Saturday, March 29, 2008

An Argument for Abstaining

I tried to fast from politics during Lent. I did an okay job. I am glad for the attempt though. Lent and the Triduum are infinitely more important than the shenanigans of Hillary, Barack and John.

But now Lent is over and so I am back in the saddle. I begin my re-engagement with politics with an essay by Alasdair MacIntyre on abstaining -- from voting that is. He wrote this piece for the 2004 election, however, I find it intriguing in the face of the '08 election. I would love to have some friendly discussion about it.

Here is an excerpt:

When offered a choice between two politically intolerable alternatives, it is important to choose neither. And when that choice is presented in rival arguments and debates that exclude from public consideration any other set of possibilities, it becomes a duty to withdraw from those arguments and debates, so as to resist the imposition of this false choice by those who have arrogated to themselves the power of framing the alternatives. These are propositions which in the abstract may seem to invite easy agreement. But, when they find application to the coming presidential election, they are likely to be rejected out of hand. For it has become an ingrained piece of received wisdom that voting is one mark of a good citizen, not voting a sign of irresponsibility. But the only vote worth casting in November is a vote that no one will be able to cast, a vote against a system that presents one with a choice between Bush's conservatism and Kerry's liberalism, those two partners in ideological debate, both of whom need the other as a target.

Read it all here.

HT to CrunchyCon Blog.


#Debi said...

I have to tell you that I am seriously considering this alternative myself this fall. It seems obvious that in the primary I will have no one to vote for. It's becoming increasingly apparent that that will be the case in November as well.

The only problem I have with abstaining is that, in the event that I feel that none of the choices presented are appropriate, then my vote (or lack thereof) becomes for me more of a message to the parties that they need to present a better candidate next time. The parties have in the past seen mass abstention as apathy on the part of the voters, that the voters don't really care who runs the country. I'm hoping for a good 3rd party candidate to arise, or for someone whom I can write in. At least then perhaps whoever wins will be less able to claim a "mandate".

Peter said...

Good points.

There is always a voice in me that tells me to vote just because of the radical rarity it is in human history for everyday people to have a say in government -- even if I don't like any of the choices.

Do you feel the same tension?

Alice C. Linsley said...

I'm inclined to agree. However, the reality of our system is that not voting is voting. When one doesn't vote against one, it is as if one casts a vote for the other. So, I say pick the lesser of the evils and pray hard!

Also, remember that half of what you read in the media about liberal candidates is meaningless and half of what you read about conservative candidates is misleading or distorted. Is McCain chomping at the bit to take on the war in Iraq as the next Commander-in-Chief of the US Armed Forces? Is his military experience so dominated by his POW captivity as to color his leadership? How well will Omaba fill that role, given his relative inexperience with the military? How will the military respond to Hillary, whose husband dodged the draft but pushed for military pay raises? It is clear that if you want answers to such questions you'll have to do the research for yourself, 'cause the media ain't asking.

#Debi said...

@Pete: Maybe, but I think it's mostly (for me) that I actually care where we go as a country, and hope that my vote will help make a difference.

@Alice: I'm not overly concerned about Iraq this time around. If one of the Democrats win, it's unlikely that they will pull out, because they don't want that as part of their "legacy". If McCain wins, he's savvy enough militarily to know that to bring the troops home prematurely will just undo all the progress we've made there. Then it really would be just like Vietnam. I'm more concerned about where ALL of the candidates stand in regards to domestic policy. Hillary and Obama both scare me to death with their socialist agendas, and McCain seems, well, a bit spineless on domestic issues.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Debi, I'm concerned about Iraq because my soldier son returned from 14 months there in August and may have to go back.

I agree that Hillary and Obama want to take America in a Socialist direction which hasn't worked well in any country. Not economically and most especially not in the areas of education, civil liberties and biblical morality.

Ed said...

Personally, I'm thinking I may find a third party candidate and vote for him/her: thus showing that I find my mainstream options intolerable but that I and not one of the more than half of the American population that simply will not be bothered to vote.

#Debi said...

Alice, thank your son on my behalf for his service. Having had a father, brother, and ex-husband in the military, I know what a sacrifice that can be. I will pray for him.

Alice C. Linsley said...

I will do so, Debi. Thanks for praying for Joshua (married with 2 little boys).