Monday, October 29, 2012

Yay or Nay? Your duty to vote for the Lesser Evil

But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. - Matthew 5:33

In the last 300 years, how many liberal democracies have been founded? Of those, how many ban abortion today? - ZippyCatholic

[Zippy, by the way, has a series of good posts on the subject at hand. You can start here and work your way north.]
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There's an election coming, in case you didn't know. It's the most important election in our lifetime. Hell, it might be the most important election ever. It appears that what's at stake is the notion of liberty and self-governance enshrined in our Declaration and Constitution. The moral health of the nation, yea, even the very survival of Christianity, is at mortal risk. We stand on the precipice of losing them forever. It is, therefore, your duty to vote in this election if we are to Save Our Country. You might have to hold your nose, but hold it you'd better. The smell of a Republican victory might be a little rotten for the next four years, but nothing compared to the hellish stench wafting over the land after a second Obama coronation. With Romney there is hope; with Obama, there will come the loss of Truth, Justice and the American passion for moral restraint and material reticence.

Or so I was told in a recent email exchange with an old friend. He sent me a link to a youtube video in which Mitt Romney tells a crowd about how he helped find someone's lost daughter. He gets applause after finishing the story. It was a nice thing he did. I guess the point in my friend's sending it was to demonstrate the size of Romney's heart...as compared to what? Obama's? Romney will do this sort of thing and Obama won't? Could be. Nevertheless, I told my friend I wouldn't be voting for Romney or anyone on the presidential slate, and sent him links to a couple of my posts explaining why. My reward for sharing?

Not to vote in a state where the race is so close and which state could decide the presidency is to be morally complicit in handing the race to Obama, the most pro-abortion, anti-traditional marriage president imaginable. Do you think for a moment that Romney's Mormonism, whatever funny underwear he's wearing, or whatever he believes about Christ, God, or the Holy Trinity is more dangerous than our current President's Rev. Wright styled "Christianity"? You have got to be kidding! Look at Romney's record: how could you possibly think his appointees would be more hostile to Catholic teaching than the HHR secretary and Justice Sotomayor? You wouldn't countenance a Pax Christi Catholic sitting on his hands while people are being murdered next door!...John Paul II said in one of his books that the Church does NOT teach that only Catholics or even just Christians are the only ones who will enter the Wedding Banquent of the Lamb: the only place in Scripture where Jesus expressly prescribed what has to be done to enter is in Matthew, where He said that at the End, when people are clamoring to be recognized by Him as faithful, the only thing that will matter is not what they professed to believe, but what they did re feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, tending the sick, and protecting "least among us." THAT is being Christ-like, whatever your professed religion or lack of it. (and he expressly said that when some at that time cry out to Him: "Lord! Lord!" he will reply that he knows them not.)

Damn. What I mean to say is that it looks like I'm damned. I'm "morally complicit in handing the race to Obama." Not voting is just like sitting on my hands while someone next door gets murdered. Romney is not Christian, but he's more Christian than Obama. Failing to vote for the non-Christian Christian Romney is just like failing to observe the corporal works of mercy. After all that I hardly felt Christian myself.

Maybe I'm not a very good one, but I'm plenty stubborn. So I reiterated my list of complaints about Romney and the back and forth continued. He even hauled in a friend, a female, "an extremely thoughtful young Catholic I've known for years." Her reaction to my decision? A sampling:

Sweet mother of God! I hate to say it, but it's people like your friend who are the reason conservatives make little headway...It's not that the Republican party is the conservative party, but it's the only party on hand right now that we have any chance of making the conservative party. The Democrats epitomize and uphold the Culture of Death. Their platform celebrates intrinsic evils...

So rather than voting for the guy I don't entirely agree with but who can probably be influenced in the direction I want, I'll vote for the guy who not only does what I don't want, but who forces me to do what I don't want? I don't think so....

No abortion except in the case of rape or incest? Sign that bill tomorrow! Celebrate! That is so much of what our side wants. And if abortions became that rare, do you know how much custom and culture would be on our side to start to sway those final cases toward life?...

The selection of Paul Ryan for the VP slot gives some hope that perhaps this will finally change if Romney/Ryan win...

Your friend seems determined to be ideologically/theologically pure. He will vote only for someone who shares completely his values and theology. I guess if he were someplace like Texas or California, he could maintain his purity of conscience with no real harm done. But in any contested state, not voting for Romney quite simply is a vote for Obama. Can his conscience really be clear with that vote? While he claims to care about the dignity of human life and the teachings of the Church? Shame, shame on him if he sits out this vote!

I'll be praying for him.

First, I want to self-righteously protest that I've never hurled vitriolic accusations of wrongdoing against anyone who wants to vote for Romney. Maybe they are doing wrong. I don't know. At the least they are cooperating materially and remotely with evil, a sometimes permissible thing. But I don't have to answer for their consciences, only my own. However, they want to answer for mine. I'm being accused of something far worse than remote material cooperation. I'm being accused of formal cooperation, of actually wishing for the success of Obama's intrinsically evil regime. I'm morally complicit. I'm handing him victory. My conscience cannot be clear. I don't care about the dignity of human life and the teachings of the Church. And all because I won't vote.

Okay, I've had it. It's time to give all you navel-gazing, 'salvation is from the Republicans' politibots what they call on the web a reality check.

1. So rather than voting for the guy I don't entirely agree with but who can probably be influenced in the direction I want, I'll vote for the guy who not only does what I don't want, but who forces me to do what I don't want?

This is pretty simple, so simple that even people like you who (unlike me) care about "the dignity of human life and the teachings of the Church" can understand it: a non-vote is not a vote. You can say it over and over and scream at yourself in the mirror until your face turns purple, but a vote for no one is not a vote for someone. The people who vote for Romney are voting for someone. The people who vote for Obama are voting for someone. A vote for no one is not only not a vote for someone, it's not a vote at all. Can you do that math? The only reason you'd think a non-vote is a vote for someone (for the 'other guy', the 'bad guy') is that I've declined to join the aggregate whose numbers will eventually add up to a victory for one or the other. The reason I've declined to do that is that I think one guy is a bad guy and the other a really bad guy, and that the bad guy is bad enough that I don't wish to support him.

But look out, here's some more math. The chances of my vote resolving the election in any way whatsoever are so astronomically small that, as I told my friend, "you'd have a better chance on Nov. 6th of being witness to the Second Coming than you do of influencing the outcome." Therefore, my reason for casting a vote must rest on some more important factor than the extremely unlikely possibility that it will have any actual effect. It will rest upon my answer to these questions, which is really just one: what does my vote say about me? What stand am I taking? What exactly am I endorsing? And my answer is that I would be endorsing the political ambitions of a man who has said: that children conceived by rape can be legally murdered; that children conceived in incest can be legally murdered; that a child whose mother's doctor tells her that her health or life is endangered by the pregnancy can be legally murdered; that "leftover" human embryos are eligible for medical cannibalization and therefore can also be legally murdered; that we ought to have a Federal Marriage Amendment and enforce the Defense of Marriage Act while at the same time preferring that the Boy Scouts admit openly gay scouts and scoutmasters, that states allow benefits for homosexual "domestic partnerships," and (before the NAACP) that he hopes "to represent all Americans, of every race, creed or sexual orientation," and who, while running for Senate against Ted Kennedy in 1994 said that "I am more convinced than ever before that as we seek to establish full equality for America's gay and lesbian citizens, I will provide more effective leadership than my opponent," and who has made it clear that he has every intention of institutionalizing the current policy of allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the military. A man who, in other words, on all facets of this latter issue, is incapable of striking a consistently trustworthy note.

2. It's not that the Republican party is the conservative party, but it's the only party on hand right now that we have any chance of making the conservative party.
This is similar to my friend's sentiment that "I still think him [Romney] more likely to be swayed on these three or four issues in the future than Obama is on any one of his myriad supports of intrinsic evils."

To which I must ask: what dream world do political enthusiasts inhabit? You will never make the Republican Party the conservative party. Why? There aren't enough conservatives, that's why. You will always be a scattered remnant and useful fodder in a vote-getting scam. If you believe that children conceived by an act of rape should not be murdered, you are an extremist. Mitt Romney thinks I'm an extremist, and yet you want me to vote for him. If you believe that homosexuals are human beings with the same rights of citizenship as all the rest of us, but that their sexual activity deserves no special recognition in law (which is what is meant by advocacy for "openly gay" this and that), then you are, in Mitt Romney's book - if not an extremist - at least bigoted in some sense. But after four years of his homosexual equality babble, it will be become Republican doctrine. Progressivism is a snake that swallows us in increments, a little more with each election, and a man who finds victory running as what is commonly called a 'moderate' will not be "swayed" in your direction. Moderation, not conservatism is what got him where he is, and he'll dance with the lady he came with.

3. No abortion except in the case of rape or incest? Sign that bill tomorrow! Celebrate! That is so much of what our side wants. And if abortions became that rare, do you know how much custom and culture would be on our side to start to sway those final cases toward life?...

Again, what world do you live in, the real world or the one in which fantasies come true? What bill might she be talking about? There is no "bill" that will overturn abortion law. It's legal because of a Supreme Court decision. Short of a constitutional amendment (which you will never get), or the Court's self-reversal, no legislation will suffice. Well, maybe Romney will appoint judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade. Maybe. But it's a very long shot. John Roberts thinks it's settled law. I'll bet Kennedy does too. Even Scalia doesn't think the constitution prohibits abortion. And even if they did overturn it, the issue returns to the states, where most will continue to allow some measure of it, and many a very lot of it. Which leads to the important point: no individual, no legislature, no court, no human institution of any kind should be granted the authority to declare a class of human beings to be less than human and thus fit subjects for legal murder.

How important is this "life issue"? Well, when I told my friend that Romney's enthusiasm for experimenting on leftover embryos was "sort of like being in favor of taking the gold from a Jew’s teeth because because they’ll be no good to him after he’s been gassed," his response was: "you can't be serious that being for embryonic stem cells is morally equivalent to gassing Jews or murdering infants as they are being born. To make a moral equivalence between Romney and Obama is to exceed the sanctimonious scrupulouness of the Scribes and Pharisees."

Actually, I can be serious, ala Pope JP II in Evangelium Vitae, quoting the Declaration on Euthanasia:

"Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying"...As far as the right to life is concerned, every innocent human being is absolutely equal to all others.

For pointing out which my friend further rewards me: "As the devil can quote Holy Scripture to tempt Christ; I presume he can quote the Catechism and Church Teaching as well in his attempt to confound us." See how it goes? By not voting for Romney I do the devil's work. My God is there no escape?

Here's the reality, you conservative, pro-life Romneyites: you live in the Abortion Nation. After forty years, it is by now an embedded social institution , originated, of course, by another institution, the highest court in the land, and further validated by the submissive acquiescence of all the other relevant institutions. It will not be overturned. Why? Because your fellow citizens do not want it overturned. Some people want some restrictions, but they want it. Plenty of other people don't want any restrictions at all. Every now and then a President, like Reagan, will make disgruntled noises, but presidents are powerless.

As evidence of the gravity of the crime, here's a graph I ripped off from Beth Impson, who got it from someone else. It says something very vivid about those forty years (click to enlarge):















The urgent need to vote for Romney seems to be based on the premise that somehow we'll be rolling back the numbers of the murdered, that millions of babies will be saved who might otherwise have died. Fine. Someone tell me how that's going to happen. Details, please.

4. The selection of Paul Ryan for the VP slot gives some hope that perhaps this will finally change if Romney/Ryan win...

"Some hope" would be funny as an understatement if it weren't so tragic. The writer seems not to have noticed that it is the Catholic Ryan who has been co-opted by Romney, not the other way around. He is now the mouthpiece for all of Romney's abortion exceptions and his homosexual equality agenda - without presumably believing them himself - because this will amount to a "movement in the right direction," as though we were embarking on some backward march away from Roe v. Wade and the gay rights agenda, when in fact we end up making our peace with them. And what does this say about Ryan himself? Lydia McGrew (here and in other places) once made an important distinction between a man voting for a bad law in order to minimize some evil and actually proposing the law himself. Well, that's what Ryan must now do, advocate on behalf of plainly immoral positions that he does not himself adhere to. While I can't bring myself to condemn him for it, I can only say that if I were in his shoes, I wouldn't do it. You can't "make the Republican party more conservative" by observing the liberal's rules. You have to draw a line, abstain, withhold your consent from the game itself - because it's rigged to perpetuate itself.

5. Your friend seems determined to be ideologically/theologically pure. He will vote only for someone who shares completely his values and theology.

Aside from being false, this is stupid. We've never had a President who shared my theology. Ever. And we've only had one since 1973 who shared my values: Reagan. So it turns out that a president can share my values. Why is that so much to ask when I'm really asking for very little, for the bare, civilized minimum: that a decent human being ought to declare himself in favor of the proposition that every conceived human life, without exception, from cradle to grave is sacred and cannot be murdered for any reason whatsoever under any circumstance whatsoever, and that no human or human institution has authority to say otherwise? What's so unreasonable about that?

Oh, I forgot. That makes me an extremist. Actually, I think my friend's friend is less offended by my purity than by the fact that I'm not pragmatically pure like her. But I would like to re-ask a question I posed a long time ago: why do I have to compromise my beliefs while the politician does not? Why should I vote for someone who quite literally holds certain of my beliefs in utter contempt? It's all right to get sick and tired of something, isn't it? Good, because I'm sick and tired of it and I'm not going to play anymore.

6. I will pray for him.

This, after all the vilification. Not that she will pray for Romney to change his mind, for Obama to re-convert to his professed Christianity, or for those millions who will actually vote for him to come to their freaking senses. No, she'll pray for me.

The purpose of her prayer is to get me into a voting booth when what I need are prayers for my soul to get me into heaven. What transformation would she hope for? That I see the need to compromise with evil in order to defeat it? To tolerate the virtue of moderation so that conservatism might be perfected? I'm afraid I don't feel a miracle coming on, but that's exactly what we need, because what we have right now isn't working.





52 Comments:

A splendidly well-reasoned post. You've given this reader much to think about. Thank you.

By Blogger Thomas D, at 6:21 AM, October 29, 2012  

I'm looking for a candidate I can say that I support. That being said, I do vote, which is where I am not in exactly the same situation as Zippy. And I am looking for such a candidate. (I plan on voting third-party in this election. This is one of the only places I say that in public so that I can discuss it a little but hopefully the angry hordes of fellow conservatives and Republican friends will not come out and tear me limb from limb. I do chicken out occasionally.) In other words, I don't agree with Zippy that voting per se is "supporting the system" or what-not. What I think we conservatives should have is a sense of self-respect about our vote. It is an endorsement. No one is simply entitled to it automatically in virtue simply of being "the lesser evil." Therefore, we should have our standards and stick to them. Those standards may understandably differ, which is why I don't get nearly as furious at the people voting for Romney as they would get at me. What is incredibly alarming is the idea that there should be *no* standards. Imagine a young person who just turned eighteen and is confronted with the idea that, before he votes for anyone in his life or even has researched the candidates in detail, he literally *owes* the Republican candidate his vote just because the Democrat candidate is worse from a conservative perspective and because the young person is, in fact, conservative in his own political and moral ideas. Such a notion of entitlement is fairly breathtaking, yet many conservatives not only accept it as binding upon themselves but promulgate it angrily, bullying others into line.

I believe myself that if true social conservatives retain that sense of self-respect, if they say, in effect, "I'm not swearing off voting, but you have to earn my vote" that they will have more influence on the political process overall than if they always vote Republican. Not perhaps a vast or decisive influence, but a noticeable one. I saw a commentator elsewhere say that the Tea Party, with its concern for economic conservativism (I believe he was implying) had more influence by making it clear whom they _wouldn't_ vote for than by whom they _did_ vote for. If only social conservatives were truly unified, we might have a similar influence, but instead we tear each other to pieces.

We even go so far, as an acquaintance of mine did recently, as to support an utterly and openly pro-abortion candidate, across the board--Scott Brown--because he is Republican and "the Republicans must win the Senate."

This is exactly the *opposite* of a conservative political strategy. It's plain stupid.

By the way, I think it is very important to vote on referendums, and there are several coming up in my state that I am eager to get out and vote "no" on. It's important that we not simply give up voting (and I know you aren't urging that we do so), because the bad guys will always find bad things to propose, and in states that have a referendum system, we get a chance to try to stop them directly, without compromising in any way.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 8:54 AM, October 29, 2012  

They'll pray for you, and the horse you rode in on.

And their support of Romney is what has lead them to it.

Exhibit # 234,567,389 that the morally dispositive consideration is the effects of joining the team, not a weighing of possible outcomes that you can't possibly affect in any material way.

By OpenID zippycatholic, at 1:25 PM, October 29, 2012  

I'll get back to you guys tonight.

By Blogger William Luse, at 4:06 PM, October 29, 2012  

Here's an interesting twist for Catholics: my bishop told me to vote - http://cdop.org/post/PostArticle.aspx?ID=2656

So, looks like I've gotta find someone to vote for. I'm assuming he means that we should at least cast votes in any races that may affect the implementation of anti-Catholic mandates by the feds, which translates to voting in all the federal races on our ballot.

By Blogger Bill White, at 4:20 PM, October 29, 2012  

So, looks like I've gotta find someone to vote for.

No, you don't.

By OpenID zippycatholic, at 4:31 PM, October 29, 2012  

FWIW, Bill White, both Virgil Goode (Constitution Party) and Tom Hoefling (America's Party) have strong pro-life positions and are qualified as write-in candidates for the presidency in Illinois, where it appears you are located. You can google a bit to figure out how to do that. I believe you're supposed to write in both the presidential and vice presidential candidate for the ticket you are choosing if you do a write-in.

Not to mention the fact that there are very likely state congressional candidates and maybe some ballot measures, and maybe even federal congressional candidates, for whom you can enthusiastically vote. Sometimes our country gets over-fixated on the presidential race.

Btw, I wanted to make one small clarification to the position of mine which Bill mentioned in the main post. My special concern is to distinguish a candidate who truly believes in the rape and incest exceptions to abortion law--that is, a candidate who thinks that there *ought* to be such exceptions, even if he could get a stronger law--from a candidate who votes for a law that contains such exceptions. I'm not entirely sure that I would draw as sharp a distinction between a candidate who proposes a law containing the exceptions and a candidate who votes for it, provided that the candidate who proposed the law made it loudly clear that he put them in there only pro tem. and as an incremental measure and not because he actually believes those children should not be protected. The real corruption, it seems to me, comes when we are required to support heartily, with cries of "He's so pro-life!" a candidate who truly believes that children conceived as a result of rape should be killable.

And btw: Governor Perry changed his mind on this one after being confronted with a woman who "is the exception." Why can't Romney?

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 5:02 PM, October 29, 2012  

Dylan - thanks.

Lydia, I don't know how fully I endorse Zippy's Lex orandi, lex credendi thing. His description of the way things are, and have been for a long time, seems pretty convincing. I'm still mulling it over. I can mull for a long time. It does seem that the system is rigged to build consensus around a "package" candidate acceptable to the greatest number of people, rather than around principle. It may be "the economy, stupid," but principles are all I care about. I know there's no perfect political system to prevent either the rulers or the people from going morally nuts, but when they do I feel obligated not to participate. If, as you say, the social conservatives would "stop tearing each other to pieces" and would, as a bloc, let the Romney types know that without their votes he will likely lose, then maybe something would change. Maybe.

I did vote, btw, for several state constitutional amendments, a couple of local issues, and for my local congressman (Daniel Webster) who seems to be a sincere Christian and is being viciously attacked (lied about) by the feminist chainsaw leftist who is his opponent. I also voted to throw out several Supreme Court justices. I left blank several local judgeship races, because when you go to their websites, it's like trying to tell the difference between scat and squat. Judicial candidates just don't like telling you much. But if you want my vote, you'd better tell me a whole lot.

Bill White - all due respect to you and your bishop, no one can tell you to vote. I understand the Church's trepidation about the HHS mandate, but unless a victorious Romney gets the Senate (quite dubious right now), Obiecare stays in place. It's more likely to be resolved first by the U.S. Supreme Court. If that august body upholds the mandate, then I'd venture that the system is so corrupt that you might be morally obligated not to support it in any way. (Zippy probably thinks that this should have been our stance at least since Roe v. Wade, and he could be right) If the people of this country cared at all about the religious conscience, and about the divine prohibition against murdering the innocent, such corrupt representatives as we have across all branches of government wouldn't be where they are. You may be powerless to eject them, but you do have the Zippy option: conscientious objection.

Oh, Lydia, that Rick Perry story is truly inspiring and I wish he'd found a way to recover. A man who can make that kind of conversion in the midst of a campaign really is someone who - as my interlocutor hopes for Romney - can be swayed, because his conscience is fully alive and keenly aware of its fallibility. Grace can happen.

By Blogger William Luse, at 11:46 PM, October 29, 2012  

FWIW (and I don't know how much it is worth) I did read an interesting option for functionally repealing Obamacare without the Senate: The law gives the President this easily abused, godlike, and arbitrary power to exempt states from Obamacare. A motivated President could just exempt huge numbers of states and thus starve the Thing out of existence. Also, the HHS mandate is from the HHS. It's not an intrinsic part of the law. It was a diktat promulgated by Obama's HHS Secretary. The Secretary is nearly all-powerful in Obamacare. Simply appointing a different HHS secretary who would say, "Never mind. I'm rescinding that" should do the trick on that part of Obamacare.

Whether Romney would actually do all of this remains to be seen.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 8:49 AM, October 30, 2012  

I'll say this, on "building consensus." When I mark beside or write in a so-called Third Party candidate (I say "so-called" because there are actually more than three parties), I'm not building a consensus around nuthin'. It's a pretty strong act of protest. Which, of course, is why it is being vilified prospectively all over the Internet (and I daresay in many conservative homes) as a wicked thing to do. Moreover, one part of its meaning, which it is signaling, is, "Hello! There are voters over here on the right to be courted."

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 8:52 AM, October 30, 2012  

In my understanding, when you vote, even third party, you are personally endorsing the legitimacy of the process. You are also endorsing the legitimacy of the ballot, and the legitimacy of the outcome independent of whether the winners are your particular choices. I know people claim otherwise, but I suspect that those claims are like Anscombe's "little speeches": it is the nature of voting that it is a concrete personal endorsement of the legitimacy of the process, of the ballot contents, and of the outcome, all of which are independent of what measures and candidates prevail.

By Anonymous Zippy, at 9:39 AM, October 30, 2012  

Well, Zippy, I wasn't going to get into this with you on your personal blog, but since you are here: I don't know what you mean by "the legitimacy of the process" or "the legitimacy of the ballot" or "the legitimacy of the outcome" or any of those things. Such phrases could mean a lot of different things, some of them objectionable and some of them not. They're pretty vague.

For example, such phrases might mean, "I promise not to engage in armed insurrection against the President elected by this process." I'm perfectly happy to sign onto *that* minimal statement, without in any way endorsing anything about the candidates. And the same with something trivial like, "All the candidates on this ballot have followed some purely procedural set of rules to get their names on here."

Let me add as a possibly relevant aside that ballot access is a *huge* issue for third-party candidates. They work very hard to collect signatures to try to get their names printed on a ballot. There is nothing per se wrong with collecting such signatures, and it's not made easy for them. And when they can't do that, they register to be a qualified write-in candidate. By voting for such a candidate, one is definitely challenging the exclusivity of the two-party system and declaring one's willingness to "think outside the box" and vote for a candidate who has not been readily recognized as "legitimate" (in the sense of "possible to vote for and have your vote counted") in the system.

The term "legitimate" could also mean different things in those different statements. For example, the "legitimacy" of the process could mean that the process is positively a _good_ one or a very _wise_ one (though it needn't mean that), while the "legitimacy" of candidates could mean something else.

As for the "legitimacy" of the outcome, there I'm quite baffled. Again, does it just have something to do with not engaging in active rebellion? Perhaps it is supposed to mean that our country is not in a "state of nature," that we have in some sense a _real_ government (if we can get a grasp of what that means), and that the outcome of that process constitutes the election of one element (e.g., the President of the country) in such a _real_ government. I'm quite willing to sign onto that, too, and am not embarrassed to be doing so.

But if "legitimacy" is supposed to mean something stronger, something like a requirement of personal endorsement of the candidate elected, whoever he may be, or a refusal to consider him simply evil and wicked, then naturally I don't agree that I'm doing anything of the sort in voting, of all things, third-party. Much less voting for a referendum!

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 9:51 AM, October 30, 2012  

Also, if something really bad is on a ballot--either a horrible candidate or a proposal, say, to legalize assisted suicide--I could not disagree more strongly that going in there and voting *against* that candidate or that terrible proposal is somehow *endorsing* that candidate or that proposal! Again, the word "legitimate" is quite odd, but it is not just incorrect but _wildly_ incorrect to say that if, say, my state had a ballot amendment legalizing assisted suicide, and if I voted "no" on the amendment, I would somehow be endorsing assisted suicide as a morally "legitimate" option! Or even saying, "Yes, it's a good thing for this to be on the ballot," or anything of the kind. At that point the mind utterly boggles at the notion that I'm conferring some kind of important "legitimacy" upon assisted suicide by voting against it!

And something similar, mutatis mutandis, for candidates. Suppose that Candidate A is a lifelong mafia hit-man who has personally murdered many people and advocates evil policies to boot, and his opponent on the ballot, Candidate B, is Wonderful Candidate. I find it difficult to express how completely off-base it would be to say that I am endorsing "both candidates as legitimate" in any morally strong sense by going into the booth and voting for Candidate B, both as an endorsement of Candidate B and in an attempt to prevent Candidate A from being elected.

Again, if all this means is that I won't try to assassinate Candidate A or start a militia against him, or if it simply means that in this particular case Candidate A didn't cheat to get on the ballot (so he's on there according to some purely procedural set of rules), then okay, shrug. I could say that about the murderer. Big deal. But I'm doing the very opposite of saying that he is an *acceptable* candidate in any stronger sense than that.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 10:06 AM, October 30, 2012  

For that matter, even if Candidate A did cheat to get on the ballot, that's hardly a reason not to vote for Candidate B.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 10:06 AM, October 30, 2012  

Lydia:
But if "legitimacy" is supposed to mean something stronger, something like a requirement of personal endorsement of the candidate elected, whoever he may be, or a refusal to consider him simply evil and wicked, then naturally I don't agree that I'm doing anything of the sort in voting, of all things, third-party. Much less voting for a referendum!

It is pretty clear to me that a person who votes is endorsing the process, ballot, and outcome in a stronger sense than merely "I won't engage in armed rebellion". After all, those of us who refuse to vote on principled grounds also won't engage in armed rebellion. Nonetheless it is absolutely clear to me that voters endorse process, ballot contents, and outcomes in an additional sense that conscientious objectors do not.

By Anonymous Zippy, at 11:14 AM, October 30, 2012  

" Nonetheless it is absolutely clear to me that voters endorse process, ballot contents, and outcomes in an additional sense that conscientious objectors do not."

Well, I'm just not seeing that at all. Especially when the *whole point* of voting in a particular case is that one is completely *opposed* to a particular outcome or candidate.

I suppose you might want to go with my "not a state of nature" meaning and say that as a person who completely abstains from voting, you regard our country (and/or your own state, specifically) as lacking a legitimate/real/existent government *at all*. But in that case, it's a little difficult to see why one wouldn't at least think that it might be okay to engage in armed rebellion or at a minimum to flout all kinds of other laws that aren't intrinsically unjust but that one can get around and can see advantages to getting around. For example, if the State of Michigan (say) lacks a legitimate government in the sense that we might as well be in the Wild West or in the sense that the government should be regarded as in some sense "not real," why should I obey the traffic laws or other relatively trivial laws of the State of Michigan either, especially if I think a particular one is kind of dumb or could be bettered? The governing authority at that point has no actual authority over me to tell me what to do, even in non-moral matters.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 11:32 AM, October 30, 2012  

I suppose you might want to go with my "not a state of nature" meaning and say that as a person who completely abstains from voting, you regard our country (and/or your own state, specifically) as lacking a legitimate/real/existent government *at all*.

Lets dispense with the straw men, please.

My point is merely that it is manifest that someone who votes is endorsing the legitimacy of the process, ballot contents, and outcome in some important sense in a way that a conscientious objector does not.

I don't think appeals to vagueness of terms or assignment of straw men - when have I ever argued that we are in a "state of nature" or some such nonsense? - undermines this manifest fact.

By Anonymous Zippy, at 11:45 AM, October 30, 2012  

Zippy, I'm going to be blunt: This is why I don't comment at your own blog. I was not straw-manning. As a philosopher, I think terms should be defined. I used the phrase "I suppose you might want to go with" *quite deliberately and carefully* so that you could not accuse me of straw-manning. I was actually suggesting that this would be a comprehensible meaning that you *could* give to those terms that would be an attempt to spell out that "important sense." You, in fact, completely reject that meaning as your own. Fine. That's entirely up to you.

But yeah, vagueness bothers me. Especially extreme vagueness in a claim that is being attributed to all of us who ever vote as what we are "functionally asserting" or whatever you call it by voting *at all on anything*. If you want to tell us all that we're functionally doing this whether we admit it or not, and if you want to use phrases like "little stories we tell ourselves" or something like that to tell us that we can't get out of whatever this is supposed to be, then it would be helpful if we could get a clearer meaning on the table for what we're all allegedly functionally asserting. I've given a whole grocery list of possible meanings, and it's my position that all of them are either things that I can assert unobjectionably or are things that I'm obviously *not* functionally asserting by voting *at all*. If you want to appeal to some other sense that is a je ne se quois and can't be spelled out, but that is allegedly very important and a reason why we're doing something we should refrain from doing by voting *at all*, that's going to get a big shrug from me, and frankly, it should from everyone else as well who continues to vote their conscience.

You are too sensitive and too inclined to attribute straw-manning to other people.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 12:53 PM, October 30, 2012  

Lydia:
I was not straw-manning. As a philosopher, ...

Spare me, Lydia. Adding chest thumping about your academic status to a straw man doesn't make it not a straw man.

As a philosopher, you know that attributing ridiculous positions to me that you know I don't hold is straw manning. You have first and foremost a moral responsibility to own that fact.

And that is why I don't blog at W4 anymore. Because of you. Just so you know.

By OpenID zippycatholic, at 1:49 PM, October 30, 2012  

The good thing is, this will all be over soon.

Bill, you mentioned Reagan several times; I take Zippy's position to be that even a vote for him was at best irrational and probably something far worse. This is where the persuasiveness of his view (fascinating and thought-provoking though it is) breaks down for me. Fair enough that y'all can't stomach a vote for Romney; but Zippy holds that we should withhold our vote even from a truly good candidate. If Archbishop Chaput ran for president, we should still abstain.

I also think Lydia has a point on the vagueness of Zippy's terms, which vagueness makes it somewhat difficult to argue with him. He speaks of a "concrete personal endorsement of the legitimacy of the process," but I hardly need to cast a vote to accomplish that. Half of my writing career (such that it is) consists of a "concrete personal endorsement of the legitimacy of" the American political tradition, one important feature of which is what Lincoln called the triumph of "ballots over bullets." Zippy has been rather coy on whether his conscientious objection to voting today entails a full rejection of that political tradition. Maybe in the future he will enlighten us on that point; but for now, to the extent that (as it seems to me) the rejection of ballots without qualification tends toward a rejection of that tradition without qualification, and therefore a regression to bullets as the method of transferring political power, I must differ with my friend.

By Blogger Paul Cella, at 1:55 PM, October 30, 2012  

"As a philosopher, you know that attributing ridiculous positions to me that you know I don't hold is straw manning."

But I was not attributing them to you. I was very carefully saying that the position I sketched was something that you *might* mean by the concept of "endorsing the legitimacy of the outcomes" and like phrases, which was intended to allow, as well, that it might not be what you meant. When there is a vague phrase, one often says, "Well, here is one thing that might be meant by that, and this is my problem with that. And here is something else that you might mean by that, and this would be my answer then." And so forth. This isn't *attributing* any of it definitely to that particular person. It's working on giving answers to various possibilities one can think of regarding what the person might mean--possibilities that would at least have the virtue of clarity and of being able to be answered.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 2:12 PM, October 30, 2012  

If I said "Lydia might mean that it is OK to slaughter children", when I know you mean nothing of the sort, that is straw manning.

Own it. That's what I'm all about here in a more general sense, actually: you decide it, you do it, you own it.

By OpenID zippycatholic, at 2:19 PM, October 30, 2012  

Given "someone who votes is endorsing the legitimacy of the process, ballot contents, and outcome in some important sense in a way that a conscientious objector [that is, a person who does not vote] does not"

it seems to me to follow that the _worse_ a ballot proposal or candidate is, the stronger of a duty I have not to vote against it or him. For, given the above, to vote at all in that race would be to in some important sense endorse that terrible ballot proposal or that terrible candidate, since either might win. Thus I should not vote against him or it.

Which is absurd.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 2:23 PM, October 30, 2012  

Paul:
the rejection of ballots without qualification

That isn't what I reject though. I believe I've carefully stated what I reject: I reject mass-market universal suffrage democracy-- what we have now.

If there were poll taxes, a male only franchise, a hereditary aristocracy, etc - and the philosophical and cultural base was behind them as legitimate assertions of authoritative discrimination - then my objections would fall away.

By OpenID zippycatholic, at 2:25 PM, October 30, 2012  

it seems to me to follow that the _worse_ a ballot proposal or candidate is, the stronger of a duty I have not to vote against it or him.

Correct, if we modify the "against it or him" to "at all". The more abominable a question is, the more of a duty we have not to treat it as something legitimately up for discussion.

I know, Lydia, from past discussions (e.g. at Auster's) that you know and agree with me that some questions should not be treated as legitimate and "on the table" by respectable people. So I know that, whatever protestations you may muster, you actually do get the basic point here.

By OpenID zippycatholic, at 2:30 PM, October 30, 2012  

Zippy, I would say that about infanticide. That would be an excellent example. That is why I won't engage in a polite philosophical dialogue with a philosopher who is pro-infanticide, as though it is an "up for respectable philosophical discussion" issue. I don't think Peter Singer should be on the faculty at Princeton, and so forth.

I absolutely disagree with any attempt to extend that to the conclusion that, if the Peter Singer PAC (a figment of my imagination, but stranger groups have existed) were to propose a ballot proposal in my state of Michigan,

"A proposal to make it possible for parents to obtain termination assistance for their neonates of less than two months of age,"

I would have a duty *not* to go to the polls and vote a resounding "No" against this Moloch-worshiping abomination.

Doing so would not *at all* involve, functionally or otherwise, saying that infanticide is "on the table" for respectable people, or that legalizing infanticide in the State of Michigan, if the voters should do so, would be a "legitimate outcome."

Indeed, I would be quite happy to put a sign on my lawn saying, "Vote NO on proposal 1. Infanticide is an abomination. Are we insane?"

More: I would be entirely in favor of people who later engaged in civil disobedience and found ways to spirit away newborns intended for slaughter and to rescue them, though they be hunted from state to state and around the world with the label of "kidnappers."

Voting No on such a horrific ballot proposal in no way implies an endorsement of it. Not even remotely close.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 2:54 PM, October 30, 2012  

"If I said "Lydia might mean that it is OK to slaughter children", when I know you mean nothing of the sort, that is straw manning.

Own it. That's what I'm all about here in a more general sense, actually: you decide it, you do it, you own it."

Sorry, Zippy, I don't think it's some deadly insult to hypothesize that, by talking about the putative illegitimacy of the process, the candidates, and the outcomes, you *might* be contemplating the idea that a government created by that process, ruled over by one of those candidates, is illegitimate. And what it means for a government to be illegitimate is pretty much what I expressed at slightly greater length, to which you took exception. But people do raise such possibilities on the 'net and do discuss them in academic terms.

You just should be willing to accept that someone in perfectly good faith can find your position so hard to get a grip on that odd positions about the illegitimacy of the present government do present themselves as possible interpretations of what you are saying. That isn't an attempt to be coy or not own something. It's quite possible for you to say, "No, that isn't what I mean," and I'm quite willing to accept that. It isn't straw-manning or insulting you for me to bring up the possibility of that interpretation even if, in fact, that isn't what you mean. This is just a way that discussion goes. Please do chillax, as the kids say.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 3:05 PM, October 30, 2012  

Voting No on such a horrific ballot proposal in no way implies an endorsement of it. Not even remotely close.

I think it does, objectively, inasmuch as you have personally affirmed the legitimacy of the process that produced the ballot, and the legitimacy of the question on the ballot as a legitimate question legitimately decideable by democratic process.

I think the emphatic "no it doesn't" you are asserting is (as I mentioned above) tantamount to one of Anscombe's "little speeches": you may voice your objections to the legitimacy of the question and the result, but objectively you have treated it as a legitimate question and result. This is fundamentally different from the objective actions of the conscientious objector, who does not treat the process, ballot contents, and result as objectively legitimate; certainly not in the same way.

I'll let y'all have the last word here. Obviously the basic question is whether a voter objectively treats process, ballot contents, and result as legitimate in a way that a conscientious objector, again objectively, does not. I also think the answer to that question is obvious.

By OpenID zippycatholic, at 3:05 PM, October 30, 2012  

I don't think it's some deadly insult to hypothesize that, by talking about the putative illegitimacy of the process, the candidates, and the outcomes, you *might* be contemplating the idea that a government created by that process, ruled over by one of those candidates, is illegitimate.

If I was a perfect stranger with whom you'd never discussed the matter, sure. But you know I don't take any stupid "state of nature" or "the government is totally illegitimate" position. I have no idea how many times we've discussed this or over how many years; I know that it is enough that you know better. It would be insulting to _you_ for me to think otherwise, at this point. You know that when you assert such things as things I might possibly think, that you are asserting straw men.

Own it.

By OpenID zippycatholic, at 3:08 PM, October 30, 2012  

Actually, my last word there is just that I will leave others to decide for themselves what to think about the position that they would have a duty not to vote NO on a ballot proposal to legalize infanticide in their state. Or any more general position from which that conclusion follows.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 3:18 PM, October 30, 2012  

Hey Bill, unrelated but I couldn't find your email address so will offer this as a comment. A subject I knew you'd be interested in:

Nudity! Breastfeeding! Art!

http://bettyduffy.blogspot.com/2012/10/nudity-breastfeeding-art.html

By Blogger TS, at 8:16 PM, October 30, 2012  

What the hell? How'm I supposed to deal with all this? All I did was go to work yesterday...

Well, it's nice to see literate comments in one's box rather than flyby troll spittle.

Paul - The good thing is, this will all be over soon.

No it won't. We'll do it again in 4 years, with the campaign commencing in about 2.

If Archbishop Chaput ran for president, we should still abstain.

Yes, we should. Catholic clergy are not allowed to hold public office. heh

Lydia - I hope you're right about "functionally repealing Obamacare."

When I mark beside or write in a so-called Third Party candidate (I say "so-called" because there are actually more than three parties), I'm not building a consensus around nuthin'.

I didn't mean to imply you were. I was referring to the way the two-party system plays out in reality, leaving people like you and me looking for a third party candidate that we know can't win, and for whom casting our vote is a futile gesture of which absolutely no one will take cognizance. I don't like it when voting my conscience feels like arm flailing.

I can't resolve the dispute about the legitimacy of the current ballot scheme. I just haven't made up my mind. Obviously, there's nothing intrinsically evil about "mass-market, universal suffrage democracy," (maybe Zippy would disagree) but, assuming it's a good thing, it can be corrupted like any other good thing. It seems to me that a country has gone insane not only when something as outrageous as neonatal infanticide is on the ballot, but even when the question is whether a minor should be able to get an abortion without parental consent, or abortion in general should be publicly funded, or whether two people of the same sex should be allowed to marry. A sane nation would not offer a moral monster like Barack Obama as one of our 'choices,' because such a choice is not legitimate in the relevant sense. He's a legitimate president because he supposedly played by the rules of the process to get there. So the question becomes: when can we say that process has been so corrupted that we are morally obligated to rescind from it altogether? I don't know. Maybe I'll know it when I see it.

In the meantime there is one thing I do know - as one not naturally born to bridge building, which is why I'll never be Pontiff - and that is that you and the Zipster need to remember how much you both hate the same evil things, and how many of the same good things you love.




By Blogger William Luse, at 5:02 AM, October 31, 2012  

Yes, I certainly do remember how much we have in common.

I do think it's sad if fellow conservatives adopt or even consider the idea that the *worse* and more insane evil is, the more we should consider abstaining altogether from fighting it with a vote even when we have the opportunity to do so without voting for something else (or someone else who embraces) evil.

I certainly get the idea that if one is, say, a journal editor, one shouldn't publish an article advocating infanticide and say that this is just a matter of "intellectual dialogue" or something like that. I've also always thought that pro-lifers do need to retain the sense of *outrage* concerning abortion.

Our country is indeed morally insane. But that is all the more reason for us to fight that insanity at every turn where we can do so without violating our own consciences. I just cannot even begin to think that voting against an evil is any sort of endorsement of that evil nor of its respectability. I wouldn't, myself, know such a "situation if I saw it," e.g., if it got bad enough. It just wouldn't arise. Were Hitler running against Mother Theresa, and if one had the opportunity to vote for M.T., one wouldn't be treating Hitler as respectable by doing so. I do definitely consider Barack Obama a morally monstrous candidate. In fact, back in 2006 I said that Rick Warren was showing his true yellow color by holding an AIDS conference in which he and Obama (then a Senator) joined hands across the aisle, blah, blah, to "fight AIDS," which meant that Warren had Obama come and speak at his church as a favored and approved person, an ally in the fight against AIDS, etc. I was disgusted and said that Warren should not have done that because it made someone who holds monstrous positions appear respectable. I just don't think that voting against Obama does anything of the kind.

One thing that is interesting about that idea is that it shifts the focus from the corrupting effects of voting *for* a candidate who shouldn't be considered good enough for one's vote to voting in a race that has a very *bad* candidate. The problem then becomes Barack Obama rather than his opponents, so that even if there were some wonderful "viable" candidate, one should consider that maybe one shouldn't vote for him either because this might seem like "legitimizing" B.O. Honestly, I can't even begin to think that.

And indeed, I think it quite fair to call *that* position a rather strong form of political quietism. If that's regarded as an insult, I can't really do anything about it. But what else could one call a position that we must not vote against a gravely evil, indeed an insane, law or gravely evil candidate precisely in virtue of their grave evil, because to participate in the political process itself would be to give them legitimacy? It really does seem like a principled quietism, which I cannot endorse.

But let us, for sure, including Zippy and me, disagree in charity.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 9:01 AM, October 31, 2012  

Catholic clergy are not allowed to hold public office.

I did not know that. Wasn't there some Massachusetts priest (undoubtedly a Democrat) in Congress for some years?

I think Bill is spot-on when he says, with rather understandable passion, "a non-vote is not a vote. You can say it over and over and scream at yourself in the mirror until your face turns purple, but a vote for no one is not a vote for someone."

Likewise, a vote against something is not a vote for it.

By Blogger Paul Cella, at 10:58 AM, October 31, 2012  

But let us, for sure, including Zippy and me, disagree in charity.

And without engaging in straw men. Including the endless crap about quietism, in addition to the other litanies of straw men in Lydia's comments. If I were engaging in quietism people wouldn't be constantly laboring so hard to tell me to shut up.

The reason we have monstrous options is because that is what our system is designed to produce. That is the kind of system it is: the kind that produces monstrous options. Trying to use the system that produces monstrous options, and in using it endorsing it personally, to fight the production of monstrous options, is ultimately foolhardy.

Mass market universal suffrage liberal democracy is not a set of value-neutral procedures, any more than Holy Mass is a set of value-neutral procedures.

By OpenID zippycatholic, at 11:05 AM, October 31, 2012  

As for when a liberal democracy puts Mother Theresa on the ballot: let me know when it actually happens. It won't. Our system is designed to produce monstrous options, and to corrupt the good people who try to use it. Look at Paul Ryan and his suddenly slippery abortion stance.

Put good people into the meat machine and what you get won't be a good outcome. It will be once-good people who are now corrupted.

If we want to ever have a chance of any succeeding generation getting out of the hole, we have to stop digging. And telling people to stop engaging in self- and other-destructive behaviour is not "quietism". Good grief. It isn't "quietism" to refuse to drink with an alcoholic.

By OpenID zippycatholic, at 11:12 AM, October 31, 2012  

Zippy, I'm sorry, but I simply don't have the energy, time, or motivation to try to discover and answer whatever *new* charges of strawmanning you are apparently making against me by the phrase "endless litany." I already replied carefully and at some length to the earlier charge, but without abating your ire. My use of "quietism" is a use I stand by, because it is what I believe it is legitimate to call your position, based on what you have said. The term "strawman" isn't usually used to mean, "Calling my position by a label that I dislike and disagree with." I believe that I do *understand* your position as well as it is possible to understand it. You and I now also disagree about whether the term "quietism" is a fair one for it. It is, as so often with you, an overbroad use of the term "strawmanning" to accuse me of attacking a strawman because we disagree on the applicability of a particular term! The accusation of strawmanning implies arguing in bad faith, which I'm not doing.

Perhaps comments about remembering how much we have in common should be directed to you as well as to me!

I certainly think that you and I should be able to disagree while respecting each other, in a friendly spirit, and not accusing each other of bad faith. I'm sorry that, apparently, you don't think that this is possible. That's highly unfortunate, but it isn't something for which I take responsibility here. I do not accuse you of bad faith but only of too much inclination to swift anger and over-sensitivity to disagreement and criticism, particularly, for some reason, from me. That's a darned shame, but I'm not just going to shut up because of it.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 11:21 AM, October 31, 2012  

By the way, I would never apply the term "quietism" to the position that we should refuse to vote for a candidate who supports intrinsic evil, morally grave evil, such as murdering the unborn. If those are the only candidates on the ballot, and a person therefore refuses to vote for any of them, that is not quietism, and I wouldn't ever apply that term to such a refusal.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 11:25 AM, October 31, 2012  

That's a darned shame, but I'm not just going to shut up because of it.

I don't want you to shut up. I just think you should admit that you know full well, and have known for years, that I don't in fact hold several of the positions above that you stated I 'might" hold.

I can't say what your motives are, nor what your perceptions are of your own conduct. But I can tell you that your conduct is inappropriate. It just is, and the constant brain damage of dealing with it is what drove me away from W4. I'm not going to pretend that it isn't just to tip my hat to the tyranny of nice.

By OpenID zippycatholic, at 11:33 AM, October 31, 2012  

Zippy, I assume you're talking about your leaving off _commenting_ at W4. As you know, you originally left W4 qua contributor because of the torture positions of then-contributors other than me (with whose positions on that subject I disagree). I have extensive discussion and correspondence on the subject. Sorry to bring up old history; I'm doing it only because you keep talking about the matter, and eventually I'm going to defend myself there. It may be that you don't want to comment there *now* because of some sort of dynamic between you and me, and I'm quite willing to believe that it is something about me that has motivated that decision at some point in the past, but there are several different "leavings" involved here.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 11:45 AM, October 31, 2012  

Zippy, I assume you're talking about your leaving off _commenting_ at W4.

My latest posts there are in 2011, not 2009. And you wouldn't have to defend yourself at all if you'd just concede the obvious: that, in fact, in this very comment thread above, you attributed things to me - suggesting I "might" take certain positions, e.g. state of nature, illegitimacy of the government, etc - that you know full well, and knew at the time you wrote it, that I do not.

By OpenID zippycatholic, at 11:52 AM, October 31, 2012  

And in 2011 you were extremely upset about a different contributor and his posts. Perhaps you were also upset in some way about my defending him or something I said or did in the course of defending him, but I do feel that it's extremely counterproductive and, honestly, rather annoying, for you to be using this history as a point of attack upon me. Please, I ask you to stop.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 12:06 PM, October 31, 2012  

OK, lets forget about W4 and that sad little history.

Here, now, in this thread, right up above, you said that I "might" hold several positions that you knew, in fact, without ambiguity, at the time you wrote, that I do not hold.

That is called a "straw man".

We all have our flaws, and make mistakes sometimes. Just concede that you did that here, now. I won't be bullied into pretending that you didn't.

By OpenID zippycatholic, at 12:10 PM, October 31, 2012  

Zippy, I have no desire to bully you whatsoever. You don't have to say anything. You're completely free to think what you want to think and say what you want to say, but I did not strawman you, and I'm not going to say that I did. What else am I supposed to do? Please stop pressing. I really do think that the appearance of your hammering away ("Just admit that you strawmanned me, c'mon, admit it" over and over again) is certainly not of my bullying you! Good grief. Let it go, man.

I could go into yet a *further* disquisition, beyond the ones I already gave above, about what I thought, new, and interpreted at each point concerning your opinions, but not only would that be exceedingly boring for all of us (you, me, Bill, and his readers), it's my opinion that it would also be likely to make matters worse, in that there is a good chance of your being yet further angered and offended at my own account, however honest, of what I have thought about your ideas, your thinking, etc.

So I don't think that that would be a good idea, and unless I'm convinced otherwise, I'm not going to do yet more talking along those lines.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 12:23 PM, October 31, 2012  

make that "knew," not "new."

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 12:24 PM, October 31, 2012  

I did not strawman you, and I'm not going to say that I did.

I say that you did, and I am not going to be pressed by the tyranny of nice into pretending otherwise.

By OpenID zippycatholic, at 12:36 PM, October 31, 2012  

So, what did you guys dress up as for Halloween? I went as the Tyrant of Nice.

Maybe I shouldn't have posted on this topic.

Perhaps comments about remembering how much we have in common should be directed to you as well as to me!

It was intended for both, for all the good it did.

Paul - Wasn't there some Massachusetts priest (undoubtedly a Democrat) in Congress for some years? I can't remember what state, but yes, Fr. Robert Drinan, moral heretic. But when the Pope told him to step down, he did.

You know, I don't want Mother Teresa for a candidate. She had more important things to do than run a country. I just want a solid Christian traditional conservative who can articulate his principles and stick by them without waffling or soft-pedaling. I know...I'm dreaming. I reckon casting a ballot is only as evil as the choice you cast it for, and that democracy in general is only as evil as the people who participate in it. By the time we have Hitler on the ballot or a referendum asking our opinion on the advisability of murdering neonates, we are in some new territory. Sure, I'd vote against those things, just in case it might work, but in case it doesn't, I'm putting more ammo in the drawer and cleaning my weapons to an oily shine.

Zippy apparently sees something more profoundly wrong with the system itself. I'll just have to continue thinking about it because I'm not the fastest bloke on the block.

By Blogger William Luse, at 3:36 AM, November 01, 2012  

This may not be helpful to anyone at all, but hopefully it won't at least be harmful: One of the things I was *trying* to do above was to lay out a dilemma for the principled rejection of voting at all.

Horn #1: If one takes something like "the candidates and possible outcomes on this ballot are legitimate" to mean something that voting might, in fact, actually mean functionally, it is something unobjectionable. E.g. It is something like "The government created or contributed to by this process is a real government to which I owe obedience in things not immoral." This isn't something that it is wrong to be functionally saying, so it's no problem.

Horn #2: If one takes something like "the candidates and possible outcomes on this ballot are legitimate" to be something that might be objectionable in particular cases, such as, "All the candidates and possible outcomes on this ballot are reasonable, non-monstrous, respectable people or reasonable proposals that people ought to be voting on," then I think it's dead obvious that by voting on a given ballot or in a given race, one is *not* functionally asserting any such thing.

So either the "tacit assertion" attributed to voters is an unobjectionable assertion, or, if potentially objectionable, it is not true to say that this is something voters are tacitly and functionally asserting by participating in the process.

That was a dilemma I was attempting to construct.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 4:32 PM, November 01, 2012  

Apropos of the main post, Bill, I think that it was extremely strange that your friend would think any good could be accomplished by sending you that angry rant from his female friend.

I simply don't understand how he could fail to see how counterproductive that was, to put it mildly. It's not as though she were simply disagreeing with your decision or making strenuous arguments against it. She clearly *despised* anybody who would not vote for Romney. All that sneering, "Oh, you just think you're so pure" stuff is ridiculously condescending.

One wonders: Did he perhaps think that it would be effective because that type of bullying that she is engaging in (I really think the term is warranted) does sometimes work on blogs and elsewhere against third-party voters?

I've definitely seen in this election a huge degree of that kind of relentless "piling on" in the conservative blogosphere, on Facebook, and elsewhere.

By Blogger Lydia McGrew, at 5:09 PM, November 01, 2012  

Well, he pulled her in as you or I might pull in an authority to back us up on some point. I get the sense she's very politically active and, as you know, contributed once to TCR. But she's very young (compared to me), and other than my friend's assertion that she's also "very thoughtful," her qualifications as an authority are not at all clear. He didn't realize I'd heard everything she's got to say a thousand times over already. Political enthusiasm seldom results in clear thinking or a willingness to charitably hear out another's objection. In fact, the governing tone of her remarks was a self-righteous judgementalism, containing all the truth-telling qualities of the political ads we see on TV.

By Blogger William Luse, at 2:48 AM, November 02, 2012  

FYI here on voting for lesser of two evils.

By Blogger TS, at 1:07 PM, November 02, 2012  

I'd like to turn Zippy loose on that column, because the guy's confusing at best and flat wrong at worst in his analysis of an act's object and the intention behind it.

By Blogger William Luse, at 6:49 PM, November 02, 2012  

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