Upset about obligation to vote - moral and emotional quandary

For several elections, I’ve pretty much taken the default position of voting for the candidates recommended by our local pro-life organization. In a nation (USA) where the unborn are killed at a horrific rate, and given that this is a moral “non-negotiable” issue, at least doing that makes the decision process streamlined for me.

Otherwise, if I were to try to weigh all the other issues I would be hopelessly confused, not being a person who really cottons to poltical and economic complexities. I’m becoming more interested in economic issues - but it’s going to take me time to learn enough to make intelligent and informed discernments on them.

Besides, I honestly feel our current system is broken beyond repair. I hope this isn’t violating the forum rules regarding discussion of politics - be mindful that I’m just laying the background to my moral dilemma here by mentioning these political things. Back to the pro-life voting - in voting for those candidates, I thought well, at least I’m assured of voting for the lesser of two evils. Of course most of the time I’m voting for Republicans. Most Democrat candidates support liberal morality that I’m glad to be voting against.

Economics is where my heart is pierced with a sword more and more. I have unfriended people on Facebook because they post things about how horrible they think it is that fast food workers should get a decent wage. And yet in the same breath they decry welfare - well, do the math - how is that person who is forced to take that job going to pay for child care - or even if he/she is single, live decently on part-time low wages? We have effectively created a caste system in the United States that is the elephant (!) in the living room no one wants to acknowledge. Meanwhile, the fast-food or retail store worker has to put up with attitude from a lot of people like this who think they’re better than that worker. I could go on and on but I know I’m degenerating into a rant . . . :mad:

The point is, I’m starting to read stuff on distributism and that would quite likely be something I could get behind. The two-party system has always bugged me, I’ve been an Independent all my voting life, but I think the candidates on both sides are corrupt, can be bought, serve the interests of either big corporations and their shareholders, or special-interest groups, and that even voting with only the pro-life issue makes me feel like a traitor and the people who are getting the shaft may decide to get abortions out of despair so what’s the point? :shrug: Not to mention I don’t feel like my vote counts for much anyway.

It makes me feel so anxious I am seriously considering talking to my priest and asking for some kind of dispensation from the obligation to vote at all. I hate feeling this way, but I’ve just seen too much.

Voting has become the lex orandi to Political Correctness’ lex credendi. While the Catechism does speak of an obligation to exercise the vote, this is a contingent obligation and not an absolute obligation. I do remember a USCCB’s Voting Guide allow for the “extraordinary step” (if I recall the language correctly) of not voting if it violates your conscience.

Here is a Catholic that does not vote and his defense of it: Reconciled to the King

I’m a believer in 3rd-party/write-in votes.

I know people who say they don’t vote because they want to send a message. To me, that’s like writing a letter and never sending it. Their non-vote is just put into the Doesn’t Give a Hoot pile.

If enough people voted for whom they truly thought best, when presented with only 2 choices neither of which they like, eventually the two parties would get the message that they are losing votes not to each other but to someone else altogether. As the majority by which the winner wins dwindles, the disaffection people are feeling will really start to show. No mandates!

So, that’s my take on the issue, altho i know lots of people who totally disagree with me :slight_smile:

Both sides advocate immoral economic systems, and (unless you wrote yourself in) there are no distributist candidates. Moreover, economic matters pale in comparison to the gravity of abortion.

Even in matters of abortion, there will not always be a better third-party candidate. In the presidential election in 2012, there was only one better than Romney (the Constitutionalist candidate), and he wasn’t on the ballot in every state.

I know, right? I couldn’t write anyone in because I don’t know of any distributist candidate either. And up until this year what you say about abortion was always enough to give me a small bit of comfort. But I’ve seen so much of the party ideology becoming a form of idolatry in people’s minds and the policies they support - if the party says it, they believe it and follow it like mindless zombies. :hypno: Either party - a pox on both their houses, as Shakespeare said!

People who think like this tend to be people who are economically and socially competent and comfortable, who either haven’t had to struggle or have at least been strong enough to handle the struggle and come out on the other side of it. They usually don’t have hidden disabilities or come from really tough-to-overcome upbringings (like the ghetto and dysfunctional parenting that fails to teach them the “soft skills” of being employed).

The flaming liberals supporting abortion and gay marriage I’ve already deleted from my Facebook - now I’ve started purging the conservatives with their blind callousness to what poor people go through. It just plain disgusts me how they cannot put themselves in the poor person’s shoes. :mad: I keep thinking of Pope St. John Paul II’s remarks about the dangers of “unbridled capitalism.” We don’t even manufacture much of our own stuff anymore, we outsource jobs that could be good jobs, then all that’s left are cr—y service jobs - high stress, low empowerment, low regard in society, and a person at the end of the day can’t make a living on them anyway. And in order to create a lot of our money we get people addicted to consumerism and entertainment. It’s a house of cards in my opinion.

The poor person who can’t find a job anywhere but fast food or retail gives up the same number of hours of his or her life (and often health and energy besides) for that job that the corporate executive gives. Those hours can never be gotten back. So why is he or she worth less than a liveable wage? I can read pages and pages of how compensating these folks adequately would wreck the rest of the economy. Fine. All it does is convince me how messed up the system is and how disposable we are regarding human beings. How can that be pro-life?

Sigh. :coolinoff: But I do feel the tug to vote against a pro-choice candidate, so I don’t know. If I end up voting for the ones whom that’s the only reason I’m voting “for” them, I’ll just have to deal with the ensuing depression. Until they start enacting their draconian cuts against the most vulnerable and then I’ll be angry and regretful like I am right now, lather, rinse, repeat in two years’ time.

ACK! :frighten: I was sitting with a liberal friend yesterday and the TV was on and I made some snarky response to political ads :rolleyes: Note to self: Never do that again! I got drawn into one of the very type of discussions that make me feel all angry and emotional. :ouch: Fortunately, I was able to get the subject changed before it got really ugly. :slapfight:

So this morning at the end of Mass, Father reminds us of our obligation to vote . . . :frowning:

OK, due to tax changes in the 90s, companies could start giving CEOs ridiculous amounts of money… which they said was justified by how much money the CEO made for the company. It’s hard to say.

However, one thing i do know a little bit about is this:

Imagine a comapny which needs a certain type of expertise, say they want a website set up. The website will increase their orders and they will make more money.

Now, imagine that they get someone with 10 years of experience and pay them $100k/. That person will work full-time and get the website up and running in the year: why? Because of their experience and education.

Now, imagine the comapny is small and just starting out, so they hire someone who just graduated from college. They pay $50k/year, but! it takes two years for him to set up the site.

Now imagine that they hire someone with no education, no experience… how long would it take *that *person to set up the website? At least three years, if not 4 or 5 or 6, no?

So when you say a fast food worker gives up the same amount of his life to his job as the CEO, well, first, the CEO will often work more than 40 hours/week, will often give up huge chunks of time spent on his personal life, and is responsible for what happens with the company.

And second, the CEO brings a lot of experience which allows him to do things more efficiently and with greater knowledge.

The CEO *invested *in his work. He spent money getting an education, during which he earned little to nothing; he worked lower-paying jobs to gain the experience he has which allows him to do an enormous job efficiently and well.

Fast food workers who do their work conscientiously ought to get raises and promotions (but this is sometimes himdered by EEOC regulations), but there is only so much “give” in an organization to give raises and promotions–only so much money, only so many high positions.

So working at a fast food place is a beginner’s job requiring no education. The FF worker is *expected *to move on or move up.

The main problem with our economy is that so many jobs which do not require education but which are difficult enough to pay well have been sent overseas, where they can get people to do the work for less. FF jobs were never meant to support families–they were meant to provide a bottom step for people beginning their journey up the job ladder. Kids who were cut out for college could work this type of job and go to college; kids who weren’t cut out for college could start here and move up to manufacturing or the like.

But this is why FF jobs do not pay much money, and why CEOs get paid a lot. Perhaps the minimum wage could be raised (which causes its own problems), perhaps CEOs shouldn’t be paid such a huge amount more than the FF workers, but to denigrate what people bring to their jobs would be foolhardy.

What we really need to do is bring back the jobs that are in-between FF work and CEO work in sufficient numbers that everyone can move up to a living wage, instead of making the beginners’s jobs be at the living wage.

I’m struggling with this quandry as well. The way I see it, both parties are involved in and promote as policy things that are evil, grave evil too. And I simply don’t want to be a part of it. Before I became Catholic, and before I was even religious at all, I was a member of the Democratic party and stood behind its platform although I didn’t agree with all of it. When I became Catholic I put it behind me and kissed it all away.

I don’t see how anyone can be Catholic and vote in pro-choice, “marriage equality” candidates (which Democrats usually are). However, I also don’t see how someone can be Catholic and support the Republican Party and its “platform” of Isaiah 2:24-defying pre-emptive war corporatism (the “military industrial complex”), pro-“firing-squad”-like death penalty executions (which the Catechism says should be “practically non-existent”… CCC 2267), and a James 5:4-defying social policy that would deny just wages to workers who, as James wrote “have plowed your fields” and whose “cries have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.” Also, taking access to healthcare from the sick as a social policy platform (effectively ensuring the demise and suffering human beings who are kept from accessing the care they need because of it), to me seems just as much a part of the “culture of death” as the grave evil of abortion. They are both grave evils because they directly cause the deaths of millions.

So in short, I can not in good conscious support either party, because both parties have built into their platforms grave evils, not to mention grave injustices, and in my mind, to vote for either makes one complicit in enabling those evils. Third parties don’t offer much difference, usually being even more extremist than the mainline political parties.

This leaves me with basically one option: not to vote.

If however there is some “obligation” imposed by the Church to vote, then I’m not sure what to do either. As a Catholic, I can’t support either party’s platform.

Do you seriously not know how many christian women are seeking and going for abortions??? 70%

And why on earth wouldn’t you make up your own mind on who to vote for!!

Obligation to vote?

Do you get arrested in America if you don’t vote?


I’m not American. So can anyone explain to me what the policy of the Republicans is in respect of abortion? Do they promise to make it absolutely illegal, or just to limit the right to access it to nominated and limited circumstances?

Usually Republicans in the United States do want to make abortion completely illegal, or at least that’s what they say. As far as I see it, Republican social policy is for and against whatever will get the vote of the “religious right.” Like the Democrats though, after they get elected, they do what they want.

If your view is that the 2 parties are equivalent (though different), then it may be valid to choose to vote for neither, since which is elected is of no consequence.

If you feel one party is better / worse than the other, then it makes sense to vote for the “better” on the grounds that if you do nothing, you merely leave the decision-making to others, which, as a choice, has no merit. By inaction, you may be facilitating victory by the “worse” option.

Voting for the better of 2 options in a 2-horse race is not to advocate for the policies of the better, but to hold sway against the other (worse) option.

No government devised by men is going to be completely in line with Church teaching. We simply can’t expect that it will be. Setting up expectations for human governments like that is unrealistic and frustrating, as many have realized.

Jesus isn’t running for Congress. Fallible human beings with agendas are. So, none of them is going to be perfect–not that anyone here thinks they should be, but remembering this might help reduce expectations that simply cannot be met by any government on Earth. :slight_smile:

I always vote for the candidate that is pro-life because that is the most fundamental issue. As to wages, it’s only right and fair that those who work hard should earn a living wage. It’s also true that imposing it by law will create difficulties for franchises who have to make profits large enough to hire people. It’s a tough situation–one that needs careful handling instead of being treated like a political football, which only hardens people’s positions instead of opening up ways to resolve a thorny problem. Most Republicans are painted by the opposition as hard-hearted people who are only interested in giving tax breaks to rich people–a blatant attempt to create a class war that helps no one.

Republicans, by and large, want programs that will help people get better jobs through education and training. But, the media is curiously silent about it. Please don’t go by what you hear in ads or from the mainstream media. Neither side are monsters, but one side is more in tune with pro-life causes than the other. Our only responsibility is to vote for the one that is more pro-life. The rest we leave in God’s hands as we pray for our country’s needs, doing what we can to help the poor.

That is a very good way of looking at it. I tried to refrain from using words like “republicans” or “democrats” and try to focus on the “platform” issues of the party, because people can obviously be one or the other and not support certain things within those parties or just never vote for candidates that espouse “culture of death” causes of either party. It’s just hard because I don’t know which one espouses worse principles. I grew up in the Bush era, and nothing about “preemptive war” (sending people to die offensively, not defensively) seems to be a “pro-life” position to support, and hypocrisy when coupled with the notion that they generally are against abortion at the same time. On the other hand, Democrats seem like the reverse (although even that doesn’t seem assured anymore), which is just as bad and just as hypocritical.

It’s like, my ideal party would be one that respects the dignity of human life at the moment of conception but also doesn’t cease being “pro-life” after the children are born. As far as I see it, both are part of the culture of death. It’s kind of reassuring though that Christ’s message has something to teach everyone.

Voting for a candidate assumes that the one for whom you vote is materially different than the one or ones for whom you do not.

In many elections that is simply not the case.

When that happens you can morally refrain from voting, or if possible vote for a candidate from a minority party if a morally acceptable one is on the ballot.


Maybe it is a lose-lose proposition on moral grounds to vote for either candidate. Nevertheless, one of the two candidates is going to get elected and the welfare of the country will be in their hands. You might as well vote for one or the other. If you can’t decide which one will do the most good, then vote for the one who will do the least harm.

Stop looking for the *perfect *candidate; just vote for the *best *candidate.

My :twocents:

I am having serious difficulty with your statistics. Do you mean 70% of all pregnant christian women are having an abortion; or 70% of abortions are requested by christian women? Both seem an unlikely hyperbole that does little for your argument.
The very point of the post is that the writer is looking for a moral determinate to do exactly that -to make up his own mind. To suggest that looking to discern the moral absolutes to found one vote within a morass of self-serving ideologies is somehow to subordinate oneself in a slavish fashion derides and demeans the honest man’s search for God’s will in a fallen world.
Even if 100% of Christian women were having abortions this would do nothing to support it moral correctness. It is still murder of the innocents. Your debating style shows the limitations of your relativist viewpoint.
I applaud any honest Catholic in attempting to find an honourable candidate in any democracy. Our love for and defense of the poor, a foundation of our Lord’s teaching is juxtaposed most clearly with the anti-life ideology of the left in the American two party system. Standing for office is a moral quagmire for any man or woman who would not offer their principles on the altar of expedient compromise. Our votes are instruments of compromise or they are wasted in a refusal to vote. I pray to the Holy Spirit. Thankfully we have a lot of Catholics in our Cabinet and a Catholic Prime Minister in Australia. However we have a very secular almost pagan society and almost legalized abortion. So the quandary is for all of us.

Not to derail, but I checked because I was curious. As of 2008, about 65% of women who had abortions identified as Christian.

Religion and Abortion

Those women who had one of the 1.21 million abortions in the US in 2008 listed their religious affiliation as:
Roman Catholic = 28.1%
Protestant = 37.3%
Other = 7.1%
None = 27.5%

Personally, I don’t vote pro-life or pro- choice. I look at the total candidate and decide. For example, I would vote for a candidate that is pro-choice if he or she was in line with my thinking on the majority of other issues, especially economic and healthcare concerns. I do not believe Roe v Wade will be overturned in my lifetime, but I do believe fewer women would choose abortion if they had more money and decent healthcare for themselves and their children.

Assuming for a moment that one candidate has a track record of voting for funding of abortion, expansion of abortion, legalization of abortion, opposing legislation limiting abortion, and the other candidate does not, I wonder if you could describe the portfolio of “other issues, especially economic and healthcare concerns” that you would consider sufficient to justify voting for her or him?


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