Deal Hudson: "Barack Obama and the Non-Negotiables"
Deal Hudson writes at InsideCatholic:
... Barack Obama's record puts him on the extreme wing of the abortion movement, and has already been labeled by one critic as the “infanticide candidate.” Despite this, polls show Obama gaining traction with Catholic voters, and Catholics in general are trending toward the Democratic Party.My Comments:
Barack Obama’s stances on life and marriage issues are simply antithetical to Catholic social teaching. From the beginning of his candidacy, this has been Obama’s greatest vulnerability in attracting Catholic voters (“Why Barack Obama Will Not Win the Catholic Vote” 1/7/08). In the primary fight against Hillary Clinton, for example, Catholic resistance to Obama’s candidacy was obvious from the election numbers (“Obama's Catholic Problem” 2/27/08).
Only with the departure of Senator Clinton from the campaign has Obama picked up steam with Catholic voters. Clinton will surely use her clout with Catholics to help the Democratic nominee, which will help break down the resistance of blue-collar white Catholics to an Obama candidacy.
Obama’s breakthrough moment with Catholics came with the surprising endorsement of Prof. Doug Kmiec, a well-known pro-life Catholic jurist who served under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush (“Preacher Man: Barack Obama and the Gospel of Liberalism” 2/17/09). Kmiec’s reasons for supporting him echo those of Obama Catholics in general -- the positions of the GOP on the war in Iraq, fighting poverty, health care, and immigration are so objectionable that they feel justified in supporting Obama (“Doug Kmiec and the Lure of Obama” 2/20/08).
Kmiec’s position has been picked up by various Obama-friendly organizations devoted to influencing Catholic voters (“Catholics Organize to Elect Barack Obama" 4/2/08). Their strategy is obvious: Obama’s Catholics will do everything they can to avoid the infanticide question -- along with all that it symbolizes -- and will try to foster a moral equivalence between their positions on prudential matters and the non-negotiable life issues (“How Obama's Catholics Will Dodge the Infanticide Problem” 5/12/08).
The debate among Catholics then, is whether this list of prudential policy issues trumps the obligation taught by the Church toward protecting unborn life and families based upon the marriage of a man and a woman...
It's perfectly reasonable to point out that Obama is out of step with Catholic teaching by his falling short on the non-negotiable issues. In my mind, Obama's stances on those issues disqualify him from receiving my vote, and SHOULD disqualify him from receiving the vote of any Catholic (notice I don't say "MUST").
However, Obama's failings regarding the non-negotiables does not translate into "Therefore, you should vote for John McCain", which is where I believe Hudson would like to go with his line of argument (although he doesn't do that in this particular piece). Fr. Martin Fox amply demonstrates the reason you can't use the non-negotiable stick this election year to drum up support on behalf of McCain: McCain himself is in violation of Catholic teaching regarding the non-negotiables via his position in favor of destructive embryonic stem-cell research.
If you're going to argue that a candidate's violating the non-negotiables makes supporting that candidate untenable, then NEITHER of the major party candidates is acceptable. I'll grant that McCain is BETTER overall on the non-negotiables (although, again, as Fr. Fox points out, "what significance should a morally serious Catholic voter give to the credibility of the 'more prolife' candidate's promises?"), but that's a different argument altogether than the one those focusing on the non-negotiables would like to make. At this point, we're left with the prudential analysis of which candidate is the lesser of grave evils. But the very fact that one must engage in that prudential analysis gives lie to the notion that one MUST vote for a particular candidate over the other.
As I've stated previously on this topic,
IF I decide to hold my nose and pull the lever for John McCain this November - and that's a VERY BIG IF - it wil ONLY be because I find the prospect of a President Obama "sign[ing] the FOCA, repeal[ing] the DOMA, repeal[ing] the Hyde Amendment, end[ing] the Mexico City policy, fund[ing] abortions at the federal level through Medicare, on military bases, through the UN, [etc.]" to be untenable.
It WON'T be because I'm foolish enough to believe that John McCain will nominate another Roberts or Alito to the Court (he won't) or will expend one ounce of effort or political capital to advance the cause of protecting the unborn (again, he won't). A vote for McCain is simply a vote to minimize the damage that will be done to the pro-life cause should Obama be elected.
For many (like myself), that MIGHT be a good enough reason to vote for John McCain; but I can truly understand why it might not be good enough for others.
Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Fr. Fox on "For Whom Can I Vote" [UPDATED]
Doesn't He Have a Point?