Sunday, November 2, 2008

Just to Clarify

As some of my readers know, I've been in the midst of a novena to the Holy Spirit to direct me in how I should vote this election -- or, to be specific, whether I should sit this one out, as I have often done in the past, or swallow hard and vote for McCain. As my friends and intimates are aware, and as I mentioned in a previous post, I find Obama an appealing figure, but, because of his extreme anti-life policies, I have never intended to vote for him. That post, in which I mulled over my interior dilemma, seems to have sown the seeds of what would become a full-blown denunciation by a former close friend of mine, as well as by a commenter whom I don't know personally, perhaps because I tried to rationalize the pro-choice position (which is one that I used to hold) without attempting, however, to justify it. A later post, in which I described a dream I had in which I was instructed by the Holy Spirit to vote for Obama, inpired a full-scale condemnation of me, one that employed half-truths, exaggerations, and hurtful falsehoods. I have no counter-condemnation to inflict on my detractors here, however; only prayers for those who -- like the pro-choice politicians and rank-and-file whom I sought to explicate, if not to justify, in my earlier post -- undoubtedly believed that they were doing the right thing.

So, just to be clear here, in case I haven't been in my comments box: I'm voting for McCain. I disagree with virtually all of his positions, and I have found his campaign divisive and disturbing at best, but I've reached the point where I believe that my faith requires a discipline and obedience that, while the execution of it is personally quite umpleasant for me and my pride, compel me to take a stand for the most helpless members of our society. Though, as I've expressed previously, I am somewhat jaundiced about the ability of presidents and the desire of Supreme Court justices to change abortion politics in this country, I feel like it's a necessary act of hope for me to cast this vote, and to do so for those weak and voiceless ones whom we cannot see. (I sincerely hope that no one from my family of origin is reading this post, because I have yet to come out to them, and I'm not quite ready for that. You may call me a coward; it wouldn't be the worst thing I've been called in the past few days).

I am truly sorry if my musing about my inner political and familial conflict gave scandal to anyone. It was not at all my intention to do so. I suppose that I shouldn't have posted about my dream to begin with; in all honesty, I thought it was a silly and ironic dream, not, as I believe I've made clear, any sort of true instruction from the Holy Spirit. I believe, however, that the decision I've come to, which I began to approach after reading Fallen Sparrow's blog post on voting, is in fact the fruit of my novena.


Kyle Cupp said...

I understand your decision, Pentimento. I personally couldn’t vote for either Obama or McCain, but I don’t hold my decision (or anyone’s) to be the only legitimate decision a voter can make. For me, the practical difference on abortion between Obama and McCain, while there, isn’t great enough for me to support McCain in opposition to Obama. Obama will seek to strengthen the legality of abortion, whereas McCain, whatever his intent, will face a Democratic controlled Senate that will not likely confirm any major judicial appointments hostile to Roe. McCain would therefore maintain the status quo on abortion. In effect, they would both contribute to the pro-choice legal culture. I may be wrong, but that’s my assessment. In any case, trust your prayers and where they lead you.

Pentimento said...

I shared your opinion until just recently, Kyle. And you may indeed be right. I feel like I'm making a very compromised choice, but I'm making it based on a slender margin of hope. Perhaps it's ridiculous, but I feel like I would be irresponsible to stand aside from participating in the process.

I've heard several priests and religious say recently that we are required to vote, but I've seen nothing about that in the Catechism, and I looked. Do you know?

Kyle Cupp said...

We're called to participate in the political life of our country, but that doesn't mean we must vote in each and every race, even for the president. For one thing, we shouldn't vote against our conscience. Voting is one means of participating in the country's political life, perhaps the main means in a democracy, but it's not the only means. We should vote, generally speaking, but there are exceptions.

I voted, just not for either McCain or Obama.

Kyle Cupp said...

I don't think it's ridiculous to vote on a slender margin of hope. We cannot have faith in our politicians, most of them anyway, but we can and should certainly hope they do what is right.

Pentimento said...

Yes, you're right. This race has inspired painful inner conflicts in me having to do with my beloved (but in some ways misguided) family and my understanding of faith itself. And, if you've been reading here lately, you'll know that musing over these conflicts has caused me to be denounced in a rather cruel fashion by some Catholics who believe they know what Christ's teachings would look like if transferred to the realm of the US political system. As for me, I can only guess. If I were more perverse than hopeful, their condemnations would probably have driven me into the arms of the opposing candidate, but I suppose I have to cling to that hope -- and to the more important hope that hearts will be changed: the hearts of those who believe that abortion is a right, and the hearts of those virtuous ones who know that it's not, but who condemn their opponents. You've been discussing this in a very provocative way on your blog, and I hope you'll continue the discusion.

Anonymous said...

I vote in every election and primary, often holding my nose.

Pentimento said...

I suppose I've been trying to hold myself apart from these important decisions so as not to tainted (or responsible). But I need to take a stand now, no matter how reluctantly.

Anonymous said...

Voting is tribal as much as it is personal, and nobody really wants to go against his tribe, whether it's for party, ethnicity, age groups, cause, experience, ideology (defined as someone's politics you despise), social class, and that strange combination we call subculture.

People like to fancy themselves as developing their politics in a vacuum of intellectual detachment, and we are more than the product of our own experiences, but we still vote our fears, memories, families, and pasts.

I for one, remember how weak George McGovern looked when he suggested we retreat from Vietnam and then ask for our POWs. I remember seeing Jimmy Carter emerge from the pack, but at the end, I concluded that we were better off with the decent man Gerald Ford than with the smiling upstart from Plains.

I voted for "Ford" again this year. I hope I never have to choose between a Nixon and a McGovern. Ultimately, I never trust the so-called progressives and have little faith that political change will result in positive and meaningful reform. I believe in the law of unintended consequences more than the laws of Congress.

Perhaps I should write in Al Smith!

Pentimento said...

Thank you for your refreshing analysis, TQ. So many of us are so full of unfulfillable longing, which tends to attach itself to figures full of promise(s), and which can be easily exploited by all kinds of demagoguery. I suppose that casting a ballot every few years is actually the lowest common denominator of actual involvement in civic life.

keif said...

If the election had turned out differently, Cutie, I might have been more freaked out. As it is, I'm glad you were able to make a choice which felt in line with your beliefs and with which you feel at peace as a citizen and in your discipline -- and all without choosing the pro-torture torture victim over the constitutional law professor in anyway which has an immediate impact on the (may I put it this way without offending your sensibilities which I cherish) already born -- of whom there are 6,602,224,175 plus one!, our nephew, born on election day; which had ought be enough of a blessing among us "misguided" but adoring family members to smooth over any ruffled feathers.

I'm glad you voted your conscience.


Pentimento said...

Uh oh . . . inevitably, my family has found me out. Thank you for your support, dear! And to tell you the truth, I haven't voted yet, because my absentee ballot has yet to arrive in the mail -- not that it matters now (or would have mattered before today anyhow in this great state of ours). As I said, it was a painful and difficult choice for me. I'm deeply moved by Obama's election, and am hoping and praying for the best for all citizens, because in my heart I know that defending the rights of the most marginalized is something our family has always held and will continue to hold dear.

And who can ignore the timing of our nephew's birth! A true sign of hope.

Anonymous said...

Obama has demonstrated through his actions and commitments that he cares about the least among us. And I feel I am on safe logical and moral ground in saying that he cares for the unborn as well, and this is no contradiction.

One of Obama's important qualities is his ability to see things as they are, not as how political discourse defines them. Abortion is the great example of this: it is not a legal issue or a political issue, it is a social issue. A legal decision by the Supreme Court, or a political promise by a Republican cannot and will not put an end to abortion. Indeed, these are red herrings that seem mainly designed to maintain the attachment of a certain set of voters to the Republican party.

This country has a fundamental creed, in culture and law, of individual liberty. As long as America is a democratic republic, or close to one, the government will NEVER be allowed control over parts of the human body. Never. But that has nothing to do with making abortion something that people DO NOT choose. America can be a country where the choice is possible but where the country chooses "no," and the Clinton administration demonstrated how an effort towards education and social justice can begin to move the country towards choosing "no," or not having to make the choice.

The sense that many people have the abortion can be ended with a simple stroke of the pen or a vote by a judge is utopian in the extreme and less than simplistic. Human society simply does not work that way. If abortion is as profound a moral issue as people believe, than the only moral approach is to deal with the world as it actually is, not how one would imagine it to be. So don't be surprised if, under an Obama administration, abortion begins to decline, because it is actually more logically and ethically effective to be pro-choice and anti-abortion (and please, labeling Obama as "Anti-Life" is unbelievably tendentious), because it means being concerned with people and society, while the "Pro-Life" side consistently demonstrates through word and deed that they hate people, literally hate them, and are eager to kill and destroy. So please make that a part of your moral calculus.

Pentimento said...

Gtra1n, it's also a wee tad bit tendentious to assert that "the 'Pro-Life' side consistently demonstrates through word and deed that they hate people, literally hate them, and are eager to kill and destroy." Let's leave that kind of hyperbole out of this combox.

I do not believe that abortion would disappear if Roe v. Wade were overturned. Abortion has always existed, and the fact that it was not practiced by the early Christians set them markedly far apart from other Roman citizens. But it would give the citizenry a chance to vote on what would seem to be a vitally important issue. As I've said on this blog before, I'm not convinced that the citizenry would vote against legal abortion, but I do believe that if abortion were restricted, there would be fewer abortions. Is that all, end of story? No, absolutely not. We have to work to create a just society - not that I believe that will happen either, but we have to try - one that is governed by love.

I hope you're right about abortion declining under an Obama presidency, but these projected arguments were just too Talmudic for me to vote on. His lack of support for BOIPA does not demonstrate that Obama cares about the least among us, but let us pray that all of us begin to, and will act accordingly. That's when a just society will be ushered in.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your kind words!

I, for one, look forward to being engaged in the political process as I never have before. For that, I can be grateful to Barack Obama; God's love for us is demonstrated in His granting us the freedom to make bad decisions. This election is a case in point.

My role in this will be to serve as vigorous opposition to liberalism, whether coming from Republicans or Democrats; without Obama, I probably would have been content to sit back, as I had been up until now.

Thank you, President-Elect Obama!