Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Catholics and the Fall

Now, I'm not talking about the Fall of Man, at least not yet; just the season, particularly the upcoming election season, which has gone through the pre-pre-primary phase, the pre-primary phase, the primary phase, the post-primary phase, the pre-convention phase and is approaching the convention phase. But once the convention phase has ended we can hang on to our hats as we cruise into the most exciting of all: the pre-election phase!

Sorry about that. It's so hard to avoid being swept up in all the non-excitement.

But as fall, or autumn if you prefer, approaches, it's probably the case that more good bright intelligent Catholic people will be avidly selecting their fantasy football teams than selecting their candidate for the presidency. Catholics right now seem to fall in about five distinct categories on this election:

1. Catholics for McCain, because though he's a war-monger at least he doesn't support baby-butchering;

2. Catholics for Obama, ostensibly because he's not a war-monger even if he does support baby-butchering, but really because they're tired of being excluded by all the cool people like celebrities and media pundits who are swooning over Obama and think anybody who votes for McCain is a fuddy-duddy;

3. Catholics who are Undecided, because McCain's a war-monger and Obama supports baby-butchering and they'll probably pick one or the other but don't ask yet;

4. Catholics for Neither, who rightly reject the idea that not voting for a candidate isn't the same as voting for the candidate's opponent, but who sometimes convey an ethereal, other-worldly, fatalist attitude that seems to be almost, if you'll forgive the phrase, "More Catholic than the Vote;"

5. Catholics for Some Obscure Third-Party Guy Who May Not Even Be Running But They'll Vote For Him Anyway Because If the CFR and the Bildeburgers Didn't Rig The Elections Every Single Time Then Their Boy Would Win, Baby.

There is just a tiny chance that I'm exaggerating these positions a wee bit.

As I consider these options, I'm struck by the fact that there's only one of them for which I have no sympathy: number two.

I just can't see it. I just can't see a Catholic in good conscience deciding that Obama's views on abortion can be overlooked on the assumption that he will do a better job of bringing about a swift end to the current war in Iraq, and avoid entangling us in any of the other hot spots popping up around the world.

It's not as though Obama is a senior statesman with years of experience in the settling of international crises, after all. We have no evidence that he'll know what to do or how to do it, whether we're talking about the Iraq situation or any future conflicts. Catholics who choose to vote for him are setting aside his pro-abortion extremism which must be repulsive to any serious Catholic in exchange for a vague sense that he'll be able to deliver in regards to ending war without any solid proof that that will happen. They are giving up key Supreme Court appointments in exchange for the unfounded hope that Obama will bring about some undefined "change."

Now, I'm not saying it's a given that McCain's SCOTUS appointees will be perfect; Republicans have put some disastrous frights on the Supreme Court, and can do so again. But with Obama you know that there will be a litmus test, and no one who fails to share his pro-abortion extremism need apply. If one were really contemplating a vote for either of the major party candidates I think one would have to be acutely aware of that in regard to Barack Obama and the way that his pro-abort views will shape public policy.

It's one thing for weakly pro-choice Catholics to vote for Obama; they may not admit it, but they share at least some of his views on the issue of abortion, even if they have to play the "Well, the Vatican isn't in charge of US policy, and non-Catholic women should be free to follow their conciences so I shouldn't vote against abortion" game with themselves to justify it all. And strongly pro-choice "Catholics" will vote for Obama; heck, they'd vote for Moloch if he were to run. But for Catholics who take life issues seriously, how is a vote for Obama even a possibility?

Although my descriptions of the possiblities above are tongue-in-cheek, I wonder to what extent pro-life Catholic Obama supporters have managed to get caught up in the hype. There's no denying that McCain's about as exciting as a Mueslix (tm) commercial, and while Ronald Reagan may have been disparagingly called "the geezer" by his opponents, I suspect that McCain gets called something similar by his supporters, who can't quite get excited about the man. Compared to McCain, Obama may seem at first glance like the much more interesting candidate, and he has managed so far to talk a good game. Some Catholics may find themselves emotionally drawn to him, and searching for the justifications that will allow them to ignore the fact that this man once coldly ignored pictures of babies left to die while insisting that the Born Alive Infants Protection Act of Illinois placed an "undue burden" on women seeking abortions, not to mention his comment to the effect that he wouldn't want one of his daughters "punished with a baby" should she make mistakes in her life.

There's just no way you can reconcile Obama's view of the unborn with Catholic teachings. Catholics who support him are left with the "Yes, but..." approach to justify their votes. I can't quite fathom it myself, as I said; that Catholics should be eagerly lining up to vote for the most pro-abortion candidate who has ever run for public office is astounding. Then again, overlooking evil in the quest to justify doing exactly what we want to do is something that's been part of human behavior since...oh, you knew I'd end up back here, didn't you?


La Familia said...

I fall under the "Catholics for Neither" umbrella. I've always said that voting for a pro-choice president would make feel like an accomplice in the murdering of the unborn. But now that I know the truth of our empire building in other countries, I can no longer support or vote for war mongers like McCain and Bush. We were fooled into believing that it was for the sake of defending our nation against Islamic terrorists when in fact our government was only looking out for it's own economic interests. I think Democrats have a good point when they say pro-life Republicans are hypocrites willing to save the unborn but kill hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians with our total war tactics. I voted with a clear conscience in the primaries for Ron Paul and I won't be voting in November. I happen to think my non-vote will count for something.

Mick said...

I agree with you re: Catholics voting for Obama.

I can't see it. I can't understand it. Unless, of course, they don't really see abortion as that important.

I'm voting for McCain (although a pro-abort veep choice would force me to reconsider). At this point, the specific military aims of the Iraq war are over (depose Saddam, establish new regime). I didn't agree with the invasion at the time, but I feel that it is our responsibility to clean up the mess we started.

With regards to the abortion issue and voting for McCain (and I apologize for poaching much of my comment from one I made in Mark Shea's comment box), my logic comes down to this question: What is the most realistic scenario for the end to abortion in the USA?

Barring some kind of mass conversion or miracle, the most likely way I can see it happening is for Stevens and Ginsburg to die or retire, and McCain nominates a couple thin-resumed no-name conservative judges like Roberts who squeak onto the court after a prolonged battle through the Senate and the media.

Then, after a year or two, a state like Mississippi or South Dakota will pass a law prohibiting all or some abortions, which will face immediate legal challenges and go to the supreme court.

The Supreme Court then overturns Roe, leading to a media outcry unlike we have ever heard. Shortly thereafter, states will be free to pass their own abortion laws. 15-20 will restrict abortion in some way. This will cause the abortion rate to go down and help rid us of the saturation of abortion in our culture, and we will begin to cultivate a culture of life, causing more states to vote to repeal abortion laws, until we have enough of a supermajority in this country to pass a constitutional amendment.

At best that's 40 years away, but it is the best-case political scenario, and it's not a hopeless one at that. 1/3 of pregnancies in America are aborted, which means that a lot of people, especially women, are affected by it. People don't want to think of their mothers, aunts, sisters, and best friends as murderers. So they justify abortion in their own heads to protect those they love. The only solution is to figure out the best way to take away their access to abortion.

This is an unlikely scenario, but I can't see it happening any sooner, any other way. If McCain nominates duds, the ball doesn't start rolling, either.

If Barack Obama is elected, he replaces the two justices with their clones and the whole process is set back 30 years.

Sabine said...

Surely, even including exaggerations, there should be a category for Catholics who don't believe McCain is a war-monger.

matthew archbold said...

Bildeburgers! Any post with them in it has got to be good.

La Familia said...

There are plenty of Catholics who don't believe McCain is a war-monger. There are plenty of Catholics who KNOW he's a war-monger and who will support him in fighting against Muslim extremists because they buy into the lies that that's what the war is about. There are many Catholics who believe our meddling in the Caucuses is justified and that Georgia can do no wrong. There are plenty of Catholics who thought McCain was a lousy choice in the primaries but will vote for him anyways because, at least he's not Obama.