by the way). However, they are still going to vote Obama because they genuinely believe that Romney is worse. There are some Democrats, however, who have courageously chosen to oppose both Obama and Romney – I think that we are called to do the same. When faced with two terrible candidates we should vote ideologically, not strategically because when we elect the lesser of two evils that evil then becomes the new norm. It sets a precedent for every subsequent politician. That’s the kind of damage control that should not be undertaken except in the most extreme of circumstances and when there exists a significant difference between the lesser and the greater evil. I don’t think that Romney represents such a difference.

    Also, consider the massive voting block that Catholics represent. 22% of Americans are Catholic; its virtually impossible for a candidate to win without the Catholic vote. If we have terrible politicians in office then we have ourselves to blame for abandoning principle and voting for them in the first place. The solution is not to repeatedly vote for the less evil guy and thus contribute to the continual downward moral spiral of our political system – it won’t stop until it his the bottom pits of Hell – the solution is to return to the faith. John Adams stated, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Only through the pursuit of virtue can our society pull itself out of the pit we’ve dug ourselves. The “slightly less evil” politicians certainly aren’t going to do it for us.

  • Dismas

    I loved Bonchamp’s point of view, I couldn’t find much to criticize. Voting this year has been made delightfully easy for me. Consideration of one of the candidates has been nullified by marxism, the other candidate regardless of his faults shines forth with hope. I refuse to throw away my vote on some vague and unproven independent by way of fear or scruples.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again regarding Romney: Mitt Romney may have made many mistakes and choices along the way of his career but I truly believe he continues to prove himself a reasonable man of good will. Although imperfect, as we all are, I truly believe he has the best interests of all citizens at heart, that he continually reexamines, reconsiders, and re-reasons his choices and actions in the light of faith and natural law what’s in the best interest of all.

    [13] And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God, and saying: [14] Glory to God in the highest; and on earth peace to men of good will. [Luke 2:13-14]

    • If by “man of good will” you mean one of the most duplicitous politicians to ever walk this nation’s soil then I agree with you:

    • Mark Shea

      “Shines forth with hope”. This is the sort of crap that just sounds ridiculous. Romney is pro-abortion, forced Catholics to dispense contraception, is eager for torture and unjust war, and is another Caesaroligarch looting the rest of us to enrich the wealthy and powerful. There”s nothing shiny or hopeful about him. The one one thin thread of hope is that he doesn’t continue Obama’s hostilities against the Church *despite* his having done exactly that as Governor. Why do you spout this horseshit instead of just acknowledging the truth: that he (barely) sucks less?

      • Dismas

        I stand corrected and subject myself to your mandate. I rescind my previous statement of refusing to throw away my vote on some vague and unproven independent by way of fear or scruples. I will cast my vote by writing you in as independent candidate. Problem solved.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          Ah yes. “I’m against torture and unjust war.”


  • Frank Weathers

    Like Mark, Bonchamps, and others, I leaned towards Ron Paul, and voted for him in the Primary. But now I’m in the same boat with Bonchamps and for the same reasons. I would add that we need “intentional disciples” in the political sphere, as the dearth of them therein is leaving us exposed to forces that not only don’t have the common weal as there goal, but whom desire nothing less than the silencing of Christians, and others, and seek to remove them from the debates on the common weal.

    On the proportional reason to support R2 over the current Administration, these thoughts from 1922 by CUA professor Fr. John Ryan are pertinent:

    “Vote for a good man, regardless of party,” is a plausible but essentially inadequate political rule.
    A distinction should be drawn between legislative offices and those which are merely administrative. In choosing a city treasurer or a county auditor, the only pertinent qualifications are honesty, intellectual capacity and technical equipment. There is involved no question of legislative policy. When the office to be filled is that of Governor of a State, President of the United States, member of a State legislature, or congressman, other qualifications are essential in addition to those just mentioned. The ”good man” may have some very harmful views concerning political and industrial policies. He may sincerely favor national imperialism and jingoism, or legislation to promote the undue aggrandizement of one social class or the oppression of another social class. Obviously the citizen does not fulfil his duty of promoting the common good when he votes for a “good man” of this sort. Sometimes the common welfare will suffer less through the election of a man whose political policies are right but whose moral or intellectual equipment is deficient, than through the elevation of a “good man” who gives his adhesion to wrong policies.
    “It is your duty to vote. To neglect to do so would be a culpable abdication of duty on your part. It is your duty to vote honestly; that is to say, for men worthy of your esteem and trust. It is your duty to vote wisely; that is to say, in such a way as not to waste your votes. It would be better to cast them for candidates who, although not giving complete satisfaction to all our legitimate demands, would lead us to expect from them a line of conduct useful to the country, rather than to keep your votes for others whose program would indeed be more perfect, but whose almost certain defeat might open the door to the enemies of religion and of the social order.”

    More over at YIMCatholic…

  • Joannie

    Why is nobody on this blog willing to wait and see what happens at the Republican Convention first and then just take it from there. We act like Ron Paul is no longer a factor in this race but consider please 2 things. One- he Ron Paul himself has not both officially dropped out of the race and conceded to Mitt Romney, and two he has also not like his son Rand officially endorsed Romney as the GOP nominee and though he was not again invited to speak at the convention, his delegates will and because he won delegates in about 5 or 6 states his name should be on the nominating ballot. Also many of the delegates are being told they MUST vote for Romney. Unless Paul drops out completely of the Race I will not support either Obama or Romney. I may have to go a 3rd Party.

    • Mark Shea

      Romney has the nomination. Period.

  • Irenist

    Mark, since you and I live in non-swing states (Washington and Texas), I think we best serve the interests of Church and country by voting for a principled third party candidate. That said, for someone living in a swing state, I think Bonchamps’ argument that the HHS contraception mandate is a game-changer is a powerful new proportional reason to vote anti-Obama by voting Romney is important.

    A quick caveat: I don’t think that Bonchamps is the best person to make this case, given this sentence from his article: “Put aside the debate over whether or not concern for the poor necessitates a confiscatory welfare regime, whether water-boarding is an intrinsic evil, whether being pro-life means being pro-subsidized single motherhood, or any of the other heated policy debates that politically-minded Catholics like to have.” That sentence, particularly “confiscatory” as applied to the welfare state, indicates that Bonchamps pretty much agrees with the Republicans on economics and a lot of the other issues that might give those of us on the fence pause. So I don’t think this was really a tough choice for him.

    But an ad hominem doesn’t defeat an argument, and Bonchamps’ argument is still powerful, so let’s examine it. If the HHS mandate is not struck down by the courts, then orthodox Catholic eleemosynary institutions are likely to disappear rapidly. This would be a cataclysmic occurrence: thousands of the poor and ill would be left in the lurch, and the Catholic identity of these institutions, once lost, might take decades to recover, if it wasn’t in fact lost forever. This is a gravely serious matter. It is not as grave as abortion, already the preeminent issue of our time, on which the parties should be assessed just as a voter in 1860 should have been focused like a laser on slavery, not tariffs or what have you, but abortion points in the same direction: a vote for Romney.

    It is worth noting that the HHS mandate may be overturned in the courts, however. Even some moderate Democrats have considered it to be overreach, and the Hercules case in Colorado indicates that court victories on this are possible. Reading the tea leaves, I suspect that Justice Kennedy (whose votes are pretty predictable if you imagine he was appointed by an imaginary Libertarian president instead of a Republican one) would rapidly join the four conservatives to overturn the mandate, when (not if) one of the cases reaches SCOTUS in a hypothetical second Obama term. Frankly, I think Kagan would most likely vote against the mandate as well, although that is more of a hunch. I think the likelihood of the HHS mandate surviving SCOTUS review is therefore rather low.

    (Another item to note: in the unlikely event that the mandate were to survive, the closure of Catholic eleemosynary institutions nationwide might finally awaken the cafeteria Catholic majority in the American church to the importance of the Church’s stand against contraception. This could be more important in the long term cultural conflict than any short term legal setback. But, as Bonchamps argues, it is not for us to vote for evil that good may come of it, so this consideration, having been raised, may be dismissed.)

    So what are we left with? A mandate that, if it survives, could be the worst thing to happen to the Church in this country since the pedophilia scandal, but that seems (at least to me) quite unlikely to survive in the courts once its usefulness as an election year gimmick to rally the Moloch-worshippers for Obama has expired. So it’s rather like an asteroid impact on the Earth: a low probability but high stakes event that probably bears more weight than we might intuitively be inclined to accord it.

    So, do I think *you* should vote for Romney? No; you live in Washington, and your voice is most valuable crying out in the wilderness for principle. Do I think a swing state voter should vote for Romney based on the HHS mandate alone? No: it’s too unlikely to survive. But I do think they should vote for Romney because of the 1860-like importance of abortion, which I know is an area where you and I differ. Frankly, as someone who reentered the Church as a pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, man of the economic left, learning to bridle my mind to take the Church’s direction on abortion and sodomy has been a struggle, and the idea of voting Republican still pains me. Nevertheless, given the importance of abortion (not the HHS mandate), I think that, if I lived in a swing state, I’d vote for Romney. But the HHS mandate on its own would not be enough to sway me if I didn’t think abortion was important enough to do so. I hope this has been responsive to your question; sorry about the length.

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      Cool! I learned a new word! And it’s an awesome one!

      Eleemosynary – el•ee•mo•sy•nary adj \ˌe-li-ˈmä-sə-ner-ē, -ˈmō-; -ˈmä-zə-\
      Of, relating to, or supported by charity.

      Medieval Latin eleemosynarius, from Late Latin eleemosyna, alms.

      Synonyms: altruistic, beneficent, benevolent, charitable, good, humanitarian, philanthropic.

      • Irenist

        I owe it to Catholic science-fictioner (and anti-Randian libertarian, come to think of it) John C. Wright, who wrote of a communist artificial hive mind called the “Eleemosynary Composition” in his dazzling “Golden Age” trilogy. Every time I look at the bookshelf in the law library at work with the Texas Code volume on eleemosynary institutions, I am pleasantly reminded of his novels.

  • Peggy R

    I don’t think Romney’s “all that” as a presidential candidate etc. I think it’s not fair to call him a “Plastic Android.” He is an apparently good and decent husband and family man. He’s stood by and loved a wife who’s suffered cancer and MS. He’s done many deeds for friends & strangers in need, according to several media stories I’ve seen. So, I don’t think he’s an unfeeling person. He may be a bit “stiff” and “awkward,” and yes, he hasn’t lived like the average man and may not “get it.” (O’s life wasn’t average or underprivileged either.) He put to work the gifts he’d been given and made something of himself. I don’t think he’s as inhuman or cold as you suggest.

  • FWIW, I know that this blog is heavy on the Ron Paul side of things, but like Mark says, that’s pretty much over. For me? I couldn’t vote for Ron Paul right now if I had to, because he has not yet really been vetted. Most of what I’ve seen is either his detractors or supporters, those who say he wants to kill babies (or at least doesn’t care if they die), or those who will put the best spin possible because that’s how they see him. The media more or less ignores him, or enjoys putting him up to listen to a member of the GOP more or less trash the hell out of the GOP. So he’s not really been put on that ‘hot seat’, and there hasn’t been any serious look at Paul the man, the pol, and the idealist except from those two sides that I’ve seen. So even if it was Paul, I’d need a whole lot more information before I cast a vote – and who knows, I might. But as of now, not enough information, and it doesn’t look like I’ll find out any more given the fact that it is almost sure to be Romney getting the nomination.

  • Andy

    The war against the Catholic Church started many years ago – It didn’t start with Al Smith and his presidential run because as Frederick William Wile often observed Smith was defeated by “the three P’s: Prohibition, Prejudice and Prosperity”. It was prejudice against Catholics that made Kennedy feel the need to say that the Pope would not tell him what to do (A paraphrase I know).

    But this prejudice can be traced back to the founding of America. Some earlier highlights: (I know this is not an exhaustive list)

    Virginia and the Massachusetts Bay colonies had laws forbidding Catholic immigration into their territories. In 1654, 10 Catholics were condemned to death for “papistry” and the property of the Catholic clergy was confiscated by the colonial government.

    Thomas Jefferson an oft-cited founding father said: “History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government.

    1834. An Ursuline Convent in Charlestown Massachusetts was attacked and then pillaged and burned to the ground in what may be one of the most flagrant examples of anti-Catholicism in our country.

    It went underground for a while, or at least seemingly went underground, until Al Smith was the candidate for president.

    Why now is it becoming again more visible. There are I believe several reasons
    1. The Catholic laity itself – we have split ourselves along political lines – allowed our faith to be used to achieve certain ends. I will use abortion as an example. The Catholic Right places ending abortion as the key issue in Catholic Social Teaching; the Catholic Left places poverty and the end of the death penalty as the key issue. Both are part of a Culture of Life or rather ignoring both them is part of the Culture of Death. Instead of working together, we have split into camps.
    2. The rhetoric on both sides of the Catholic divide – liberal vs. conservative is at best harsh. We resort to calling each other non-Catholic, and other less blog worthy terms. We ignore what should hold us together – the Eucharist, the Gospels – and instead point out only our differences. This makes it hard for the rest of the public to see us as anything more than a squabbling bunch of children.
    3. The Catholic Hierarchy has perpetuated some of the blame by its inactions/actions dealing with the pedophilia scandal (Not an a reference to the oft cited Law’s Rule.) The way the hierarchy handled these cases makes it difficult to claim there is a war against the Catholic Church when everything was kept in house, and the church let itself be portrayed as predatory (not that the war doesn’t exist).
    4. The manner in which the church has addresses contraception is another problem, not its doctrine but how it presents it. It is hard for non-Catholics to understand NFP as appropriate, but not contraception. Not providing a clear and understandable rationale for people (Natural Law doesn’t make it) leads non-Catholics to see the church as inconsistent and dictatorial.
    5. There is a general ambivalence about Catholics in the public square in this country. Because we seem to have contradictory claims – we say we adhere to what the pope and the church teaches, and then when we disagree we say is it prudential judgment. We seem to sell our consciences to the bidder that makes us feel safe or good about ourselves. We divide along political lines, when indeed Catholic teaching does not fit into any one camp. We may be our own worst enemies, because we do this.

    So when we talk about a war against the church the question that many people ask is what church – is it the Right Church or the Left Church?

    Obama is the latest iteration of the of American “distaste” for Catholics. Many politicians give lip service to Catholic beliefs in order to win the “Catholic” vote.

    We know about Obama’s aims or at least we think we do. I say think we do, because no person knows another’s heart and soul and so we proceed based on his prior activities.

    So lets look at Romney.
    1. He is the father of Obamacare and forcing Catholics to provide contraception – look at his tenure as Massachusetts Governor,
    2. He was pro-choice right up until he was forced in the primaries to change his mind, which makes me suspicious of his true beliefs and stance on abortion
    3. His viewpoint on gay marriage in 1994 was that gays deserved full equality and that he would be a stronger advocate for them then Ted Kennedy – now he has changed his mind, but he seems to be choosing his words carefully so not to upset any group?
    4. He seems to not have any compunction about using US military power, “starting” another war, has expressed no reluctance about torture, though to be fair he has not delivered a firm statement about its use
    5. His economic policies would appear to sacrifice a safety net, with all of its holes, to continue to pander to the needs of his millionaire/billionaire backers.

    The only difference I see between Obama and Romney is one of strategies and appearances. Romney is obvious about his desires to lower taxes on the rich and not really worry about the poor. Obama is equally obvious about his pro-choice stance without regard to the damage abortion causes the country. Actually that is the only difference I see between the two parties, but that may be my lack of respect for both parties rearing its ugly head. Neither part fits with Catholic teaching.

    I began with writing about anti-Catholic sentiment in America and the war on the church because I believe that as long as the church remains divided along political lines and does not recognize its power in terms of the ballot box and demand candidates who can more closely adhere to Catholic teaching we will always be stuck with picking the least evil, and in this case I find both sides equal in evil. I know that it is impossible for the president to follow Catholic teaching alone, because s/he is president of the whole country. But, until we as Catholics live the gospels, live the teaching of the church we will “blessed” with what we see now – candidates who really are not different and are at best hostile to the what the church teaches.

    As a voter in a non-swing state – New York – I think and have thought for past 9 elections for a third party candidate – as a protest to be sure, but also that third party candidate can stay on the ballot.

  • B.E. Ward

    So in an ideal world, you vote for Romney and he repeals or significantly alters the HHS mandate. In 4 years (after he bombs who-knows-where into a quagmire) the pendulum swings again and a liberal Democrat is elected in 2016 (Hillary?). Then we go right back into War On The Church mode.

    What I’m trying to say is this: Anyone who thinks that Romney is a solution to anything is fooling themselves. The heat isn’t going away. You can move the pan to a burner that’s off, but someone else will just move it back later. Good and honorable Christians need to work on converting the hearts and minds of others, while also girding themselves against attacks that have always been there and will always be there until the Lord returns again.

    • R.C.

      B.E. Ward:

      Who’s Romney going to bomb that Obama isn’t and hasn’t? Obama stepped up the drone attacks far above anything G.W. Bush did, hasn’t closed Guantanamo, hasn’t closed bases or abruptly withdrawn from war zones.

      You’re right that Romney isn’t a “solution” to anything. He’s not much different from G.W.Bush except that he’s more fiscally conservative and, assuming no massive attacks on the U.S. happen, is less temperamentally inclined to start a war inasmuch as he doesn’t have a family grudge against any dictators like Bush had (understandably) against Saddam. (Not saying that was the only reason or the main reason Bush went to war with Iraq, but having a guy try to kill your father does make one more inclined to enthusiasm about any opportunity to strike back. And we forget that Bush was all anti-nation-building and anti-war-in-3rd-world-nations up until 9/11 hijacked his presidency…if that term isn’t too inappropriate.)

      So, Romney’s not Jesus. But neither was Charles Martel, say. Since we can’t vote for the Second Coming, our options are limited to the best of two goods or the worst of two evils.

      Romney’s superior to Obama. Ergo, vote Romney, even if you must hold your nose while doing so.

      I mean, aren’t we adults, here? Haven’t you ever voted before? If you have, you know we nearly always go to the polls holding our noses. So we’ll do so once again. It’s a fallen world, and it sucks sometimes, but them’s the breaks.

      As for the fact that in 4 years a Democrat may come back in: Sure! But what’s going to happen the next 4 years? Don’t whine about your sunk costs or future problems that aren’t yet here; sufficient for today are today’s evils! Let’s be grown-ups here and, while acknowledging the drawbacks on both sides, pick the superior choice.

      It’s all here:

      ‘Nuff said.

      • B.E. Ward

        “Let’s be grown-ups here and, while acknowledging the drawbacks on both sides, pick the superior choice.”

        The superior choice? I either get War on the Church or Just Plain War. Hmmmm…

        There’s another matter I take into consideration with Romney. I won’t vote for a Mormon for president. Why not? I grew up Mormon and have the spiritual scars to show for it. I don’t want someone who has a secret name, or thinks that secret handshakes are somehow salvific, or believes that God is a person who lives on a planet far, far away, or is willing to defend Joseph Smith as a prophet to make decisions for the entire country. Pretty much the same reasons why I wouldn’t vote for an ‘out and proud’ Freemason.

        • Tim

          The odds are much greater that Obama will be the one to start war. He is free to do whatever he wants as he has absolutely no critique or oversight from the press, who worship every step he makes and word he speaks. Romney, on the otherhand, will be watched like a hawk and won’t be able to pass gas without it being proclaimed across the country. If you’re concerned about just plain war, don’t vote for the one.

        • R.C.


          Re: Your past history with Mormons: Well, that’s a personal issue on your part. Just as I know some Christian teetotallers who don’t assert that alcohol is sinful for all Christians but abstain themselves because of their abusive drunken parents, I can well understand a man who acknowledges the arguments for voting for a particular Mormon even though he can’t bring himself to do it. It’s the old “meat sacrificed to idols” thing, which St. Paul referenced: Although there is liberty, we should not offend the consciences of our brethren. I have no intention of counseling you to bruise your conscience in this area.

          So: Let’s take it as read that you, yourself, won’t vote for Romney for personal reasons. I accept that and even counsel you not to violate your conscience in this area: It is perfectly understandable.

          Still, I think the broader argument is worth having on the merits, apart from your personal considerations. Towards that end…

          You say, “The superior choice? I either get War on the Church or Just Plain War. ”

          I don’t think that’s correct.

          I think, rather, that we get to choose either “War on the Church” along with a fundamentally unaltered continuation of “Just Plain War”; or, you get “Just Plain War” by itself.

          What a lot of people don’t seem to grasp is that there’s no real difference between the Foreign-Policy and Military ACTIONS performed by Democrats and those performed by Republicans except in certain narrow areas:

          1. DIPLOMATICALLY: Republicans spend a lot of time speaking harshly to enemies and attempting to bond with allies, whereas Democrats spend a lot of time trying to make nice with enemies while abandoning or insulting allies; and,

          2. MILITARY FUNDING: Republicans spend a lot of time preserving existing military funding whereas Democrats spend a lot of time trying to cut it.

          Now, some people look at Item #2 and conclude, “Hey, that means Democrats will actually engage in less warfare!” Not so. They’ll do the same things — as they have been for four years now — but, they’ll do it with a military that’s precariously stretched-thin.

          As for Item #1, the sad fact is that it’s atrociously bad psychology when dealing with folks unaccustomed to (or uninterested in) the limted-government-individual-rights-democratic-republic-mindset. The psychology of that mindset makes “engagement” of the conciliatory sort a productive tactic in dealing with, say, Japan or the European powers. But for folks of the opposite mindset — which is to say, dictators in general and nearly the whole North African/Arabian/Persian world — a person who approaches wishing to initiate diplomacy is viewed simply and solely as having approached hat-in-hand, unarmed, with exposed neck, begging for mercy. It is an abject display of weakness, a sign of having no other cards in one’s hand. It is a form of begging to be abused, to be enslaved, to be raped.

          Which, of course, is why the Iranians (and Vladmir Putin, too, but that is another story) always see such negotiations as a sign that they have somehow gained the upper hand, that they are winning. If they didn’t have the upper hand, they reason, the West wouldn’t be showing such servile weakness. If the West were in a position of strength, they reason, then THEY would have been compelled to initiate negotiations; that is, to beg the West for mercy. As the opposite has happened, they feel powerful. So they — naturally enough, from their point-of-view — use it as an opening to stab us in the back while pursuing their own interests with an increased sense of freedom.

          All that is an aside, but I explain it only to lend clarity to the differences in Foreign Policy “assertiveness” between Republicans and Democrats.

          Both parties get us into unnecessary wars — does Bosnia ring a bell? And both parties perpetuate the wars past their due date.

          And, both parties will knowingly attack poorly-identified targets, frequently resulting in civilian casualties. (In fact the Democrats have shown rather more willingness to do this, probably because the Mainstream Media holds Republican officeholders accountable for it while turning a blind eye to Democratic officeholders doing the same thing.)

          So the Republicans vs. Democrats question is not War vs. No-War. It’s War vs. War (with the pretense of being more peaceable).

          So the only benefit of Republicans over Democrats is that Republicans don’t encourage our enemies through poorly-thought-out diplomatic initiatives which our enemies interpret as servile displays of weakness, and Republicans tend to not risk the troops running out of funding while they’re in the field.

          So even on the topic of militarism, I might give an edge to the GOP, while hating both sides.

          But then when we consider other topics (the HHS mandate, Supreme Court justices, support for Planned Parenthood, smaller government, et cetera) the GOP is so superior to the Dems as to be beyond comparison. And with respect to corporate cronyism, the Dems have become every bit as bad as the GOP were 10 years ago. The Obama administration might just as well have formally outsourced fiscal policy to Goldman Sachs. So, no difference there.

          That leaves only the waterboarding topic. Over time, Mark managed to bring me 90% of the way to his point-of-view despite his style. At any rate, I’m now opposed, and we must admit: Where that policy is concerned, Dems are superior to the GOP.

          But does that make Dems and the GOP equal? The Dems’ chief human rights violation is support for abortion; the GOP’s is support for torture of captured terrorists. Both are cases of support for human rights violations. But are the two evils of equal magnitude?

          Well, abortion has a roster of 50+ million victims, all of whom are the most innocent and weak amongst us. Waterboarding’s victims-list is, what? Five, ten people? Or a couple of hundred if you go beyond waterboarding and include throwing guys up against the wall under the heading of torture? And these folks are, ahem, not among the more innocent and placid members of the human race. That’s no excuse for torture…but, hey, if you’re going to compare the evils of the GOP’s advocacy for a human-rights violation with the evils of the Democrats’ advocacy for a human rights violation, you simply have to consider the magnitude of the crime. So, the number of victims and who they are becomes pertinent.

          Neither abortion-on-demand nor torture of terrorists should be continued. But…the former will claim another million innocent/helpless lives next year alone. The latter would take a CENTURY to claim that many lives, and the victims would be far from helpless innocents.

          So I think, in the end, that the GOP comes out to be far preferable in any objective measurement, even if we’re entirely up-front about their failings and flaws and (in the case of the torture thing) stupid wickedness.

          And that’s why I take the view that folks in a swing/battleground state are morally obligated to vote against Obama by voting for Romney. Folks in non-battleground states can vote third-party or write-in for different strategic reasons; e.g. to make the party they’d have otherwise voted for have smaller margins of victory and thereby “scare” that party into working harder for their vote. But in a state where the margins are close, I’d say hold your nose and go for the Republicans.

  • Brother Cadfael

    I share what I understand to be the philosophy of St. Thomas More, the patron saint of statesmen. In a sense, More viewed the best as the enemy of the good. In any given interaction, More surveyed with a keen eye the landscape facing him, astutely determined the most obtainable results, and then did (or said) what was in his power to obtain those results without lamenting the failure to achieve the best. Then he moved on to the next task on his quest to make the world a little bit better place than it was before. Romney may not be a great candidate, but he is very clearly a better candidate than Obama. I will support the better choice and then come November, I will do what I can to make whoever wins a better ruler, whether it be a tyrant or a chameleon.

    • Mark Shea

      No. He is not “very clearly” a better candidate than Obama. He is just barely better. Just barely. And I am not at all clear that this makes him a candidate I can vote for in good conscience.

      • Chris M

        How about “he’s very clearly just barely a better candidate”?

  • Tom Piatak

    Bonchamps’ argument is correct. Obama has attacked the liberty of the Church, and he will not back down. Indeed, he is running ads boasting that his government is mandating “free” contraceptives for all, and attacking Romney for opposing the HHS mandate. In attacking the Church, Obama is not only revealing his own beliefs; he is also responding to a powerful constituency among Democratic voters and donors that despises traditional Christianity and wishes to use the power of the federal government against it, going so far as to tell Christian bodies how they should govern themselves. There are certainly powerful currents in the Republican party that disagree with certain teachings of the Church, but there is no constituency within the Republican party calling for using federal power to attack Christian institutions.

    If Obama is reelected, the lesson for him will be that he can attack the Church with impunity. He challenged the American bishops and won. He will then not only vigorously enforce the HHS mandate, which will have a disastrous impact on Catholic institutions, but feel that he has a green light to use federal power against the Church in other areas, including, perhaps, a push for federal funding of abortion, a push that would be based on the very same logic that undergirds the HHS mandate. And, in launching further attacks against the Church, he will be cheered on not only by the powerful anti-Catholic currents within the Democratic party but also by the anti-Catholic major media.

    Of course, the only way for Obama not to be reelected is if Romney wins.

    • John C

      You nailed it, Tom.

  • Tom Piatak

    Two follow up points:

    1) If Obama is reelected, he won’t be the only politician to conclude that the Church can be attacked with impunity.

    2) If the courts do not block the HHS mandate (and victory in court is never guaranteed), then either a) Catholic institutions will be forced to close or b) the bishops will be forced into a humiliating backdown, which will only strengthen the thinking among politicians that the Church is weak and can be attacked with impunity.

  • David Davies

    Actions generally speak more loudly than words. What could be more Pro-Life than fathering five sons?

    • Mark Shea

      You mean besides not supporting abortion for years and year and only have a come to Jesus moment when it became politically expedient? Or not forcing Catholic hospitals to dispense the morning after pill? Or not using support for torture as an applause line for the delectation of the Rubber Hose Right?

      • Jmac

        But by my count, Mark, you only have 4 sons. So Romney’s 25% more pro-life than you. I think you should just admit you lost and give up gracefully. As a math major, I can guarantee that this argument is airtight.

        • Mark Shea

          There’s no arguing with cold hard math.

          • Andy, Bad Person

            This was especially funny because I first read it as “There’s no arguing with cold hard meth.”

            Very true.

        • JDH

          Ha! This made me (literally!) laugh out loud. If Mark would just take in a pair of twins, at least until the election is over, he’d totally own Mitt Romney.

  • David Davies

    The bishops should neither comply with the HHS mandate nor should they close institutions. They should force the government to use force.

  • Brother Cadfael


    I don’t share your cynicism that every move of a candidate I don’t like should be viewed through the least charitable lens possible. But even if I did, a candidate who espouses positions that are markedly more friendly to the Church and her teachings just because it is politically expedient to do so is “clearly” (not “barely”) better than one who is openly hostile to most of what the Church holds dear (even if that open hostility is also just a matter of political expediency).

  • Kristen inDallas

    Both Obama and Romney scare the stuffing out of me. When it comes to how we cunduct warfare, how to ethically treat other human beings, how to be humble and how to listen, their track record on abortion issues, their ability to adequately understand women (50% of their constituents) ie empathy… Both are severely lacking all of those traits which are all important to me. The war on the church angle doesn’t really change much because that war is realisticly not the product of one individual but of a whole currupt system which Romney is just as much a part of. Neither one has any interest in stopping that tidal wave, only in being re-elected. They both have Catholic running mates, so as far as I can tell the only reason I might have for voting either party would be if I thought one of those running mates was perhaps more solidly Catholic on at least a few issues and might have a backbone in the face of it all. I get a gut-level feeling that Ryan might be a better hold-out when it comes down to pro-life issues. But I don’t vote on gut level feelings so he would need to take it on the chin pretty hard this campaign season on an important issue of faith (ie not just the budget) to convince me.

  • Gam Samgee

    Just like JB commented earlier on, I found Bonchamps argument to be too USA-centric, in that there was a distinct implication that the fate of the entire Church hinged on the fate of the Church in the USA, which it of course does not. If the retort to that interpretation is that Bonchamps was only arguing that the current federal administration’s policy attacks on the Church are a definitive motivation to vote for the other majorly flawed, major party candidate, then I say rubbish!! You can’t just set aside moral questions about intrinsic evils like torture because the administration is enacting a few policies that go against the conscience of faithful Catholics. No question that those policies are wrong and odious and should be resolutely opposed and denounced by Catholics!! But there are still many opportunities for the Church and faithful Catholics to ignore or overturn those policies. It’s not like Obama is rounding us up and sending us to the Colliseum or the gas chambers. I don’t see that the current, anti-Catholic policies of the current administration are of so grave a magnitude that they trump other moral imperatives. (THIS IS NOT AN ARGUMENT TO VOTE FOR OBAMA AND ANY ATTEMPT TO INTERPRET IT AS SUCH WITH BE MET WITH A DOUBLE FACEPALM!!! AND I MEAN IT!) The current anti-Catholic policies are still fairly small potatoes when it comes to the moral calculus involved in deciding who to vote for or not.

    Additionally, the implication that Bonchamps gives, and I object to, is that once the current monster is elected for his 4 year term, we just have to deal with whatever he does. There is still something called impeachment and removal from office, a constitutional mechanism which, like Christianity, has been found difficult and not tried. We could always try it sometime if things get really bad.

    Anyhow, all the Hobbits are voting for Ron Paul. Though it is rumored that the Hobbits of the West Farthing are not voting at all!

    • Irenist

      For whom are the Tooks voting? Never trust a Took!

  • Pitchfork

    I don’t see how the now-modified HHS mandate will destroy the Church or even threatens it. In fact, it has the ideal combination of inciting much fury without having much practical threat. Moreover, why else would Catholics be talking about why they “must” vote for Romney? Why are we having this conversation in the first place? Because of the HHS mandate. Minor threats to the Church can greatly increase support and solidarity for its independence and even its teaching. Even EJ Dionne broke ranks with Obama-ites when this issue first cropped up.

    More to the point raised in the post, I fail to see why proportionality applies narrowly to a single election. The poor choices we have before us (R2 or Obama) cannot be evaluated in isolation. We must consider the events which led up to those choices being the only ones offered and how a similar set of circumstances is likely to lead to similarly poor choices in the future. In other words, voting for potentially slightly-less bad candidate A over candidate B can only have the smallest effect on the common good and the perpetuation of evil. And frankly, we don’t know with any degree of certainty if that effect will be net positive or negative. (We’ve seen good and bad scenarios laid out in the combox already, but those are highly speculative.)

    Finally, the fact that we have very poor, only marginally different choices for president should not be used to make the argument that those who refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils (Romney) are somehow responsible for the future evils perpetrated by the other candidate (Obama). Take a long view of presidential elections and is clear that continually voting for the lesser of two evils in “the most important election of our lifetime” [tm] has been a losing proposition and will continue to be one. Simply treating the election as a mere fact of life, like the weather, which must simply be dealt with on its own terms, is a mistake.

    • Irenist

      “I don’t see how the now-modified HHS mandate will destroy the Church or even threatens it.”
      The mandate threatens the Church’s ability to incarnate Christian charity through its own eleemosynary institutions. But, as Mark has often pointed out, the greater threat is to the United States: the Church has outlasted far, far worse than the HHS mandate, but the U.S. would be driven well into the ditch without all its Catholic hospitals, universities, parochial schools, shelters, soup kitchens, adoption services, and other charitable endeavors supplementing the welfare state.

  • JDH

    My two cents: I’m not 100% sure, but I’m leaning toward voting for Romney. He will support things that I do not, and perhaps will actually implement an intrinsically evil policy at some point (though, I share Mark’s hope that torture is just an applause line, not a commitment to reintroducing it). However, as I know all of you do, I believe the freedom of the Church to operate, both in terms of public woshrip AND public services, with minimal interference is THE most important thing for our society, period. I know we live in an increasingly secular culture that is likely to turn more and more against the Church as the years pass, but perhaps, if we electorally reject Obama’s attacks, we might gain a few more years of benign neglect.

    Romney/Ryan 2012 – We promise to forget all about you!

  • Bren

    I really don’t know what I’m going to do in this election! Obama was/is totally out of the question! Romney is not much better from what I’ve read and then there’s Ron Paul? Maybe, but doubtful. He does not seem to have the “force religious organizations to go against their beliefs” baggage that the other two have but I don’t see him as a grand pro-life candidate either. I’m not just talking about Paul’s “personal” anti-abortion” belief but also his libertarian bent that says to me “I would have buried my head in the sand during WWII and continued to allow people to be murdered in concentration camps because it’s not my business”. I’m not a political wonk; just an everyday wife/mom/grandma/unemployed by choice RN who wants to do be a good Catholic. Seriously, I have never been so dismayed over presidential candidates and I have voted every single presidential cycle since 1976 when I was 18 yrs old. I think, in good conscience, I’ll have to go with Stubbs!

  • John

    It’s never just the man on the top of the ticket or the closest advisors….it’s the entire army of federal appointees, many of them financial supporters, many ideological allies, many appointed as favors to someone…. these are the people who either make the boss’ beliefs become real policy or who can blunt or even keep the boss’ policy from coming to full fruition….

    So between Romney and Obama, we have two armies striving for the throne… irrespective of the top guy, there will be 10,000+ positions filled and who those people are and what they believe differs substantially.

    Even if Mark is right and Romney is largely just “Gog” to Obama’s Magog, it’s nevertheless true that not all 10,000 of his hangerson will be firebreathing leftists, Planned Parenthood board members, and ‘true-believers’ of the LGBTQ campaign for total sexual anarchy. Some may be. But not all.

    And there in lies our hope.

    The culture war will continue next year regardless who wins in November – and we’ll still be facing Principalities and powers and their minions, Leviathan and its pomps. But having a bit more allies among Caesar’s household as opposed to none makes a difference.

    The military academies will increasingly be home to fire-breathing sexual hedons and materialists…. but with Romney as POTUS, commissions won’t be handed out primarily for the sake of that agenda….so we’ll not face a “chip on their shoulder”, hostile to religion military officer corps for at least another decade…. giving us time hopefully for further preparation.

    In other words…. Mark is right, Romney’s not perfect (by a long shot). But if Mark’s wrong, it’s only in not grasping how the sausage is made and why it matters which “side” is in power. If enough people sit out the election so that Obama wins….. the day of open persecution of the Church with the military leading the way with extreme prejudice, will creep closer. If Romney wins that day will be held off (until please God things may change sufficient that it won’t happen at all).

  • Jay

    Personally, I don’t see how anyone could fail to conclude that Obama’s extreme anti-Catholic actions are severe enough to justify voting for Romney.

    To say that you’d rather vote for someone you respect for your own sake, I get. I don’t agree that it’s the best course of action, but I respect it. But to claim that people who vote for Romney in an honest belief that he will be far friendlier to Catholic principles than Obama (yes — indifference is “far friendlier” than overt hostility) are committing some kind of sin, would make me pretty angry.

  • R. Howell

    One should not be too dismissive of a politician who takes the right position out of political expediency. Look for a moment at Obama and same sex marriage. He was for it when he was an unknown state senator, then against it when running for president, then for it again when it became politically safe to do so and the SSM lobby turned up the heat on him. Did the SSM lobby wail and agonize about how insincere BO was on the issue? Not that I noticed. He was their guy, better than the alternative, and susceptible to pressure to do what they wanted, which in the end they did.

    It would be nice to have a president who was passionately pro-life out of personal conviction. Mitt Romney is not that guy (Paul Ryan might be). But if he takes a pro-life position and is supported by the pro-life community, he’ll be at least somewhat susceptible to pressure to follow through. Just like Obama was on same sex marriage, just like G.W. Bush was on the Harriet Miers nomination.

    Politics is the art of the possible. A president who is moderately pro-life because he feels he has to be is a possibility right now. Considering the alternative, I think that is a good thing.

  • Blog Goliard

    I appreciate the strength of your principles and the pungency of your writing, Mark; but sometimes when you turn to politics, well…let’s just say I have trouble distinguishing you from the anti-Dolan crowd that Simcha stirred up yesterday.

    I believe that if we are to be efficaciously active in politics, we will usually find ourselves weighing ideals less than choosing between the lesser of evils. I think the Intrinsic Moral Evil card can be overplayed just like any other. You seem to me to be a little eager to wield single disputable issues (and I view waterboarding and the decision to invade Iraq as examples of disputable issues, even though I soured on both severely by the end of the Oughts…sorry if that makes me a Bad Person Complicit In Intrinsic Evil) to shove every politician not named Ron Paul into the Horrible Demon box. And, from my perspective–having a different set of dealbreakers than you–your refusal to put Paul there also seems a bit willful and perverse…even if I’d also rather have him as the nominee than Romney (I would…but I’d prefer a Ryan/Jindal ticket even more).

    Also–and I say this as one who has cast as many third-party ballots for President as major-party ones–we need to be aware that declaring both parties and their candidates irredeemably corrupt, and inveighing against all of the bums in Washington, may be sometimes called for…but it’s often a sign of self-indulgence and preciousness and an occasion for moral preening. If you pull the lever for either Romney or Obama this November, and are truly excited and entirely qualm-free while doing it, there’s probably something wrong with you. But on the other hand, if you perceive (accurately, I believe) that Romney/Ryan would be significantly less hostile to your faith, and slightly more likely to attempt some sort of action to avert the completely predictable disasters that will turn us into either one big California or Greece, but you’re just too good to pull the lever for them, you’re either too good to participate in American politics, or you’re too full of yourself to ever vote for any man with a reasonable chance at becoming President ever. (I would have little trouble making the case that good people like me couldn’t possibly vote for candidate X, because OMG INTRINSIC MORAL EVIL, against every single President who’s ever been elected. Though for some it would be more of a stretch, admittedly.)

    I’m not asking that you do something completely ridiculous like go soft on pro-abortion politicians…just that you consider giving people of good will who are in politics–especially (though not only) fellow sincere Catholics–much more space in which to disagree with you without being banished to INTRINSIC EVIL! GET AWAY FROM ME SATAN! perdition.

    And that very much includes Paul Ryan. I’m quite certain that he’s got a surer and deeper grasp of the political issues of the day than you or me…and I even consider it quite probable that he’s just as good a Catholic as you or me.

    • Mark Shea

      As I make clear here I offer no judgement of other people in how they vote. On the other hand, with pols who support grave intrinsic evil and use their immense power to enrich themselves while deceiving and oppressing others, I feel very little pity. One of the screwiest things about American politics–and especially conservative politics–is the way in which it reserves immense wells of tender pity for immensely powerful people who buy the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals. I don’t think immensely rich and powerful people who order torture or enrich themselves while a million vets are unemployed and without health care need kid gloves. I think they need to be slapped–hard. I regard it as my civic duty to push back as hard as I can against such corrupt and wicked leaders.

      • Blog Goliard

        Those are fair points…and I agree with you about the screwiness of conservatives who worship the wealthy, as if it were self-evident that the money must have been earned honestly and must be proof that they are better and smarter and harder-working than those who aren’t wealthy.

        (Trust me, I’ve gone rounds with people plenty on this one, and been accused of all kinds of wacky things, from being a jealous failure of a man to being a Communist.)

        And as much as the President richly deserves all the ridicule and blowback that he’s gotten over the “you didn’t build that” gaffe, I’m so tired of and so dismayed by the prideful and solipsistic YES I DID DO IT ALL BY MYSELF! chest-thumping that we’re still seeing in response. (If everyone who, in responding to the President on this one, claimed to work 70-80 hours per week actually did so, I’d expect our GDP to be about double what it actually is.)

        Just don’t get sucked into the class-warfare stone-throwing on the other side in response. My take on Mitt Romney has always been that he was born on second base and stretched it into a triple…and if so, well done and fair play to him. And he seems to have been generous with his wealth (if only by comparison to the wretched norm among the political classes).

        • Mark Shea

          No argument from me. And, by the way, well done trying to be a voice of sanity on Simcha Fisher’s blog. Party spirit is making American Catholics insane.

          • Blog Goliard

            Thanks, Mark. I appreciate the kind encouragement. Last night, as my insomnia started to take hold and the crazies turned their crazy up to 11, I got meaner than I should have and regret it.

            (But on the other hand, just plain making stuff up in order to better bash Dolan *is* wicked, dammit.)

      • Gam Samgee

        As Mark says, he has consistently maintained he’s not judging other people’s voting choices since he admits there are morally acceptable rationales for making certain sub-optimal voting decisions based on the individual’s subjective interpretation of the objective facts. But from that admission it does not follow that an individual may not conclude that no candidate is acceptable to vote for and, therefore, refrain from voting. If all the candidates for a particular office are complicit in intrinsic evil, then that’s just a fact and it seems perfectly legitimate, prudent and sensible to not vote for any of them. It isn’t preening to come to that conclusion and give a sober explanation as to the reasoning that led to that conclusion. In such a case it would not be charitable to try to cow someone into making a particular choice simply because “I’m going to soil myself with this really odious choice and if you don’t then you just think you are too good for the rest of us.” Mark seems to me to be doing his best to objectively address the facts about the candidates and have a mature discussion about how to evaluate the information to make a decision about how to vote.

  • Bill Brewis

    may I suggest reading a the note from Bishop Morlino of Madison, WI who is Paul Ryan’s sheperd. it is very clear in identifying the differences between ‘instrinsic evils’ and other issues. he says “Some of the most fundamental issues for the formation of a Catholic conscience are as follows: sacredness of human life from conception to natural death, marriage, religious freedom and freedom of conscience, and a right to private property.” (from

    it seems to me, looking at where the present administration as worked, there is a clear choice. in 2008, there were indications that Pres Obama opposed most of the Church teachings on instrinsic evils, but many argued that his positions were not defined. after 4 years, we see where he stands and it is clearly against th Church. it is not about this lfe as much as where we will spend our eternity. we have a responsibility to lead by example and i believe this means choosing against the current administration.

  • mark†

    With all due respect to the folks who have commented, I think you need to take a long term view of the political process. I have read that the Tea party types and the Ron Paul types are trying to retake the Republican Party from the bottom up. From what I read, they have had some success. I view that as a long term solution. A step toward that long term solution is the election of Romney/Ryan. I view the reelection of President Obama as a step in the opposite direction, a step toward a long term disaster for this country. This is not to deny that the Republican party has betrayed the principles they espoused. But the answer is to vote those Republicans out, as I believe the Tea Party is working to do.