In the wonderful play 1776, we see our founding fathers struggling with declaring independence. One of the subtexts of the entire play is the missed opportunity to rid the country of the objective evil of slavery. The culpability of of the South and the North is captured dramatically in the song “Molasses, to rum, to slaves.”

Even though many of the delegates from the north wanted to do away with slavery, in the end doing away with slavery was not an achievable end due to the delegation from the south refusing to yield to independence if slavery was to be ended. The delegates from the north had to settle for an imperfect good. It was tough to do, but they really didn’t have a choice since the perfect good was not achievable, but a lesser good was.

In the series of votes leading up to independence, there is a running gag in the play in which each State casts its votes for or against independence. Repeatedly, until the final vote, the delegate from New York says “New York abstains … courteously.”


Many Catholics have expressed deep disappointment in the morally indefensible position of John McCain supporting embryonic stem cell research ESCR. The intrepid Jay Anderson sums up my feelings on the matter and the temptation to say “a pox on all their houses” when he wrote on his deep disappointment saying “At this point, I think I’ll take all my marbles and go home.”

Mark Shea goes much further. Mark has been espousing the position that voting for either candidate is an objectively evil act and thus Catholics must abstain from voting.

I think it is an objective evil to support a candidate who wishes to use his office to commit gravely immoral acts such as sign the Freedom of Choice Act or support stem cell research. I make no distinction between candidates who want to cannibalize babies who are big and candidates who want to cannibalize babies who are small. I think anybody voting for either candidate is committing an objective evil.

Shea allows that many think that they are doing something good if they vote for McCain and thus might escape culpability for the evil act, but an evil act it is.

Mark Shea is wrong. The teaching of the Catholic Church and the Bishops does not favor his position. I won’t get into the details here because others have already done a better job than I could ever do, notably Red Cardigan in her post “Perfect vs Good”. If you are unsure on this question, read Red’s post.

So if this argument in favor of doing nothing is not supported by Church teaching why would a good Catholic like Mark cling to such a notion. I have my suspicions on the why but first a few comments of my own.

In my mind, not voting is cooperating with an objective evil. To sit out this election is to increase the likelihood that the most radical pro-abortion, pro-ESCR candidate will be elected to the highest office in the land. You also increase that likelihood that members of a party that have these radical policies of death in their platform will remain in power in Congress.

Further, If Obama is elected, in his office he has the ability to appoint like minded pro-death jurists to the Supreme Court and thus maintain culture of death by judicial fiat for generations.

To vote for John McCain, although his defense of ESCR is morally reprehensible, increases the likelihood that jurists that will allow for the people to impose restrictions on abortion and ESCR via their State legislatures are more likely to be appointed to the Supreme Court perhaps ending the culture of death by judicial fiat sooner and thus more babies will live.

The simple sad fact is that having a president opposed to ESCR is not a possibility this time around. McCain’s support of this horror is why I could not in good faith support him in the primaries. But he is the candidate now. He is the candidate that will most likely result in eventually fewer babies dying, an objective good.

Voting for John McCain also increases the likelihood that members of a party that in its platform opposes both abortion and ESCR will be more in a position in Congress to block actions by the party of death.

There will be other elections and I will always support the available candidate who best supports objective goods and does not support objective evil. But elections are not always between our first and second choices.

Thusly, I think that sitting out the election, since it increases the likelihood of Obama and the party of death gaining power is cooperating with objective evil. Sitting out the election when real lives are on the line is cooperating with evil. I echo Mark’s statement about culpability, but it is cooperation none the less.

I think that everything that I have said thus far is fairly obvious to most and I think it is the position of most Catholics who take life issues seriously. So why would Mark Shea and others promote this contrary view in favor of abstaining?

Well, I think the answer is simple and sad. While Mark is a good Catholic and certainly takes life issues seriously he is not conservative. More to the point, he really really doesn’t like Republicans. His faith will not allow him to go the Doug Kmiec route by openly supporting Obama and the democrats, but life issues aside, I think he would really like to.

Now I don’t pretend to read Mark’s mind, but I suspect that he thinks he has found a convenient Catholic cover for his partisan politics. By sitting it out, he defacto supports Obama and the Democrats without having his hands stained with blood by pulling the lever for him. Or so he thinks.

But as I have stated, I think abstaining increases the likelihood of the culture of death succeeding for generations to come. By maintaining and promoting this false ivory tower Catholicism, he is cooperating with evil. I think Obama and the party of death would be very pleased if Mark Shea and all pro-life Catholics sat it out.

If Obama wins, more children will die. I am convinced of it. I for one cannot look those children in the eye on the day of my death when they ask me “Why did you do nothing?”

Addendum: Being Unfair to Mark Shea. Stupid speculation warrants an apology.