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Why a Catholic CAN in good conscience vote for Trump (Part 2)

***UPDATE, 10/14/2016: This article was written prior to the recent tapes of Mr. Trump speaking crude and objectifying words against women. As a result of these revelations, I have decided I will not be as vocal in my defense of Donald Trump as I was previously. Such words can never be condoned, no matter how liberal and one-sided the media reporting has become. Nonetheless, I feel it also necessary to clarify that I will still be voting for Mr. Trump come November. A Trump presidency is clearly preferable to a Clinton presidency, whose platform stands is direct conflict with the Catholic Church. Not only is Mrs. Clinton and her cabinet anti-Catholic on principle, they are anti-Catholic in their hearts (confirmed by the recent email leaks), which proposes an even greater threat to the Church in America.***  

In the first part, we established the dignity of the human person and centrality of the abortion issue. We said it was so important, that it outweighs all other issues combined, including the death penalty, waterboarding, and the deportation of illegal immigrants. We then compared Mr. Trump’s pro-life platform to Mrs Clinton’s, and showed the stark differences between the two. We discussed the irrationality of speculating of the future, of whether Trump will follow through, or whether he will flip-flop, and established the primacy of judging based on facts of the present, that is,  on policy and platform. We also reminded our readers that the supreme court appointment(s) alone, has the potential to shape our country for decades, and since Trump intends to appoint Scalia-like justices, this in itself makes him stand out from Hillary in a very big way (remembering that Scalia was a champion of pro-life, the most pro-life justice on the court, who wanted to overturn Roe vs Wade). We also asked our readers to consider the type of people Trump surrounds himself with, such as Ben Carson and KellyAnne-Connway—another pro-life advocate—and remembered that these are the types of people that he will appoint to his cabinet. We also noted that the next President will choose a cabinet, an entire governmental staff that he appoints—literally hundreds of powerful leadership positions. And we asked our readers to consider whether an army of Hillarys’ in top government positions is what they wanted (because Hillary will no doubt appoint people like herself). We also pointed out that Planned Parenthood wants Catholics to stay home and not vote, and that it’s president, Cecile Richards, has publicly criticized Trump and supports Hillary. So we concluded that a non-vote from Catholics would play right into the hands of Planned Parenthood and the culture of death in America, guaranteeing widespread abortion funding and the proliferation of contraceptives in America.   

In this article, I would like to speak briefly on the matter of conscience, and in particular how conscience can be abused (or rather, neglected). But first, lets cover some basic moral principles that undecided Catholic voters should know;

 

CATHOLIC MORAL PRINCIPLES FOR UNDECIDED VOTERS (2016)

PRINCIPLE 1
First, it is morally permissible, when faced with two undesirable candidates, to choose the candidate that is least undesirable.*
*It is an error to believe that if a candidate is not perfect, then this constitutes a violation of conscience. This is only true when dealing with intrinsically evil acts, not with people. In other words, a Catholic cannot in good conscience commit a lesser evil to prevent a greater evil from transpiring. But he can–and should–choose a lesser bad candidate to prevent a greater bad candidate from taking office. And in fact, he has a civil duty to do so, because no candidate is ever perfect (unless he be without sin), and it is thus always a matter of choosing the least undesirable person/platform.
PRINCIPLE 2
If choosing neither candidate (i.e., not voting) directly aids the worst candidate in getting elected, then it is preferable to vote, so as to avoid the worst result.
*In other words, a non-vote for one candidate, in our current system, is essentially a vote for the other. Morally speaking, one cannot excuse oneself from voting by hiding behind conscience. Since no two platforms are exactly alike (and no two people are exactly the same), there will always be a more favorable and less favorable candidate, if one takes the time to study the issues. Catholics ultimately have a civil and moral duty to vote based on an informed conscience.
PRINCIPLE 3
When judging a candidate, it is necessary to judge based on facts of the present, rather than on speculation of the future. Precedence should thus be given to the candidates policies and platform (i.e., their word and promises), rather than guessing their intentions. Catholic morality always errs on the side of charity, it trusts people on their word, admits that people can change and grow. As far as is reasonable, it avoids judging the heart of an individual—for not even the Church has judged the heart of anyone—or speculating on their sincerity.
*Americans tend to be more critical, skeptical, and opinionated than other countries. Catholics need to learn how to think like a Catholic again, which means thinking with charity. A Catholic should always give a candidate the benefit of the doubt–despite what he may have done 30 years ago–rather than try to guess at whether he may flip-flop or break his promises. This should be true for anyone, unless the person has demonstrated a clear and habitual pathology (I mean, not just what the media dramatizes in order to get a story, but real facts of a pattern of vice).
PRINCIPLE 4
If one candidate provides the certainty of evil consequences, whereas the other provides only the possibility of evil consequences, then it is morally obligatory to choose the policy with only the possibility of doing evil, rather than the certainty of it. If, on the other hand, both candidates promise evil consequences, then it is necessary to use proportionality in order to determine which will result in the least amount of ill-effect.
*For example, a policy that causes the death of 1,000 lives is more evil than a policy that causes the death of 10, though both are morally reprehensible.
PRINCIPLE 5
The dignity of the human person is greater than all the rest of creation combined. Thus, anything that violates this dignity is considered an evil of the highest order. Murder of the innocent, in particular, ranks highest on this scale. The shear scale and gravity of this evil puts abortion in a class of its own. One policy that directly causes the loss of innocent human life is more evil than ten policies that directly cause the loss of guilty human life, which is more evil than fifty policies that cause harm to human life, which is more evil than two-hundred policies that inconvenience human life. Thus, the least undesirable candidate is necessarily also the least pro-abortion candidate.
*Catholics are thus morally obliged to vote for the more anti-abortion candidate, so as to prevent the more pro-abortion candidate from entering office. If both candidates are against abortion, then Catholics can consider other issues like the death penalty, waterboarding, and illegal immigration. But as long as candidates support abortion, then Catholics have no choice; they are morally obliged to vote on the abortion issue alone.   

 

The last principle above is especially important. If one has been following Catholic media during this election season, and listening to Catholic leaders weigh in, one would get the impression that, while the abortion issue is paramount, there are still other issues that Catholic voters should consider in making a decision. According to them, when one takes everything into consideration, then the choice is not as clear as it seems.

I must stress how contrary to Catholic morality this is.

The choice is actually quite clear. But our Catholic leaders have failed to bring clarity to the issues, thus leaving Catholics somewhat confused. On the one hand, there is one issue that dwarfs everything else. And yet on the other, other issues should be considered when voting. Is it any wonder why many Catholics have been left discouraged from voting? Our leaders have led Catholics to believe that “neither [candidate] is clearly better than the other.” And so ultimately, many Catholics are planning on staying home in November and not voting altogether, thus aiding the election of Hillary Clinton.

How Conscience has been Abused in America

You cannot tell someone to follow their conscience, but then fail to help inform their conscience. This, ultimately, has been the failure of our Catholic leaders.

While it is true that Catholics are obliged to follow their consciences (since, as Saint Thomas Aquinas explains, conscience is our best judgement of right and wrong in actions; everyone is therefore obliged to follow it), Catholics are also obliged to form their consciences as well.  A Catholic cannot simply say, “my conscience says I cannot vote for Trump,” while neglecting to study the issues and grow into a better human being. Conscience, after all, is a judgement. And judgment can be right, and it can be wrong. It is the responsibility of all people to develop their judgement, to hone it, and sharpen it, so that their conscience can work properly. This requires growth of the whole person, i.e., not just intellectual study, but also spiritual formation as well. It requires a growth in wisdom, and virtue. In short, holiness, and everything it entails. This requires an active sacramental life, daily Mass, and adoration; it requires seeking to understand the mind of the Church in her popes, and diving into the writings of the saints; it requires becoming a perpetual student of the Church, absorbing her mind, studying her history, and loving the richness of her tradition. Only then will a conscience begin to work properly in a person. Only then will conscience be able to judge rightly, to discern good where it exists, and discern evil where it exists.

And this, I fear, is where our Catholic leaders have failed Catholics in America. They have failed to help form their consciences. And for this reason, Catholics are unable to judge rightly in the most basic matters. They are unable, for example, to judge the character of people; and thus cannot seem to get past Trump’s rough outer edges, to see a person who overall has good intentions. Nor are they grounded enough not to be influenced by the ferocity of the media, which conflates Trump’s abrasiveness to make him appear like a racist buffoon (This not to say that Trump is a saint. He has his flaws. But one must at least know how to distinguish personally from character. I feel sorry for people with abrasive personalities, because our country has shown that it does not know how to see past appearances. He grew up during an era where macho locker-room speech was the norm. But this does not make him a sexist or a racist).

The Catholic Church in America is a sleeping giant. Catholics compose nearly 25% of the total population. If Catholics only voted according to Catholic principles, for the most pro-life candidate, then this giant would rise up and be a force for good in the political landscape. But Catholics have consistently voted for pro-abortion candidates. And in fact, Catholics have voted in nearly every president since Roosevelt. So, ultimately, there is no difference between the Catholic vote and the rest of the world. This is why presidential candidates largely ignore Catholics. They know that Catholics are split down the middle, and thus wield no voting power whatsoever (in the 2008 election, for example, 51% of Catholics voted for Obama, and 49% of Catholics voted for Romney). As long as we remain split, we will be ignored.

(Hollywood + Media + Europe + Planned Parenthood)

vs.

(Trump + Christians)

Which side do you think Catholics fall on? Yes, Catholics have joined with our secular anti-Christian culture in opposing Trump. They have joined ranks with “the world” (in the bad sense of the word). Think about it. Why is it that most anti-religious cultures, and most secular atheistic societies loathe Trump so much? As Kellyanne Conway (pro-life advocate and head of Trump’s campaign) observed, “it’s become socially desirable…to say that you’re against Donald Trump.”

  • Almost all of Europe is unanimously against Trump. (Europe. The atheist continent with empty churches). Just watch the BBC, or talk a European, and you will be immediately assailed with the same narrative as the mainstream media.
  • Everyone in Hollywood loathes Trump. (Hollywood. The elitist anti-Christian pop culture). If you’re a Hollywood actor and Trump supporter, you are an endangered species. Say goodbye to your career. Everyone in Hollywood just assumes that everyone else should be a Clinton supporter. And even keeping silent is suspect. If you simply refrain from weighing in, like Talyor Swift has, then the media will start going after you and painting you as a closet Trump supporter, as they are doing with Taylor Swift.
  • The Mainstream Media attacks Trump with shameless ferocity. It has become a debacle of a spectacle to watch. MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, Washington Post, and the New York Times, all continually screaming one message. Even Chris Cuomo, anchor at CNN, publicly admitted “We couldn’t help [Hillary] anymore than we have. You know, she’s just got a free ride so far from the media and we’re the biggest ones promoting her campaign.” And Catholics are buying into it; they are unable to see past the media bias, to cut through the virulent anti-Trump reporting.
  • Planned Parenthood and the culture of death hates Trump, and her president, Cecile Richards, denounced Trump at the Democratic National Convention, urging voters to support Hillary.

To Recognize Evil Where it Exists

And remember, a well-formed conscience not only sees good where it exists, but also sees evil where it exists as well. It will be able recognize the long trail of Hillary’s deception and poor judgement, and see her for what she is; a person without a conscience. I cannot tell you, for example, how many times I’ve heard people virulently defend Hillary’s protection of a rapist on the grounds that “she was doing her duty as a lawyer.” The shear number of people who have accepted this excuse, to me, is evidence that most people in our country do not have a well-formed conscience. Otherwise, they would be able to instinctively recognize the evil of such actions. As an adult woman, and self-proclaimed advocate for women, Hillary should have done everything in her power to protect the little girl. And yes, this begins by not taking the case, despite whatever consequences may occur. Laws, after all, are man-made. Some are bad, and need to be changed. But instead, she defended the 41 year-old rapist of a 12 year-old girl, and got his sentence reduced to just two months in prison. What makes matters worse, her arguments were an even greater affront, arguing that the girl was from a dysfunctional family and seeking attention. In other words, Hillary didn’t just drag her feet through the case (which she could have at least done). She went all-in with no moral restraint whatsoever, even blaming the victim for the rape (Can you imagine being cross-examined in court and being told you, a 12 year-old girl, are responsible for your rapists crime?). The girl had to have stitches in the hospital, and was left barren. There was both blood and semen evidence. And yet, in the end, Clinton got a rapist to go free. And if that isn’t bad enough, when speaking about the case year later, Mrs. Clinton casually joked about it (an audio recording that is freely available anywhere on the internet) without any signs of remorse for the victim.

As I have said before, there is nothing in Trump’s history that comes close to this degree of evil. Was he once pro-choice? Yes. But he has changed, and has disavowed his past. Hillary on the other hand, has shown no potential for human growth. And perhaps she has even shown the very opposite. If there could be a bigger sign for Catholics to do everything they can to prevent Mrs. Clinton from getting elected, I do not know what it is. I am reminded of the classical definition of insanity, “to be out of touch with reality.” When people begin calling evil good, and good evil, are we not out of touch with reality? Are we not insane?

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