I cast my ballot for president.
It wasn’t nearly as satisfying as you might think. I have made no secret of the fact that I can’t stand President Trump, but I don’t like Biden either. I viewed myself as voting for the outcome with the lowest death toll– yes, including unborn deaths. Nobody gets an abortion on a whim because it’s legal, and Trump is not actually going to work to make it illegal anyway. Women get abortions for actual concrete reasons, often financial or medical or because they’re escaping domestic violence, and those are factors we can help with. Trump won’t help. I do like some things about Biden but he is, in my opinion, inadequate on race issues, immigration, environmental issues, and economic ones as well. But he isn’t hell bent on destruction and chaos the way Trump is. I don’t think he’ll manage to cause as much death and suffering. My conscience was clear.
Well, almost. I knew intellectually that I’d done nothing wrong, but it’s hard to FEEL you’ve done nothing wrong when you’re surrounded by spiritually abusive weirdos who insist that you have. I grew up in the Charismatic Renewal and then ended up living in Steubenville and making my living on the internet; spiritually abusive weirdos have been omnipresent. I ought to have a thicker skin against them, but I don’t. I knew for fact that, according to a no less stuffy theologian than Pope Emeritus Benedict, a Catholic may vote for the pro-choice politician if she has proportionate reason to do so. I think that preventing as many deaths as possible, including the deaths of unborn babies, a perfectly proportionate reason. I’d rather save actual lives than score ideological victories. And doubly so when I’m sure the person claiming to be pro-life is a liar and a fake who’s not going to give us pro-life victories. That’s something I can live with. It’s something I don’t even need a Pope’s permission to believe, because it’s self-evident. But for the record, the Church agrees with me. It’s not a sin to vote Republican and it’s not a sin to vote Democrat, or to vote third party, or not to vote, with proportionate reason.
None of that means I don’t feel strange about it.
I grew up going to rallies and marches for Life, praying the Rosary for Life, stumping for Republican politicians for Life, despising Democrats who were anti-life. I was told the pro-life movement was also pro-woman and supported Life from conception until natural death. It took having a baby in poverty surrounded by pro-life Catholics to show me that, perhaps, the mainstream pro-life position wasn’t really very helpful to actual women faced with a desperate choice. And then I watched the public meltdowns and insanity from pro-life heroes such as Abby Johnson and Frank Pavone, and then we all discovered the truth behind Norma McCorvey’s conversion. I’ve come to the conclusion that the pro-life movement is a confidence game. Unborn children still have personhood and we have to work to help protect them in any way we can, just as we have to work to help born children, disabled people, immigrants, people of color, poor people, elderly people and anyone else who is vulnerable. But we can’t look to what calls itself the pro-life movement for help. They just want our money and our allegiance.
This is a tough pill to swallow.
I really believed in them, once upon a time. I admired them. I was wrong. I was part of the problem when I thought I was helping, and I hurt people by doing that. I’m sorry.
They are con artists, and they conned me. They spiritually abused me into believing them, but I don’t believe them anymore.
I just feel like I ought to, that’s all.
I got my absentee ballot request in the mail weeks ago. I immediately ruined it by accidentally writing the last four digits of my phone number on the social security number line. I was afraid the ballot request would be rejected if it had smears of white-out on it, so I just walked in to the Board of Elections to ask for another request form the next time I was downtown. They kindly gave me one; I filled it out correctly right there and handed it back.
Less than a week later, there was my ballot in the mail. I filled it out carefully, filling in the bubble nice and dark. I voted for everyone with a D by their name instead of an R– not because I thought I’d be good, but because I thought the destruction would be much less bad.
I sealed it and signed the envelope according to the instructions, then walked it back downtown to the drop box.
I had a wave of paranoia about several things at once: that the vote wouldn’t be counted because of some sort of conspiracy. That the vote wouldn’t do any good. That I was in mortal sin after all– even though mortal sin requires full knowledge you’re doing something gravely wrong and I was absolutely sure I was doing something right or at least, deflecting a grave wrong.
I went about my business.
The other day, the president held a “town hall” event where he answered questions. I didn’t bother to watch it. Those debates were bad enough.
Later, I saw a video of the president’s answer to a question about Roe Versus Wade and what he’d do if it was reversed. I went and found a transcript to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.
This is the what the president, the supposed pro-life hero, gave as an answer:
“Well, again, I’m not ruling on this. And Roe v. Wade is something that a lot of people would say, obviously, you’re going to speak to somebody. Also two other great Justices, Justice Gorsuch, and Justice Kavanaugh… I never spoke to them about Roe v. Wade. I never spoke to them about election laws. I never spoke to them about anything. And I’ve done the right thing from a moral standpoint. I don’t even know from a legal standpoint, but it was the right thing. I think, depending on what happens with Roe v. Wade, I think that perhaps it could get sent down to the states, and the states would decide. I also think perhaps nothing will happen. I have not talked to her about it. I think it would be inappropriate to talk to her about it. And some people would say, “You can talk to about it.” I just think it would be inappropriate…
I would like to see a brilliant jurist, a brilliant person who has done this in great depth and has actually skirted this issue for a long time, make a decision. And that’s why I chose her. I think that she’s going to make a great decision. I did not tell her what decision to make. And I think it would be inappropriate to say right now, because I don’t want to do anything to influence her. I want her to get approved, and then I want her to go by the law. And I know she’s going to make a great decision for our country, along with the other two people I put there.
Many of them would. Perhaps most of them would. I am telling you, I don’t want to do anything to influence anything right now. I don’t want to go out tomorrow and say, “Oh, he’s trying to give her a signal.” Because I didn’t speak to her about it. I’ve done the right thing in so doing. How she’s going to rule, you’re going to find out perhaps. Or you might not find out. It may never get there. It may never get there. We’ll see what happens…”
This was the man I was being spiritually abused into feeling guilty for opposing.
This was the pro-life man that con artists were telling me I was in mortal sin and damned to hell for not supporting.
I remembered that passage from the Catholic part of the Book of Daniel, where the prophet feeds hairballs to the dragon and makes the dragon explode; then he simply turns to the king and says “This is what you worshipped.”
“This is what you worshipped,” I said to the pro-life movement, about their exploding dragon.
And now I feel perfectly fine.
Image via Pixabay.
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross.
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