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Tuesday, June 17, 2008



Abortion is a singularly unique and important issue. But so is embyonic stem cell research. The USCCB just released a very pointed document on the topic. One thing Pope John Paul II and the U.S. bishops have taught us is that ESCR is no less serious, no less grave than abortion, for both entail the deliberate and calculated destruction of human life. Thus, if John McCain really wants to "woo" Catholic voters, he needs to come to terms with the fact that his position on ESCR is contrary to Catholic moral teaching. Now, I am not interested in debating whether or not McCain is the lesser of "two evils." What I am interested in is the so-called Catholic vote not falling so easily for McCain's abortion record while ignoring his record on ESCR.

Why are conservative Catholics so quiet about ESCR? With McCain as president (or Obama), the House and Senate will likely pass another bill for federal funding for ESCR (God bless George W. Bush for vetoing it twice). This time, McCain would see it through, and with federal funding for ESCR now public policy, do we really imagine that the abortion battle will not become more difficult for us? I pray Catholics will form a responsible voting block that does not compromise on life issues, forcing one or both parties to recognize the value and dignity of life. Perhaps then we won't have choose between two candidates who do not respect human life, be it life in the womb and/or life in the lab.

Do not underestimate the influence a solid vote for a truly pro-life third party candidate would have. With Fr. Frank Pavone, Deal Hudson and other Catholics with good organizing abilities, 8-10 million votes would send a resounding message that John McCain, while better on life issues than Obama, just isn't good enough. Let McCain "woo" the Religious Right. Catholics have got to be a tougher sell.

J. B. Mulder

I'm always shocked, truly shocked, by the number of people who tell me I am "wasting" my vote on a third party candidate who is uncompromising on all the life-issues. The true waste of a vote is to cast it for someone you consider to be the "lesser of two evils". I refuse to allow my vote to be pigeon-holed into this ridiculous two-party "system". I wish more serious Catholics would look at it this way.


Well put, Policraticus.

McCain's record is better than I'd supposed, though. So, good news. Let's hope for even better.


Voting for the lesser of two evils is not wasting one's vote. EVERY vote is a vote for the lesser of two evils. We aren't voting for saints or for angels here: we're voting for politicians. I've never voted for a perfect candidate, and I've been voting since 1976. (Feel free to calculate my age!) Remember Ross Perot? He brought us the Clinton presidencies. Recall that Clinton never received a majority of votes but was elected both times by a plurality because of three-way races.

I might also mention that in my state of Pennsylvania, a number of years ago I became quite enthusiastic about a third-party candidate for governor, Peg Luksik. She was consistently pro-life and I think would have made a fine governor. However, she did not win the election, and I have not noticed that anyone found that her candidacy sent a "message" to the other politicians in the state.

The way to build a third party, folks, is from the ground up with local or at least congressional candidates! It's not just about the presidency! Right now the reality is a two-party system. If both parties were equally pro-abortion, I would not believe that the third-party vote is thrown away. However, that isn't the case. One party is, in fact, pro-life.

What about judges? How many Supreme Court justices will be appointed by the next administration? I don't want to see those judges selected by President Obama.

We need to use prudence here. Mr. Obama's position on abortion is that of a pro-abortion extremist. Pro-lifers should work hard to see that he is not elected.

By the way, in 2006 I volunteered some time to work for Rick Santorum, probably the most enthusiastic and consistent pro-life politician we have ever had in this country. He lost his bid for reelection to the Senate; I think that someday he might have been able to run for President, but that hope ended with his loss. I think that some pro-life advocates were unhappy with Mr. Santorum because as a leader in the Republican party, he helped to get Arlen Specter reelected. Others may have voted against him because they opposed the Iraq war. The perfect became the enemy of the good; now we have Casey, who is far less pro-life than Santorum and who does not advocate for life issues at all (and who, by the way, has not ended the Iraq war, either). That really sent a message, didn't it? I think the message that politicians heard was this one: "Catholic pro-life politicians lose elections."

A vote is a vote; it is not a message. Flawed, fallible human beings will do damage, but we can try to pick the ones that will do the least damage.

J. B. Mulder

"One party is, in fact, pro-life."
Yes, the GOP platform has taken an anti-abortion position. This is great, and exactly what it should be. However, as Policratus pointed out, there are other areas in the pro-life cause that need to be addressed and will affect the abortion issue directly. I looked at the platform drawn up in 2004 by the GOP and it made no mention of embryonic stem-cell research. Now in 2008, we have John McCain. Not good enough.

"The way to build a third party, folks, is from the ground up with local or at least congressional candidates!"
You are absolutely, 100% right. However, this should be our focus, rather than getting a less than 100% pro-life guy in office "over" the other guy. I'd also like to point out that there are already third party candidates that match up with Catholic teaching on all the "non-negotiables". If every Catholic got behind these candidates, the congressional candidates would take care of themselves in later elections. 8-10 million votes is a strong message, in fact, it's the only message that either party can see.

"I think that some pro-life advocates were unhappy with Mr. Santorum because as a leader in the Republican party, he helped to get Arlen Specter reelected."
This is an interesting point: now there is someone worse. But honestly can you blame them? Remember what Specter said? Bush and Santorum supporting Specter was a stab in the back to anyone pinning their pro-life hopes on the GOP. They put the party before the principle. This can't be tolerated. Let's take off our "Team R" and "Team D" costumes and put on the Cross of Christ.


It is of course cliché to call politics "the art of the possible", but that is regrettably axiomatic.

This year, with the issue of abortion being brought to starkly into contrast by NARAL's own ratings (one gets a 100, the other a 0), the greatest fear for me is an Obama (who wouldn't even support Born Alive) presidency. Does McCain have failings? Without doubt he does (though I really would like more info on the "he supports ESCR" meme that goes around...I don't deny it outright, it just so rarely gets backed up by facts), but the fact is, Obama has made abortion one of his primary goals (the only consolation I can find is that politicians so rarely accomplish their "number one goal", look at Pelosi).

While I cannot embrace McCain wholeheartedly, I truly fear that this will be another razor-thin margin again, and a few votes here-or-there may make the difference.

I dream of the third-party candidate who rides in on his white horse and sweeps away the electoral math, but I cannot allow someone avowed to evil to triumph.

Another cliché: "Do not make the perfect the enemy of the good."



You touch on an important point. Some pro-lifers have truncated "pro-life" to mean merely "opposeed to abortion," virtually christening the Republican Party as the "pro-life." But being pro-life extends beyond moral and political opposition to abortion, as you rightly point out. The Republican Party does not have in its platform opposition to federal, state or local funding of embryonic stem cell research (Republicans are very divided on this with many voting in favor of federal funding). Euthanasia is hardly mentioned in the Republican context. McCain is a prime example the GOP's laxity on life issues other than abortion.

I am almost finished reading Deal Hudson's new book, Onward Christian Soldiers, and I marvel at how, given the opportunity to make Catholic demands of George W. Bush in the 2000 campaign, Hudson only pushed the president on abortion. No other life issue was mentioned by Hudson as "at stake" from the Catholic perspective. Have we really given into the unimpressive record of the GOP on life so easily?

J. B. Mulder

I just want to add, too, that I'm not trying to minimize being against abortion because I know it's the greatest moral evil facing us today and in the future our children's children will ask us what side we were on and what we did to try and help the helpless. While being pro-life is much more than being anti-abortion, my whole point is that we can't win the battle for the lives of the unborn if we ignore the other important pro-life issues.

Dan Deeny

Thanks for this information on Sen. McCain. I'll be voting for Sen. McCain; I think he'll come around on the stem cell research issue, especially since new research is available. I was glad to hear of his policies on reproductive rights in developing countries. What are Sen. Obama's policies?

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