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For whom I shall not vote

January 28, 2008


I readily admit that I disagree with some of my fellow Vox Nova contributors on whom to vote for in either the presidential primary or general election. While I have not yet decided whether or not I can in good conscience even vote within either major party, I do know for whom I shall not vote. And guess what? Call me unoriginal, call me too conservative, but the make-it or break-it for me with regard to these candidates is explicit, chronicled and public support for the killing of the faceless and voiceless vulnerable–persons who happen to be zygotes, embryos and fetuses, which happen to be physiological stages on life’s way. Like I’ve said before, I am unequivocally anti-abortion.

Hillary Clinton’s, Barack Obama’s, and John Edward’s support for abortion rights is well known. Last summer, I mentioned my dismay over Obama’s and Edward’s health care platforms, which include provisions for covering abortions.

My worry over the possibility of a Rudy Giuliani nomination is beginning to extend to John McCain. McCain has voted for every congressional measure aimed at enhancing embryonic stem cell research (most recently in 2007), and has made no public comment as to any change of heart. In fact, David over at Catholics in the Public Square raises some pressing questions as to what sort of Supreme Court Judges a President McCain would appoint.

Edwards, Clinton, Obama, McCain, Giuliani are those for whom I shall not vote.

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28 Comments
  1. January 28, 2008 3:40 pm

    Given that torture is as intrinsically evil as abortion, should we not extend the (absolutely correct) blanket against voting for a pro-ESC candidate to those that do not unequivocally oppose torture? If we accept waterboarding as torture (a point of some contention, though I hope, not here) shouldn’t we tack on the remainder of the Republican team save Huck and Paul?

  2. Policraticus permalink
    January 28, 2008 3:42 pm

    I don’t see why not, Stephen.

  3. January 28, 2008 3:52 pm

    I have not yet decided whether or not I can in good conscience even vote within either major party

    You and me both. I am trying to discern whether there is any meat to the argument I so often hear which states that “You can’t vote for him. That’s wasting your vote. You have to vote for either Republican-X or Democrat-Y.” My conscience seems to telling me this is absurd. Should I vote for whomever I think is most qualified to lead our country, without regard to whether or not the majority of Americans will vote for this person?

    One person I am considering is Joe Schriner, whose policy statements seemed to be entirely informed by Catholic social doctrine (although I have only begun to read up on him). Granted, he is a virtually invisible candidate who travels the country in his motorhome door-to-door campaigning while his home..er… camper-schools their children.

    Can I in right conscious vote for this guy who seems to get it all right, but has no chance of winning? I’m not sure yet. What do you guys (and gals) think?

  4. January 28, 2008 3:53 pm

    I will probably vote for McCain over any of the dems (as the lesser of two evils), but his unwillingness to back off his support of federal funding for ESCR is deeply troubling.

    For now, I am sticking with Huckabee.

  5. Blackadder permalink
    January 28, 2008 3:55 pm

    Since I was the one who linked to Prof. Bradley’s defense of McCain as a pro-lifer (in which he claimed that McCain had switched his position on ESCR), I should note that this appears not to be true:

    http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MzI2NDQ5NjUxNjhjYzRjYTYxZGM4Y2JhYjlhODQxYTY=

  6. Policraticus permalink
    January 28, 2008 3:56 pm

    If a vote is as grave and serious an issue as many Catholics make it out to be (specifically in terms of voting pro-life), then I cannot see how voting third-party would be a waste of vote. Why would it be okay to go against one’s conscience by compromising on “electability”? I understand my vote to express my own desire to see a person elected to a given office, not to express the desires of a projected majority.

  7. Policraticus permalink
    January 28, 2008 3:57 pm

    Blackadder,

    Thanks for that link. Would you mind putting it in a short post?

  8. jonathanjones02 permalink
    January 28, 2008 3:57 pm

    I agree, Policraticus.

    But it is possible McCain comes around on stem cells, given the advancements of technology and pressure from social conservatives. There are definately rumblings that this will be the case. If he does, that merits a strong second look.

  9. Blackadder permalink
    January 28, 2008 3:58 pm

    Also, this quote, on the issue of judges, is particularly worrisome to me:

    “Mr. McCain has told conservatives he would be happy to appoint the likes of Chief Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court. But he indicated he might draw the line on a Samuel Alito, because ‘he wore his conservatism on his sleeve.’”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120146652798920519.html?mod=opinion_journal_political_diary

  10. jonathanjones02 permalink
    January 28, 2008 3:58 pm

    Maybe I wrote too soon!

    We’ll see. The issue isn’t going away within the GOP, fortunately.

  11. Blackadder permalink
    January 28, 2008 3:59 pm

    Policraticus,

    Will do.

  12. Policraticus permalink
    January 28, 2008 4:00 pm

    Jonathan,

    But it is possible McCain comes around on stem cells, given the advancements of technology and pressure from social conservatives. There are definately rumblings that this will be the case. If he does, that merits a strong second look.

    If he were to come around by November, I’d consider voting for him. His position on abortion is solid, he is not in dogmatic denial over global warming, he is good on immigration…

    His strong support for the Iraq War is troubling for me and may be the deal breaker.

  13. January 28, 2008 4:01 pm

    Why would it be okay to go against one’s conscience by compromising on “electability”? I understand my vote to express my own desire to see a person elected to a given office, not to express the desires of a projected majority.

    Thanks Policratus. That is what I was thinking, but it is helpful to hear someone else say it.

  14. January 28, 2008 4:12 pm

    JB,

    Same here. Joe Schriner. I’m really hoping for Huckabee too :-/

  15. January 28, 2008 4:14 pm

    Alexham,

    What do you think are the chances for Huckabee to be the nominee? I’m not very optimistic :(

  16. January 28, 2008 4:15 pm

    Politicraticus,

    Spiritual indifference is intrinsically evil. So are the seven deadly sins.

    Since spiritual indifference is rampant in America (this is what all sociological statistics indicate), and since political leaders are as spiritually indifference as anyone, wouldn’t this disqualify all actual and potential candidates from getting your vote? It seems this is the logic.

    The question I have is this. Within the context of practical reason, how does one go about addressing that which is intrinsically evil. Not only BEHAVIORS, but DISPOSITIONS can be intrinsically evil.

  17. January 28, 2008 4:21 pm

    Katerina-

    Not good. But I am going to put off having to choose between the lesser of two evils as long as possible. And right now, Huckabee leads the polls in my home state.

  18. January 28, 2008 4:26 pm

    Tim Russert for president!

  19. Policraticus permalink
    January 28, 2008 4:28 pm

    The question I have is this. Within the context of practical reason, how does one go about addressing that which is intrinsically evil. Not only BEHAVIORS, but DISPOSITIONS can be intrinsically evil.

    I still struggle articulating to myself how the distinction between behavior and disposition can be addressed politically. I am of the opinion that abortion is primarily a moral issue and that the correct way to address it is to help heal that spiritual indifference (through evangelization, social policy, wealth distribution) of which you so often eloquently speak. However, while we try to heal that indifference, I think not only of the persons involved in having an abortion (e.g., mother, doctor) but of the need of government to secure justice for the one about to murdered. And so I admittedly vacillate between seeing abortion as a moral issue that can only be solved by true humanism and concern for the root causes of indifferences and seeing abortion as a legal issue for the one about to be murdered who could be protected by policy. Overturning Roe v. Wade does not stop abortion; the social and individual evils cannot be stopped by mere legality (which is why I do not condemn another Catholic who may support a pro-choice candidate). But when I think of the person who is killed, I am possessed by an overwhelming feeling that legal protection must extend to him/him regardless of the situation and environment in which the decision for an abortion is made.

  20. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    January 28, 2008 4:33 pm

    I could handle a candidate who would claim he would do nothing. My problem with the Democratic candidates is that they seem to embrace abortion as a positive good. I have given up on a legal remedy. As the candidates see abortion as a positive good, I have difficulty in seeing how I could support them.

  21. jonathanjones02 permalink
    January 28, 2008 4:35 pm

    It will be Romney or McCain. No one else has a path. Let us hope the pressure from the social conservatives stays very solid.

  22. January 28, 2008 5:41 pm

    Policraticus says: “I admittedly vacillate between seeing abortion as a moral issue that can only be solved by true humanism and concern for the root causes of indifferences and seeing abortion as a legal issue for the one about to be murdered who could be protected by policy.”

    I appreciate your vacillation on these matters. As I read your comment, I was reminded of Rembrandt’s painting, The Apostle Paul. This painting is here in Washington at the National Gallery (I believe part of the permanent collection). Every time I see it, I imagine Paul saying to himself: “Now how can I explain to these crazy Greeks that there are three persons in one God.” This question captures us all at certain times. And trying to articulate a sensible position with regard to abortion is analogous to the difficulties St. Paul had during his time. To date, no one has been successful. Not surprising.

    Your recognition that abortion is primarily a moral issue (I would say spiritual rather than moral) is key. It is part of our nations spiritual crisis. But it is not primarily a moral crisis. I see morals, as defined in America, as having to do with behavior, primarily. A spiritual crisis transcends behavior and looks to the structures and dynamics, both intrinsic and extrinsic, that account for behavior. JPII speaks to the structures of sin in this regard. Bit, yo go beyond the spiritual and tread into the policy domain is to tread on delicate, even dangerous, grounds.

    I’m disinclined to go the legal route. To me that is an invitation to allow the totalitarian urge to gain strength and destroy the underpinnings of this society. I look at the focus on policy, whether it be legal policy, social policy, economic policy, or international policy. Too much harm has come from that course of action. The war on drugs has been a terrible tragedy, with 2.2 million more people incarcerated today than in 1981. The war on poverty has defined poverty solely in economic terms and has thereby institutionalized poverty to the point where it is now Intractable. The effort to improve education through policy has likewise failed to address purpose and the need to develop the intellect. All this is to say that the “end does not justify the means.” The means must be proportional to the end that we seek to achieve. If it is not proportionate, then that which we do achieve will reflect only the nature of the means that are employed and not the original intent goal. This is especially true with regard to the use of the law to insure the rights of the unborn. The means must be proportionate to the ends.

    Most of America’s problems are spiritual, i.e., they have to do with the question of integral relations. Such problems cannot be address through policy initiatives. Policy, for the most part, has to do with the distribution of goods and services. It is an extrinsic approach to problems that are intrinsic in origin. When we turn to policy, the danger is away that policy as implemented will end up denying the intrinsic dignity of the human persons, not to mention their freedom and solidarity with others. Just think, for a moment, of the phrase: “Three strikes and you’re out!” Good baseball; bad policy. But who is going to protect against incremental policy changes.

    As for the pro-life/pro-choice debate, (pro-choice and pro-abortion cannot be conflated), I’ve been around this town too long to expect much from politicians. For the most part, they are helpless. This is more accurate than to say they are hypocrites. They are helpless. But they don’t feel comfortable with their helplessness. They get antsy. They need to show something, to do something. They will search high and low to find that vehicle that will send the right signal to their constituents. They want to demonstrate that they are on the right side of an issue, whether they are going to do anything concrete about that issue or not.

    At bottom, politicians are adept at manipulating the public’s opinion about themselves. Rarely do they go much beyond that. Jesse Helms was on the right side of the unborn issue, but look what he did on the questions of social justice. And what did he accomplish on the unborn issue. Nothing. The odds are simply too great that none of these politicians will accomplish anything, and when they do, it is too often the case that the means they employ will create more problems than they solve. Certainly this is the case with the drug laws.

    As for the rights of the unborn, I know of no existing policy that is going to make a difference. It simply won’t happen precisely because at bottom this challenge is a spiritual matter requiring a spiritual solution. Once again, the means must be proportionate to the end.

    I remember very clearly when the Hyde Amendment became law. I felt a thrill, thinking that finally something was going to be done about such questions. That was in the early 1970s. But it really did nothing other than stop the flow of money. Since then, the rise in the incidence of abortion has been dramatic. The means were not proportionate to the end.

    I also remember when the March to Life began here in Washington. Congressional offices were unprepared for what would happen. One of my friends was the Chief of Staff to a newly elected congressman. All of a sudden these hordes of people descended upon his office; Unknown to him, this horde had representatives from both sides of the debate — pro-life and pro-choice. He let both groups into the Congressman’s office at the same time, and when the Congressman answered one group it made the others mad. It was a damn mess.

    I also remember another office who had prepared two letters on the issue to go out to his constituents. One letter was address to 120,000 pro-life constituents, and the other to the 138.000 pro-choice, constituents. Well, guess what happened. The night computer operator got the letters mixed up and sent the pro-life letters to the pro-choice people, and vice versa.

    I say all this to underscore the kind of thing that happens. This has been going on for 35 years. No results.

  23. RonPaulForNow permalink
    January 28, 2008 7:33 pm

    I will probably be voting 3rd party. I don’t find any Democrat acceptable on abortion and I don’t find any Republican, save Paul, acceptable on war. OK so war isn’t intrinsically evil but anyone who could not see that this war was unjust is unfit to lead IMO.

  24. January 28, 2008 7:58 pm

    MZ Forrest,

    “My problem with the Democratic candidates is that they seem to embrace abortion as a positive good.”

    If your statement were true, your point would be compelling. But, it’s not that simple.

    One cannot conflate pro-choice and pro-abortion. They are not the same. Most who are pro-choice are not pro-abortion. Some are; most aren’t.

    The pro-choice concern is primarily with the intrusion of the Federal government into the lives of individuals. It’s about personal freedom. This is a reasonable concern.

    When it comes to the legal route, I agree with you. The legal course has no future.

    Even if decisions are eventually returned to the states, it still becomes a matter of choice, doesn’t it. But in such case, the choice is abstract and distant from the person. Indeed, the choice of state legislatures will be based on numbers. At least when the women herself decides, a personal and existential dimension preserved. Moral persuasion then becomes an option.

    The best approach is to change “hearts and minds.” It’s a difficult journey. But it is a way that reaches into the very fabric of the person. It touches the wellsprings of human behavior.

  25. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    January 28, 2008 8:06 pm

    The idea that one can support the “freedom” of abortion without supporting abortion itself is a perversion of the definition of freedom. The bishops have made clear “I’m personally opposed, but…” is not acceptable position on abortion. Regardless, in speeches to Planned Parenthood earlier last year, both candidates made clear their affection for abortion. In the New Hampshire fiasco, Obama affirmed that he indeed saw abortion as a positive good when attacked by Clinton as being weak on ‘choice.’

  26. M.Z. Forrest permalink
    January 28, 2008 8:07 pm

    As for the best approach, part of that approach has to be to stop affirming that abortion is a positive good. You cannot change the culture until that is done.

  27. Donald R. McClarey permalink
    January 28, 2008 11:46 pm

    I would never vote for McCain in a primary. In a general election against either Obama or Clinton, two total pro-aborts, I will unhesitatingly vote for him if he is the nominee. I will under no circumstance vote for total pro-abort Giuliani, but fotunately he appears to have very little chance of gaining the nomination.

  28. January 29, 2008 12:21 am

    Give me an Aragorn, a Faramir, or a Samwise Gamgee. Heck, I’d take a repentant Boromir over this crop.

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