Today is called "Super Tuesday", when many key states are holding their presidential primaries. I heard from one commentator that this evening's election might well determine the composition of 25% of convention delegates. I believe he was speaking of Republican delegates. My focus in this post is on the GOP side. As far as I'm concerned, the Democratic primary is essentially a choice between Lucifer and Beelzebub.
Already I'm hearing from some good Catholics who say "if my favored candidate does not win the nomination, I'm not voting in the general election". To be frank, much of the sterling veneer is falling off Donald Trump but he still continues to poll favorably. The next closest two are Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and they too have their flaws. In short, we don't have a perfect candidate. That's the situation.
Both Sanders and Clinton pose clear threats to our nation. What might help the Democratic nominee ascend to the White House are those faithful Catholics who will be inclined to stay away from the polls in November. I believe that is a key factor as to why Obama won in 2012. We knew Romney wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. However, four years after that election, can anyone really doubt that Romney would have been worlds better? If nothing else, he most likely would not have proactively engaged in the disasters that occurred these past four years.
Shortly before the 2012 election, we heard the snortings from faithful but disgruntled Catholics who said they'd stay home (and many did). I'll be frank again; in many if not most cases, these Catholics sounded like petulant two-year-olds who were mad because they didn't get their way during the primaries. Their rancorous declarations of their intent to boycott the election really did resemble temper tantrums. The same foot-stomping is beginning to happen, and the primaries aren't even over yet.
At that time, I made efforts to examine the "not going to vote" question by applying to it the Principle of Double Effect. It is something that many mistake for the "lesser of two evils" mindset, but these two ideas are considerably different. Here is one post. This is a follow-up post. Those were from August 2012. These next two are from the following October - here and here. Please read the comments in these posts; they can be quite telling.
This time I'm not hearing so much "third-party" talk as much as I'm hearing talk about not voting at all. Let's look at that, shall we? Again we're going to examine this question rigorously, attempting to apply traditional Catholic moral principles to it. And yes, we really do have to take the time and effort to methodically work through these questions, as opposed to making these decisions on the basis of impulsive, "seat of the pants" emotions.
Again, applying the Principle of Double Effect, we have to first address the nature of the act of abstaining from voting. We, as American citizens have a civic duty to make our voices heard via the electoral process. How else will Catholic values be brought into the political arena if we don't vote? Some might say, "the system is so corrupt that our votes most likely won't matter". Be that as it may, if we don't vote, then we guarantee that our input won't even be registered, let alone matter.
Some erroneously hold that they abstain from voting then they won't commit sin by voting under less than ideal circumstances. I believe, however, that given what I stated in the previous paragraph, that such abstention would constitute its own sin. We can sin by omission as well as by commission. I quote from Baltimore Catechism question 64: "What is actual sin? Actual sin is any willful thought, desire, word, action, or omission forbidden by the law of God".
Obviously someone sitting out the November election is omitting to vote. Is such omission sinful? That's a key question; I think the answer is "yes" (barring illness or some other emergency). How can deliberate refusal to mitigate probable harm to the moral character of our nation and indeed all civilization not be sinful? For the sake of our nation and yes, your own souls, I beg disgruntled Catholics to man up (or woman up, as the case may be) and fulfill your duty this November.
I welcome comments from my readers and issue to them a challenge. Please base your comments on faith and reason as opposed to emotion and "gut reaction". Thank you.