Thursday, January 3, 2008

Politics and scruples

I want to thank Jack for joining in the discussion about politics and voting. You have introduced terms that make it possible for me to be able to speak on this subject here. Until now, I have felt a little helpless -- the rope was turning too fast for me, and I didn't feel up to skipping in.

I have serious questions concerning this topic. Isn't supporting, with my vote, the lesser of two evils, a material cooperation with (a lesser of two) evils? I know what the bishops say on the subject, but one of my big frustrations comes when priests, in the confessional, tell me, dismissively, "That's not a sin." I feel like this "license" that the bishops give us may constitute a mistake on their part.

And sometimes I wonder whether the passionate desire to make abortion illegal might not actually create a situation where more abortions occur? I was working as an obstetrical social worker in Chicago when a "pro-life" candidate took power and made drastic cuts to the services available to poor women with children (as a separate part of the platform he ran on). I did witness a slow, but dramatic increase in my clients' decisions to abort as the new cuts took effect.

This next point might seem very frivolous, but saying that we ought to vote because it is a right we're given could sound like a not-so-distant relative to the notion that we ought to do other things, legalized things (abortion, say), just because we have the right...but we use our freedom to refuse to do these things -- we are even perhaps freer because we refuse them? The question mark is there because I'm not sure if the same argument could be applied all over the place or whether I'm just being absurd.

When I look at the candidates, all of the candidates, I can't see a single one who I, as a Christian, could support. Even Ron Paul; his stance on the second amendment leads me to fear that if I vote for him, I might be materially cooperating with an increase in handgun deaths, deaths that might have been avoided if he were not quite so scrupulous about following the Constitution, which, though beautiful, is not a thoroughly biblical document. Please understand that I am not trying to say that anyone else who votes for him will be guilty of these hypothetical deaths -- I only mean to say that I would feel implicated.

Today in School of Community, we read the passage that includes the Letter to Diognetus -- and I was struck by how Christians live in their countries as sojourners and foreigners. It seems to me that by opting not to vote, I am affirming my status as a stranger in the political arena. Once the election is over, I will render unto Caesar what belongs to him, but I do not want to feel implicated in the evil that Caesar commits in the world.

No comments: