Sorry Mr Bishop. I’m Not Going to Let You Vote Me.

Sorry Mr Bishop. I’m Not Going to Let You Vote Me. January 22, 2020
Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, by Andy/Andrew Fogg


There’s more to being a legislator than casting votes. Most of the things you do require conversations with other legislators. It can be difficult to catch other legislators to talk to them because everyone is pin-balling between meetings, events and what-not. The best time to have a convo is often while you’re on the House floor together, debating and voting on bills. 

That requires getting up from your desk and walking around the floor. It also means that you may not be able to get back to your desk in time to vote on a bill or procedure. When that happens, you can raise your hand and point up or down with your thumb. The Chair will recognize you and say “Representative Hamilton votes aye,” or “Representative Hamilton votes nay,” depending on which way you go. 

The chair is “voting you.” 

Other times, if you’re a few feet away from your desk, you can just tell a Representative who’s nearby, “Vote me up,” or “vote me down,” depending again on what you want to do.

In that case, your colleague, who reaches around and pushes the vote button on your desk, is “voting” you. 

Members of legislative bodies use the phrase “vote me” or “vote her,” or even “vote them” for someone who is either just doing another legislator the courtesy of casting their vote as instructed, or, in the case of leadership or lobbyists, are dictating the votes of blocks of legislators.  

This last is not a courtesy. It’s an abuse. The practice of legislators giving their votes into the hands of special interests and their party leadership is what has led this country into the mess we are in now. It is why people have become so frustrated with their government that they’re willing to follow a demagogue like Donald Trump. 

I don’t know for sure if it’s true, but I’ve seen a couple of headlines and been told in comboxes that the Catholic bishops of the USA have decided that they are going to vote all 70 million American Catholics in the 2020 elections. It may not be true, and I hope it’s not. But I’ve been told in rather ugly terms that I have to vote for President Trump’s re-election on pain of my immortal soul because the bishops have decided that abortion requires it. 

Even if the story is not true, and I suspect that some version of it, in a less exaggerated form, is true, it needs to be answered. It is being used to threaten, bully and browbeat Catholics all over the internet as well as in their parishes. I’ve been told by people I believe that right here in Oklahoma their pastors are telling them in private discussions that they will be committing grave sin if they don’t vote for Trump. 

If the bishops are planning to try to vote the 22% of Americans who are Catholic, then I want to go on record as saying that this Catholic will not be voted by the bishops; not them, or anyone else. 

I didn’t let special interests “vote” me when I was in office. I went against my party leadership anytime I felt like it, and as usual, I’ve got the scars to prove it. I was a team player, but I never once felt that being a team player required me to vote for something I was against. 

Now that I am a private citizen, I consider my vote just as precious and just as much my privilege to cast myself as I did then, when I spoke for thousands of people. I will vote to the best of my ability for the candidates and issues that I honestly believe are in the interest of the common good. 

I believe without question that a just and stable government is the ultimate political good and an unjust and unstable government is the ultimate political harm. Nothing, no issue, including abortion, is more important than a just and stable government. 

That is because unjust governments have killed more people, destroyed more lives and wrecked human progress more thoroughly than any other single thing. Hitler killed 50 million people. Stalin probably killed as many more. Mao killed and killed. Consider Pol Pot, the Rwandan genocide, the Armenian genocide, the terrorisms of various dictatorships in South and Central America, the horrible wars in Africa and the Middle East, the mass exploitation of laboring people all over the world. 

All this is the result of unjust, unstable and corrupt governments. 

As much as I love the Catholic Church, history plainly teaches me that the various popes and bishops down through history have had one love affair with tyrants after another. So long as the tyrant in question supports them and their power, the bishops and popes have been ok with backing them. They stood strong against Communism, but I honestly believe that was mostly because Communism attacked the Church, not because it enslaved its people. 

This is a hard post to write. I would rather be all rainbows and ponies about my Church. I would much rather discuss the healing power of the sacraments, the kind and faithful care that I have received from my pastors, the generous forgiveness that has been extended to me, the Presence of Our Lord, real and loving, in the Eucharist. 

The Catholic Church is the Church. I don’t doubt that. But it is governed by fallen men who don’t answer to anyone but one another, and most of the time not even that. They’ve gone off the rails rather badly many times, in many ways.   

The tepid response to Hitler is one famous political fail, as is the equally tepid response to the building hatred in Rwanda. 

The on-going, generational, institutionalized and entrenched practice of supporting, enabling and even participating in the sexual abuse and rape of minors, parishioners and seminarians is a clear case of this. 

On top of that, abortion has become, or should have become, a moot issue at the federal level. We have the votes on the Supreme Court to overturn. There is a case in the barrel right now, waiting to be heard in March or so, which could — should — result in overturning Roe. 

If we get anything less than a full overturn, if the Court decides to “limit” abortion in some way, maybe by saying  that it should be allowed before 16 weeks or some such, then we’ve been manipulated and lied to. The Court packing strategy has failed. 

If that happens, the reaction I expect is to blame the Democrats instead of the people who chose and confirmed the pro-life majority that we supposedly have. I also expect nastily-worded calls to double down and put yet another someone on the Court, a move that might be a bridge too far for the whole country.  

We are tearing America apart with this. We have put a man in the White House who is doing things that could destroy not only America, but the entire edifice of Western defense against the totalitarian block. I do not want to live in a world dominated by Russia and China, courtesy of quisling Trump. 

For all these reasons, the bishops are not going to vote me. I am an American, and I will vote myself, just as I always have done. 

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