I have a confession to make. I haven't been this interested in an election since 2000.
I'm going to assume that, barring extraordinary events, we will have a race between John McCain and Barack Obama. That could shape up to be a very interesting race.
Eight years ago, I was captivated and inspired by John McCain. I loved (and ate up) the message of the "Straight Talk Express" and I saw his defeat in the primaries as, essentially, a defeat of the two-party system and of democracy. Yes, I really was that gung-ho.
The last eight years have shown me another side of McCain that has left a very bad taste in my mouth. McCain, the lapdog of George W. Bush; McCain, the first talking-head on every news station declaring war; McCain, whose commitment to an anti-abortion platform always seemed merely obligatory. And more recently, I was introduced to McCain, the two-faced politician, the absolute antithesis of everything I liked about him in 2000.
Four years ago I, like many Americans, had a political crisis of conscience on the issue of abortion. The Vatican has since released a series of helpful moral teaching on the matter, but whereas this teaching has simplified the issue in the minds of many Catholics, for me, the teachings make things even more complex.
The hub of the complexity is the definition of "proportionate reasons," the phrase used by then-Cardinal Ratzinger to describe instances where a civil servant could be legitimately voted for, even if he or she supported positions that contradicted the "non-negotiables" of Catholic social teaching. Something that I brought up four years ago in my arguments, and that I return to now, is that part of the "proportionate reasons" for voting for a Democrat in the US might be as a vote-of-no-confidence in the Republican candidate to *be* an effective force for issues involving human dignity and the upholding of the family.
Yet even what that means runs into difficulties. As much as I now dislike and distrust McCain, there can be no denying that a Democrat president and congress together would systematically dismantle the last remaining vestiges of the defense of the unborn, and limitations on abortion that Republicans, whatever their flaws, have barely managed to salvage. Could a Catholic tolerate such great setbacks; could there be a "proportionate reason" for doing so? Is even the desire not to elect a scoundrel enough reason to vote for a man who may more honest, but who honestly opposes every authentically Christian anthropology?
nota bene - what I fear most is a president and a congress who are both left-wing.
What the last administration has shown us is that, even under the most favorable circumstances, the Republican party is either unable or unwilling to fight abortion as much as they say they are. A big reason for this is that the party itself is divided on the issue. Republican control has been quite pleased to maintain a watery status-quo while its attention was focused on more "important" issues (i.e., issues the Repubs can agree about and thus expose less of their inner weakness).
Democratic control, however, has been more vocallyand unanimously opposed to the status quo, only in the opposite direction. Even if congress was technically controlled by republicans, that is no gaurantee that it would not send up the most vile anti-life legislation to be signed by Barack Obama.
Thus, what I am left with this year is not a choice between a pro-life and a pro-abortion candidate; but rather a choice for a weak and tepid status quo governed by a dishonest man, or the risk of tragic and nigh-unrecoverable losses under the watch of an earnest and idealistic one.
"Proportion" is a concept I need to return to.