This is a discussion between my good friend P.J. Delnay and I. I was bored in class so I posed a question to him about voting. I hope you find the following dialogue both enriching and enjoyable. Please sip coffee or tea as you read, and maybe enjoy a croissant or a biscuit.
This should shake everyone up a bit.
Ben- What does it mean to vote? What is a vote?
P.J.- A ‘vote’ is a tally.
Ben- What does that tally represent?
P.J.- An opinion.
Ben- Does it bear any responsibility in its results?
P.J.- Individually, perhaps. Universally among those who vote, of course.
Ben- What are the individual ramifications of that responsibility after a vote is cast?
P.J.- You bear the results of a democracy and the opinions of your representative.
Ben- Possible example to help me understand: I vote for Obama, Obama passes laws allowing Doctors to abort babies; babies who would have lived are aborted (murdered). Am I responsible for those deaths?
P.J.- The illustration demonstrates the value of checking the views and opinions of your representatives. If you voted them into office are you responsible? Ultimately, yes.
Ben- Excellent. What if a person running for office holds views that you both agree and disagree with? How does one vote then?
P.J.- Some argue to chose the lesser of two evils.
Ben- Is that like choosing to bear responsibility for less evil, simply to avoid bearing greater evil? Can’t there be another choice?
P.J.- Some reason yes. You can abstain from voting or run yourself. Just realize that there is still wisdom in saving a life whenever possible.
Ben- Is abstaining a real choice for avoiding responsibility?
P.J.- As far as the definition of ‘choice’ is concerned, yes.
Ben- Is it a viable stance that resists ‘wrong’, as the individual understands it?
P.J.- No, the action may carry on without your input, but you will have little right to argue against their decisions.
Ben- By not voting, one has no authority for saying an elected official is right or wrong- what if an individual who doesn’t vote supports anti-abortion clinics with time and money? Would that person have a right?
P.J.- A right to…?
Ben- A right to say an elected official’s choice to support abortion is wrong.
P.J.- And now we touch on natural law and morality. Why don’t you tell me?
Ben- If I don’t vote, I am not resisting what I believe to be wrong. There must be further action on my part that replaces my unfulfilled responsibility to care for the poor, orphans, widows, defenseless, sick, etc. and stand for justice.
P.J.- If I’m understanding you right, I agree.
Ben- So then (I am only half-sold on this so far) it can be said that if there are no politicians who hold stances we completely agree with, it would be irresponsible to vote.
P.J.- I disagree. I feel as warriors for good we should hamper evil wherever we can.
Ben- But we agreed that voting for someone with evil views creates a responsibility for those actions- even if there is more good than evil. In that case hampering evil would best be accomplished by not voting and resisting evil in other forums with other methods.
P.J.- If it would halt the election, yes, but someone has to be placed in office.
Ben- If we don’t vote are we still responsible for those who are elected?
P.J.- Yes, although your silence may allow another Hitler to rise. (That’s an extreme example.)
Ben- If one is still responsible then can that responsibility be fulfilled by resistance of their decisions and actions? Such as a German who resists Nazis by hiding Jews? (Also extreme example)
P.J.- Yes. If say there are two Hitlers running, would I vote? Most likely not, but at that point I would already pursue the resistance.
Ben- Therefore, if there are two running officials for President and neither holds stances that are perfect (as the individual defines perfect) than it is not responsible to vote for one of them as that makes that individual responsible for what they believe to be evil. They say something is evil and yet support it. Instead, they should not vote and fulfill their responsibility by finding ways to resist evil and support good.
Class ended here, so we had to stop our conversation for the time being.