As I've been discussing the question of morality and voting with Zippy Catholic over at Mark Shea's blog, and specifically the question of whether voting for a pro-abort or pro-ESCR candidate involves the mediate remote material cooperation with evil without a proportionate reason to justify it and is therefore objectively sinful, I must admit that I find it nearly impossible to weigh this possibility dispassionately.
I want it to be true, for my own selfish reasons.
I want it to be true, because then I can turn my back on this thing called "voting" for the foreseeable future, and retain the moral purity of never, ever, ever voting for anybody again in either major party (because we know that neither major party will ever, ever run a 100% pro-life candidate who eschews all abortions including in cases of rape, incest, life of the mother; all abortifacient contraception; all aborted-fetal-cell stem lines in government funded vaccines, and all use of ESCR).
I could then feel free to rain down bipartisan imprecations on both parties with the equanimity of someone who is beyond such mortal foolishness. I could sit in my lofty tower of moral abstraction and say, when the candidates get more and more pro-abortion with each succeeding election, that it's the fault of all those benighted fools who keep voting when our government has clearly moved to such a level of bloodthirsty support of child-killing that we ought never to give them the slightest stamp of approval, not even when one candidate pledges to end most abortions and the other pledges to make abortion a near-mandatory rite-of-passage for teen girls. I could have "Don't Blame Me" engraved on our car's bumper, and I could write witty aphorisms like "Don't Vote; It Only Encourages Them" and then design and sell merchandise at Cafe Press for the select few wise enough to keep company with me. I could write lengthy, cantankerous letters or e-mails to my congresspeople to express my dissatisfaction with their willingness to overlook the abortion holocaust, giving specifics, and then rest in the comfortable certainty that at least I've done something.
I could then, no matter who is elected, express my deep dissatisfaction with all of their policies without ever having to answer the question, "Did you vote for him?" in the affirmative. I could denounce the government on Monday for failing to protect our allies in "A," chastise them on Tuesday for threatening to go to war with "B" to protect "A," call them cowards on Wednesday if the saber-rattling dies down, and by Thursday have two essays prepared, one of which will excoriate them for idealistic non-interventionism, and the other of which wittily yet soberly compares the spread of Democracy to the spread of a rash, so that whatever happens over the weekend I'll be ready on Monday to say whatever needs to be said.
And I won't have to apologize for "our guys," because there no longer will be any "our guys." Sure, there might be some professional presidential candidate living in his mother's basement between elections who espouses policies of dazzling moral purity with only the slightest whiff of kookery in the details whom I can humorously call "my guy," but everyone will know that I don't mean it in any truly vulgar partisan sense.
I know this about myself. I'm not necessarily pleased to admit it, but there it is: the desire to be an above-it-all postpartisan snob has always been within me, and it was never strongest than when I cast votes for various third-party candidates with the supercilious glance of pity on my way out of the polling booth to that obvious gloomy Democrat over there, or that equally obvious jingoistic Republican speeding through the touchscreen menu as if he were ordering fast food (which, by the look of him, he did too often, poor man).
Mystery writer Dame Agatha Christie knew human nature pretty darned well, and she once had a character express the idea that the beginning of evil came with the thought "I am not like other men," because in one blow the person thinking such a sinful thought had lost two of the chief virtues: humility and brotherhood. So against the mediate remote material cooperation with evil that a vote for McCain might be, I have to wonder: is the potential damage to my soul from voting third-party, or sitting home in quiet contemplative comfort of the foolishness of the American voter on election day, a proportionate reason for me to vote for McCain? Would this reason also apply to people like me who would find this same great temptation a seductive reason to drop out of the political process altogether?
It's an honest question. I'm not looking for reasons or excuses to vote for McCain or not vote for him, or even not to vote at all. But I have to admit that my first thought in realizing that I might not have to show up and vote this time around was a kind of relief, a sense that for once I could skip the folly of the polling-station without committing the sin of apathy out of prideful indifference.