Every election cycle we get stories about people upset by Catholic voting guides or strong statements from some bishops. The narrative is almost always that “somebody is telling me who to vote for.” The fault is with the bishop or the voting guide.
No doubt one or more of the Israelites griped something to the same effect when Moses delivered the Ten Commandments. “How dare you dictate to me denying my right to (insert favorite sin).”
“The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.” (G. K. Chesterton)
Now really it is the case that when these guidelines are given regarding moral principles and voting it is not about telling you for whom you can vote for. It would be more accurate to say they help you to determine who you can’t vote for if the candidate meets some disqualifying criteria. In what is mostly a two party system like ours the idea that one candidate is eliminated does not mean that you must choose the other. This is a prudential judgement and act of your conscience where you might decide to go all Don Quixote instead of just choosing the other dominant candidate with whatever certified lesser evil rating.
Those that do get mad about voting guides and staunch bishop statements have been misdirected from the real problem. The real problem is politicians who endorse and cooperate with intrinsic evils. The fact that with Catholic help we are putting forth morally unqualified candidates is a big part of the problem. In one political season we had usually five non-negotiables listed in voting guides. This time around we added religious freedom. It makes me wonder what intrinsic evil we are going to be adding next time?
The reason people get mad about moral guidelines regarding voting is that they are attached more to their political party than to their faith. Go ahead an put your trust in princes.
One of those bishops that party first Catholics get upset about is Archbishop Chaput who recently said:
“We’re Catholics before we’re Democrats. We’re Catholics before we’re Republicans. We’re even Catholics before we’re Americans because we know that God has a demand on us prior to any government demand on us,” … “And this has been the story of the martyrs through the centuries,”
One of the indicators of the party first Catholic is that they will quickly diminish whatever flaws their favorite candidate has. The flaws of their candidate fade in the glare of the other candidate’s flaws. This can also happen with those who choose a candidate not because they really like them, but because they have determined they would be a lesser evil that would more contribute to the common good. In the current political situation I have seen this with some Catholic supporters of Gov. Romney and that even though he was nowhere near their preferred candidate, the also seem to gloss over his flaws. That somehow a lesser evil is just really not all that evil.
I bring this up because in my own political examination of conscience I have to keep reminding myself of this fact. Gov. Romney is a seriously flawed candidate who just really is not a social conservative. His answers to social conservatives are reflexive and don’t really show any serious commitment to the pro-life cause or other important issues regarding the family. I would certainly love to be proved wrong. Now President Obama has done some really bad things, but one more that sticks in my craw is having to support Gov. Romney as a deterrent. While I will give my vote to the Governor, I will not give my soul to him in ignoring his flaws and ignoring any intrinsic evils he does support. It is natural that when we support a candidate we really want to like them even in the case when we are really voting against the other guy. This is one reason I really liked Dale Price’s Romney for President. Sigh. He stated his reason for support while not diminishing serious problems with him.
What is frustrating is that if Gov. Romney does win it means that at least for eight years we are stuck with a morally compromised candidate. If he wins he is the GOP candidate next time and the Democratic candidate next time will no doubt be totally morally unacceptable. The candidates we have available is a case of garbage in garbage out as we go from the Primaries to the General election.
I seriously doubt that within my lifetime in a Presidential election I will ever have a choice between two candidates based totally on prudential decisions. Wow wouldn’t that be nice to not have to choose which candidate supports less intrinsic evils when playing Catholic voting guide Bingo.