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  #16  
Old May 14, '12, 2:10 pm
Justice_Mercy Justice_Mercy is offline
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Default Re: Voting the Entirety of One's Conscience

I will point back to the article again:

"Voting for the lesser of two evils involves both despair and moral compromise. Politics should not be allowed to be so soul-damaging."

This is the real question.

Our choice of political candidates is not one that is out of our control. As I said before, the key is to be proactive (create political circumstances) and not to be reactive (just vote for the lesser of two evils that appear on a ballot).

In a democratic republic, such as the United States, things didn't get the way they are because of massive public participation at the local, much less federal level. It is time to rethink our duties as citizens and how we create political change. Just showing up at election time and voting for "the lesser evil" is not responsible citizenship. That is when we face this false Utilitarian dilemma.

The Catechism says:

1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:

- by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
- by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
- by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
- by protecting evil-doers.

1869 Thus sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them. Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. "Structures of sin" are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a "social sin."

=====

Voting for the "lesser" evil is just helping social sin.

There is no clear cut answer, as some here want, but I can say this: if we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem - just voting for the lesser evil is a moral choice and not a very good one, IMHO.

If a person worked at whatever level they could politically and socially to create a more just and godly society, then even if they did not vote for any of the lesser evils or protested with a "wasted" vote as someone called it, for another less-popular candidate, that would still be far more proactive than showing up at election time and wondering why I can only vote for Satan or Beelzebub and have no other alternative.

If we are not creating a better political clime by whatever means we realistically can, then we will only be left with the choice that many seem to think is just the way it is. Complicity with social sin is not something we are forced to do. Besides, there is not always a "lesser" evil to choose from - sometimes evil is just evil. As I have said before, Utilitarian choices are not moral choices for good.

P.S. I am sure some of you have seen this at the top of the Forum: http://www.catholic.com/voteyourfaith

Last edited by Justice_Mercy; May 14, '12 at 2:27 pm. Reason: added link
  #17  
Old May 14, '12, 5:03 pm
JimG JimG is offline
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Default Re: Voting the Entirety of One's Conscience

Not every vote involves a choice between the lesser of two evils. Some political choices are simply prudential judgments between alternatives, not choices between two evils. But there are some direct evils such as abortion and euthanasia that we should never vote in favor of, or for a candidate who endorses them. In the current situation, I would add religious freedom to the list, since it appears to be in jeopardy.

But I do agree that Catholics must be involved in the political process if we do not wish to lose our freedoms or cede the political sphere to secularism. How we get involved is also a prudential judgment.
  #18  
Old May 14, '12, 5:11 pm
Justice_Mercy Justice_Mercy is offline
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Default Re: Voting the Entirety of One's Conscience

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Originally Posted by JimG View Post
Not every vote involves a choice between the lesser of two evils. Some political choices are simply prudential judgments between alternatives, not choices between two evils. But there are some direct evils such as abortion and euthanasia that we should never vote in favor of, or for a candidate who endorses them. In the current situation, I would add religious freedom to the list, since it appears to be in jeopardy.

But I do agree that Catholics must be involved in the political process if we do not wish to lose our freedoms or cede the political sphere to secularism. How we get involved is also a prudential judgment.
I whole-heartedly agree ... amen
  #19  
Old May 14, '12, 6:10 pm
St Francis St Francis is offline
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Default Re: Voting the Entirety of One's Conscience

From the article: But there are many elections where a voter may feel that there is more than one moral issue at stake. For example, the voter may be pro-life as to abortion, but may also believe that the larger community, represented by the organs of the state, has a duty to ensure that the impoverished are provided with the necessities of life, including medical care. In the contemporary political landscape of the United States, this voter is faced with a conundrum.

I have not heard of any elections at which the candidates pose a choice between abortion and help to the needy, so I have a problem with this one part.

However, both parties do seem to have a problem with interfering in the internal affairs of other nations to a point which I consider immoral. Some people force nations to institute "family planning" programs or we will not help them--that seems very wrong to me. Other people institute programs in other nations which undermine the internal workings of the nation, and that also seems immoral to me.

Also from the article: If voters stop engaging in the practice, and simply stop voting for candidates who they feel will do evil on any level, the two major political parties may be compelled to seek out those voters with changes in both their positions and their candidate nominations.

I do not think that abstaining from voting is a good idea, either, because it doesn't really "send a message." It woudl send a message if the party(ies) one didn't vote for were affected by the decision and knew why it was made, but there are plenty of other voters, all that abstaining from voting accomplishes is that the parties need to appeal to a smaller group of voters--those who are still voting.

From the article: That effort could be enhanced if voters of like mind organized for the purpose of identifying the position requirements of candidates who would obtain their votes.
This is probably the only thing in the article I can agree with, but in practical terms, can Catholics get themselves together to accomplish this? Many of us disagree with the means by which aid to the poor is handled, many of us disagree with the need to illegalize abortion. I am not sure that we can do more than we are doing now.
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  #20  
Old May 14, '12, 6:34 pm
Mickey Finn Mickey Finn is offline
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Default Re: Voting the Entirety of One's Conscience

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Originally Posted by Armyvet007 View Post
From the way it reads and the links on the site I view it as an attempt to convince those most likely to vote against Obama not to vote at all.
This seems to be the camp I'm falling into. Hoping in the near future, the Repubs will reform themselves into something I can again support. A stinging loss may trigger just such a change.

Remember, there are always other issues to be decided, besides candidates.
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  #21  
Old May 14, '12, 7:00 pm
JackQ JackQ is offline
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Default Re: Voting the Entirety of One's Conscience

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Originally Posted by Ender View Post
There are at least two serious problems with the author's position. The first is the common assumption that prudential problems like providing medical care are moral issues in the same way that abortion is. This is incorrect: there are in fact very few true moral issues; most are merely political. That is not to say they aren't major - or even life and death - questions for some people but because a problem is a serious one doesn't make it a moral one. Regarding the author's example or providing medical care, the choice isn't between those who want to provide it and those who don't but is between those who disagree on how it should be provided. It is a disagreement over what will work, not whether or not one should help.

The other problem is his disparagement of choosing the lesser of two evils with the analogy of helping a thief rather than helping a murderer. That's a bad analogy as it categorizes the action as choosing to help one or the other. Suppose we look at it as a choice not between helping one or the other but of stopping one or the other. If two crimes were occurring simultaneously - a murder and a robbery - which would you choose to stop? You cannot stop them both but surely if you had it in your power you would at least stop one of them and it seems clear to me that if there is a choice then you should choose to obstruct the more serious problem.

I think this is covered by the principle of double effect. If the good we do is intentional (stopping a murder) and the bad (the robbery) is an unintended consequence then we have satisfied that criterion. The author has completely ignored the contribution intent pays in determining whether an action is moral.

Ender
What you assume was assumed was not. The point is that, for a Catholic, one may not do evil so that good may result from it. If you are convinced that you are not doing that, then you are voting according to your conscience. If I think that the healthcare issues are morally neutral, then they don't weigh in the balance. If I don't think that they are morally neutral, then, if the candidate I vote for will abolish a moral good involving healthcare, then I am consciously doing evil. And if I am doing that in the interest of what I perceive to be a greater good, I am doing evil so that good will result from it, which our Catholic faith forbids.

By making the point this way I'm not denying that morality is objective, I'm just restricting the scope of the discussion to the role conscience should play in the act of voting, or not voting. What a well-formed conscience will decide about these issues is another discussion, and conscientious Catholics vary in their views on these matters.

I think your point about preventing the greater evil is interesting, but I can't agree with it. A vote is an endorsement of a candidate. It involves giving assistance to a person in his acquisition of political power. It is an affirmative act. If a candidate intends evil, then I participate in that evil if I vote for him. What's more, I see no logical difference in voting a certain way because I am preventing a greater evil, and voting a certain way because I am choosing the lesser of evils.

What I think might be valid about your point is that if a candidate does not intend a certain good, then, possibly, I am not voting against that good by voting for him. I am simply not assisting in bringing about a social good. I'm not sure on that.
  #22  
Old May 14, '12, 7:17 pm
JackQ JackQ is offline
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Default Re: Voting the Entirety of One's Conscience

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimG View Post
Of course we can make progress for the good. But if we refrain from voting because both candidates favor some particular moral evil, we will never vote, and never change anything.
God says we should not do evil so that good may come from it. I understand how someone might think that is an impractical way to engage in politics, but I always feel happier when I trust the universe to God.

But the dire circumstance you describe wouldn't have to be the outcome if Catholics did more than simply passively accept the choices that the political parties deign to provide us. There are a lot of Catholics in this country, and some of them even take their religion seriously. What if Catholics organized politically around the principle that we wouldn't give our votes to any candidate who proposed to do evil according to Catholic teaching? With competent organizing, could we get membership in the hundreds of thousands? And if we were to achieve something like this, wouldn't the political parties have to give us serious attention, as opposed to just throwing us bones? It's a thought.
  #23  
Old May 14, '12, 7:51 pm
JimG JimG is offline
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Default Re: Voting the Entirety of One's Conscience

Quote:
Originally Posted by JackQ View Post
God says we should not do evil so that good may come from it. I understand how someone might think that is an impractical way to engage in politics, but I always feel happier when I trust the universe to God.

But the dire circumstance you describe wouldn't have to be the outcome if Catholics did more than simply passively accept the choices that the political parties deign to provide us. There are a lot of Catholics in this country, and some of them even take their religion seriously. What if Catholics organized politically around the principle that we wouldn't give our votes to any candidate who proposed to do evil according to Catholic teaching? With competent organizing, could we get membership in the hundreds of thousands? And if we were to achieve something like this, wouldn't the political parties have to give us serious attention, as opposed to just throwing us bones? It's a thought.
"What if Catholics organized politically around the principle that we wouldn't give our votes to any candidate who proposed to do evil according to Catholic teaching?"

I'm not sure that such an organizing effort would work. After all, Catholic teaching is quite firm that abortion is evil, that out of wedlock sexual activity is evil, that homosexual marriage is against nature. Yet Catholics have for decades voted for candidates who supported abortion, who inculcated sexual promiscuity, and other evils. If Catholics cannot coalesce even on basic life issues, basic issues of Catholic morality, what hope is there for say a "Catholic Party?"
  #24  
Old May 14, '12, 8:38 pm
davidfrost davidfrost is offline
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Default Re: Voting the Entirety of One's Conscience

In Jack and I's case we both support social conservativism and progressivism on economic and environmental issues. Plus we have more of a "Just War Theory" approach to dealing with military intervention. We are trying to start a Christian Democratic Party as a third party option in the United States. "Christian Democracy" is based on "Social Conservativism" and "Catholic Social Teaching." So we take those two ideas and also "Consistent Life Ethic" with the "just War Theory" philosophy that I stated earlier and that becomes the platform ideology we are advocating. There is more unique philosophical perspectives as well, but I'd say the biggest points are the ones listed above.

*The things in parentheses are all covered under exellent Wikipedia articles if you aren't aware of what those things are.

So I think where we are going with that is the sort of thing I went though before I started the CDPUSA. I am a Christian and I am very Pro-Life and Pro Traditional Family, yet as a Christian I am also deeply offended and appalled when I hear GOP politicians so that everyone should somehow fill their hearts with greed and lust over material objects instead of placing God and other children of God at the top of the list as whats most important in life. I don't envy the wealthy or want their money, but when you have things like that bridge that collapsed and killed a few people because "we can't tax the job creators" then I find that to be morally offensive. I don't like how all these toxins get spewed into the environment from industry and causes harm to public health, but many on the right say that trying to curb some of that is attacking business people. If you us some of that logic to it's logical conclusion then is that prostitution and drug dealing became acceptable as a business (Ron and Rand Paul's Libertarian party is considered conservative and they advocate that). As much as I absolutely love the thought of churches helping people in need, every member of the clergy I have ever met could tell you they can't cover everything the social safety net does. That why I support both the social safety net and faith based organizations.

So anyways I got off topic so I'm going to start a new paragraph. I basically wanted to feel like I belong and support causes I believe in and basically have a political home and politicians I really liked. The problem is my political alignment is an extremely common one but severely underserved. I've met a lot of people like that. But unlike left, right, or libertarians, we don't have a party, politicians, or activist organizations and such. I used to be a Democrat and well liked in those circles, but then other Democrats got even harder about abortion, euthanasia, and SSM. Then the new atheist movement became in vogue in those circles and thats when I finally snapped and couldn't take it anymore and decided we needed a party for people that aren't for moral libertinism or corporate greed. I think that what Jack is trying to say is that for those of us that feel like that and don't have a political home, we need to start being more outspoken an mobilized because the way things are is pretty toxic and narrowminded and things would deeply benefit if those of us who side like that step in and make our voices heard as well.
  #25  
Old May 14, '12, 9:42 pm
St Francis St Francis is offline
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Default Re: Voting the Entirety of One's Conscience

John Rao in his discussion on the Civita Catolica (a Jesuit journal founded in the 1850s and still going on today, I think) talks about how the people involved considered this. They felt that creating a Catholic political party would not be a good idea because the people involved would end up taking polical considerations into account, much the way people say that the Republicans have used the issue of abortion.

They suggested instead to make a pressure group which would pressure all the political parties (this is in Italy where they have a parliamentary system) to move in a more Catholic direction.

Unfortunately, there are so many groups out there, I am not sure that a Catholic one would be heard above the crowd... plus it would have to have a very well-defined set of principles.
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  #26  
Old May 15, '12, 5:57 am
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Armyvet007 Armyvet007 is offline
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Default Re: Voting the Entirety of One's Conscience

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mickey Finn View Post
This seems to be the camp I'm falling into. Hoping in the near future, the Repubs will reform themselves into something I can again support. A stinging loss may trigger just such a change.

Remember, there are always other issues to be decided, besides candidates.
The best way to address the need of reform [in either party] is on the congressional level. The Pres is basically just a "front man" for the party with the real power players and agenda makers being the career congressmen and women. If we really wanted to send a message, we'd get "None of the Above" on the ballets and cast our votes for it [MUCH different then just not voting].
  #27  
Old May 15, '12, 6:00 am
JackQ JackQ is offline
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Default Re: Voting the Entirety of One's Conscience

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Originally Posted by JimG View Post
"What if Catholics organized politically around the principle that we wouldn't give our votes to any candidate who proposed to do evil according to Catholic teaching?"

I'm not sure that such an organizing effort would work. After all, Catholic teaching is quite firm that abortion is evil, that out of wedlock sexual activity is evil, that homosexual marriage is against nature. Yet Catholics have for decades voted for candidates who supported abortion, who inculcated sexual promiscuity, and other evils. If Catholics cannot coalesce even on basic life issues, basic issues of Catholic morality, what hope is there for say a "Catholic Party?"
My observation is that the political differences among Catholics tend to be more about the proper role of government than anything else. But the particulars of the Church's social doctrine are less ambiguous than the wishful thinking of many (and I include myself in that). So I think it could happen if we all swallowed our pride a little bit, stopped ascribing bad faith to other Catholics who disagree with us, and started rendering due obedience to the social doctrine of the church.

There is actually a Protestant that I know who is trying to get a Christian Democratic party going in the United States. Even though he's a Protestant, he agrees that Catholic social doctrine in its entirety is an essential part of the effort. You can find the website here.
  #28  
Old May 15, '12, 6:02 am
JackQ JackQ is offline
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Default Re: Voting the Entirety of One's Conscience

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Originally Posted by Armyvet007 View Post
The best way to address the need of reform [in either party] is on the congressional level. The Pres is basically just a "front man" for the party with the real power players and agenda makers being the career congressmen and women. If we really wanted to send a message, we'd get "None of the Above" on the ballets and cast our votes for it [MUCH different then just not voting].
I agree we need a "None of the Above" option for our legislatures. It should have real teeth too, so that neither party will be able to seat a representative from the district or state in question until one of them can present a candidate that the majority of the relevant voting population actually wants.
  #29  
Old May 15, '12, 6:26 am
Ridgerunner Ridgerunner is offline
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Default Re: Voting the Entirety of One's Conscience

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Originally Posted by St Francis View Post
From the article: But there are many elections where a voter may feel that there is more than one moral issue at stake. For example, the voter may be pro-life as to abortion, but may also believe that the larger community, represented by the organs of the state, has a duty to ensure that the impoverished are provided with the necessities of life, including medical care. In the contemporary political landscape of the United States, this voter is faced with a conundrum.

I have not heard of any elections at which the candidates pose a choice between abortion and help to the needy, so I have a problem with this one part.
It would be a great mistake to assume (as many do) that the Dem party helps the needy. That's not to say the Repubs do either. Nothing has been done for the poor by either party since the Earned Income Credit, and that was Reagan's.

The Dems had a year and a half during which they could have passed anything they wanted to pass. Did they do anything for the worst off of all; the disabled needy? No. Nothing. Did they do anything for anyone? Well, yes, they did do some middle class welfare measures like "cash for clunkers" which destroyed many cars upon which the poor depend. And, too, they crowded yet more people onto the Medicaid rolls at a time when truly poor people are already having difficulty fitting into the "Medicaid quotas" most healthcare providers have. For the middle class, all Obamacare does is make the higher paid members of the middle class pay an unknown subsidy to lower paid members of the middle class. But the whole thing is middle class welfare.
  #30  
Old May 15, '12, 8:43 am
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Matilda Bennett Matilda Bennett is offline
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This thread is now closed. Please remember that discussions of particular political parties or candidates is not allowed on this forum. Thank you for your cooperation.
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