On not reducing the Church’s politics to voting

On not reducing the Church’s politics to voting October 5, 2008

Zach at Civics Geeks criticized Policraticus’ recent powerful post explaining why he feels he cannot vote for McCain or Obama, specifically for implying that he will abstain from voting in this election. I’m not sure Policraticus actually says he will abstain, just that he will not vote for either of the two major candidates, but that’s beside the point. Zach says he understands why Catholics would feel that they cannot vote for either candidate, but insists that abstaining is a dangerous option. Not only must Catholics vote, they must vote for John McCain because “[t]his is the last good chance we have to make changes to our law so that it can protect innocent human life from being killed.”

Zach’s insistence is based, in part, on Obama’s apparent statement that the “first thing” he will do as president is push through the Freedom of Choice Act. Zach cites Cardinal Rigali’s statement for Respect Life Sunday, which says of the FOCA:

We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives. We cannot subject more women and men to the post-abortion grief and suffering that our counselors and priests encounter daily in Project Rachel programs across America.

Thus Zach concludes:

What can the good Cardinal be telling us, then? It cannot be that we must abstain from voting, which would certainly constitute allowing the FOCA to happen. It also cannot mean voting for Barack Obama, who will be the key proponent of this legislation. This statement cannot be read as anything but an implicit denunciation of the Democratic candidate for President.

I think it is important to see this statement for what it is: a statement on particular policies and the need to oppose policies that threaten human life. But the Respect Life Sunday statement is not a voter’s guide, in terms of suggesting which candidates to vote for. When Rigali says “We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives,” he is simply saying just that: we cannot allow the FOCA to happen. He is not commenting on which candidate to vote for, nor is he insisting that Catholics must vote.

Rigali is absolutely right about the FOCA. Of course we should not allow it to happen. But I don’t think preventing it is a matter of one simple vote. Either way one votes, the FOCA could or could not be passed, independent of who wins. Should McCain win, it is entirely conceivable that the “maverick” could sign the FOCA into law should it pass.

It is also conceivable that Obama, should he win, could end up opposing the FOCA. Unbelievable? Perhaps. Perhaps it’s only possible through the power of prayer. But this should not strike Zach as an outlandish fantasy, for this is precisely what he is holding out for when it comes to McCain’s open support of embryonic stem cell research:

It is true that McCain supports a non-negotiable moral evil: embryonic stem cell research. This should give us great pause. We need to pray McCain has a change of heart.

The point — and we should know this by now — is that campaign promises mean nothing. And Zach knows this, or else he would not hold out hope that McCain will have a “change of heart” on stem cell research.

I believe Zach’s two-fold insistence that Catholics must vote and that they must vote for McCain is based on the ongoing phenomenon in american politics which reduces politics to voting. The fact is, those who wish to abstain from voting in this election are not “allowing the FOCA to happen.” One could obviously abstain from voting and fight against the FOCA in other ways. One could even vote for Obama and massively throw one’s personal effort into working against the FOCA. Beyond voting, Catholics could engage in direct action and commit acts of civil disobedience among other methods. Should the FOCA pass, they could engage in massive, organized tax resistance.

Of course the candidates matter. Of course their policies and promises matter. Of course who we vote for — if we choose to vote — matters. But we simply must not fall for the lie that there are easy answers, let alone that one vote is going to make *the* difference. As Phillip Berrigan used to say, if voting could change anything, it would be illegal.

And while there are no easy answers on who to vote for, whether to vote at all, or whether it even makes a difference, I remain convinced of two things that we Catholics simply must recover in our ecclesial life. First, we cannot place our ecclesial commitment to the dignity of all human life in the straightjackets that the Republicans and Democrats want to put them in. We do not have to choose whether unborn children, victims of war, or death row inmates are the priority. Second, we Catholics need to get a better sense of the Church as enacting its own politics, a political community able to engage in various forms of direct action and not only a group of people who attempt to “discern” the “right way” to vote once every four years. Voting is one form of political action, but it is hardly the only form, and it might even be the least important form. As the anarchist collective Crimethinc (who I disagree with on a number of issues) puts it in a pamphlet (PDF) on voting vs. direct action:

Ultimately, there’s no reason the strategies of voting and direct action can’t both be applied together. One does not cancel the other out. The problem is that so many people think of voting as their primary way of exerting political and social power that a disproportionate amount of everyone’s time and energy is spent deliberating and debating about it while other opportunities to make change go to waste. For months and months preceding every election, everyone argues about the voting issue, what candidates to vote for or whether to vote at all, when voting itself takes less than an hour. Vote or don’t, but get on with it! Remember how many other ways you can make your voice heard.

This being an election year, we hear constantly about the options available to us as voters, and almost nothing about our other opportunities to play a decisive role in our society. What we need is a campaign to emphasize the possibilities more direct means of action and community involvement have to offer. These need not be seen as in contradiction with voting. We can spend an hour voting once a year, and the other three hundred sixty four days and twenty three hours acting directly!

I agree with Crimethinc that we should “vote or don’t, but get on with it.” Soon the ritual will be over, and no matter who wins, the fight against the culture of death will continue. If McCain wins this election, you Republicans will have little time to celebrate. Soon, you’ll have to shut the hell up and put your Catholic money where your mouth is and oppose his bloodthirsty, warmaking libido and his stance on stem cell research. As Rigali says, “We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives.” And you Democrats, if Obama wins, you too will have to shut the hell up and get ready to oppose the FOCA. “We cannot allow this to happen. We cannot tolerate an even greater loss of innocent human lives.”

Ultimately, electoral politics cannot be the primary way Catholics, in response to the Gospel, speak and act in defense of human life. Whoever wins this unprecedented joke of an election, the Church must get serious and stand up for life through direct action, all the year round. We can’t continue the game of prioritization that american politics would like us to play, a game that means death for certain members of the human family. Let us not deceive ourselves. When — not if, but when — the election results are not pleasing to us, and they better not be, we must enact our own politics of life and resistance against the business-as-usual politics of death that are to come.

Perhaps abstaining is “dangerous” as Zach says. Voting certainly seems to be dangerous in today’s ecclesial climate, as tempers flare hotter and hotter the closer we get to November 2nd. But the most dangerous, I think, is the tendency to think voting is everything, and that the state’s political games are the “last chance” we have to cooperate with the Reign of God.

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  • S.M. Stirling

    Voting is how citizens collectively make decisions in a democracy. It is, therefore, a supremely important civic act, both a privilege and obligation of citizenship; it is the way we aggregate our wills in order to make those choices as a community which cannot be made individually.

    War and peace, for example. Or whether abortion is legal, and if so to what degree, at what stage of fetal development, etc.

    Obama has said forthrightly that he favors FOCA, will work for its passage and will sign it if it reaches his desk as President. This is quite unambiguous.

    Therefore, if opposing FOCA is a voter’s first priority, voting for Obama is contraindicated. To suggest otherwise is tortured logic — Jesuitical in the perjorative sense of the term.

  • Yes. Cardinal Rigali’s imperative transcends the act of voting. Even (and especially) if Obama becomes president, Rigali’s call to not allow the FOCA to happen remains.

    Kyle

  • Policraticus

    Right. I did not say I would abstain. Rather, I said that I would not relativize the principles of life on account of a two-party system political system. Zach got a lot wrong in his post, and I’ll likely right a rejoinder soon.

  • Policraticus

    Therefore, if opposing FOCA is a voter’s first priority, voting for Obama is contraindicated.

    Absolutely. I don’t think Michael or I would argue with this. But opposition to funding for embryonic stem cell research is likewise a top priority. John McCain is not an option for those who really embrace the Church’s teaching on life.

  • Some disjointed thoughts:

    I should clarify that I would not insist Catholics are obligated to vote for McCain, but that they should because such a vote is the most prudent and wise course of action given the circumstances we find ourselves in today. I think the Bishops are saying something to that effect in this letter.

    I also do not mean to reduce politics to voting. Politics is of course much more than simply voting, but in the United States we exercise our political responsibilities as rulers chiefly by voting. To deny of obfuscate this is to pretend we live under a different type of government. I think voting is important, but not everything. I like some of the other ideas you have for political action: civil disobedience and organized tax resistance. But I do not think the situation is an either/or. We can vote and be civilly disobedient (in some peaceful form).

    The last chance I was referring to in that awkward sentence was the last chance we will have to make significant changes to the constitution of the Supreme Court. If liberal justices are appointed, they will maintain the status quo on Roe and abortion will be legal for at least the next thirty years, barring some revolution. And if it is legal, it will continue to be widespread. There is, unfortunately, no way around this logic.

    We should work to change the culture too. But we’ve been trying to do that for 35 years as well, and we have not succeeded. The culture is getting worse.
    I don’t really understand your insistence that Catholics not speak about politics in the American context. I cannot speak for anyone else, but these reactions are not my “first response” to political problems in the United States. These are my reactions after prayer and reflecting on the moral teaching of the Catholic Church and the noting the obligation we have to work for the common good. They are obviously situated in the context of Democratic and Republican politics, because Democratic and Republican politics is the political situation in which we live in the United States. For better or for worse, they are the means by which we work for the common good. We need to work to transform these parties into political parties that respect human life, and we have to believe such a change is possible otherwise all our action is futile.

    And Poli, I’m not trying to relativize morality to the two party system. Quite the opposite. I’m assuming moral principles do not change, and that we need to work to move to the ideal laws as best we can given the circumstances we find ourselves in. This is part of democratic politics, and wholly consonant with Catholic teaching (see EV 73)

  • Kyle – I agree, but it’s not only a transcendent statement. The Cardinal is speaking in the context of allowing the FOCA to pass in the Federal legislature. This is not an accident. Insisting that his statement is intended to have force only as something that addresses some transcendent reality is to ignore the context of the statement, and thus to misunderstand it. I do not think my interpretation is invalid. Actually, it’s pretty much just common sense.

  • Zach,

    Didn’t mean to imply that the cardinal’s statement referred only to a transcendent reality.

  • Sorry if I’m misreading Poli here, but I’m interested in hearing him square this:

    … Those of us who really believe abortion and embryonic stem cell research to be “non-negotiables” will not vote for either Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. John McCain, for to do otherwise is to performatively contradict that stance. A vote for Obama and a vote for McCain is an active display of the negotiable quality of these issues. So if a Catholic buys into the notion that there are, indeed, such things as “non-negotiable” issues, then that Catholic remains consistent in action only by refusing to negotiate by voting for the so-called “lesser evil.”

    with #34-37 of the USCCB’s Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship with respect to the present election. When the Bishops state as they do:

    When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.

    I don’t think they are relativize the intrinsic evils those candidates hold.

  • David Nickol

    One way the Catholic Church could save approximately 350,000 innocent lives a year is to convince Catholic women not to have abortions. As is well known, Catholic women have abortions at a slightly higher rate than average. I mention this not to accuse the Catholic Church of hypocrisy (“The Church is trying to impose by law on the general population something it can’t even get its own members to go along with”) but to point out that Cardinal Rigali’s statement is almost entirely about public policy issues. It does not address what the Church can do to promote a “culture of life” among Catholics or the population at large.

    Cardinal Rigali’s letter almost seems to imply that the main reason women have abortions is that the government permits them. I found this sentence particularly strange, “We cannot subject more women and men to the post-abortion grief and suffering that our counselors and priests encounter daily in our Project Rachel programs across America.” It is as if the women who have abortions, and the men who enable or encourage them, must be protected. It is an odd notion, in a Church that considers abortion murder and excommunicates women who have abortions along with anyone who helps them to do so. It seems equivalent to saying we must do more to prevent serious crimes to prevent the guilt that criminals will feel after they commit them.

    I am not saying the Church is wrong in its positions on the role of government and public policy (although I have major disagreements). I am saying the Church is placing a tremendous emphasis on election issues to the exclusion of almost everything else. And it is also doing so in such a way as to imply that legal prohibition is the only approach to abortion. There seems to be little talk about how it is the “task of law to pursue a reform of society and of conditions of life in all milieux, starting with the most deprived, so that always and everywhere it may be possible to give every child coming into this world a welcome worthy of a person. Help for families and for unmarried mothers, assured grants for children, a statute for illegitimate children and reasonable arrangements for adoption – a whole positive policy must be put into force so that there will always be a concrete, honorable and possible alternative to abortion.” This is Church teaching, too.

  • One way the Catholic Church could save approximately 350,000 innocent lives a year is to convince Catholic women not to have abortions.

    Yes. It seems obvious to me, too, that the first political priority of Catholics should be to transform the Church into a Body of people who will not have abortions. We must also be a people who publicly, and through new structures, offer to welcome “unwanted” children into our homes whether they are Catholic or not. This is not to deny the importance of what is going on in the wider political community with regard to abortion, but we don’t even have our own community right yet.

    I don’t really understand your insistence that Catholics not speak about politics in the American context. I cannot speak for anyone else, but these reactions are not my “first response” to political problems in the United States. These are my reactions after prayer and reflecting on the moral teaching of the Catholic Church and the noting the obligation we have to work for the common good. They are obviously situated in the context of Democratic and Republican politics, because Democratic and Republican politics is the political situation in which we live in the United States. For better or for worse, they are the means by which we work for the common good.

    Of course we have to act in the american context. What I meant in the post was that we should not reduce politics or have it be constrained by american categories. Politics is more than electoral politics. Most of the political activity of our communities is entirely outside of electoral systems.

  • Michael, I agree entirely with you here:

    “Of course we have to act in the american context. What I meant in the post was that we should not reduce politics or have it be constrained by american categories. Politics is more than electoral politics. Most of the political activity of our communities is entirely outside of electoral systems.”

    I guess I don’t think I was doing the “reducing” you speak of. I was simply talking about one aspect of our political life, arguably the most important aspect in a democracy given that the people are sovereign: the vote.

  • Therefore, if opposing FOCA is a voter’s first priority, voting for Obama is contraindicated. To suggest otherwise is tortured logic — Jesuitical in the perjorative sense of the term.

    S.M.,

    I would have used the term “>Screwtapian“.

  • I mention this not to accuse the Catholic Church of hypocrisy (”The Church is trying to impose by law on the general population something it can’t even get its own members to go along with”)

    David, you can’t accuse the Catholic Church of hypocrisy (unless you have some other definition of the term you’re using). The fact that the Church is unable to convince Catholics on a course of action, while remaining consistent and clear in her teaching to both believers and infidels, is a totally non-hypocritical stance.

    It would be hypocritical if they taught one thing and did another. Or taught one thing to the members and held non-members to a different standard.

  • David Nickol

    David, you can’t accuse the Catholic Church of hypocrisy (unless you have some other definition of the term you’re using).

    Tony,

    And, of course, I didn’t accuse the Catholic Church of hypocrisy on the abortion issue. It’s a tired, old accusation against the Catholic Church which I was deliberately trying to avoid. But the way you phrase your message does raise an issue. You said:

    The fact that the Church is unable to convince Catholics on a course of action, while remaining consistent and clear in her teaching to both believers and infidels, is a totally non-hypocritical stance.

    You made a distinction between “the Church,” on the one hand, and “Catholics” on the other. If by “the Church” is meant the pope, cardinals, bishops, and priests, then I agree that they have not said one thing and done another. And that is the sense in which I was using “the Church.” But of course the Church is also made up of not just the pope, cardinals, bishops, and priests, but also of all the “Catholics.”

    If the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate took “pro-life” positions, but the rank-and-file voted pro-choice, I don’t think anyone would consider it fair to say “the Democrats” were pro-life.

    In any case, my point was that Cardinal Rigali’s letter on Respect for Life Sunday did not reemphasize to Catholics the importance of their own personal behavior regarding these issues, but instead implied those who sought abortions were victims. It also largely addressed political and electoral issues, putting the emphasis on government prohibitions with no mention of government obligations to put in force a “whole positive policy . . . so that there will always be a concrete, honorable and possible alternative to abortion.” Why is that aspect of Catholic teaching so rarely brought up in these discussions? I think it is because the pro-life movement is largely made of of political conservatives (usually Republicans) who are opposed to government action of this kind, and so in order not to offend pro-lifers with the totality of Church teaching on abortion, the bishops omit or deemphasize what conservatives don’t want to hear. I don’t think this is admirable or even defensible.

  • 1superdave

    “If the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate took “pro-life” positions, but the rank-and-file voted pro-choice, I don’t think anyone would consider it fair to say “the Democrats” were pro-life.”

    I think you would call them voted out of office then it would be mute. Us Baptist have a saying “if you tak the talk you better walk the walk” Unfortunately unconfessed and un repented sin seems to stop the talk, never mine the walk. Sin is a fact of the human condition. If it were not for sin then Jesus wouldn’t have had to die for us. Some have said that Bil Clinton thing with an intern didn’t get condemed by the majority because of similar indescression’s in the lives of the majority. That sad. That why judgement must begin with the Church.

  • You made a distinction between “the Church,” on the one hand, and “Catholics” on the other. If by “the Church” is meant the pope, cardinals, bishops, and priests, then I agree that they have not said one thing and done another. And that is the sense in which I was using “the Church.” But of course the Church is also made up of not just the pope, cardinals, bishops, and priests, but also of all the “Catholics.”

    If the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate took “pro-life” positions, but the rank-and-file voted pro-choice, I don’t think anyone would consider it fair to say “the Democrats” were pro-life.

    David,

    You seem to be equating the rank and file in the House of Representatives with the whole of the faithful in the Catholic Church which is a bad analogy. “Rank and file” Catholics don’t vote on policy.

    If it was required to be pro-life to be a Democrat, and Democrats didn’t vote on pro-life issues, it would be fair to say that they weren’t Democrats, wouldn’t it?

    We have a teaching authority in the Church. The rest are supposed to learn from it. If they don’t behave in accordance with valid teachings then one could consider them not “Catholic” as the leadership designates. (Though this is a bad example, because we are all fallen, and are expected to repent, confess and return to communion with the Church).

    If someone claimed to be a vegan, but they loved to eat chicken, and they really didn’t think in their hearts that chicken was really meat, so they didn’t have to give it up. Furthermore, they taught others that chicken was ok for vegans, would you consider them to be vegan?

  • We have a teaching authority in the Church. The rest are supposed to learn from it.

    Surely you’re not saying that “the rest” have no real role except to obey the heirarchy, are you?

  • 1superdave

    Does God, faith and rightousness fit into your teachings. Should you follow God or the Pope? You have already put forth that the election of the Pope is not of the providence of God, but of men.

  • One’s involvement in the political life should be oriented toward the common good, the beloved community, with an eye to eternity and the Kingdom. In following this orientation, as one would fast from food for times to improve spiritual health and lay an assault on the gates of heaven for specific petitions as is the ancient tradition, one can choose to deny oneself the power of the vote and stand with the helpless of America as an act of Penance.

    This debilitated democratic system is fully demonstrated by prolife activists who have spent the better part of 5 years screeching at the one politician (McCain) who would become the very best chance in 30 years of setting in motion the overturning of Roe because they were told to by their arch-conservative donors/backers to abuse him because of McCain-Feingold. This is a sign of the ridiculousness of the system. Their boohooing about their inability to spend their tiny budgets campaigning for Santorum has been a distraction and has been one more sign of their decadent embrace of the power politics of corruption. And these groups are the best of these nightmarish influences on our system of governance.

    Not being involved in the corruption of this electoral system is an acceptable and praiseworthy act of self-denial.

  • jeremy

    Does God, faith and rightousness fit into your teachings.
    Of course.
    Should you follow God or the Pope?
    I follow God AND the Pope. I love Catholicism because of what I call the Great Catholic And. We don’t do ‘or’, we do ‘and’.
    You have already put forth that the election of the Pope is not of the providence of God, but of men.
    As much as the happenings here on earth are the providence of God, and the happenings here on earth are the providence men.

    Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

  • Patrick Leddy (grownup)

    Kids…..the catholic church has been, solely because of it’s behavior in the sex abuse issue (both “during” and in the “coverup”) hypocritcal. Add to this, it’s touting the Kennedys (when I was in Highschool, ’61-65) when it suited them and ignoring them (numerous Kennedys who are pro-chioice, Ted’s murder of Mary-Jo, etc etc) when convenient.

    My email is p.leddy@comcast.net. I studied with the Divine Word Missionaries for 5 years in their seminaries and am a former law-enforcement officer. I am an ex-catholic. Bring it on.

  • decker2003

    Even if Obama wins the presidency, FOCA can be stopped with a filibuster in the Senate. Consider this — by refusing to vote for a imperfectly pro-life candidate, do you embolden the pro-life Republicans in the Senate to mount such a filibuster? In effect, you are saying to them — You had my support back when you were 100% pro-life, but you have lost me by straying from that commitment. So, go back to your original stance and you will have my support. If you vote for McCain despite his flaws, are you sending the message that you will continue to support them so long as they are just marginally better than the Democratic alternative? if so, then what incentive do they have to filibuster FOCA if Obama wins despite your vote f or McCain?

  • 1superdave

    Why are ya’ll harder on Sarah Palin than on catholic politicians ie teddy kennedy, john kerry……

  • David Nickol

    Why are ya’ll harder on Sarah Palin than on catholic politicians ie teddy kennedy, john kerry……

    Because Sarah Palin is running for vice-president, John Kerry is not, and Teddy Kennedy is dying.

  • joseph

    If only Pope Pius XII had a third-party opt out decision. That’s always nice. I’ll cast my vote for one who has no chance, that way, no matter how many people the winner kills, I’m not responsible. Now, gotta run to Starbucks! Do nothing and you are at fault for nothing. I have alot of Protestant friends who are thinking about doing the same thing.

    No bother. It is a good thing that at least one Catholic Democrat sees that it is inconsistent with Church teachings to vote for Obama. For that I give Michael Joseph praise. I would rather him throw away his vote than have him vote for the most evil out of the bunch.

  • Katerina

    Why are ya’ll harder on Sarah Palin than on catholic politicians ie teddy kennedy, john kerry…

    Where do I start?

    1. Sarah Palin is running for vice-president.
    2. Sarah Palin knows less about basics Civics of this country than what is required to take a naturalization test to become a U.S. citizen.
    3. Sarah Palin doesn’t know how to speak the English language properly. Some of us immigrants know how to speak better than her.
    4. Sarah Palin has been very “smart” in not bringing up abortion at all and her pro-life record as to not scare the Hillary supporters, of course.
    5. Sarah Palin is classless, sarcastic, and an embarrassment to all the hard-working women in this country and those of us who have a college degree and know more about economic policy, foreign policy than she will ever dream of knowing.

    Ted Kennedy? Yes, he is terribly ill and he has done more for protecting the uninsured in this country than Sarah Palin has ever done for anyone in this country. His wrong on his views on abortion, but if that is a reason to completely dismiss his work on healthcare issues, then be my guest and have a ball doing so.

  • Katerina

    John Kerry? Who cares about John Kerry? Why is he relevant again? Is this 2004?

  • Its seems to me that one can abstain from voting, in a conscientious and deliberate way, and by that (in)action vote.

  • Lots of things are said when one does not vote. Refusal to participate in this broken system is one. Not encouraging it is another. I don’t pretend that throw away votes are real votes. Etc. Its a form of self-denial, that like fasting, is provides a form of freedom.

  • Daniel: What are “real votes,” exactly?

  • Liam

    Zach’s position conflates actions and omissions and as such is logical twaddle and runs smack in face of Church teaching on material vs formal cooperation. A few ostensibly Catholic teachers in the US tried that gambit in 2004 and later repented of it. Trying to revive this line of thought does grave harm to Catholic teaching and as such itself might be sinful to that extent.

    While an omission can be gravely sinful, that’s only true if you are actively consenting to a grave evil. But that’s often not the case with omissions. That’s why omissions are harder to rise to the level of grave sin than actions.

    If you are abstaining for the purpose of advancing abortion, then your abstention is objectively grave. But I doubt there are many, if any, doing so.

  • Kurt

    “FOCA: We cannot allow this to happen.”

    Good news, your Eminence. Your good works have bore fruit. The FOCA bill will not come to the floor of either the House nor the Senate in the next Congress. It is unlikely that it will even get a favorable subcommittee vote. I can find no one willing to say with any definity that it even has hopes for a congressional hearing. Still worth keeping an eye on, but clearly of 5,000 bills that are introduced and see no further action. Now, on to real concerns….

  • Liam,

    Could you explain how my position does such a thing?

    To be clear: my position is that a Catholic can vote for McCain or Obama. I also argue that Catholics should vote for McCain given the circumstances we find ourselves in in the US. I do not believe, however, that they are obligated to.

    Also, how is my position different from the Bishops? Do the Bishops also commit the same error I do? I am trying to read them faithfully, so I would like to see my error clearly if it does indeed exist.

  • Daniel H. Conway

    Mr. Rocha,

    Good point. I don’t know what a “real vote” is. Perhaps, should someone compel me to vote (say my prelate is Chaput and he clearly is all about voting as an element of citizenship and the like), I would vote for family members for President and Vice-President. I doubt these would constitute “really voting.” Not in what is intended. Just doing the vote so as to obey and not cause scandal. Not to impact anything.

  • Also, how is my position different from the Bishops?

    Your position is quite different. You say that Catholilcs should vote for McCain. The bishops simply do no such thing.

  • Liam

    Zach

    Do you affirm that a Catholic may also morally abstain? I got the impression you are forcing people to choose which way to vote, but trying to marginalize the option of abstention.

    As to the bishops: to the extent some are trying to replay the episcopal mistakes of 2004 (Burke and Chaput – Chaput, IIRC, later stepped back from the mistake after the election), they are still mistakes, however sincere.

  • Michael, Right, my position is different in that my plea is more explicit and makes a fairly detailed prudential argument. The Bishops only give us principles: we still have to think for ourselves about how to apply those principles.

    You’re free to reject my argument, of course. The point is to see how one Catholic reasons to his vote. I think it’s a reasonable argument, you may disagree and I would like to know why.

    But yes Liam, I affirm that a Catholic may morally abstain. I am trying to make a forceful argument that that is the wrong choice. I would never say a different vote is immoral, though. Just unreasonable.

  • Liam

    Zach

    I think it can be quite reasonable. It may not be persuasive, but it still may be reasonable. One of the great errors in reasoning today is that people confuse persuasiveness with reasonability. There may be several reasonable answers to a question (as well as innumerable unreasonable answers), one of which is subjectively most persuasive. I suspect you are confusing categories.

  • Assuming that Poli or anyone else are determined not to vote for either Senators McCain or Obama then who? Bob Barr, Alan Keyes, or Chuck Baldwin are good alternatives if one can’t vote for one of the two major candidates.

  • Liam,

    Fair enough. I happen to think it’s reasonable and persuasive 🙂

  • 1superdave

    What about life? what about the fact that she is human? Her comment fits most of Ya’ll. Read their rights Dano, So much for Christian love. You Hypocrites.

  • Mike J.

    Dear 1superdave, you wrote:
    “What about life? what about the fact that she is human? Her comment fits most of Ya’ll. Read their rights Dano, So much for Christian love. You Hypocrites.”

    I’m afraid I’ve read your post about 3 times and can’t make sense of it. Perhaps you could rephrase it to be clearer?

  • Liam

    Zach

    Cute. But the “it” was referring to was the argument in favor of abstention, not your position. That is, you’ve labelled it as unreasonable, whereas I think your better if narrower argument should be that it’s not persuasive to you. Catholics at St Blog’s have a regrettable tendency to resort to rhetorical overkill in an attempt to register moral gravity, and it usually subverts their goal.

  • Liam, your last comment really doesn’t make much sense to me. If you actually read and comment on what I wrote I would be grateful.

  • Liam

    I did. I just disagree. You’ve labelled the argument in favor of abstention unreasonable. I think you are engaging in rhetorical overkill in so doing. I would not criticise you for merely being unpersuaded by that argument in favor of abstension.

  • Joseph

    Ted Kennedy? Yes, he is terribly ill and he has done more for protecting the uninsured in this country than Sarah Palin has ever done for anyone in this country.

    Are you aware that citizens of MA are now forced to purchase health insurance? I have an aunt in her 50s who has many health problems that require constant medication and doctor visits. She makes her living as a caretaker for elderly people at their homes. She obviously isn’t rich. Yet, she is now forced to pay for health insurance out of her own pocket at a pretty price of $600/month. She would actually be fined by the state if she sought healthcare without private insurance coverage. That’s what I call protecting the uninsured.

  • 1superdave

    The response was to Katerina above where she said
    ” Where do I start?
    1. Sarah Palin is running for vice-president.
    2. Sarah Palin knows less about basics Civics of this country than what is required to take a naturalization test to become a U.S. citizen.
    3. Sarah Palin doesn’t know how to speak the English language properly. Some of us immigrants know how to speak better than her.
    4. Sarah Palin has been very “smart” in not bringing up abortion at all and her pro-life record as to not scare the Hillary supporters, of course.
    5. Sarah Palin is classless, sarcastic, and an embarrassment to all the hard-working women in this country and those of us who have a college degree and know more about economic policy, foreign policy than she will ever dream of knowing.”

    Sarah palin is being assaulted for being the republican vp canidate. Ya’ll pretend to be about pro-life but you are merely pro-aboma. It wouldn’t be hypocritical if you just said we don’t care about life issues. We only care about promoting Aboma’s socialist/communist, America hating agenda. Most of the post here pretend to hold life as a theme, but who hate Sarah even though see had a very real choice to make and chose life. I think of the saduceses and pharases of Jesus’s day, whited seplecures. Such pious double talk.

  • Surely you’re not saying that “the rest” have no real role except to obey the heirarchy, are you?

    Do I appear to be saying that from what I wrote? I thought I was pretty clear.