Yet another election and once again we have Jim Hughes of the Campaign Life Coalition trotting out his voting season mantra: "Vote for the man or woman always, not the party."
And once again Catholic pro-lifers find ourselves on opposite sides of the tennis court serving, lobbing and slamming strong opinions back at each other on this topic.
Jim would have us voting for darlin' old Mathilda Higginbottom from the Old Cronies for Life party in a riding where she'll be lucky to garner 0.00125% of the vote -- and then find ourselves watching a pro-abort, pro-euthanasia, pro-stem-cell-research, anti-born-alive-act dude or dudette from the NDP, Liberal, or Green party claim the seat and potentially be in a position to enact legislation that reflects a skewed moral compass.
While I greatly appreciate the tenacious dedicated work of Jim Hughes, I have strongly disagreed with him over the years on his voting credo. My views are not as much rooted in my experience in Canadian politics and the pro-life movement as they are in Catholic church teaching on proportionate reasons, and the written opinions of Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life.
Here is what Fr. Pavone writes concerning pro-lifers and the upcoming US elections:
A vote is not a philosophical statement. It is a transfer of power. It is a pragmatic act to preserve, as much as possible under the circumstances, the common good, and to limit the evils that threaten it.
And in the pragmatic matter of elections, what matters is not how closely a candidate measures up to my preferences and convictions. Instead, it’s a question of who can and will actually get elected. It does little good if the person I felt most comfortable supporting doesn’t get to actually govern and implement those positions I like so much.
The vote can be used just as much to keep someone out of office as to put someone in.
If we fail to use that tool, however, and as a result the person who gets elected is far worse and does far more damage than the other person we did not like, then we still share responsibility for the damage that will be done.
[When] the general election season arrives ... we may find that we don’t like any of the names on the ballot. At that point, we have to shift our thinking and focus on “better” rather than “best.” The reality usually is that one of several unsatisfactory candidates will in fact be elected. So we use our vote to create the better outcome and to limit the damage. That’s the shift that some fail to make.
Mr. Hughes and others at the otherwise valuable Lifesite News insist that the Conservative party is a disappointment, for it had not been pro-life in action while it held a minority, and still will not promise to address pro-life issues if a majority is gained. The CLC crew is right. The Tories have been a disappointment on social conservative issues.
I sense that Mr. Hughes and others feel that those of us who oppose his dictum, "Vote for the man or woman always, not the party", are naive dreamers, expecting the unexpected from the Tories. The fact is that many of us who oppose Mr. Hughes stance are not necessarily fans of the Conservative party as much as we are foes of the Liberals, the NDP, and the Bloc. These three parties actively promoting left-leaning agendas which fly in the face of Catholic teaching are the greater evil, and we have a duty to vigorously prevent them from coming to power. One has only to look at the Liberal agenda in the last years of Liberal government to know the anti-moral, anti-life paths they planned for Canadian citizens.
While a Conservative minority or majority may or may not be the ideal (we still have not seen them three years into a majority), at least we would not have a Dion or Ignatieff or Rae or Layton in power actively imposing shortsighted immoral, anti-life legislation on us.
In 2008 posting updates of how federal candidates stand on life issues, the CLC lists the NDP as a party with a pro-abortion platform. At the same time the CLC insists we must vote for a pro-life candidate. It means if there is a riding where all the candidates are pro-abortion, yet the NDP candidate lists him/herself as pro-life, then we are obligated to vote for that candidate. Absurd. And it flies in the face of Fr. Pavone's advice: "So we use our vote to create the better outcome and to limit the damage."In his short essay, "And what I have failed to do", http://www.priestsforlife.org/columns/columns2008/08-02-25-what-i-have-failed-to-do.htm Fr. Pavone talks of seasons. In these seasons, we can and should build up pro-lifery, but in the meantime we have a dire responsibility to prevent greater evils from swallowing our God-given rights.
Since 1970 there have been three to five million abortions in Canada. That is about 10% of our population. In the US the number is staggering - over 50 million abortions during the same time period. Prior to the US election, dozens of bishops are standing tall in their ambos proclaiming boldly and urgently - enough is enough!
In Canada, we Catholic pro-lifers have a mandate right now to stop the Liberals, NDP, and the Greens by voting Conservative, the only party with the chance to [at the least] prevent implementation of the three Canadian left-wing party agendas which actively promote abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem-cell research and who refuse to support the Unborn Victims of Violence Bill. It may mean some of us will have to hold our noses to vote in some instances, but this happen to be where we are right now in the long slow tedious battle for the rights of the unborn, and the rights of all Canadians from womb to tomb.