"Cheer Up and Vote"

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Mentioned by TSO in a comment at Disputations, this article by Benjamin Wiker at Crisis. Excerpt below:

We won’t be judged, then, on how we would have acted if things had been perfect, nor even on how we would have acted if things had been better. We will be judged on how we acted in the midst of the actual imperfection into which we were born and under which we lived. More accurately, recalling that sins are also committed by omission, we will be judged on how we did not act, as well as on how we did. If we wait to vote until we have a candidate of the intellectual and moral caliber of Abraham Lincoln, then we will be responsible for the repeated election of a rogue’s gallery of presidents during our repeated sins of omission.

(Let us put aside the question of the moral caliber of Lincoln for a moment--which is a matter of some lengthy debate.) What is astounding in the excerpt above is its lack of recognition that refusal to vote is NOT inaction, it is action at its very highest. Refusal of moral compromise is the most important action we can take.

I won't comment on the political state at the moment, nor on my own view of what should and should not be done. However, not voting is rather like refusal to move when blocking the doors of an abortion clilnic. You get yourself thrown in jail, reviled and hated by the media, branded a fanatic, and ultimately probably don't change even a single mind that day--but that steadfast refusal is a witness to a societal evil so profound that even if you witness accomplishes nothing else it is a testament of the courage that accompanies refusal of moral compromise--it charges the world with a greater good. I read Mr. Wiker's article and it suggests that moral compromise is perfectly acceptable, that we must make do with what we have. And I think the unwillingness of many to do so is a sign of the times. Many may feel that it is the continuous chain of "making do" with what we have before us that has led us to this debacle.

I find the suggestion that we should lower our principles to vote for what is morally repugnant distressing. But I am in all likelihood mischaracterizing a small portion of what I read. This is simply what stuck in the craw. Don't take this critique to mean that Mr. Wiker said these things--just consider it the exaggeration caused by the aftertaste of reading.

Elections like this one make Erik's authoritarian tendencies look positively appealing. But I would refer to the first of the Dylan Thomas poems I posted yesterday and encourage everyone who is of the moral conviction that it would wrong to vote for either candidate--"Do not go gentle into that good night" of compromise and complacency. Democracy has its failings, but one of its virtues is that no one is compelled to support evil. Rather than compromise, it is time to start raising up morally acceptable candidates. And by that I don't mean morally perfect, but those who strive with all that is in them to walk the right path. It may be that one of the present candidates fits that bill for many readers, and for those readers it is not only right, but it is mandatory that they support this candidate. However, it may well be that it is not the case. If so, don't relax moral vigilance. Most of all, do not expect from the government what it is incumbent upon us as Christians and as the light of Christ to deliver to the world. Justice does not come from a system (witness Terri Schiavo.) It comes only with the blood of martyrs and the work of the chosen.

All that said, as much as I disagree with what I read in Mr. Wiker, I think what he has to say is well said and should be carefully considered by every person who thinks that they cannot (morally) vote for a candidate this election. Perhaps his arguments will give you cause to change your minds.

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I see voting as a mark of humility. It's a recognition that we live in a fallen world. I would have no trouble voting for Castro over Stalin, for example.

I know Protestants who would never become Catholic because of our history - i.e. they would never join an institution so obviously pock-marked by the Spanish Inquisition, etc... The same humility it takes to accept the Church (as well as - most difficult of all! - ourselves) extends also to politics. I'm amazed our politicians are not more venal, given how power corrupts and given how much more corrupt politicians are in other countries. (Of course, that is not meant to legitamize corruption.)

The only problem with my comments above is that I don't know believe them. A small point, to be sure, but I know I won't vote if the Republicans nominate a pro-choice VP candidate in '08. I'll surely join a 3rd party if they nominate a Presidential candidate who is pro-choice. So, certainly on the choice issue I'm an absolutist.

Wasn't it Dylan who said he contained multitudes and contradictions? I guess I'll sign up too.

Dear TSO,

The only problem I have with the first statement is that humility does not compromise with evil. And if you believe that a vote for either candidate is a vote for evil, then it is sloth rather than humility that inspires a vote--a deadly apatheia.

I do however agree without reservation with your second note, and therein lies many of the problems that face the (perhaps overly) scrupulous voter this time. But enough of politics--I readily admit that I have my convictions but that they are informed by an essentially apolitical mind so the idea of compromise (the centerpiece of politics) is repugnant to me on issues of morality. (Actually many will tell you that the issue of compromise is generally repugnant to me--but they're just hangers-on and detractors who have failed to be dazzled by the extent of my vision. ;-))



True, I recall Tom Kreitzberg mention that the Church herself is struggling with voting as regards in cooperation with evil and all that, so it's obviously going to be way beyond me.

That was Whitman, by the way: "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large; I contain multitudes."

True Camassia, but I meant our Dylan. (As did ol' Curt Jester.) We all like that multitudes line.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 13, 2004 8:21 AM.

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