After all the writing and hand-wringing and agonizing--all of it genuine, no matter how inconsistent and incoherent and seemingly contradictory it has been--I went and voted today, participating in Texas' generous early voting opportunities.
I have to say, Texas homeschooling moms, if you go vote during off-hours on a Sunday or a quiet weekday and the nice volunteers are handling a few people at a time, it's quite likely that a really, really nice couple of grandparent-like people will insist on showing your children the "instructional" touch screen machine, letting each one of them "cast" fictional "ballots" for Abe Lincoln or Grover Cleveland or Mark Twain (can you imagine Twain in the Senate?). They enjoyed the learning experience tremendously, especially the one who is studying American government this year.
There was a lone Obama pamphleteer outside the polling place; I have to wonder if she was really far enough away to be legal, but she probably was. The same nice volunteer who showed the girls the touch-screen demo machine kidded us about not bringing our registration cards; we could show a photo i.d., or...er...a president's face on paper...though he was more direct, and I joked back that I was gonna tell on him. ;) It's nice, though, that we've moved so far as a nation that poll taxes and other disenfranchisement tools can be joked about in polling places; I wouldn't really have it any other way.
So I got my computer access code (wondering about the security of touch-screen voting and whether that's ever going to be the problem some say it will), went to the machine, and voted...
...for John McCain and Sarah Palin.
I expect the Real Catholic Bloggers (TM) to revoke my Catholic blogging creds any day now.
Seriously, though, I weighed all my options, thought about what Zippy Catholic and Mark Shea and Amy Welborn and others have said about this whole confusing election scenario, thought about honesty and truthfulness and what I really meant by my vote, if I voted for someone else but still hoped McCain would defeat Obama only because of how truly bad for the pro-life movement I know Obama will be; I thought about telling our Lord, "My Jesus, You know I don't like McCain's ESCR position; I hate it. But I really did prefer him over Obama, so I lied when I said I preferred this other person or left the ballot blank." Because I would have to tell Him that, if I didn't vote the way my conscience was directing me to vote.
And why? Why would my conscience direct me to vote for someone who supports something I know is evil?
Because his opponent supports much more evil, and will do more evil. And I had to think of it this way, to be truly honest with myself: If McCain does win, will I be glad I helped him with my one tiny vote to defeat the evil that Obama will undoubtedly do? Yes. But if Obama wins, will I find some consolation in knowing that I did the one tiny thing I could do to stop him, regardless of whether I could be effective all on my own or not? Yes.
I know it will not come down to the same thing for everyone who reads this. The disgust with the Republican party for what has happened in these last eight years with a president who didn't really appear to support any intrinsic evils at all is palpable and real, and the fears that a pro-ESCR president will push the party further away from protecting innocent unborn life is not an unwarranted one (though McCain's choice of the truly pro-life Sarah Palin instead of Lieberman or Tom Ridge to run with him is a note of encouragement in that respect). Some are already convinced that the battle for unborn lives has been lost in the political arena, and that we waste our time voting for this or that supposedly pro-life candidate; I disagree, but I respect the argument so long as it's not defeatism dressed up as pragmatism as it sometimes can be.
I admit that the more esoteric arguments about how voting is really symbolic or civic ritual and one's vote is worth zero or less than zero are over my head; I have a feeling that if I were to go hunting with Zippy, and he shot just to the left and just to the right of a deer, he'd triumphantly claim to have hit it, as the old joke about hunting with statisticians goes. A handful of people may really understand Zippy's argument, and a handful of that handful may believe him to be right; but I'm not one of either handful, so again, I'd be acting dishonestly if I voted according to Zippy's principles instead of my own.
We have a little over a week to go before the general election, and I know that prayers and fasting and other efforts that God's will be done are going forth; these may indeed be more efficacious than mere voting. But what I kept uncovering myself in prayerful consideration was: decide what will do the most good, and then act honestly. My own decision was that the most good possible in this present election would be defeating Barack Obama in order to protect the greater number of unborn children who will die as a direct result of his liberal abortion policies; once I had decided that, the only honest thing left for me to do was to vote for McCain, because the only way Obama can be defeated is if McCain is elected. I have the utmost respect for those who may reach different conclusions, and will never think less of anyone who decides they must sit this one out, or that they must vote for a dq3 candidate, because their conscience so dictates. One thing is certain: after next Tuesday has come and gone, and the election has become a part of history, we will need to grasp hands and work together to create a culture of life; we can't afford to let voting or politics stop us from our untiring efforts on behalf of the unborn.