I've been dismayed to read some of the reactions to last night's debate, especially when those reactions come from my fellow Catholics. To be fair, I've seen the particular reaction I'm talking about here more in comment boxes than upheld by any particular Catholic blogger--but the reaction is there. It is usually expressed as follows: Sure, Republican Candidate X has some serious problems from a Catholic perspective. But we have to vote for Republican Candidate X anyway, should he become the nominee. Not voting for Republican Candidate X is exactly the same thing as voting for President Obama, and if Obama is reelected more unborn babies will die. So, failing to line up, hold our noses yet again, and vote for Republican Candidate X is like sitting idly by while babies get killed, or, better yet, like holding the vacuum suction tubes that are dismembering the helpless unborn infants ourselves.
Poppycock. Nonsense. Ridiculous.
Four of our last seven presidents have been Republicans. Supreme Court justices nominated by Republicans have upheld abortion law in multiple cases. Republicans controlled Congress from 1994 to 2000 and from 2002 to 2006; at present, they control the House while the Democrats have the Senate majority.
If electing a Republican to the White House were the only thing necessary to end the mind-blowing evil of abortion on demand in America, it should have ended a long, long time ago. And even if a Republican Congress were the necessity, abortion should have ended by now.
Those Republicans who have managed to make baby-steps of progress against the big business of killing unborn human beings for fun and profit have done so on the state and local level, often supported by grassroots efforts, the tirelessness of volunteers, and the hard work of average citizens. Whether they have, in increasing abortion regulation, saved as many unborn babies as people like this gentleman have is something only Our Father in Heaven knows.
None of this, of course, is a call to overlook the Democratic Party's huge moral blind spot on the issue of abortion. I have never voted for a Democrat, and while the party remains the party of "Let's Slaughter As Many (poor, minority) Unborn Babies As Possible and Make Taxpayers Pay For The Killings and Throw Parties About it All!" no Democrat will ever get my vote. But I reject thoroughly, as Mark Shea and many others do, the notion that not showing up to cast a vote for the Republican candidate, however repugnant his positions on many issues of concern to Catholics might be, is the moral equivalent of actually voting for the Democrat. If I do not vote for the candidate with an "R" next to his name and also do not vote for the candidate with a "D" next to his name, I have hurt them both equally--and while the denial of a single vote does them less hurt than a hungry mosquito at an outdoor campaign rally can do, there's still a hope that someday the stranglehold our present two parties have on the political realities of our nation might be broken, and that an increase of parties and of voices would actually promote our country's republican (small "r") ideals in a way that the two-party stranglehold does not and never can.
Not long ago I saw a humorous comment below a political news article, in which the commenter simply wrote: I am going to run for President on a platform that demands the abolition of our two-party system. I have a feeling that would be a much more popular platform than our elite ruling class would like to believe. It would, at any rate, spare Catholic voters from the four-year dilemma, when politicians who care nothing for our faith or our values except as pretty backdrops for photo-ops suddenly start acting like they really do care about ending abortion and would try to do something about it. If they are serious, they are quickly sidelined by the process; only polite blather with no real intent behind it will do.
So it's high time to end the guilt-trip game whose rallying cry is "Vote Republican, or the baby gets it!" We will end abortion when we no longer have a culture in which both men and women treat sex as a recreational pastime which, depending on the person, is either a little less or a little more pleasurable than eating expensive chocolate or test-driving a sports car you can't afford. We will end abortion when we no longer have a culture in which isolated atomic individuals think of pregnancy as a disease, babies as a burden (or a punishment), and abortion as a convenient way to shred your offspring and discard his or her tattered body as medical waste before he or she can show you that he or she loves you--because love, of course, is meaningless when it doesn't involve sex, chocolate, or sports cars, and who wants to be burdened with children anyway when it's so much more satisfyingly self-centered to be alone? We will end abortion when we start valuing human life and seeing in it something transcendent and real instead of believing in nothing and considering humans to be carbon-based organic sentients who live, collect lots of experiences, most of them painful, and then pass into oblivion to be unmourned and unremembered.
And we might end legalized abortion on demand for all nine months of pregnancy if we had the courage to elect leaders who share our values, our vision, our passion. But when the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity, how does electing either help the unborn?