Voting is perfectly rational

October 25, 2016 § 75 Comments

Voting in mass market democratic elections is not rational if it is viewed as a procedure by which we rank public preferences for candidates and choose candidates according to that ranking.

And it is not rational as a means to oppose evil in politics through a willingness to compromise, either as an individual or as part of a group effort.

But voting is perfectly rational from the point of view of our ruling class and their ruling ideology of liberalism. Because voting is a public liturgy in which a large portion of the populace personally endorses the legitimacy of our ruling class and their ruling ideology of liberalism.

Voting is perfectly rational as ritual act of doffing your hat to the king.

Proposal: a carbon tax on voting

February 5, 2016 § 11 Comments

This is just a theoretical exercise, so the specific numbers aren’t all that important: I’m just spitballing here. Basically what I am proposing is (say) a $1000 tax per voter, paid by the voter, to cover the carbon footprint of that person voting.

Suppose 100 million voters average 2 miles to get to the polls each at 20 miles per gallon. That is 10 million gallons of gas.

Polling places consume another 5 million gallons of gas or equivalent keeping facilities open, setting up and tearing down, running computer equipment, and the like.

The politicians these voters elect consume about 1 billion gallons of gas or equivalent in the process of providing for their own facilities, transportation, perks, interns, hookers, bribes, kickbacks, drugs, and alcohol.

Elected politicians also consume the equivalent of about 1 trillion gallons of gas in the process of providing goodies back to the voters, who elected them in order to receive those goodies.

Again I am just spitballing here, but I think is it pretty easy to see how a $1000+ carbon tax on everyone who votes could be straightforwardly justified.

Gravity Makes the World Go Around: NFP and Voting

November 19, 2008 § 7 Comments

There seems to be reasonably wide agreement that when one formally cooperates with grave evil in how and why one votes, it is grave matter: the “grave matter” in the triad of conditions for mortal sin, that is, grave matter, knowledge, and deliberate consent.

On the other hand the gravity of various acts of remote material cooperation with grave evil in how and why one votes is more controversial.

Commenter msb at Catholic and Enjoying It made the following interesting argument:

I think voting for Obama even if it was [remote material] cooperation was grave matter. Faithful Citizenship says that your proportionate reason to do it must itself be a grave reason, meaning that the vote is grave in the first place.

I think this argument has some force; but it may be worthwhile to consider other situations where the Church has authorized certain practices under a rubric of “grave reasons”:

“But if, according to a rational and just judgement, there are no similar grave reasons of a personal nature or deriving from external circumstances, then the determination to avoid habitually the fecundity of the union while at the same time to continue fully satisfying their sensuality, can be derived only from a false appreciation of life and from reasons having nothing to do with proper ethical laws.” – Pius XII, Apostolate of the Midwife

And yet the same Pope Pius XII later tells us:

“Therefore, in our late allocution on conjugal morality, We affirmed the legitimacy, and at the same time, the limits — in truth very wide — of a regulation of offspring, which, unlike so-called ‘birth control,’ is compatible with the law of God.” – Pius XII, Morality in Marriage (emphasis mine), from Papal Pronouncements on Marriage and the Family, Werth and Mihanovich, 1955

So there is precedent for a Pope in the exercise of his teaching office – let alone the USCCB – to say on the one hand that “grave reasons” are required, and yet that the discretionary limits of action are still “in truth very wide”.

This leads me to the question of gravity when we are talking about remote material cooperation with grave evil. Jeff Culbreath suggested below that the gravity of an act of voting (as remote material cooperation) for a candidate who actively pursues a policy of murdering the innocent probably depends on the reason why one does it, even if that reason is not proportionate in truth. I think that makes a great deal of sense. For the answer to the question “is X a proportionate reason” is not always an unequivocal “yes” or “no”. That is to say, prudence is a scale, not binary: one may act very imprudently, somewhat imprudently, somewhat prudently, or very prudently; or anywhere in between. In addition, everyone’s understanding of the facts will vary to some extent, and one can only act based on facts one actually knows and one’s understanding of how things work. If I believe I am acting prudently that doesn’t mean I am in fact acting prudently, but there is a morally nontrivial difference between willful imprudence, apathetic imprudence, and simply mistaken imprudence.

So I think it is, well, imprudent to assume that every act of voting for Obama (or McCain for that matter) was necessarily grave matter simply because Faithful Citizenship says that reasons for voting for a pro-abortion candidate must be “grave”. There is precedent for the Magisterium to require grave reasons, on the one hand, and yet say that the acting subject has wide lattitude on the other. In addition I think Jeff Culbreath’s suggestion that the actual reasons why make a significant difference here is eminently reasonable; even if, as an objective matter, the reasons why the voter voted the way he did were not proportionate.

The Catechism on Voting and Game Theory

October 22, 2008 § 19 Comments

The Catechism tells us:

2240 Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country:
Pay to all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

[Christians] reside in their own nations, but as resident aliens. They participate in all things as citizens and endure all things as foreigners. . . . They obey the established laws and their way of life surpasses the laws. . . . So noble is the position to which God has assigned them that they are not allowed to desert it.

The Apostle exhorts us to offer prayers and thanksgiving for kings and all who exercise authority, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.”

Despite the lack of any mention of game theory in this passage, some people seem to want to interpret it to mean that there is always a proportionate reason to vote for a medical cannibal who supports aborting children and using their body parts for research (like, say, John McCain), as long as the other major party candidate is worse. I’ll just point out that this interpretation involves more than a little bit of filling in of the blanks. If anything, a much more plausible interpretation is that exercising the right to vote is, when morally licit, about submission to authority, respect, co responsibility for the common good, living a pure Christian life in a pagan culture, etc — that is, it is about outcome-independent considerations, not about making sure I am on the winning team.

What’s Wrong with the World of Voting?

May 30, 2008 § 47 Comments

Lydia has posted at What’s Wrong with the World on the question of the moral essence of voting. After reading the interesting post and the discussion which followed, I posted the following comment in the thread:

I think there may be a thought process that goes something like this, at least among Catholic moralists and those who even bother to follow such things. (Which, let us grant, is laudible in itself: most people just vote however they choose without consciously reflecting on what a vote is at all. That is, most people don’t even consider the possibility that they might be doing evil simply by choosing to vote at all, given some particular ballot option permutation space).

The thought process:

Premise 1: Voting as an act is never intrinsically immoral: it is just throwing a lever.

Premise 2: Voting as an act is nothing but remote cooperation (material or formal) with whatever specific things a candidate actually does as an elected official.

It follows that the only thing that voting always is, is remote material cooperation with the things a candidate actually does as an elected official. It would be formal cooperation in those cases where I will some specific thing the candidate does: so if I will that Obama issue an executive order authorizing abortions on military bases I am formally cooperating in that act, and if I will that Obama withdraw the troops then I am formally cooperating in that act; but in general, I don’t will everything that he does or has promised to do. Therefore under its moral aspect – unless I am formally cooperating with one of his specific acts and that act is evil – a vote is simply remote material cooperation, and this exhaustively describes its moral parameters.

It further follows that the moral aspect of voting resides solely in (1) avoiding formal cooperation with specific evil acts on the part of the candidate (everyone will of course claim this as a matter of internal forum: will claim that they don’t want Obama to authorize abortions on military bases, and because they don’t want it they aren’t choosing it and don’t intend it); and (2) a prudential evaluation of the external consequences of the candidate actually being elected.

I think there are a lot of problems with this narrative, though it dominates contemporary Catholic thinking on the subject. Those problems start with the fact that it assumes an antiessentialist theory of what a vote is in the first place, leaving moral evaluation of (say) voting for Obama in the realm of strictly material external consequences; and the narrative goes downhill from there. Another problem is that ‘voting’ may simply be an inadequate moral specifier of a species of act, much as ‘firing a gun’ is an inadequate moral specification of a species of act. “Voting for Obama” may be deontologically more akin to “firing a gun into a living baby’s brain” than to simply “firing a gun”.

As I mentioned on my blog, I don’t feel as though I understand with clarity the deontology of a vote: I don’t really know what a vote is with enough clarity to give an even semi-rigorous definition. But I have intuitions of what a vote is not, and Lydia’s “intuition pumps” in this post are pretty helpful in clarifying my own intuitions on the subject.

Voting is Like a Box of Chocolates

November 18, 2006 § 2 Comments

The Object of Voting

September 26, 2006 § 26 Comments

There are some really great comments in the voting thread below. But there is a key point which I think may be getting lost in the larger discussion. Tom hits it directly when he says:

This may express the intent of the voter, but before we get to intent we need to know what the object of the act of voting is. We need to make sure that the means of mitigating a greater evil is not itself evil. And we need to make sure without making the “everybody does it” fallacy.

When we drop a 500 pound bomb on a military target, and an elementary school filled with children is a mile away, it is pretty clear that “destroying a school filled with innocent children” is not a part of the object of our act. When the military target is in the same building as the school that is far less clear.

Likewise, when we vote for a mayoral candidate who favors torturing suspected terrorists it is pretty clear that the object of our act is not to choose a policy of torturing suspected terrorists, because the mayor doesn’t really have anything to say about how suspected terrorists are handled. But a President is a different matter. When a candidate has promised to do something specific which is within the role to which we are electing him, the argument that we are not choosing the actual thing he has promised to do becomes weaker. And if in our own minds we make the decision “the torture is bad, but it is a small and confined evil, and I therefore choose it as a lesser evil than the abortion policies of the other candidate”, then the argument that we aren’t choosing the evil policy becomes very weak indeed.

Hate letters from coastal elites to middle American whites

November 21, 2016 § 71 Comments

Peter Woit is the physicist who wrote the book Not Even Wrong, which I highly recommend if you are interested in the subject matter. The Pauli quote in my masthead/sidebar comes from Woit’s book. I keep him in my blogroll so that I remember to check in on what he has to say now and then. Woit projects a compulsive honesty in expressing his own views that I can’t help but appreciate in fellow human beings, even when my own substantive understanding of a particular subject is a universe apart.

I’ve never noticed him writing about politics before, but the recent Presidential election was apparently traumatic enough to bring him out of his shell. For the most part that is probably not a good thing: people who talk about their political views almost universally end up lowering my overall estimation of their personal wisdom, which I suppose shouldn’t surprise any of my regular readers. One of the many deleterious effects of liberalism is that it tends to make everyone falsely believe that their own uncultivated political opinions are worth more than flatulence particulates embedded in a couch cushion.

Woit’s honesty, however, is valuable.  He describes one of the motivations of middle American white people voting for Donald Trump:

You’re angry at well-off coastal elites who you feel look down on you and your culture, and you want to spit in their face by voting for Trump. If so, you are quite right to feel the way you do. From a lifetime spent among such elites I can tell you that, yes, they do look down on you. Most people here in New York City probably do think you’re an ignorant racist. Your problem though is that Donald Trump is one of us. He’s a well-off New Yorker through and through, looks down on you every bit as much as others. If elected he will govern in the interest of his tribe, not yours. If you think otherwise, you’ve been conned. All you will accomplish by a vote for Trump is to convince people in New York, Washington D.C. and California that you really are even more ignorant than they thought, a racist fool taken in by an obvious con.

Coastal elites by and large hate, hate, hate middle American white working people. If you are part of the middle American white working class coastal leftists really do blame everything that is wrong with the world on you, as ridiculous as that sounds. You are the Low Man. More than anything the elites wish for some Final Solution which can be carried out to utterly destroy these perfidious subhumans who, in their spare time away from keeping the lights on and the toilets flushing, continue to screw up the emergence of universal egalitarian emancipation.

All forms of liberalism require a Final Solution, and the Final Solution has to be carried out as an unprincipled exception: in this case, the mass extermination of despised middle American whites has to be implemented in some way which does not challenge liberalism itself.  Even Literally Hitler insisted upon absolutely equal rights among the Herrenvolk: it was only the subhuman oppressor-untermensch who fell outside of the protections provided by freedom and equality, precisely because the subhuman oppressor class was – as it always is – a contemptible impediment to the emergence of the free and equal new man.

The Final Solution for destroying the middle American white working class was and is supposed to be mass third world immigration.  Leftist elites absolutely know[1] that mass third world immigration is a poison designed to utterly destroy middle American whites and salt the earth upon which they used to live. Europe is a proving ground for the efficacy of this particular Solution. The following comes from an email received by Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta from a regular correspondent, as published by Wikileaks (reformatted for clarity):

Unlike the Multikultis, the German working class cannot block out or distort awful reality and needs to live in the real world.

For example, I have a hunch that there are precious few Multikulti converts to be found among German bus drivers. In another clip, a German bus company spokesman explains that even immigrant pensioners beat up bus drivers.

Let me also show you images of a 78-year-old German female shopkeeper hit 50 times in her face by a 14-year-old Bosnian. The young robber belongs to a family granted asylum by Germany. Heart-warming, don’t you think?

The coastal elites in the USA are counting on it.

[1] Hat tip to Evolutionist X.

The opiate of the Massless

October 25, 2016 § 23 Comments

Voting is like heroin for the secularized masses: each dose makes them feel good about themselves momentarily while deepening addiction to and dependence upon our ruling class and their political philosophy, liberalism.  As time goes on the angst merely deepens, though, and the payoff becomes more a matter of staving off the agony of withdrawal rather than fleeting and illusory good feelings.

Social media and voting combined is like fentanyl-laced heroin. Social media amplifies the personal effects of participating in liberalism’s liturgy – which are the only effects of any appreciable note – while at the same time destroying personal, Church, and family relationships; that is, while destroying the very things which anchor human beings in some lived reality other than the liberal singularity.

The bimbo that didn’t bark

October 14, 2016 § 99 Comments

I am not voting and cannot be convinced to vote, for reasons I’ve explained many times. That doesn’t imply that I have no opinions on the candidates, or that I consider the candidates to be in any sense equivalent.

UPDATE:  SDG in the comments provides several corrections re: Trump assault allegations:

Because Ivana Trump’s testimony was given in a deposition in 1989.

Because Jill Harth sued Trump for sexual assault in 1993.

Because Mindy McGillivray’s 2003 story is backed up by a photographer who says she immediately told him Trump had grabbed her ass.

Because Trump not only admitted but BOASTED about the very behavior he is alleged to have committed. Who are you gonna believe: a man who says he gropes women without waiting, or women who say they were so groped? There’s a real “He and she both said” dilemma for you.

Because so far nine or more women have come forward with stories like these, combined with Trump’s own words. There’s never THAT much smoke without at least some fire.

Because the pattern of other women remaining silent about being abused by powerful men until the issue of a public person’s pattern of abusive behavior and the celebrity’s public denials and attacks on the women is strikingly similar to other cases, like Bill Cosby. To characterize this pattern as “only now conveniently remembered, like college girls with a hangover, that they were sexually assaulted” is the very kind of cruel abuse that keeps women who have been abused silent.

Because even if you’re agnostic about whether or not the allegations are true, slurring even possible victims of sexual assault with the word “bimbos” is a kind of judgmental cruelty I can’t imagine, certainly not from someone I have regarded as a thoughtful Catholic.

UPDATE 2: Andrew E responds here and here:

Just to be clear, Jill Harth and Ivana Trump both contradict SDG. Jill Harth, of course, contradicts herself therefore requiring her lawyer to draft a followup to the lawnewz story to avoid any federal liability.

And SDG said the photographer also witnessed the incident in the case of McGillivray. But the story says that neither Davidoff nor McGillivray actually witnessed it. SDG needs to get the facts right.

(I suppose if nothing else this post proves that I am not immune to the lazy blogger tendency to find out details about a distasteful subject by just posting on it and having commenters do the fact checking for me).

Hillary Clinton is a crazy criminal egomaniac who will burn down the world before even considering the possibility that there might possibly be something slightly questionable about her world view or her self image.  Her one saving grace is that she might be too physically ill to accomplish anything.

Trump is basically transparent. What you see is what you get, and we’ve seen a lot of Trump over the decades because that’s just the way he likes it. It may be puerile, morally decadent, and just generally in bad taste; but it isn’t a mystery. Trump is a wealthy and successful amoral product of 80’s era America, with all that that implies.

His credibly (for versions of ‘credibly’) alleged tendency to literally grab what he wants sexually appears to be generically the same as Bill Clinton’s.  Taken in itself this is enough to disqualify both men from any serious office, but is hardly the worst of either of their faults.  Bill Clinton didn’t in fact start a nuclear war, and Trump almost certainly wouldn’t. Hillary Clinton just might.

I publicly retract the following paragraphs after considering SDG’s criticisms and correction of my ignorance on several particulars.  I leave them in place for the record:

This is even true in terms of bimbo eruptions: the most notable thing is not all the stuff we already knew without anyone saying it. The notable thing is that not a single credible Juanita Broderick or Paula Jones has been uncovered by the Clinton machine: just zero credibility Anita Hills who have only now conveniently remembered, like college girls with a hangover, that they were sexually assaulted.

The Trump ‘scandals’ appear to be marketing initiatives designed to appeal to the fatty vote, the feminist regret-is-rape slut vote, and prudes (in the pejorative sense) who (unlike me) support Trump for president as long as what everyone already knows about him doesn’t actually come up in conversation.

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