Friday, May 25, 2018

Define Your Terms: Pet Peeve Edition

"every day"--tells you that some occurrence happens each day, e.g. "I walk by this school every day."
"everyday"--an adjective modifying some noun that tends to connote "commonplace" or "ordinary," e.g. "As an engineer, he had trouble grasping the nuances of everyday conversation."

These two uses, though bearing some close relationship to each other, are in fact not the same.

Thank you, and good day.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Vote For The Democrat? Under These Conditions

You know, I made a huge mistake in 2008, in my thought process for presidential voting. I was dead-right about most of the positive things regarding Barack Obama that I spoke or wrote about him. The bad things are deadly grave. And the truth is, I didn't give those things enough weight. I wasn't Catholic. Had I been, I'm not sure what I would have done. I know I would have been fairer to John McCain.

Anyway, we're at the point now where, even if the Democratic Party is more fervently committed to graver evils, it's not at all clear that casting a vote for a Democratic nominee is out of the question, precisely because the Republican Party platform is out of step with our ethics, also. To be clear, it is important to maintain that not all evils carry equal weight, either in this thought process, or in a straightforward look through the eyes of moral theology: acts according to their object, intention, and circumstances. However, if a candidate's ideology countenances enough non-intrinsic evils, the good that may be done by his or her opposition to abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, et cetera, may be dwarfed by the evil. So it is with Trump, in the policies he promotes, the way he promotes them, and the damage his lack of virtue does to the public square. I chose to abstain, because even as Secretary Clinton should have been indicted--the reasoning for not doing so is incoherent--and promoted grave evils arguably with more fervor than anyone prior--she was still the better choice, in my opinion.

A brief personal note, with some bluntness: "It's all about the policy!" I was told by many friends. If that's true, the choice isn't in your favor, my friends, even then. Someone should say it.

Lots of people have cast votes for the Democrat in 2016: I'll bet Mark Shea did. Simcha Fisher, perhaps. Rebecca Bratten Weiss. Charles Camosy. Jacob W. Torbeck, perhaps. E. Bruenig. Those examples suffice. I cannot say that all these people have not reckoned with the gravity of the immoral aspects of the Democratic Party platform. To the extent that I have accused any of them of doing so, or even of being unconcerned about those evils, I renounce it and apologize. I can only ask forgiveness. As Dr. Haidt observes, this political culture does not reward nuance and reasoned debate, or help to foster it. Yet as a culture-maker, I can do better. I will.

What about the judges? Indeed, that was the best argument in favor of selecting Trump. It doesn't work, for 2 reasons: 1. Electoral incentives suggest that the GOP has adopted the pro-life cause in the service of what David Mayhew called "position taking": vociferous speaking, married to as little action as victory allows. I no longer believe Roe v. Wade will fall in a short time. 2. Even if it did, it wouldn't be worth it, by itself.

Additional thoughts about judges at all levels: If I start including every issue that could come before a judge, it becomes clear that in some respects, I ought to prefer judges that Democrats would favor. The day that criminal justice reform inspires the Federalist Society to oppose the death penalty, say, or to endorse implicit bias training, would be a great day. It's not coming soon.


One thing more: This republic is so far down a dark path in some estimations that extensive political participation seems a fool's errand. A spiritualized cynicism seems in fashion, almost Anabaptist in nature. Others aim to "reclaim" our social teaching from "the Left." Instead, perhaps we need to be active citizens, as we've been taught, and then to do more thinking, and less feeling. My feelings were but the catalyst to the intuition that something was and is wrong. I have had a tribe, a culture from which to learn what is right and wrong. Now is the time to lead, and to continue learning.