The only voting guide Catholics need

A simpler alternative to the USCCB’s “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” presented in under 500 words:

“Man is a social animal,” and his good is naturally bound up with the good of others. Thus he has duties not only to himself and to God but to family, neighbors, and the wider society. This entails an obligation to act as a co-steward of the common good through participation in civic life and social institutions. Where men are enfranchised, this obligation produces a duty to exercise, and to exercise well, the right to vote (CCC 2240).

But this duty is not absolute and, like virtually all other duties, is conditioned by a number of considerations, including the all-overriding obligation to avoid sin and complicity in evil. Insofar as, in the modern age, it is virtually impossible to cast a vote for a major-party candidate who does not support some form of moral evil, we are absolutely enjoined on moral grounds for voting for such a candidate without sufficiently grave reason.

Faithful Catholics who oppose the reelection of Barack Obama are to be commended for their dutiful attentiveness to the core social teachings of the Catholic faith, especially its opposition to abortion. I can envision no scenarios in which a vote to reelect the current President falls short of being morally grave matter. But the extreme moral depravity of the agenda of the current President is not sufficient to justify an unconsidered vote for his chief opponent, who is himself a supporter of several grave moral evils (including, among other things, torture, unjust wars, and the abandonment of children to the care and upbringing of unrepentant perverts). Such a vote can only be justified if those moral evils are neither the motivating impetus for that vote nor proportionally greater than any good that might come about as a result of his victory. In other words, far from it being assumed that a vote for Gov. Romney is morally justifiable on the grounds that he is the “lesser of two evils,” the mere fact of his being evil means it must be presumed that one cannot vote for him without sufficiently grave reason.

Given his shameless duplicity on the issue of abortion, his personal financial support for the eugenic slaughter of his own grandchildren, and, of course, his appalling record in having supported a bill nearly identical in scope and consequence to Obamacare, it is very unlikely that such a proportional greater good can be found to justify a vote for him, without the benefit of soul-endangering intellectual contortions.

It would seem, then, that Catholics (and men of good faith everywhere) are absolutely enjoined on moral grounds for voting for either major-party candidate. Those who choose to exercise their right to vote should, therefore, either vote for a morally commendable third party candidate (if one can be found), write-in such a candidate of their own choosing, or else spoil their ballots. The same principles apply in general to all candidates down-ticket, as well.


41 thoughts on “The only voting guide Catholics need

  1. Proph,

    What if there’s no reason to believe that the candidate can or will act on a belief? For example, imagine a case where a candidate is “pro-choice” but there’s little that he likely can or will do that will affect our current law. In this sort of case, can a Catholic vote for him?

    Doesn’t my scenario describe our situation. We have abortion now and either way we’ll still have abortion after the election.

    • It may matter a bit at the margin. A pro-life president wouldn’t necessarily sing executive orders forcing private insures to fund abortions, which could mean fewer abortions. Of course, the bureaucracy can always make a “rule” which the president can’t really do anything about. And of course, the media backlash against a theoretical pro-life president’s “war against wymyn” could actually lead to greater support for abortion. The system of rule by bureaucracy-front-running-public-opinion is pretty well balanced and will carry on no matter who wins this or any other election.

      I think the best reason not to vote is because the entire electoral system is a lie and we know who is the father of all lies.

      • I endorse this, espeically the last paragraph. But this post was aimed primarily at those who have not yet completely checked out of civic life.

    • Do you mean “pro-life”?

      I do think the probability of success has to be factored into any such decision, even after you consider how likely it would be for the candidate to want to act on that decision. A sincerely pro-life candidate is going to be able to do a lot less good than a sincerely pro-abortion candidate could do evil. Thus the good that would result from the former’s election would be minimal indeed, and perhaps not enough to outweigh his support for demonstrable evils.

      • I guess whether you insert pro-lfe or pro-choice my question’s still the same. Can you vote for someone with un-Christian beliefs if they are unlikely or unable to act on those beliefs? We know that we’ll have abortion after the election.

        Thomas Fleming (I think) has suggested that he might vote for Romney just because Romney is less likely to steal his retirement money or something like that.

      • I’ve thought about voting for American Third Position if they make it on the ballot here. Is this immoral?

    • One may not vote for a pro-abortion politician under any circumstance. To do so would be to accept the consensus that abortion is a settled issue. Once abortion gets put, even implicitly, into this category, it will be politically impossible to challenge it in the future. The Left is very good at getting issues put into the “settled” category–look at divorce, female careerism, contraception, women in the military, laicite, democracy, legal blasphemy, the Risorgimento, the European Union, white guilt, usury, anti-discrimination laws, and so forth. These things are as evil as they ever were–indeed, their evil fruits are now more manifest than ever–but it is now impossible to criticize them and be taken seriously. The Left has gotten so good at putting contrary opinions outside the bounds of acceptable discourse that they’ve arguably done it to opposition to gay marriage even before the law has been officially changed to allow such marriages. The pro-life movement can never win in the sense of stopping a single prenatal murder. All our energies are needed just to keep this from becoming a settled issue just like all the other Leftist abominations. One way we do this is refusing to vote for any candidate who supports legal abortion. I would also categorically refuse to vote for any candidate who supports legal endorsement of sodomy, unprovoked war against Iran, or persecution of the Catholic Church. Actually, I hate the idea of voting in any case. As Zippy says, it’s really just a trick to get us all to endorse liberalism and become complicit in its sins.

      • What you say seems to make sense but I noticed that Fleming (a reactionary and a serious Catholic) seems to allow for the possibility of voting for Romney.

  2. We are now subjected to the usual spectacle of “conservative” Catholics who are now out in force shilling for the Romney/Ryan campaign. Ryan is just as much a dissenter as Biden. There is also those small well financed groups like the Acton Institute (financed in part by a Calvinist family and run by a “former” flaming homosexual-only Dante could make this up!) which seeks to overturn CST in favor of the free market-democratic capitalism. Who cares if Rothbard repudiated Ayn Rand, thats like the difference between Stalin and Trotsky. You know the final nail has been driven into the coffin of conservatism when it venerates people like Rothbard and Rand. .

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  4. Ants are social animals. Man is Political Animal.

    Unjust wars–I am mystified by the status of the Just War teaching. What is the consequence if a given war does not pass the Just War test?. Does it mean that the instigators of the unjust war are morally murderers?

    y, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraph 2309, lists four strict conditions for “legitimate defense by military force”:

    the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
    all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
    there must be serious prospects of success;
    the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power as well as the precision of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition

    Now different parties may define “damage” and “success” differently.
    Blasphemy may not mean anything to a secular state but a lot to another state or people.
    To a people, merely to die with honor might mean “success”.
    How does CCC handle these questions.

  5. With respect to voting for Romney, the fundamental issue is that the Democrat party is an explicitly anti-Christian party, and one of its main objectives is the suppression and elimination of Christianity. Romney, while a heterodox (gnostic) Christian is not a threat to the existence of the Church.

    If one chooses not to vote for Romney or simply to abstain from voting, then you have in fact voted for Obama and the Democrats and for the suppression of Christianity.

    Not to vote is to vote. Not to choose is to choose.

    Get serious.

  6. I think Romney is refreshingly unprincipled. So much so in fact that is simply impossible to predict whether he would ever act on his late McCain-esque saber-rattling; it is similarly impossible to predict whether he would ever act on his late “solidly” pro-life viewpoint. His ickiness with sodomites is probably genuine, and lacking principles, ought never care whether they get whatever the hell they’re screaming about. An unprincipled president is far to be preferred over either the devout leftism of Obama, the irrational war-mongering of McCain, or the inane “compassionate conservatism” of Dubya.

    We can count on Romney to do what is politically expedient any imaginable scenario. Therefore, one might be permitted to hope that, since the taste for war not au courant, he might avoid engaging in stupid and immoral war actions. His lack of principles should surely be a safeguard against caring whether a former ally is (suddenly) “a dictator” or not. One might similarly hope that, as did Dubya, when time comes to appoint the next SC justice, he might throw a bone to “The Base” of the party, which he no doubt regards with contempt nearly equal to that of Obama.

    • I would add that to the fact that he would not get his party nomination again if he appointed pro-abortion judges while in office.

      • I hope that is true. The tea leaves are never quite so obvious. Any “qualified” candidate must be very stealthy no matter who’s nominating him. I doubt, however, that Romney would nominate a Jewish woman, or a Latina. Who knows, maybe he’ll nominate a BYU grad and increase the SC’s “diversity” (judging by alma mater) by 50%.

      • Ronald Reagan got the R nomination in 1984. George HW Bush got the R nomination in 1992. What you call a fact looks to me more like a fantasy.

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  8. I was very happy to hear your argument. So many people including the pastor of my church are saying we must vote, and they mean for Romney to get rid of Obama, I can hardly believe they do not see the problem with this. You have explained it well.

    Another point I,have been trying to make is that we are become irrelevant by throwing our vote behind any leading republican the elites of the party choose to run. I actually heard one of the republican’s more liberal figures state on the radio that evangelicals in particular are irrelevant. It was at that point that my decision to vote or not for Romney was made clear and obvious.

  9. The reactionary mind has little patience for politics. And it is, at best, unnatural for anyone below the second sigma (at least) to care about it. As with any third world hell-hole that maintains the forms of democracy, most Americans will, upon being instructed by their most trusted organs of propaganda, who their tribe is… will do their sacred duty and vote for their tribe. And as always, this election will be “the Most Important” in a lifetime… because, after all, we have always been at war with Eastasia. And, win or lose, those having voted will be able to feel good about themselves, having sacrificed, even if minimally, to the staggering gods of the Empire. [A double rush of dopamine can be had if you also pledge to your public radio station this week during a matching gift period.]

    It is a peculiar deformity of modernity that compels us to watch–and not merely to watch, but to have an opinion on–such circuses every two to four years. Just as with the good ol’ USSR, we, in America, pretend to elect our leaders and they pretend to lead.

  10. Dear readers,

    I realize that some of you live in deep blue or deep red states where your presidential vote will be merely symbolic. I realize that some of you find the Romney-Ryan ticket to be insufficiently pure politically, ideologically, or religiously. There is still much you can do.

    There are four states (Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington) where the defense of marriage is on the ballot and a fifth (Iowa) where judicial retention elections will largely be about marriage. The pro-marriage campaigns in these states (easily found on the web) desperately need your donations. These campaigns will affect the whole country, and “the other side” is pouring in out-of-state money. These contests could be very close.

    There surely are Senate and Congressional candidates, not to mention candidates for local offices, who need and deserve your support.

    There are political action committees dedicated to pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and pro-religious freedom positions. Whatever your cause, there is likely to be a political action committee supporting it. Finding them on the internet and donating is not hard.

    And if you are still open to consider voting for Romney-Ryan and are pro-life, consider that a vote for Romney-Ryan is likely to move the culture and the composition of the Supreme Court in the pro-life direction, and the Obama administration is likely to continue to move the country in the opposite direction and at an accelerating pace.

    Consider the day after the election when you reflect on what you did to oppose the most pro-abortion and anti-traditional marriage party, president, and platform ever. What will you have done with your vote, your money, your voice, and your influence? Will you have done what was in your power to do?

    And if you do nothing this election cycle, please don’t feel that you will be in a good position to complain about the consequences.

    • And if you are still open to consider voting for Romney-Ryan and are pro-life, consider that a vote for Romney-Ryan is likely to move the culture and the composition of the Supreme Court in the pro-life direction

      No. The R party would be absolutely nowhere without Christian conservatives. No volunteers. Many fewer donors. No ability to win elections. What have Christian conservatives gotten, these last 40 years, from their loyal support for the Rs? The back of the R’s hand. Less than nothing.

      By contrast, what has another main coalition partner, Wall St, gotten? Absolutely everything that they want. And the only thing they deliver is money.

      None of us know how many pro-life votes there are on the SC. Greater than or equal to 2 and less than 5 is about all we know. There is no reason to believe that voting for Rs will ever raise the number of votes above 4. If the Rs wanted to raise the number of votes above 4, they could have done so. They have had ample opportunity.

      To get power in any negotiation, you have to be willing to walk away. If the car salesman is not chasing you across the parking lot, you are doing it wrong. Christian conservatives are doing it wrong.

      In fact, we are so utterly pathetic that the Tea Party, composed overwhelmingly of church-going Christian conservatives, won’t even advocate for its own issues. Instead, it advocates for Wall St and only for Wall St. This is a conscious decision they made.

      Compare this to my favorite right wing pressure group, the NRA. They make it clear to all and sundry that they will give support to anyone who gives them what they want on their issues. If the D in some election is more gun-friendly than the R, they support the D. They complain bitterly and withhold support (or even scare up primary challenges) from Rs who deviate from their party line. Etc. The NRA means to get their way, and they do get their way. One of the Wall St PACs, the Club for Growth, is similar. And they also get their way.

      Giving to mainstream pro-life PACs is only marginally better than giving to Rs directly. They display the same moral weakness, the same refusal to walk away. They find the argument that Leo gives above convincing, and this makes them powerless.

  11. What voting for R’s has done is kept conservative justices on the Supreme Court. We are close to have enough votes to overturn Roe v. Wade. Or we can sit proudly and idly by and watch liberal presidents appoint more liberal justices and bemoan the consequences for the country and the culture.

    Liberals don’t hesitate to vote strategically. And the Catholic Church continues enable if not embrace liberal politicians who proudly call themselves Catholic and who push the redefinition of marriage and a pro-choice agenda.

    • Republicans have not only done nothing to restrict abortion they’ve usually led the charge pushing and promoting the abominable practice! Remember Justice Blackmun who wrote the majority opinion for Roe v. Wade?- he was a Republican, appointed by Eisenhower. As governor of California Reagan signed into law one of the most liberal state abortion laws to date (he later regretted it). How did he and his future VP make up for it? By appointing Souter and O’Conner two moderates, Souter holding for Planned Parenthood in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. After the healthcare fiasco does anyone think Roberts is actually reliable? Even Scalia has repeatedly said that the legal problem with abortion is more procedural rather than substantive. Some line up. Now when it comes to neo-liberal economics and foreign wars well Republicans seem quite willing to get things done there. Does anyone seriously believe that Romney will govern any more conservatively?

      • Iacobus, I like your icon.

        Republicans of today are not close to Republicans 20 years ago. American politics and culture have changed such that there are clearer ideological lines today than 20 years ago. While situations like the one you described can happen, there are less likely now. I will prefer a Roberts over a Kagan or Sotomayor any day of the week. Once there is another Republican appointed judge in SCOTUS, and Roe v. Wade is not overturned, I believe that you will have a case.

      • Once there is another Republican appointed judge in SCOTUS, and Roe v. Wade is not overturned, I believe that you will have a case.

        You must be a youngster. This has been happening my whole life, with Republican presidents who have been much more unequivocally anti-abortion than Romney. The latest, greatest GOP SC appointee has always been juuuuuust a few more pro life votes away from overturning Roe. This Time It’s For Real [tm].

        And I’m a donut.

    • We are close to have enough votes to overturn Roe v. Wade.

      O’Connor. Souter. Kennedy.

      The Roe majority itself contained Blackmun, Burger, Powell, Stewart and Brennan, all R appointed. The dissenting justices had a lower % R than did the majority.

      Are you Lucy, pulling the ball away, or Charlie Brown, eternally believing that she won’t do it this time?

  12. We arguably have one of the most conservative courts in recent memory, and I am approaching retirement age. One can usually count on four conservative votes and one swing vote. Four or eight years of conservative appointees could move the court to the right for years. This would impact a number of issues, including the defense of marriage and religious freedom.

    Say not the Struggle Naught Availeth

    We also have a pretty good idea where four more years of President Obama will lead. See

  13. No one can guarantee if or when Roe will be overturned, but abortion is not the only issue that will come before the Supreme Court. The defense of marriage may well be the Roe v. Wade of our time. See

    You can contribute directly to the defense of marriage here:

    If we lose on the defense of marriage, we could face further loses in the schools, the rights of the natural family, and religious freedom. Religious freedom will also continue to come before the court in other contexts, e.g. the HHS mandate.

    The parties have become increasingly defined as red v. blue, conservative v. liberal. Liberals know Bush appointees moved the court in a conservative direction, and the Clinton and Obama appointees in the liberal direction. See, for example, this from “the other side:”

  14. If we lose on the defense of marriage

    Sad to say we lost… over 40 years ago with “No fault” (i.e., unilateral) divorce. What we should do is all move to Alaska and join up with the secessionists there.

  15. The President is doing his best to make this election a referendum on preserving Roe v. Wade:

    And redefining marriage:

    In 2008 the President ran as a moderate. He has increasingly governed from the hard left, with an increasingly circumscribed view of religious freedom as a privacy right to certain weekend activities.

    Alaska and secession is not a serious option and concedes forty-nine states to the other side.

    When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one.
    –Edmund Burke

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