Your Soul is Worth More than Your Vote

Ary Scheffer, The Temptation of Christ (1854)
Ary Scheffer, The Temptation of Christ (1854)

It’s election season, and I’ve hesitated to say much on the subject for many reasons. One of those reasons is because our obsession with politics is unhealthy and unholy (in that it reflects our fixation on this life rather than the next, and on worldly power instead of true discipleship). Another is that this election season has been like watching a slow-burning dumpster fire.

I don’t plan to tell you how to vote, but I do want to establish a few basic principles:

  1. No well-formed Catholic should feel comfortable with Trump or Clinton;
  2. Thus, voters face a difficult decision this fall;
  3. The Church gives some guidance on this, but this guidance is limited;
  4. You, as a potential voter, have the final decision to make as to who to vote and who to support;  and
  5. Your salvation could well hang in the balance.

Let’s begin with the obvious: these two candidates are awful. Trump has called for torture as a tool for winning the war on terror, as well as “taking out” the families of terrorists (he later denied that this necessarily meant murdering the families). As for waterboarding, he’s said:

They asked me, what do you think about waterboarding, Mr. Trump. I said I love it. I love it. And I said the only thing is, we should make it much tougher than waterboarding, and if you don’t think it works, folks, you’re wrong.

As for Clinton, while she has been evasive about certain late-term abortions, her overall support for the legalized killing of unborn children is  unambiguous. Indeed, she’s only gotten worse with age: she went from arguing that abortions should be “safe, legal, and rare” (adding, “and I mean rare“) to arguing that they should simply be “safe and legal” (the “rare” language is also conspicuously absent from prepared campaign materials, so this wasn’t an innocent oversight). Indeed, it’s not enough for there to be a constitutional right to abortion: she’s pointed to the need to change religious beliefs to favor abortion, and the Democratic Party is in the process of including new language in its platform to encourage federal funding for abortion (breaking the Hyde Amendment truce).

And that’s just looking at two of the most obvious issues: I’m leaving aside the blatant lying on both sides (including, in Clinton’s case, lying to the FBI in the course of a federal investigation), Trump’s racially-charged comments in the course of the immigration debate, Clinton’s intolerant and intolerable stance on the HHS mandate, and a whole litany of other moral issues.

The idea of trusting either of them with the nuclear codes, the ability to appoint Supreme Court justices, the authority to enact executive orders, and one of the most important bully pulpits in the world ought to turn any Catholic’s stomach. If you’re enthusiastic about voting for Trump or Clinton, I’m concerned about your moral code.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to vote for them. Rather, it’s just an acknowledgement that we’re facing what the USCCB calls a “difficult choice” in its Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship voters’ guide:

34. Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who favors a policy promoting an intrinsically evil act, such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, deliberately subjecting workers or the poor to subhuman living conditions, redefining marriage in ways that violate its essential meaning, or racist behavior, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases, a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.

In other words, if you’re supporting your candidate because of their support for torture, abortion, etc., you’re sinning. However:

35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position even on policies promoting an intrinsically evil act may reasonably decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.

36. When all candidates hold a position that promotes an intrinsically evil act, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.

The document goes on to discuss the question of “single-issue” voting:

42. As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet if a candidate’s position on a single issue promotes an intrinsically evil act, such as legal abortion, redefining marriage in a way that denies its essential meaning, or racist behavior, a voter may legitimately disqualify a candidate from receiving support.

Think about it this way. Hitler’s views in favor of exterminating the Jews would be enough to justify voting against him (without further consideration of any of his other views), but Stalin’s opposition to the extermination of the Jews wouldn’t be enough to guarantee the Catholic vote. A truly awful public official can still be right on particular important issues.

So how should you vote? The USCCB recognizes that “the responsibility to make choices in political life rests with each individual in light of a properly formed conscience, and that participation goes well beyond casting a vote in a particular election.” But it also recognizes that “the political choices faced by citizens not only have an impact on general peace and prosperity but also may affect the individual’s salvation.”

And it’s here that I want to shift from talking about voting to talking about political support. In an era of widespread social media, seemingly everyone is in a hurry to vent their partisan political preferences, and it’s here that we face a serious moral issue. It’s one thing to vote for an awful candidate because his or her rival is even more awful. It’s quite another to whitewash your preferred candidate, to overlook (or worse, to justify) their moral flaws in an attempt to make them more palatable to other Catholics. That sort of party spirit runs contrary to the Gospel (cf. Galatians 5:20). Trying to “sell” your candidate to your friends through deception (even self-deception) is exactly the sort of political choice that can affect your own salvation.

So let’s keep a couple of things in perspective. First, despite all of our pretending otherwise, your individual vote won’t change the outcome of the election. Last time around, the closest state, Florida, was decided by a margin of more than 73,000 votes. Even if you somehow persuaded every one of your Facebook friends and Twitter followers (newsflash: you won’t), that wouldn’t swing the closest of the closest swing states. The idea that you need to vote for a bad candidate or else the even-worse-one will win has always been false.

Second, this election isn’t the end of the world. It’s true (no matter who’s elected) that we could easily see things in this country get worse, even a lot worse. That shouldn’t be ignored or minimized, but it also shouldn’t be blown out of proportion. Like the myth of your vote determining the election, this myopic focus on right here, right now makes every election feel like a crisis and triggers fear instead of rational decision-making.

Third, while our broken civilization will inevitably cease to be someday, the same isn’t true of our souls. And it’s these immortal souls that we are rushing to sacrifice on the altar of partisanship. We’re sacrificing the eternal for the temporal, and not even managing to swing the outcome of the election (an election that turns out to matter a lot less than we’ve been made to believe). It’s a Faustian bargain beneath our human dignity. I leave you with this reflection by C.S. Lewis: it’s the denouement of his sermon on The Weight of Glory:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics.

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.

Go and live, including civic life, accordingly.

107 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this; it is really helpful to put the election season in proper perspective this way. I know at least one person who is planning to vote for Trump because, as he puts it, “Hillary is 100 % guaranteed to be horrible, but at least with Trump there’s a chance of him appointing conservative justices.”

    I am still not certain whom I will give my vote to, but I also know that Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, is doing quite well in the polls, and may be worth considering. I don’t know who the Constitution Party is running this year (if anyone) but I have voted for their candidates in the past considering them a good, moral alternative to the major party options. So, there are other options out there.

    1. I’ve thought long and hard about voting for a third party candidate, particularly in this pre-election season, too. Only problem is that, that vote will be wasted and will help Hillary to win, as it will be a vote that Trump won’t have. Our whole electoral process needs to be revamped so that we have more than two viable candidates to choose from. Right now, it takes an enormous amount of $$$$$$ to maintain a campaign, and the third party candidates cannot generate that kind of money to sustain them and garner support for them. Hillary is a known evil; Trump is a loose cannon. It’s really a dicey situation we find ourselves in, but if the election were held today, I’d have to vote for Trump because, at least as regards the Supreme Court, I think his choices would more likely reflect most of our values.

      1. I think the decision to vote for a third party candidate is a choice for each individual, based on their understanding of the political situation in their state and what their priorities are. In the past, I felt it was most important to me, personally, to give my vote to the candidate I felt most aligned with my values, regardless of their actual chance of winning, and simply trust God with the outcome of the election.

        If more people were willing to do this, third party candidates would become more viable; the only reason campaigning takes so much money is because of the advertising used. If voters read the party platforms and candidate statements (and, where pertinent, voting records), and made their decisions based on those, the advertising would become less relevant very quickly.

        In other elections I have felt that to be a responsible voter, I had to vote for a major candidate I didn’t fully support, because the other realistic option was so much worse. So it is a choice I make each election, based on the specific situation at the time. But I make it considering that I am responsible for my own personal vote, but not for the outcome of the election as a whole, as Father Heschmeyer pointed out above.

      2. See, you can’t think of a third party vote as helping Hillary win. It’s a vote she won’t have, either. It’s a vote against both of them.

        1. Your math is manifest, but your logic is lacking.

          It seems to me that the majority of those who are undecided are trying to decide between Trump and a 3rd party candidate or not voting at all. Consequently, a vote not cast for Trump and cast for a 3rd party candidate or not cast at all diminishes Trump’s total and his chances of winning. (Polls show that Clinton, Sanders supporters notwithstanding, has no such dilemma, at least not to the same degree.)

          I think that those who are ‘wrapped in the mantle of principle’ need to reassess and determine exactly what is THE most important principle. Is it electing Clinton and that for which she stands and professes, or is it electing Trump and that for which he stands and professes. THAT is the principle that is in play, and it is THAT principle that will likely define this country for the next two decades.

      3. All, all of the pro abortion decisions made by the supreme court were made by republican appointed supreme court justices. That argument for Trump doesn’t hold water.

      1. So are Trump (at least historically) and Hillary. I offered Johnson as an option for those who may find his other views, such as on the appropriate limits of government, to be enough to offset his obvious short-comings.

        Additionally, I think that if significant portions of the voting public who cannot, in good conscience, vote for Trump or Hillary, were to vote third party, that would send a much stronger message than their simply staying home. It would say “We care enough about being a part of the political process in this country to vote. Now give us someone to vote for!” If they stay home, then they REALLY don’t count.

    2. Elizabeth, did your votes in the past for these people make a difference? No. Voting for the libeterian choice is like not voting at all. There are some things with Trump, I dont agree on, but there’s just hardly anything that can make me want to vote for Clinton. Trump is probably the lesser of the 2 evils. He has made a confession for Christ so perhaps there is hope there for some better moral choices.this article was good, but I have to question that “my salvation” would be at risk due to how I voted. When Jesus saves us, He writes our name in the Book of Life. If we can loose our salvation, then we probably wasn’t saved in the first place.

      1. I’m not sure that I understand your argument. You’re saying that a third party vote doesn’t make a difference because it doesn’t… what? Change the outcome of the election? Will voting for Trump or Clinton actually result in their winning?

        For your argument to make sense, wouldn’t you have to pretend that this election really is going to come down to a single vote?

      2. I beg your pardon. My votes “made a difference” in that they sent a clear message that I will not vote for someone just because they have the best chance of winning. If a politician wants my vote, he has to earn it. You may have a different criteria for how you make your voting decisions, which is absolutely fine. I am not interested in arguing about my decision not to vote for candidates with whose positions I fundamentally disagree. With my initial comment, I was simply offering other options for those who feel they CANNOT vote for either Trump or Hillary, but who still want to participate in the political process as responsible citizens. Every vote that is actually cast “counts”.

        1. There is no way I will vote for Hillary or trump…..my conscience stands before God not a political party…both parties have now caved under…that republican Catholics support trump is sad. I will write in my vote….and Cruz has it…even if I disagree with him on immigration. He has character and guts.

    3. Don’t consider Trump. Consider his churchillian team who are unafraid and swimming against culture. We need a weapon against communism/socialism/the left. They are that weapon. God bless.

    4. That’s just really… awful. And the following comments are not necessarily directed at you.

      Don’t vote for Trump if you don’t want to, but who on earth knows the condition of Donald’s soul or why he’s where he is?

      Maybe God put him right where he is for His own glory.

      Sorry, this is how our system works. Trump is not that egregious. Cruzbots trying to make excuses for their lameness. and pull others along with them. Or maybe the GOPe stirring the pot trying to prevent a landslide. God knows they have more to lose if Trump wins.

      Cruz ran an awful campaign. Jumped on Beck’s Crazy Train. Was knocked out by a few jabs from Donald.

      Ted proved he would NEVER stand a chance against Cankles, et al. His performance against Donald showed his thin-skinned weaknesses.

      I donated sacrificially to Ted. It hurt but I believed in him. Then he turned into a whiny baby loser. I want a refund.

      You want another petulant man-child in office or a fighter?

      Don’t want to vote for Donald because your soul is so frigging pure? Then don’t. But enough already! All you’re doing is creating more venom against St Ted and destroying any chance he has in any office.

      1. Completely agree with you Lisa. We are living in dangerous times and the present president lied when he vowed to protect the nation. Trump has made that a priority, as it should be and HC has not, as proved by her actions as Sec. of State. A vote for anyone but Trump will further endanger the people of this nation. THAT should be a consideration for the future of one’s immortal soul.

          1. SG, are you implying that anyone who votes for Trump, (who wants serious immigration restrictions) over Hillary (who seems okay with status quo) won’t go to Heaven?

    5. Elizabeth, all I can say is, I hope for every conservative who understandably and frustratedly votes Libertarian there are two liberals who toss the Hilaroid for JIll Stein. Usually when there is a competitive third party it ends up tossing the election to the Left. We got Clinton the First largely because of the way Bush ’41 alienated conservatives and the option of voting Ross Perot appeared, as if I need to tell that to anyone over 40…..

  2. Thank you for this clear and very pertinent post, especially the reflection by C.S. Lewis at the end. The distinction between voting and political support has been very helpful. I live in a very blue state so I suppose I have it a bit easier in making the decision to not vote for either major candidate as truly my vote won’t count. However, even if that were not the case, I appreciated the distinctions you laid out here. I have been hesitant to add anything to the cacophony of noise on my fb page or on my blog, so I rarely post anything about politics, but I think these are important considerations to make. Do you mind if I share your post?

  3. Joe, thanks for the perspective.

    There’s a glut of Trump-bashing in all media, including by Catholics. Trump has earned most of it, but it seems Hillary…an equally-flawed candidate…has skated in comparison.

    You say: “No well-formed Catholic should feel comfortable with Trump or Clinton”. It’s refreshing to read that from a very thoughtful Catholic like yourself…it makes me feel more okay that I don’t want to vote FOR either person. The future of the Supreme Court could be the deciding factor for me.

    1. I agree. I REEEEEEEEAAAALY don’t want Trump. But it may come down to the appointed seats for me too. He may only be president for 4 years, if he wins, but those judges will be there a very long time.

      1. And if Clinton wins,” those judges will be there for a very long time”, too. Given the publicly known and verifiable track record of both, I would not opt for Clinton and her choices.

  4. I appreciate your reminding people not to get too caught up in politics and citing a reminder of how to vote your conscience, however with due respect, your comments that neither candidate is acceptable contradict your other points.

    The Voters Guide for Serious Catholics published by Catholic Answers says:

    “Not voting may sometimes be the only moral course of action, but we must consider whether not voting actually promotes good and limits evil in a specific instance.”

    Also torture, lethal force and “racial behavior” are not among the five non-negotiables: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and the promotion of same sex marriage. I find it very troubling that the US Council of Catholic Bishops are using the term “racial behavior” with no definition to clarify its meaning. I disagree that Trump’s comments (of which you cited none) regarding immigration were “racially charged.” Such a claim blurs the real issue of dangerous criminals coming into the US illegally, hidden among other illegal immigrants who are also technically political criminals because they didn’t follow the law! This is highly subjective claim, and, dare I say, partisan?

    In addition, your comments about Trump supporting water boarding could also have applied to all of the other candidates running this year with the exception of Rand Paul. I fear that this conversation would not even be happening right now if Ted Cruz was the nominee, even though he supports waterboarding and use of lethal force against ISIS.

    I do not believe that it is a sin to vote for the lesser of two evils as you describe it, especially when one of those candidates (Trump) is promising to appoint pro-life judges to the Supreme Court and has already created a short list with the help of a well-respected organization The Federalist Society. He has also appointed a Christian coalition to help with crafting policy to protect Christians’ religious liberty and even going as far to say that he would work to repeal the “Johnson law” so that Christian churches that are non-profits would no longer be too afraid to endorse a candidate or an issue that they believe is moral due to the fear of losing their nonprofit status.

    The man is far from perfect but according to a well-known and respected Christian psychologist, author and co-founder of Focus on the Family, Dr. James Dobson, Trump recently became a born-again Christian. He still has a lot to learn about what being a Christian entails but by the looks of it he is open (I hope) to learning and growing in faith. And I completely agree many things beyond the presidency need to change in order for our government to return to our founding principles based on God’s law. Please pray for the conversion of our country as a whole.

    1. Please do not interpret this as me trying to be snarky, because I’m not at all: I’m curious to read this comment from Dr. Dobson. Could you possibly provide a reference? Thanks.

    2. I agree that Trump’s Christian faith and who he plans to put on supreme Court pretty much sews up my choice. Cannot stomach any of Hilarys lies and how she perceives people should embrace her and chill Bill again.

  5. Deuteronomy 17:14-20 may be instructive in political decisions. The text presents a macro view of the three-fold concupiscence.

  6. One of the significant and substantive differences is that Clinton has a 4-decade record of demonstrating, militantly promoting, and implementing (to the extent she has been able) her immoral belief structure (my discernment of her actions, not a judgment to condemnation). She publically promises to continue in that vein. Trump’s alleged ‘immorality’ is speculated based, admittedly, on his shoot-from-the-lip rhetorical excess and media extreme extrapolation. However, his alleged ‘immorality’ is unsubstantiated by his actions.

  7. First comment – whose vote does count?

    Second, with Hillary we have her poor past experience to make some sort of judgment of her possible future actions. With Trump, we have less experience to go on and more rhetoric. With any candidate it is the same, we are never able to determine their future actions, or how their appointees will vote on the Supreme Court. We currently have 5 Catholics on the court and it hasn’t changed much of anything.

    The USCCB does provide adequate directions in making our choices but many of that group have provided poor examples of how they have implemented their own guidelines by continuing to support, during and after the election, the pro-abort, pro-same sex marriages and other pro-anti Catholic (and many Catholic) candidates.

    For what it’s worth I understand Trumps running mate is a pro-life Christian.

    Definitely, in this life, Christ is the only choice.
    .

    1. I would argue that every vote that is cast, counts. Pundits and politicians do look at the vote breakdown and consider it, after all. I guarantee you that if Gary Johnson gets 20% of the votes this time around, it will be a major wake-up to both the GOP and the Democrats. Even if he doesn’t get that much, or if 20% of voters pick anyone else rather than Trump or Clinton, that still sends a strong message.

      It seems like some people feel that the only votes that matter are the ones going to the winning candidate, which is pretty illogical.

    2. Other than where genitalia are concerned, the USCCB’s political and economic views are not easy to distinguish from those of Oberlin’s sophomore class.

    3. “For what it’s worth I understand Trumps running mate is a pro-life Christian.

      Yes, a fallen-away Catholic from a family of devout Catholics; who at one time considered the priesthood. And the Hilaroid’s running mate is a devout Catholic who worked as a missionary and has in the past voted on the pro-life side.

      I’ve read some visionaries have experienced God as having a great sense of humor. Like a Catskill Mountain comedian….if this election isn’t an example of that, nothing is…..

  8. The more hear from (I presume) well-intentioned Catholics telling me that my eternal salvation is at stake in how I vote, the more I do not wish to vote at all.

    Trump is for 10,000 reasons a complete non-starter for me. I wouldn’t vote for him even if you held a gun to my head.

    Clinton is not only pro-choice, but (apparently) pro-abortion.

    What’s a good Catholic to do?

    The way things stand now, I’ll just vote for all the down-ballot offices and leave “President” blank.

    1. “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

      Since you asked what a good Catholic should do, I suggest you put aside (for a while, at least) your 10,000 unstated reasons against Trump and the two you stated against Clinton and start with the five non-negotiable issues presented in “Voter’s Guide for Serious Catholics” (http://www.politicalresponsibility.com/voterguide.htm). From that, I have summarized the following:

      “It is a serious sin to deliberately endorse or promote any of these actions, and no candidate who really wants to advance the common good will support any action contrary to the non-negotiable principles involved in these issues. 1. Abortion, 2. Euthanasia, 3. Embryonic Stem Cell Research, 4. Human Cloning, 5. Homosexual ‘Marriage’.”

      The article provides the rationale and is pretty well-written (in my view). But don’t take my word for it. Check it out.

      Are these five the only issues? No, but the mental and moral composition of a person that leads to a position on these issues are basic to the they way they will approach and attempt to resolve the other issues.

      After thought and prayer, you can then start to reconstruct your reasons for and against each candidate by carefully considering what they themselves have said, say, and what they have actually done (or failed to do). In the end, I suspect that one of your lists will be substantially shorter and the other one will be substantially longer, but that’s just my opinion. Once completed, try to project likely outcomes in a future given the positions of each candidate. I suspect the futures will be vastly different.

      I know what I recommend isn’t easy. It will take some research and honest introspection — both of which are difficult. But I think the future is worth it.

      1. We have been promised end times in which evil will triumph regardless of what good men do.

        Nevertheless, the duty of good men does not change, because we need to pay attention to the things after the end times, first.

        1. Evil might reign in the end times (which started with the Ascension), but as Revelation points out, it will not triumph.

          Until then, our duty, as you say, is to not help it out by being complicit.

  9. Joe,
    Your accusation against Trump assumes waterboarding is torture. The Geneva C. does not agree- which is why our government uses it. Patrick Lee, professor of Bioethics at Steubenville also disagrees.
    Below is from a First Things comment string. I thought it was exceptionally fitting:

    Do you think Patrick Lee, professor of bioethics and Director of the Institute for Bioethics at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, knows something about Catholic moral theology?

    Here is what he has to say:

    “Torture is intrinsically immoral. But it must be rightly defined. As a human act, torture can be defined only by the direct object of the choice. It is intentionally mutilating someone or intentionally damaging a person’s psychosomatic integrity (attempting to reduce this person to a subhuman, disintegrated state) for the sake of information, deterrence, punishment, or sadistic pleasure.

    By contrast, intentionally causing pain in order to provide the detainee with a motive to deliver information is not intrinsically immoral. Unlike bodily or psychosomatic integrity (which are violated in real torture), pain is not the deprivation of a basic human good. Indeed, pain often is part of the proper functioning of a human being as a sentient living being (which is not to say that delighting in pain for its own sake, sadism, is morally right).

    It is sometimes unclear whether this or that act is torture. It is obvious that the Bush administration tried to ensure that torture would not be condoned or encouraged. Bush-administration officials wrestled with where to draw the line between what is and is not torture. They may not have drawn the line correctly — reasonable people can disagree about that — but that is quite different from condoning torture.

    Liberals have for decades not only denied that there are moral absolutes (specific, exceptionless moral norms) but also denied even the existence of objective moral truth — and have labeled defenders of such moral truths “right-wing extremists.” Have they now seen the light? If so, then perhaps we can now discuss not only why torture is wrong, but also the moral truth regarding intentionally killing unborn human beings, denying unborn human beings equal protection under the law, funding research that involves deliberately dismembering some human beings for the benefit of others, and attempting to coerce health-care workers to violate their consciences.”

    What do you think of this which was discussed at the Mirror of Justice site, from Chris Eberle, associate professor of philosophy at the U.S. Naval Academy:

    “Two assumptions should shape the manner in which a civilized society interrogates those, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), who effectively plan to attack and destroy innocent human beings.

    First, human beings have a worth, or dignity, that we cannot do anything to alienate: KSM, as with any and every human being, possesses a (God-given) dignity that prohibits us from taking extreme measures to protect those he targets. Even if we can effectively protect innocent human beings only by subjecting KSM to extreme (Jack Bauer–style) physical damage, we should not do so. Second, a person’s actions can make it permissible for us to treat that person in ways that would otherwise be morally forbidden. The fact that KSM initiated a plan to destroy the World Trade Center explains why the U.S. government was morally permitted to capture, incarcerate, and interrogate him.

    How does this second assumption shape the manner in which we may interrogate KSM? Suppose that, as was apparently the case, KSM had initiated further plans that would have killed a large but indeterminate number of innocents. Suppose again that KSM had information about those future attacks that, if obtained, would have allowed us to prevent them. But suppose that, having exhausted more pacific means, we could not acquire that information without waterboarding KSM. In that case, fairness in distributing harms would permit us to waterboard KSM. Given that he had forced us to choose between his well-being and the well-being of many innocents, we could “distribute” the harm to him, not them.

    This non-consequentialist rationale for the permissibility of certain types of coercive interrogation attempts to balance two goods that all too easily come apart — human dignity and individual responsibility. It doesn’t justify coercing anyone . . . not even anyone who has but will not divulge relevant information. It requires that we have a great deal of reliable information about those whom we are permitted to coerce. It is consistent with strict prohibitions on extreme forms of Jack Bauer–style coercion. But it does permit us to subject some of our fellow human beings to certain sorts of “hard treatment.”

    In summation, your attack against Trump was a straw man. What about his politics permits you to put him on equal ground with H. Clinton- who formally supports innumerable intrinsic evils? His lack of rhetorical refinement?

    TSK. TSK. TSK.

  10. I would suggest to anyone who thinks waterboarding is not torture volunteer to be waterboarded for a solid week. Then you can get back to us and tell us what you think.

    1. Seems to be a good point, at first blush. I certainly would not relish a week of waterboarding. But, then, I am not hatching, nor do I know about, a nefarious plot to take the lives of tens, hundreds, or thousands of innocent people.

      I would suggest a different week-long experiment. I suggest those who would retire the tools of discriminate waterboarding, or other means of controlled coercive interrogation, sit for a solid week and listen to the heartbreak of the families of those who lost loved ones on 9/11 (in New York, in Washington, in Pennsylvania), in Paris, in Nice, in Orlando, in San Bernardino, in Beirut, in Spain, in Turkey, in Rome, and …

      Then consider how those lives could have been changed, if we had known whom to interrogate and had done so. Then consider how future lives would be changed, if discriminate coercive interrogation were to be appropriately used. Then you can get back to us and tell us what you think.

      1. There is no evidence that torture provides good information. Our former POW’s, including John McCain, are opposed to all forms of torture including waterboarding. We are better than that. I watched the TV Show “24” and it was just that….a TV show.

    2. Water-boarding is standard practice for members of elite military teams as part of their basic training. They experience it to learn how to withstand it, so they won’t panic in a situation where it may be used to extract information. I posit that if it really constituted torture, we wouldn’t be using it to train our own military. The definition of “torture” is more comprehensive than “causes pain or discomfort”.

    3. Next time I am caught red-handed planning – and concealing information about – the Islamist-inspired mass-murder of innocents or of US troops I’ll do as you say. And get back to you after I talk.

      Having said…there are proven, more reliable ways to get someone to reveal information than physical pain. They just take more time. When the tactical situation does not permit waiting, one may have to make a judgement on saving lives vs the moral issue of inflicting physical injury and pain, or threat of same.

      Not a good situation for the captive or the captor….and war does have a way, as one author put it, of bringing out ‘the stunted nightmares of men’s personalities…..”

      1. The captor wil say anything to make the torturer stop. Again, no reliable information comes from torture. Don’t listen to the Trump’s and Cheney’s of the world who try to sell this can of worms.

  11. You don’t have the option of not voting, you must make the call between Trump and Hillary.

    #2240 CCC:
    Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to….exercise the right to vote.

    1. That moral obligation doesn’t mean that you have an obligation to vote in every single election. From para. 36 of the USCCB voter’s guide:

      “When all candidates hold a position that promotes an intrinsically evil act, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.”

      1. That is an excellent clarification!

        Now, all that remains it to list and compare the intrinsically evil acts that each of the candidates promotes.

        Of course, an honest list of intrinsically evil acts must include only those which the candidate him or herself has actually expressed and which, by their actions, they have actually implemented, or tried to implement. As a starting point, I refer you to the list of non-negotiable issues at http://www.catholic.com/speakers/talks/five-non-negotiables.

    2. Or you could choose a third party candidate. There’s several. I’m sure the Green Party is running someone, and Gary Johnson is running as a Libertarian (he’s polling quite high right now, if that makes a difference). The Constitution Party is also an option, and their candidates tend to be highly moral, Christian leaders. If you must vote, but cannot, in good conscience, vote for Trump or Hillary, I think the Constitution Party candidate is probably a good option. And it does send a message, which staying home does not do.

  12. I agree both candidates are not ideal, but with Hillary we are getting abortion, euthanasia, loss of rights, the Church will be forced into silence about gay marriage, abortion, etc.
    If I choose the lesser of 2 evils, I must choose trump. I am surprised at your tone, implying there is no difference in the two.
    Disappointed…long time reader.

    1. Just how will the church be “forced” into silence about gay marriage? No one is proposing priests being forced into performing a gay wedding. Abortion has been around through Republican presI dents and Republican majorities in Congress. They accomplished nothing. It’s a wasted vote. These guys want power and will pander to anyone to get it.

  13. This is a stupid and immoral article.

    The author picks a few isolated quotes from Trump about stopping terrorism and genocide. He implies that standing by passively and allowing genocide, mass torture and murder is morally superior to trying to end it.

    That is an immoral and evil position.

    It is our duty to prevent evil not to sit back and allow it to continue.

    Unless this author grows up and learns about right and wrong and the duty to protect the innocent from murder and torture he should not become a priest. In fact, he should not hold any responsible, decision making position.

    1. Thank you, John Walker. Reading this opinion of J Heschmeyer, I felt that if Jan Sobieski were on the ballot, he would be found lacking in sufficient virtue for election. I am seeing in my mind’s eye, the photos of the Missionaries of Charity nuns, shot, then their heads stomped beyond recognition in Yemen after being attacked by Islamic Militants. I see the Christian Children of Deir Ezzour, Syria, sliced in two, and laid on display in the streets.

      I find no equivalence in the positions of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. I find Trump’s message of restoring order and ensuring safety to Our Country far better than Clinton whose message seems to be one of fomenting Chaos, and further division among Americans.

    2. People don’t even know how to debate any more and like to attack others.
      An
      example of violence in our nation. No peace in people’s hearts…no peace in our world.
      Praying for you as you move with God’s grace. Great article…Thank you!

  14. Filling out your ballot is a duty. “Piety in place of duty isn’t piety at all.”

    Nobody would accuse Catholics of being obsessed with politics. Most of them skipped voting in the presidential primaries.
    Re: “the extraordinary step of not voting …” Some people make an extraordinary step so often that it is their ordinary step.
    Not a surprise. 11 of the 12 avoided showing up at Calvary. Where there is too much evil, best to stay away.

    The Right-to-Life movement never advocates for blank ballots, even in elections where no candidate deserves an endorsement from pro-life groups. I will show up this November at my polling place and fill out a ballot completely … no blank votes.

    see essay of Fr. Frank Pavone
    http://www.priestsforlife.org/library/462-choosing-evil-or-limiting-evil

  15. Joe, when it comes to politics, it’s VERY confusing to be a Catholic voter:

    Andrew Cuomo, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are all Catholic, yet they’ve supported bills that seem to go against the Church. Steven Greydanus, a well-respected film critic and deacon, tweets things like “Whatever your cause – pro life, conservatism, religious freedom, etc., – the stench of Trump will cling to it like death’s embrace. Supporting Trump means your candidate spends every day implicating you in racism, misogyny, stupidity, bullying, division, chaos.” Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien…all Catholics…spend most of their show openings ridiculing Trump.

    Living a fairly normal daily life, I almost get a guilty complex when I consider voting for The Donald.

    Yet, Hillary supports things that don’t jive with the Church and don’t jive with many homilies I’ve heard from my priest, she’s accumulated massive amounts of campaign money from who knows who and who knows where, and she very clearly seems to have put our country’s security at risk the last few years and lied to the country, if not the FBI. She doesn’t get much criticism in entertainment or social media, but I feel it’s because most in entertainment and social media want her to win and whitewash her problems.

  16. What about Joe Schriner. He is Catholic, moral, and solid on all the important issues. If every Catholic in the US got behind him, he would easily win.

  17. Excellent article Joe. I realized one day in the past, that I was tired of voting for the lesser of two evils, realizing that it was still a vote for evil. I cannot face the Lord and say, ‘I had to vote for the lesser of two evils, or my vote would have been wasted.’

    If every Catholic voted the way the Church teaches, neither of the major party candidates would win.

  18. God forbid many American politicians understand that there is a separation of church and state in the United States. Do you Catholics just, forget about that? That’s fine if you think abortion is a sin – don’t get one. Please stop telling other people to follow the rules of your religion. If you all want these candidates with a religious bias, feel free to move to a theocratic nation. This is one of the main reasons I’m so glad to see the religious population in the United States rapidly declining. Finally we won’t have to worry about fighting the religious who are attempting to dictate the laws in America.

    1. We don’t just think abortion is a sin. We know it is murder. Last time I looked murder was against the laws of this country. Re-labeling it as women’s reproductive rights, does not change what it really is.

      So much for your separation of Church and State, when the state interferes and forces people to provide health insurance for their workers, when said insurance must provide abortion and contraception, against what the beliefs of the employers may be. In reality, that is forcing the employer to pay for an employee to be able to have sex, without the potential natural consequences of said act of sex. Forcing someone to pay, so another person can have sex wantonly, sure seems like a form of prostitution.

      If we are going to label contraception as providing women access to healthcare, that would seem to imply that getting pregnant is a disease. In that case, all women should be on contraception, all the time, because getting pregnant must be be unhealthy.

    2. Interesting (and more than ironic) that this anonymous commenter invokes the God from which he or she pleads for separation. The comment also betrays a lack of understanding of the foundations of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

      Even an elementary understanding of basic civics and history shows that the separation that the immigrants who came to the Americas wanted, and which the Founding Fathers codified, was a separation of religion FROM interference of the state. It was not the separation of opinion, religious or non-religious, from influencing the state. It has been only relatively recently, with the judicial bent on social reconstruction, that the original Constitutional intent has been convoluted into precluding religion from the public arena. To answer your question, “we Catholics” well aware of how the First Amendment has been, and continues to be, perverted.

      The result of people of religion being precluded from influencing public discourse and policy is that those without religion are then unconstrained from imposing their beliefs onto society. This, of course, is diametrically opposed to the original intent of the Declaration of Independence and codified within the Constitution. But it sure does lay the foundation for a dictatorship of relativism.

    3. I guess you haven’t read too much regarding our founding fathers or what our country has been based on for two hundred years. Have you read the Federalist papers recently? Most students,even law students haven’t read them.

    4. That’s fine if you think abortion is a sin – don’t get one

      And if you think that rape is a sin then don’t rape anyone.

      There is no separation of church and state, although I would support a separation of state and education, or a separation of state and obama care, or stay and,,,well, you get he idea but where did you get the idea of church and state?

      I’m sure you know that several of the states that ratified the Constitution had office state religions but you seemed confused about those who have the one true faith not having the right to dictate the laws.

      Are you of the opinion that only atheists can dictate law?

  19. I have been voting Libertarian or many years, but this is the first election in which I think the LP can get some traction. Gary Johnson is the nominee (and was also in 2012). He is not necessarily representative of the party. There are many anti abortion Libertarians, and for many their argument is NOT a religious one, but rather an interpretation of equal protection under the law. In any case, Johnson supports returning the issue of abortion to the states to be decided by the people, a step in the right direction. As for marriage, Libertarians simply do not believe that the government has the right to permit or not permit a person to enter into a contract, which is essentially what civil marriage is. Catholics should feel comfortable with that as the Church already dismisses many “legal” heterosexual marriages as invalid. The libertarian philosophy is based on non-agression, and it staunchly supports religious freedom (despite Johnson’s Nazi Cake stance), and freedom of speech.

    For me this is about a longer political game, as well as the longer game of my immortal soul. God gave all people free will, free will that is real and has real consequences. When our behavior is regulated by the state so that we do not sin, what have we done for our immortal souls other than fear the wrath of the state?

  20. I haven’t read all the posts, so I am sure these points have been made…I’m voting Trump for no other than two reasons..first, as a DoD employee and retired Air Force officer, if I had at any time done what the Hilaroid did with classified information, I’d either be stripped of my clearance and unemployable, or at worst – and most likely – in prison. Not what I want as Commander-in-Chief.

    Second, most important, Trump has promised Constitutional originalists like Scalia as his Supreme Court picks – if, given the left-leaning-character of our law schools, there are any of those to be found.

    How do you all want the country to look for the next 50 or more years?

  21. Trump CALLED for the use of torture and killing families of terrorist families; the current administration, of which Hillary was a part, DID precisely that. A person of good will can be persuaded of Truth, change their opinions, and match action to conviction.
    Do either of these candidates have good will? The answer to that ought to decide your vote.

  22. Trump and the RNC showboats an Imam who prays to the false muslim god and invokes the false prophet mohammad and a gay man who says he is proud to be a sodomite and you use waterboarding as a reason to NOT vote for them?

  23. Joe said if your enthusiastic about voting for either Hillary or Trump, he’s concerned about your soul. Wow, I feel so judged. I guess I haven’t achieved his level of enlightenment. I know the Church is opposed to the Nation-State model; it is equally opposed the the Marxist socialist model. The Church is meant to reconcile the world Galatians 3:28. According to Quadragesimo anno The Marxist dialectical world view is ” a concept of society … which stands in opposition to the authentic Christian concept.” , And “Religious Socialism and Christian socialism are contradictions in themselves, it is IMPOSSIBLE to be simultaneously a good Catholic and a real Socialist.”

    Paul VI wrote in his apostolic letter Octogesima adveniens

    If in Marxism as it is concretely lived these different facets and questions can be distinguished which present themselves positively for the reflection and action of Christians, it would be FOOLISH and DANGEROUS to reach the point where one forgets the inner bond which basically join them together, that one adopts the elements of the Marxist analysis without recognising its relations with the ideology and participates in the class struggle and appropriates it’s Marxist interpretation well neglecting to perceive the type of totalitarian and little society to which this method of proceeding leads.”

    The Nell-Breuning in Der Katholic und die SPD, a brochure for the Social Democratic Party (Germany)
    Concludes the section titled “Cultural Socialism” –
    “At the beginning of this cultural socialism stands cultural liberalism; at its end stands cultural Bolshevism.”

    Are we not perilously close to the final stage of the revolution? Can we really afford to wait for the perfect instrument, or should we make due with what is available?

  24. Those are good points Anabel. I totally get some like yourself finding it hard, in good conscience, to vote for someone like Trump. But HOW does one not have the same bad conscience with Hillary? After all, Hillary’s held positions that actually can affect things that do or don’t happen with American policy and decision-making. Her stance on life issues seem rather extreme. And she’s clearly failed in some areas as Secretary of State, some would argue criminally.

    I might have the clearest conscience in November by not voting. But I think voting for Hillary would make my conscience the most murky.

  25. “When offered a choice between two politically intolerable alternatives, it is important to choose neither. And when that choice is presented in rival arguments and debates that exclude from public consideration any other set of possibilities, it becomes a duty to withdraw from those arguments and debates, so as to resist the imposition of this false choice by those who have arrogated to themselves the power of framing the alternatives. These are propositions which in the abstract may seem to invite easy agreement. But, when they find application to the coming presidential election, they are likely to be rejected out of hand. For it has become an ingrained piece of received wisdom that voting is one mark of a good citizen, not voting a sign of irresponsibility. But the only vote worth casting in November is a vote that no one will be able to cast, a vote against a system that presents one with a choice between Bush’s conservatism and Kerry’s liberalism, those two partners in ideological debate, both of whom need the other as a target.” – Alasdair MacIntyre http://brandon.multics.org/library/Alasdair%20MacIntyre/macintyre2004vote.html

    1. Personally, (MacIntyre’s erudition notwithstanding) I am more interested in, and persuaded by, morally intolerable alternatives than I am by “politically intolerable alternatives.” The two are not equivalent; however, morality can, indeed must, inform political debate.

      In my view, comparing their professed views and their demonstrated actions and inactions(!), Mrs. Clinton represents the morally intolerable alternative.

      Most of the conversation resulting from this blog has been centered on what could be categorized as a ‘sin of commission’ — ‘I just cannot vote for that person because of ______ (fill in the blank)’. Some of those reasons are weighty.

      However, do not forget, there is also a ‘sin of omission’. Failing to vote, or casting a ‘protest’ vote based on some principle or to ‘send a message’, which enables the election of a morally intolerable alternative could be considered akin to a ‘sin of omission.’

      That evil is in this world in ever-growing proportions and prominence is undebatable. That good is being convoluted and represented as ‘the new evil’ (St. Paul warned us) is also manifestly evident. A quick scan of events is all that is needed to demonstrate both. We cannot, as a nation and as a purportedly moral people, in good, informed conscience, accept a leadership that continues to ignore, placate, deny, coddle, minimize and, in many instances, promote evil.

  26. I admire you so much, Joe, as you know without a doubt. But I don’t see equivalence between the two (very unattractive) candidates. I finally came across an article that says what I wanted to say (by a faithful Catholic professor at UD). Her last four paragraphs, specifically, spell out why I’m voting for Trump over Hillary, no contest:

    http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2016/06/17078/

    1. To me at least, the issue of nuclear war “trumps” all the social issues combined. Trump has over and over again demonstrated himself to be a petty, narcissistic, thin-skinned, belittling, unpredictable, grudge holding, revenge seeking, hair-trigger-tempered, shoot-from-the-hip bull in a china shop. Add to that his profound ignorance about foreign affairs and his total lack of curiosity about anything not named Trump, and you have a perfect recipe for the US blundering its way into a world shattering nuclear holocaust.

      I for one am not willing to take that chance. The stakes are just way too high. Who cares which Supreme Court justices are picked if the court itself has been reduced to radioactive ash?

      1. Hyperbole much?

        At least Trump hasn’t been complicit in the deaths of 4 persone under his charge, or knowingly and for years mishandled classified material, in a way that I as a 40-year DoD employee if discovered doing the same thing would have been making gravel out of boulders with a sledgehammer in a place called Leavenworth.

        And spare me the ‘oh, he’s going to start a nuclear war’ vitriol. I am old enough to remember the same full court press by the unholy alliance of the media, academia, and the chattering classes about Ronald Reagan. We all saw how that turned out…but please, feel free to hand all the credit for the end of the Cold War to Gorby and none to Ron, St JPII, and the Iron Lady as I am sure that fits your Code Pink narrative.

        Oh, and if there had been no on-alert nukes holding back potential participants for the past 70 years, I posit the world wars that would have ensued after #2 would have been bloody beyond comprehension. I guess it depends on your definition of pro-life….so please do vote for the Hilaroid and her coterie of baby-parts collectors….

        1. “Hyperbole much?”

          Nope. If anything, I was probably toning it down.

          “I am old enough to remember … Ronald Reagan.”

          And I am old enough to remember Barry Goldwater. And he did not frighten me (I voted for him, after all) as this guy.

          “feel free to hand all the credit for the end of the Cold War to Gorby”

          Not at all. I give all the credit to Lech Walesa and the heroic workers of Poland… and to Our Lady of Częstochowa, the Queen of Poland, of course.

          1. You voted for Daisy 3-2-1? Very good. Too bad you don’t remember the history you cherry pick (along with your answers to my post) sufficiently to make the correct choice this November.

            You are leaving out those who gave Solidarity a little help, acting as instruments of Our Lady. I didn’t. I also include those the crews quietly and humbly manning Strategic Air Command Minuteman II and III ICBMs that held the Soviet Bear at bay while the forces unleashed by prayer and faith could do the work of ending the evil empire.

    2. Leila,

      I’m not arguing that the two candidates are equivalent. I am arguing that both candidates have said things that should make Catholics uncomfortable, a point on which it seems we actually agree. It’s not the case that equivalency is required. Fornication isn’t equivalent to murder, but both are mortal sins. Likewise, supporting torture and supporting abortion are both evils, and the person who does so is guilty of a grave sin.

      I’m also not arguing against those who say that they’re supporting one of the two candidates in spite of their evil, because of the perceived greater evil of the other candidate. That is a legitimate reason to vote for a candidate, and those questions largely involve personal prudential assessments. Nobody, not even the Magisterium, can require you to believe that Trump is or isn’t likely to do anything about abortion, that he is or isn’t likely to use nuclear weapons, etc. I’m intentionally staying entirely out of those kinds of speculations.

      A Catholic, weighing the probabilities of a Trump presidency and a Clinton presidency, might come to the conclusion to vote for one of them to avoid the evils of the other, or might decide to follow MacIntyre’s advice and vote for neither.

      What they can’t do, and what I’m arguing against, is supporting either candidate uncritically. There is a very natural (but dangerous) tendency of rooting for your own candidate to such a degree that you become blind to, or even defensive of, their flaws. In the case of these two candidates, that’s particularly troubling.

      1. Joe, you say: “what I’m arguing against, is supporting either candidate uncritically…in the case of these two candidates, that’s particularly troubling.”

        Perfectly said. I agree 100%.

        However, you say supporting someone who supports torture and abortion is guilty of grave sin. It’s fair to say Hillary has been a supporter of abortion, as her voting record as Senator for 2 terms would show. Trump the businessman on the other hand, often says things for affect and to get the media going. We don’t REALLY know if he’d try to implement water boarding. And I feel if he did, his advisors would talk him out of it. And if not that, Congress would likely stop it. To me, supporting Trump doesn’t necessarily mean you’re supporting torture.

  27. USCCB calls a “difficult choice” in its Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship voters’ guide:

    Well, the hypocrisy here is of the sky writing kind in that it can be seen for hundreds of miles.

    It was not too log ago that the President and the Vice President of the USCCB were both guilty of knowingly admitting into seminaries active sodomitic pederasts and then permitting them to receive Holy Orders and it is well know that their Campaign for Human Development has, for a very long time, given money to pro abortion outfits.

  28. One of the problems with the USCCB voter guide is that it would eliminate any possiblity of a candidate who could do for America what Putin did for Russia.

    http://takimag.com/article/putin_1_internation_vampires_0_costin_alamariu#axzz4FuTNyh6i

    And when it comes to the USCCB, it should clean up its own house first for it has been bringing into this country unassimilable people, many of whom are Mahometans and that action constitutes stealth jihad.

    https://refugeeresettlementwatch.wordpress.com/tag/catholic-charities/

    The Mahometans completely eviscerated the welfare system in Lewiston, Maine – a safety net system erected by French Catholics (mainly) – and the Mahometnas, routinely send their acolytes around the country to find the best (easiest to qualify for and have the highness benefits) places for them to settle.

    The great Enoch Powell spoke about the first duty of statesmanship – the questions of preventable evils – and not voting for any candidate leaves the oligarchy in charge and Trump is the only man willing to confront it, mock it, challenge it, and strive to collapse it

  29. This problem is crystallized by the present situation is Lewiston, Maine, where African Muslims, many from the Bantu tribe, began arriving in 2001 at the rate of 100 a month.

    Mohammed Maye, the president of the African Community and Refugee Center in Clarkston, Georgia posted a map of Lewiston on the wall of his office. “Go to Maine,” he advised the Somali immigrants. Abdullahi Abdullahi, the president of the Somali Community Development Organization in Clarkston, upheld this advice by telling his fellow countrymen that, unlike Georgia, Maine has terribly cold winters, but “the welfare system is better.”

    Lewiston, indeed, was better. The small town in Maine with a population of 30,000 provided welfare to anyone in need, with the state picking up half the tab. Recipients, including the Muslim refugees, were allowed a generous five years of assistance before their benefits became terminated, and extensions for several additional years on the public dole were not difficult to obtain. Single parents could stay on welfare and go to college.

    Public housing was also available, although, with the influx of Somalis, the housing projects became packed to capacity. Many of the new project dwellers were single Somali mothers with large broods of children. Those who are unable to obtain public housing were handed Section 8 vouchers, which the federal government provided to subsidize their rent in private apartments. The northern city with its frigid climate became welfare heaven for the arrivals from the vast desert areas of northern Africa.

    The newcomers have shown scant interest in securing employment. When Renee Bernier, the president of the Lewiston city council, offered to hire 30 Somalis at the rate of $8 to $10 an hour to hold warning signs at construction sites, few displayed interest. The handful, who did apply, said that they were only willing to work between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

    The Somali population of Lewiston now exceeds 40,000.

    O, and the Somalis that moved into Lewiston brought there gangs with them and, thus, Maine now has a somali gang war on its hands in Lewiston and Portland and the USCCB lectures us how to vote?

  30. Most Catholics, including clergy, can’t differentiate Catholic subsidiary with State socialism. This explains why so many “Catholic” countries have become socialist and atheist. It also explains the left-ward trend in American politics following the mass immigration in the late 19th and early 20th century of the (mostly Catholic) Irish, Italian, Polish, and German immigrants.

    In Mater et Magestra Saint Pope John XXIII said
    “We especially point to the fact that the social teaching of the Catholic church is an integrating component of the Christian doctrine of mankind.” “For this reason it is especially important that Our children not only know the principles of the social doctrine but also be formed according to them.”

    Pope Pius XII had some incredible insight into the political problems confronting democratic people. His vision of a “world state” on the basis of federation is worthy of attention. His 1944 Christmas address, a year before the end of the war, he warned of the appearance of a purely formal democracy, which “serves only as a disguise for something wholly undemocratic.”

  31. God will put in place whom he needs to fulfill our destiny…and thats all there is to that…it has allways been such…

    1. 80M+ Chinese, 50M+ Russians, 7-8M Jews and Catholics in the 20th Century alone would probably disagree, if they could.

      That God can bring good from evil is unquestioned. However, it is shameful that we humans keep making Him do it — especially by ignoring Him. The least we can do is help Him out, rather than continually making Him clean up our messes.

  32. This has been a very useful discussion. When I made my first comment back on July 21st, I was planning on voting for “None of the Above” for President. After reading all of the arguments here, I’ll likely be voting Libertarian this November – not because I agree with them, and not because I think they have a snowball’s chance of winning, but because a large vote percentage for a third party may just shake up our system and ultimately lead to us having a True Choice at some point in the future. Both of our major parties are at this point broken, seemingly beyond repair. It’s time for both of them to go the way of the Whigs.

    1. … thus ensuring the election of Hillary Clinton and, thereby, perpetuating, for the foreseeable future, the morally-corrosive philosophy and behavior that she fosters and practices.

      Politicians do not listen, do not learn, and change cannot be effected, unless they are voted out of office — and, sometimes, they don’t even learn then.

      In my view, there is nothing that Donald Trump has done or said (and he has certainly said some pretty stupid and intolerable things) that are as morally offensive as those which Hillary Clinton has actually advocated and done.

      1. Phil,

        As you may have noticed by my moniker, I live in Maryland. Clinton is currently polling here at 63%, to Trump’s 28%. (Only little Rhode Island is more lopsidedly blue.) No matter whom I vote for, Clinton will with absolute certainty get my state’s 10 electoral votes. So I am free to use my vote as a messenger. And the message I wish to send is that our current Democratic and Republican Parties stink! I can’t send that message by voting for one of them.

  33. This article is entirely premised on two points about Trump: him saying he’d take out terrorist cell families — which, funnily enough, it doesn’t mention Hillary already having already killed terrorist families (google anything about the drone war or Libya) and fully intending to continue, how well informed can you be if you neglect that? — and waterboarding.

    Waterboarding is certainly debatable under the catechism, I think. It doesn’t normally physically harm someone, so whether it’s torture or not is kind of up for grabs. I don’t like it, but it has provided useful information (such as stopping the Chicago dirty bomb attempt). Torture is non-negotiable; waterboarding is not, since intelligent Catholics can debate it without incurring heresy.

    “Taking out families” is also a debateable considering these are terrorist cell families we’re talking about, and Catholic just war theory does not require surgical precision in avoiding civilian deaths. The SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden may have been able to merely tie up and detain the women and children while shooting the men (though how did they know all the men were combatants?) but if we were to go to war against the Islamic State (instead of this slow, ineffective airstrike war while trying to fund moderate jihadist groups to fight them for us) there will be civilian deaths.

    It’s unfortunate, but it is within Catholic social justice teaching. It may not be phrased as you like it, but it doesn’t have to be perfect to be better. It is more palatable to a Catholic than Hillary’s expansive war effort. Or – though some Catholics evidently prefer this (!) – Cruz’s reprehensible call to simply “carpet bomb the Middle East” and “make the sand glow.”

    The rest of the article is the “this election doesn’t really matter,” “it’s not that bad,” and “well, the USA will die someday,” rhetoric that is getting so tiresome. No. It is that bad. If it isn’t important, why are you talking about it? Why are you trying so hard to get people not to vote for Trump?

    1. “Why are you [Joe] trying so hard to get people not to vote for Trump?”

      Perhaps this is why:

      Trump is arrogant – a blowhard, and narcissistic. He is a bully and a boor, a name-caller and a belittler. He is thin-skinned and impulsive – quick to attack any and all who do not fawn all over him. Because of that, he cannot be trusted with the US military, and especially not with our nuclear arsenal. He displays every likelihood of retaliating with force to some perceived slight.

      He apparently has no self control – no inner voice telling him to keep silent when silence is appropriate. He displays a total lack of empathy for anyone.

      He has built his fortune on sin (rather like the Taliban who finance their “holy wars” by selling dope to the West). He is the builder of casinos and strip clubs, and sponsor of “beauty pageants”. Trump is a serial adulterer, who boasts of the fact! He would make (to use one of his favorite words) a “horrible” example to our children. (“Mommy, I hope to someday grow up to be just like President Trump!” If that doesn’t frighten you, then perhaps nothing can.)

      He has a track record of stiffing his contractors and scamming his customers (e.g., the Trump “University”).

      He shows a frightening admiration for tyrants and strongmen overseas, to include Putin, Kim Jong-Un, and even Saddam Hussein. And speaking of Putin, just what is in those tax returns? Is there an all-too-close relationship between Trump, Inc. and the Russian Oligarchy?

      The list of those he has insulted and marginalized in our society is long, and seems to grow by the day: Hispanics, Muslims, immigrants in general, Catholics, the disabled, women, overweight and/or “unattractive” people, veterans, prisoners of war, Gold Star families, “losers”.

      He shows no respect for the democratic process, calling for the imprisonment of his opponent and proactively declaring the election “rigged” in case it doesn’t go his way. How convenient! “If I win, the process was fair. But if I lose, it can only be because the fix was in.”

      And don’t get me started on Trump’s blasphemy (“my little cracker”), or his belief that he has no need for God’s forgiveness.

      Every Catholic voter of discernment ought to regard Trump as a Bad Man, totally unfit for the presidency.

      Now NONE of this should be construed to be an excuse for voting for Hillary Clinton. (I for one will certainly not be supporting her.) There are plenty of third party choices on offer this year, and it’s way past time we voters started looking elsewhere than our two seemingly-irretrievably broken major parties.

      1. Bob, good points about Trump. His style is that of a professional wrestling telecast. Personally, I think he knows a lot of people are yelling at the TV or rolling their eyes when he talks. I’m not suggesting that that style would make for a good President, but I think Trump is WAY more harmless than the media and left want you think he is.

        But why does it seem that Trump is getting most of the vitriol this election? The media and entertainment world is on a mountain top, screaming from a megaphone that Trump is a horrible, mean, vile, rotten scumbag. Meanwhile, Hillary, an equally-flawed candidate…albeit because of her past actions while holding very important roles of power in our government, rather than simply her style and personality….is now scanning home decor websites to pick out drapes for the White House.

  34. Jim,

    I believe that what you label “style” is unfortunately “substance” – it’s a window into how he would govern, and the picture ain’t pretty. So many pro-Trump commenters have latched onto his promise of appointing Supreme Court justices of a certain stripe. But considering how often he backtracks, redefines and downright contradicts himself, can we really believe anything he says? I can’t. Just yesterday I watched a clip where Trump claimed to have never met with Putin, which was followed by another clip from a few years ago of him talking about how much he enjoyed meeting with Putin. And that’s just one example. The man is a habitual liar, and almost certainly a pathological one. “Truth” to Trump is whatever serves his needs for the moment – to be discarded the instant it no longer does.

    I cannot agree with you on the idea that Clinton is somehow getting a pass from the media. If that were so, we’d never have heard of “her past actions while holding very important roles of power in our government” – and we hear about them all the time. How did you learn of them, if not from the media?

    Doesn’t matter to me, in any case. I ain’t votin’ for either one of ’em.

    1. Bob, I don’t plan on voting for either of them as well. Like Joe said above, I think both candidates are FAR from ideal.

      You wrote an 8-paragraph screed about Trump. He’s an easy target. But he hasn’t DONE anything yet.

      Hillary has extreme left views on abortion and has been in positions to ACT on them. There’s millions of questions about how her and Bill raised all their money over their years. There’s countless rumors about Bill’s infidelities and even Hillary’s infidelities. How many decades have they put on the facade of marriage, knowing they could be the leaders of the free world again? There’s been odd, coincidental deaths over the years of people against the Clintons. The behind-the-scenes political machine they’ve put together is mammoth, but I’d guess it’s at least as dirty and shady as anything Trump has ever been a part of. As Secretary of State, it could be argued our relationships in the Middle East have gotten a LOT worse. The e-mail scandal sheds a worrisome light on Hillary.

      Trump would certainly be a roll of the dice. But I don’t blame anybody taking the chance considering Hillary’s the other option.

  35. It’s alien vs predator. Both are awful choices. Trump is the opposite of the gospel (which makes him a type of antichrist) and Hilary is a killing machine.

  36. Trump, in his very first TV ad, cites as an authority the self-styled “Center for Immigration Studies”, a known hate group that advocates eugenics and the sterilization of minorities. It’s bad enough that Trump gets his campaign imagery from anti-Semitic websites, but to get his information from hate groups and then calling it “facts”, ought to be far more alarming.

    1. “Advocates eugenics and sterilization of minorities” — the principles on which Planned Parenthood, perhaps Clinton’s most enthusiastic supporter (and vice versa), was founded. Of course, now PP has refined it’s agenda to killing the pre-born (50M and counting), thus fulfilling that charter under the euphemism of women’s health and choice.

  37. Phil P. is absolutely correct. What I fail to understand is how people who recognize the evil in the Democratic platform fail so utterly to see it in everything that Trump says. Why do they give this Bad Man such a pass?

    And If you’ve been following my comments above, you’ll know that I am a supporter of neither major party candidate. I think either one will be Not Good for this country.

    1. Bob in Maryland’s question is a fair one. I’ll try to explain.

      For me, it is the difference between ‘shooting from the lip’ (Trump) and a calculated pattern of advocacy and support (Clinton) – the difference between words (as intemperate and as thoughtless as the might be), which can be (1) misquoted, (2) misrepresented, and (3) if actually stated, ameliorated by calmer heads and actions, which cannot be rescinded (again 50M+ aborted in the US, alone).

      While I do not condone shooting from the lip, and I do not like the nature of some of Trump’s commentary, I do think, with better advice, that can be changed. (Recent Trump behavior and comments indicate that might, indeed, be happening.) However, I detest and reject the nature and results of Clinton’s actions, and her years of public life demonstrate that she will not change. Her agenda is set, has been for quite some time, and has shown to be unalterable. The only things that change are the lies that she tells – they seem to get bigger. Perhaps she practices the philosophy that if you tell a big enough lie, people will believe it.

      Finally, let me expand on AK’s observation about CIS. Although I am unfamiliar with CIS’s agenda, it is faulty logic to assert that data cited by CIS is therefore as questionable, reprehensible, false, inaccurate, suspect, etc.. and that Trump thereby subscribes to their agenda. Perfectly good and valid data can be found at perfectly vile sources and, of course, vice versa.

      The question that must be asked and answered is: ‘Are the data and the conclusions drawn from them valid?’ In adequately answering that, there is a broad range of other questions that need to be asked and answered. It is not as easy as Candidate A cited Data. Those Data came from Site W. The purveyors of Site W espouse all sorts of vile and reprehensible stuff. Therefore, the Data are wrong and Candidate A is in league with the purveyors of Site W. Sadly, that is the ‘bumper-sticker/one-panel-political-cartoon mentality that appeals to the majority of voters, and it is to that level to which political discourse has sunk.

  38. Bob, where do you see any published advocacy of immigrant sterilization by CIS?? If you’re quoting Right-Wing Watch or the SPLC – both solid mouthpieces for the DNC – I’d say that makes those claims pretty tenuous. Linking that kind of thing to Trump is downright libelous, whereas the bedfellowing of Hillary to PP and the like – not to mention all that other baggage – runs at about a solid gigabit connection. You may not like Trump’s big mouth, but to draw moral equivalency here is bald relativism.

    You’re right on one thread of thought, the country that produced the likes of General George Marshall should do better, but given our current confused moral state, I am appalled but not surprised these are our choices.

  39. “where do you see any published advocacy of immigrant sterilization by CIS?”

    Nowhere. I heard it yesterday on the radio.

  40. EVER hillary. Unfortunately, Trump preferable. What makes waterboarding torture relative to someone else cutting off a person’s head?

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