Choosing between Two Evils?

At the moment, Rudy Guiliani is the front runner for the Republican presidential ticket, and Hillary is the Democratic front runner.  This leaves pro-lifers in a very bad situation:  when both candidates are supporters of legalized abortion, are we supposed to just hold our noses and vote for the person who best reflects Catholic teaching?  Of course, we don’t live in an ideal world, and politicians are rarely virtuous people who conform perfectly to Church teaching.  Often, as in the case of George Bush, I voted for him as a clear lesser of two evils. 

However, given that there are only two candidates, there is also a controversial third option:  don’t vote for the presidency.  Last year I had a rather heated discussion with a family member over this point.  He argued that a non-vote for the Republican was essentially a vote for Hillary, and that if we are to choose the lesser of two evils the Republican would always be that lesser evil.  He also extolled Guiliani’s virtue of having a strict reading of the Constitution, so he would be less inclined to support abortion being enshrined in our laws, etc.

In the next 20 years, Social Security is going to become a living nightmare.  We will have 2-3 people supporting ever retired person in the nation.  And yet despite this being a very obvious and serious problem, politicians can’t even pull the trigger on ever nominal changes, such as raising the retirement age a couple of years.  Why?  Because old people vote and young people don’t.  Politicians listen to the elderly because they vote while other types of people don’t.  If a politician attempts to fix the problem, the old folk will drive him out of office.  The moral of the story:  the squeaky wheel gets the oil.  If people don’t make noise, politicians just assume that they are happy and focus on the groups which are making a lot of noise. 

So now let’s look at the pro-life movement.  As my family member stated, many pro-lifers have this implicit opinion that the Republican is always going to be the lesser of two evils, so we should always vote for them.  But as the examples above illustrate, this train of thought is problematic.  If pro-lifers simply assure one party of their votes no matter how little the candidate cares for their views, then that candidate will no longer see it necessary to woo them with appropriate action once they get into office.  The politician will spend all his time wooing other interest groups, and spend his term meeting their demands.  The pro-life stuff?  That can come later:  since he is assured of their votes no matter what he does in office, he is in no rush to push their agenda. 

So what’s the pro-lifer to do?  Some degree of dissention from pro-life issues can be overlooked if the candidate is good enough.  But the more a candidate disagrees with the pro-life position, the less tolerable he becomes until eventually he is so bad that he is not worth voting for, even if he is better than the other candidate.  Yes, a non-vote is ammunition in the hands of the opposing candidate, but the refusal to vote is a move with long term benefits in mind.  If the squeaky wheel gets the oil, pro-lifers can squeak very loudly if they don’t lend certain candidates the support which they desperately need to get elected. 

Take the following examples.  The federal government has no legal ability to mandate a drinking age of 21 or higher, and yet every state has such a drinking age (even Missouri, which has a very influential Brewery pushing against such legislation).  How did the Federal government get its way?  Simple:  during World War II the government wanted an interstate highway.  But since that is not in Congress’ power, they decided that they would give money to the states to build such roads.  The states, happy to get money, gladly obliged until within 20 years they came to expect such funding for their roads.  To get the drinking age raised, Congress simply threatened to take away funding for roads.  Every state had to obey, lest their roads go into disrepair.  St. Louis and the rest of Missouri tried to hold out, but eventually they had to cave.  Thanks to that incident, St. Louis has some of the worst roads of any US city.  Also, Hume had a similar idea on how to pacify Christianity in Europe.  He proposed that Europe get the clergy on the state’s payroll.  If the clergy ever began to do something contrary to some particular state affair, just take away his paycheck.  Getting hit in the purse strings often hurts more than getting hit in certain anatomical parts.

If pro-lifers do nothing and keep voting for the Republican no matter how bad they are, then their agenda will never be pushed.  But by not voting in this election, we can shock Republicans into realizing that they cannot win without us.  Between presidential elections, you will begin to see Republicans padding their pro-life resumes so that they won’t meet the same fate as their contemporaries. 

Thus, not voting is an immediate sacrifice in hopes of getting long term gains.  If Guiliani gets nominated for the Republican ticket, I will not vote for the office of the president.  Unfortunately, that will mean that Hillary will be in office, and that is certainly a trade-off to consider.  But the Democratic candidate is always going to be bad because they have Planned Parenthood in their pockets.  We must make a stand sometime if the Republicans start putting up trashy candidates.  In my opinion, now is just as good of a time to withhold my vote than ever.

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