I've got a confession to make.
Though I've been discussing the 2008 Presidential election from an abstract and theoretical viewpoint, I've known all along that I've held a high-value card secreted somewhere above the elbow of my best lever-pulling (or today, touch-screen attire) shirt.
I live, as some of you may remember, in Texas.
Yep. This Texas. The one that, no matter how the electoral college pie is sliced, plans to put its full portion on a plate served up to the Republican candidates (sans Minority Whip cream, if they have their druthers).
So among my many possible options in this election is the option that has always been rather attractive to me: not voting.
Oh, I might show up at the polls, anyway. I might place a vote for some state or local office--assuming that I can find one where the candidate isn't "pro-choice," which is a sad reality for those of us in this area of the state; I've never yet and never will vote for Kay Bailey Hutchinson, for instance, though she's not on the ballot this year. But as far as the presidential contest is concerned, knowing that there's no way that the State of Texas will go to Barack Obama, my sitting out the election might have a more positive effect than my voting, since if enough of us make that choice McCain's margin of victory in Texas won't be anything to swagger about.
But I've been quiet about the fact that this is an option I have, because I know that many of you aren't in this position. You might live in a genuine swing state, or you might live in a state where any cut into Obama's victory, however futile, might just be a message worth sending. You might be in that position where enough votes for McCain would tally up to an actual limiting of the evil of a president who doesn't just favor partial-birth abortion, but post-birth abortion as well.
Now that Zippy Catholic has brought up the non-swing-state option, though, I figured that it was time for me to 'fess up that this has been, and continues to be, the way I've been leaning. Texas will go to McCain, come hell or...well, literally, high water. My vote for McCain doesn't make Texas one iota more or less likely to go to McCain, and it means that I'd have to put pressure of an uncomfortable organ yet again to overlook the fishy smell rising from the "R" side of the ballot; while I know that the Republicans are still the party most likely to help end abortion, I also know that there are other things they stand for that I find appalling. After years of being used by them to defeat the Democrats while being expected to be appeased with the occasional pro-life gesture, I'm only too happy to turn the tables, and use the GOP to help end abortion without actually giving them the only measure of support they actually want from me: my vote.
Some might say, "Well, what about Sarah Palin?" I certainly hope Governor Palin has a bright, pro-life future ahead of her in the GOP; I also would be much more willing to consider voting for her in four or eight years than I am to consider voting for McCain now. But alas, she's not the nominee presently, and while I respect those who will vote for McCain solely to help Sarah Palin's future in the party, I don't think I have to do likewise, considering the whole "Texas will go to McCain quite easily" calculation.
Another question might be "But why not give your vote to some doomed quixotic third-party candidate, to send a real message to Washington?" I've done that in the past, and haven't completely ruled it out, but there's one thing that must be clear: while voting for such a candidate may be emotionally satisfying, by the rules of most states' vote-counting mechanisms, voting for a candidate who is not actually on the ballot means that your vote will not be counted. Even states that allow write-in candidates won't necessarily record votes for them; one piece of info I found said that unless the state's vote-counting equipment suspected that such a write-in candidate was approaching the tally that the regular candidates were receiving, they'd automatically not be counted. So while voting for doomed quixotic third-party candidates may be fun, especially at parties over the next four years when you solemnly pronounce your opinions on politics and then casually mention that you voted for Horace C. Quackenfeathers of the Duck Hunters for America Party in the last election, there's not really any practical value in doing so.
But Catholics are free to decide how to vote, using their well-informed consciences. I still believe strongly that there can't be said to be a proportionate reason that allows a vote for Barack Obama given his absolute and bloodthirsty extremism on the abortion issue; whether a proportionate reason of the "limiting evil" variety exists for you personally to vote for McCain is something only you can determine; a vote for a third-party candidate who is on the ballot in your state may send a message, but a write-in vote probably won't; and since the situation exists that both major candidates support something that is intrinsically evil (McCain with ESCR) a Catholic is free to decide not to participate with his vote at all this time around, as well.
In the end, it should be remembered that there are hundreds of other ways we can influence public policy aside from voting once every four years in a Presidential election. However you decide to vote, I think it would be a good thing for pro-life Catholics to consider working over the course of the next four years to educate and inform, teach and guide, pray and sacrifice, march and demonstrate, and do whatever else needs to be done on behalf of our unborn brothers and sisters who need our voices raised in unison to protect them from the evil public policies that dictates that their lives have no value.