I've tried several times to write and post something on the results of the election and what it means for Catholics, but I'm faced with having thoughts in a lot of different directions and I'm not sure how to tie them all together. I want to look particularly at the issue of abortion, and how we as Catholics can do better at moving the culture in this area, and how all of us, regardless of general political bent, spend too much time compromising and have pathetically low expectations of what God is calling us to do.
First, I figured I better lay my cards on the table. I did not vote for Barack Obama, which I don't think will be a surprise to many readers. But neither did I vote for John McCain, which could well be a surprise to some. I failed to see how Barack Obama's moral awfulness compelled me to vote for the 30% less evil candidate. I didn't support the cannibalism of embryonic stem-cell research; said no to the Hegelian Mambo. I would have like to have voted for Chuck Baldwin, but he wasn't on PA's ballot, and Pennsylvania essentially does not tally or report any write in votes. So I voted for the candidate with the most pro-life position among the four on the ballot (Ralph Nader was also on): Bob Barr. There are other reasons beyond the pro-life issue that led me away from both the major parties: not letting the Department of Defense be, you know, a Department of DEFENSE; and their swearing of everlasting fealty to big corporations. Now I'm not a capital L or small l libertarian, there's plenty in that approach I object to, but in the absence of Chesterton, Schumacher or Schriner being on the ballot, Bob Barr will certainly do.
Second, I don't want to condemn anyone for their vote. This is not least because I'm aware that some would condemn my vote as not having done all I could do to limit the greater evil of Obama by voting for the lesser evil of McCain. Indeed, even in many of the Bishop's pre-election statements, the message seemed to go beyond "you can not vote for x" to "you must vote for y". This gave me great pause; I do not take the statement of any bishop lightly. But ultimately I came to my decision through much consulting of the catechism, scripture, encyclicals and prayer. I think my conclusion is consistent with those, along with what I took as each Bishop's underlying message, that Life is a fundamental and primordial right, and this must be reflected in our voting. So, I'll assume you all did the same. We prayed about the issues, the candidates, what a vote is and means and what we want it to accomplish, entered the voting booth and cast our ballot, or maybe didn't cast a ballot, a la Alisdair Macintyre in 2004. Now, If you voted for Obama I think you weighed the issues incorrectly, or maybe bought into what I can only describe as the preposterous Kmiec Doctrine* that Obama was the real pro-life candidate. If you voted for McCain I think you were too willing to trust his and the party's commitment to the pro-life cause. The Republicans are Lucy holding the football, and we pro-lifers are Charlie Brown, thinking "this time I'll really kick the football" and we come running and fall flat on our backs. Every. Single. Time. And Lucy smiles, knowing we'll be back for more in 2012, and she doesn't have to let you get to kick anything then either. But again, I just think you're wrong not sinful. Well, we're all sinful, but you get my point.
But voting is done now. And we have a new president-elect. So what happens now? In upcoming posts, I'll lay out why it's important to engage in both the political and cultural spheres, and some concrete ideas on what we can be doing.
* Although I find Prof. Kmiec's position completely untenable, I also found this perspective helpful. Given the GOP's complete disregard for just war theory and their defense of torture, it's understandable that a Pro-Life, Anti-war person would look to jettison the GOP. But it's darn foolish and weak to turn around and embrace the Dems instead.