Monday, May 30, 2016

Hillary? Trump? Catholics have other options

Donald Trump has the delegates he needs for the Republican nomination. Hillary Clinton is edging closer to the Democratic nomination, despite the best efforts of Bernie Sanders.

Unless there's a sudden last-minute unexpected twist - or an indictment - it will likely be Clinton vs. Trump in November.

For Catholics, both choices are problematic.

Clinton's extremist position on abortion and her positions on other moral issues make her totally unacceptable.

As for Trump, he's paying lip service to moral issues - but given his history on these issues, and his tendency to say whatever it takes to seal a deal, it's highly questionable where he is actually going to lead the nation. And he has spouted some truly objectionable or unrealistic positions on other issues that should make us pause.

So what's a Catholic to do?

Vote third party.

Yes, there are those who say we should vote Trump if only because there's a chance he will actually keep his promises. And a major issue is the Supreme Court. Hillary is likely to nominate candidates who will keep the culture of death and immorality in place. Trump is at least saying he will nominate judges who might change the downward direction of the nation. There's no guarantee that he will, or that once on the Court a justice will rule the right way, but it's more likely than with almost anyone Hillary appoints.

For Catholics who live in states where there might actually be a contest that might be a factor to consider. The old voting for the lesser evil - or voting to lessen the evil - arguments might come into play. (Though I still contend that the voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil - and this time around, both major party candidates are just so objectionable.)

But for most of us, that simply is not the case.

First, remember that it is not popular vote that decides who will be President. It is electoral votes, and how many such votes the states have vary based on population. One can win the majority of the popular vote , and even the majority of states, yet still lose the election.

Now if you look back at presidential elections over the last few decades, in the majority of states the candidate of one party or the other almost always wins the state. Take my state, New York. The Democratic candidate has overwhelmingly won the last 7 presidential elections. In California, the largest state with the most electoral votes, the Democratic candidate has won the last 6 elections. On the other hand, Texas has gone to the Republican candidate the last 9 elections.

There are realistically only a few states with enough electoral votes to be significant that could go one way or the other. Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are the ones most often mentioned. One's vote might make a difference in those states. For the rest of us, our votes basically don't count. In New York, I could votes 10,000 times for the Republican candidate - were I so inclined - and the Democratic candidate would still win. Heck, in 2012, I could have voted one million times for Mitt Romney, and President Obama still would have won!

So unless we live in one of the few swing states, for most of us, we are free to vote third party or for write-in candidates. We can vote our consciences freely.

At the moment, there appear to be two possible options.

Joe Schriner, a Catholic who holds positions in line with Catholic teachings on every issue, has run several times before and announced he is running again this year. [JUNE 8 UPDATE: SCHRINER HAS INDICATED HE IS SUSPENDING HIS CAMPAIGN.]

There is also now a political party whose platform is in line with Catholic teachings, the American Solidarity Party. The party, which began in 2011, endorsed Schriner back in 2012, but this July is having an online convention at which it is hoping to nominate a candidate who is a member of the party.

So, for many of us who live in states where our vote doesn't matter, we can vote for Schriner, or we can vote for the American Solidarity Party candidate in good conscience. We would be voting for someone with whom we agree, and we don't have to worry about swinging the election to a candidate we find completely objectionable.

The good thing about the ASP is that it is new and has room to grow - a centrist party would be a welcome thing in this country, as opposed to the extremism of the two main parties or most of the third parties. Who knows, if one of the major parties does indeed splinter and essentially die as some pundits say might happen, the ASP could become one of the main parties - that's what happened with the Republicans just before the Civil War.

If the American Solidarity Party successfully nominates someone in July, I will likely vote for that person. It could be Schriner, for that matter. He certainly would get my vote if the ASP does not come up with someone.

Again, if I lived in one of the swing states, I might be tempted to vote differently (though I suspect I would still vote ASL or Schriner). But I don't - and most Catholics don't. So we are free to vote for someone who is not the "lesser of evils."

We can actually vote for a good candidate.

Imagine that.

Pax et bonum

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