How manly it feels, refusing to “compromise.” How satisfying
it is to flounce away from the playground with your marbles tight in
your whitening hand: “That will show them. I won’t be fooled again by
the party that holds out the carrot of Roe v. Wade to make us
jackasses pull the cart. I’ll write in Ron Paul. Or Pope Pius IX. Or
Eamon de Valera. I won’t compromise—I’m too much of a man for that.”
I felt that way and voted that way in 1996, 2000, and 2004. It helped
that I lived in New York State—where any candidate much to the right of Saul Alinsky was already doomed.
But the first year I lived in a “swing state” (New Hampshire) where my
vote might actually make a difference to the outcome—to the question of
whether the next Supreme Court justice proposed would be a Scalia or a
Sotomayor—my fun was over.
It was time to grow up. I actually had to choose between the
alternative of doing my (little) best to push back against the gigantic
evil that had overwhelmed my country, or toddling off like Onan to spill
my vote upon the ground.
It's an odd little post, to be sure. I usually admire Dr. Zmirak's clear and witty writing, but this time something seemed to be missing. I left a comment or two along those lines, and then life in the form of an extremely busy weekend that began with unbunking some bunk beds and moving furniture around at home and continued with helping rearrange the choir area at church to accommodate an organ (!) a kind parishioner donated (!!) to us and ending with a cart-full dodger-style trip to the grocery store at the eleventh hour intervened.
No. He is not a good man. He is a man who would abort his own
grandchild–just like Obama. He is a man who has lied repeatedly on
multiple issues, including his own pro-abort record. He is a man who
has sent multiple signals that he has not the slightest intention of
doing anything about abortion at all beyond a couple of minor bones to
the prolife movement (Mexico city and semidefunding PP) in order to buy
the silence and cooperation of dutiful prolifers who will prostitute
themselves for war and torture for him as they did for Bush. The
embarrassing spectacle of watching the prolife movement try to get
itself into the headspace of trying to say he is not merely the Barely
Sucks Less candidate (Dale’s honest and clear-eyed assessment) but is
actually a prolife candidate is the single greatest impediment to my
voting for him. Far more than any actual benefits to be derived from
this odious man is the profoundly corrupting effect people like he and
Scott Brown have had on the prolife movement. If the salt loses its
savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is good for nothing but to be
trampled underfoot. That is why I have been so adamant that the main
thing to look at in this election has not been the essentially
non-existent impact your vote will have on the election, but the
immensely important impact it will have on you.
He has promised in no uncertain terms to shred the HHS Mandate. Ditto
his Catholic wingman, who made a big deal of it during the Veep debate.
Why do I believe Romney? Because it takes no political courage to shred
it--it costs him nothing with any other constituency that's supporting
him to do so. But it will needlessly alienate social conservatives if he
doesn't. Being that Mitt's not remotely stupid, he'll do what he says
on this one.
Not that long ago, in answer to a comment box discussion here at And Sometimes Tea, I wrote this:
In a race where both candidates support some intrinsic evil, it is
possible morally to support one of the candidates given a) that one
candidate supports less that is evil or will do more to limit the harm
of the greater evil supported by the other and b) that there are
proportionate reasons to support the candidate you reasonably believe
and rationally expect will limit evil.
And here's where we get to Rebecca's question pertaining to individual
conscience. If Rebecca (hypothetically) believes that Romney will not
support evil to the degree that Obama does and that Romney will in fact
limit the harms possible from the evil Obama supports, AND that it is
proportionate to vote for Romney (who supports some evils) to limit harm
potentially caused by Obama (who supports other, putatively graver
evils) she can vote for Romney in good conscience (given all the usual
caveats about the informing of one's conscience, etc.).
Since I (not hypothetically) believe that Romney is not trustworthy
about the evils he claims not to support (since he was pro-abortion a
decade ago, presided over the gay "marriage" debacle in Mass., etc.),
that he supports evils that are potentially every bit as grave as the
ones Obama supports, and that if there truly is a proportionate reason
to support Romney I have not yet discovered what that may be, I cannot
in good conscience vote for Romney at all.
So: if Dale Price thinks that Romney will, in fact, shred the HHS mandate and that this is a proportionate reason to vote for Romney--good! Since I, however, think that actions should be considered as well as words, and since (then) Governor Romney did force Catholic hospitals to dispense the morning-after pill in Massachusetts, I'm not entirely certain that Romney will so much shred the HHS mandate as withdraw it to cheers and then quietly reimpose it in various ways when nobody's paying attention. It remains, to me, an open question as to whether there's any reason to trust Mr. Romney on his promise to get rid of the mandate (or on anything else related to pro-life issues, given his extremely mixed record and history on these issues).
Now, Dr. Zmirak, below his post, characterizes my position essentially as that of a single-issue voter for whom the issue of primary importance is something other than Life (that is, I'm not really pro-life if I refuse to vote for Romney). Let me take a moment here to say how deeply I was moved by those people who came to my defense there and mentioned the matter on Mark Shea's blog (which is how I found out about it all)--really, I'm very much humbled by such kindness, and can't thank you enough. To the matter at hand, though, I will say that I think it's a terrible idea to base one's pro-life bona fides on the question of the support of presidential candidates--and especially when one of those presidential candidates was pro-abortion until a mere ten years ago, created a state health-care system in Massachusetts which did cover abortion costs at taxpayers' expense, nominated both pro-abortion and pro-gay "marriage" judges to the Massachusetts courts, and otherwise behaved not at all like the social conservative he is running as now. Is it possible that Mitt Romney has had a deep and spiritual conversion on the issue of abortion such that he now views with horror the idea that he ever thought human beings in the embryonic or fetal development state were disposable? Sure, and one is at liberty to think so (though one will have to overlook his financial participation in a process which treats human beings in the embryonic state as commodities, as well as his current position that embryonic or fetal humans can be killed if their father was a rapist or a close relative of their mother, or if the mother's health is negatively impacted by pregnancy). Is it also possible that Mitt Romney does not much care about the abortion issue and plans to ignore it for the most part when he is in office? Sure, and one is also at liberty to think so (given that this has been the default position of most Republican presidents in the post-Roe era, and given that Romney has said things during the campaign that point this way). Are these kinds of things the reasons why each individual voter must decide whether or not his conscience permits him to vote for Romney? Yes.
In other words, it just isn't the case, despite Dr. Zmirak's insistence that it is, that the only people who won't vote for Romney are a) not really pro-life, b) suffering from scrupulosity, c) purists, d) defeatists, or e) electoral onanists who just won't man up and render unto Caesar...wait, now, that's a really unfortunate mixed metaphor. But you know what I meant to say, right?