menu

A reader puzzles about voting

A reader puzzles about voting August 15, 2016

He writes:

I’m a regular reader and I was hoping for some advice on thinking with the Church for the election. I live in a deep red state, so my vote only matters for my own conscience. Here’s my problem: my state doesn’t allow write-ins. The only parties on the ballot are pro-abortion or are way, way more nativist than I’d like. (For the record, I’ve got the Dems, Repubs, Libertarians, Constitution Party and  Greens to choose from). I feel like I’m complicit in evil no matter how I vote. Is there a way to weigh what the “greater evil” is? I find both Trump and Clinton to be people I don’t trust. Would it be permissible to vote for say, the Greens, as a way to say “Yes, I’d like a bigger safety net?” But even then I have this little voice in my head saying “You are personally responsible if the Hyde Amendment is overturned.”

Thanks for your time,

The important thing is the distinction between supporting a lesser evil and trying to lessen evil. So, for instance, if somebody says “I oppose abortion, so that makes it okay for me to support torture since abortion is worse” he is actively supporting evil.  It’s like saying, “I’m a hard worker so it’s no big deal if I cheat on my wife.”  A virtue in one area does not excuse evil in another.  That’s  supporting a lesser evil.  But if you have a choice between Candidate X and Y and candidate X supports abortion while candidate Y supports abortion, war crimes, and jailing political opponents, then it is legit to support Candidate X, not because they support abortion, but in order to stop Y from doing even more evil. As long as you are voting with the intention of trying to lessen evil and not to actively support a lesser evil, you are okay.  Remote material cooperation with evil is not sinful since you cannot control every consequence of every action.

As to how you should vote, I can’t tell you.  I can tell you what I would do: vote for Hillary in the hope that enough others will see sanity and stop Trump.  The simple fact is it must be either her or him and it *must* not be him.  So I feel an obligation to do everything in my power to stop him, though no more than that.  Living in a blue state, I have no need to vote for her since she is sure to win Washington.  But if I lived in a red state I would vote for her in the (perhaps quixotic) hope that enough other sane people will prevail and beat him anyway.

But you will need to make that call yourself.

God bless you for trying your best to think with the Church.  Nobody can ask more than that! 🙂


Browse Our Archives