The $64,000 Question – Answered

So, feeling like you do about both Romney and Obama, who ARE you going to vote for?
That’s more or less what I was asked by a friend recently, and I promised I would be answering here.  There’s going to be a long and complicated explanation before I get to the answer, though, so get comfortable. 🙂
I get the feeling that my liberal friends expect I’m going to go with Romney for “pro-life reasons.”  Meanwhile my conservative Catholic friends seem convinced that I am an Obama supporter and am headed straight to hell.  Gosh, it’s so inconvenient of me to get all complicated and refuse to hop into one of the little boxes we all like to put each other in.
If I were going to self-identify as a member of a political party, I’d call myself a Democrat.  I’m more or less a bleeding heart liberal, if you want to know the truth.  When I take that “who should you vote for” survey that’s been making the rounds this political season, I’m told I should vote for the Green Party candidate, that I agree with about 95% of her positions.  Of course, as Sister Louise would have said, there’s always that 5%.  And what a 5% it is.
I like President Obama.  I think he’s a good man with good intentions.  Pretty much everything the haters say about him isn’t true.  In my opinion he’s been quite effective–it’s just that his detractors don’t approve of his achievements.  Like Obamacare, which I’m excited about, even though I’d prefer a completely government-run system like the ones in Europe. (There.  I said it.)
HOWEVER.  Obviously, if you know me or have read pretty much anything I’ve written including the title of this blog, you know that abortion is a huge issue for me.  And apparently it’s become a huge issue for our President as well, an issue on which he has come down firmly and stridently on the wrong side.  That was why I did not vote for him last time.  Even though I liked him more then than I do now, honestly, I just could not bring myself to push the button and thereby tacitly approve of his radically pro-choice position (and yes, I do believe he is more radical in this area than many other pro-choice politicians).
Now, I don’t think it is any way wrong or sinful to cast a vote for a pro-choice politician (if that is not your REASON for voting for him) in the presence of other proportionate reasons for your vote.  I don’t rule out ever voting for a pro-choice candidate in the future.  What is a proportionate reason is open to one’s prudential judgment, reached by informing one’s conscience about Church teachings, studying the issues, and ideally praying over the decision.  But there are other reasons that I won’t be voting for President Obama.
Frankly, his HHS mandate INFURIATED me, and a lot of other “progressive” Catholics.  So many stood with him on his health care plan BECAUSE of their Catholic faith, and then he basically spit on them.  I know that a lot of you will just think I secretly hate women and don’t want them to get birth control but this is seriously a religious freedom issue, whether you believe it or not.  Still, I don’t think in the end the mandate will pass constitutional muster, so it may not matter on a practical level, but it speaks to a part of the President’s character that I do not admire.
It’s the same part of his character, I believe, which has led him to quietly allow torture to continue; and to expand on his power to spy on, to imprison, to even execute Americans without trial or explanation.  And I’m not going to wear myself out providing the links for all this.  I’ve read and posted many over the past several weeks and can’t get anyone to even discuss them with me.  Republicans like this side of Obama and don’t want to draw attention to it, and Democrats don’t like it and don’t want to draw attention to it.  But someone needs to.  Ditto the drone warfare, which I knew nothing about until recently.  Part of what makes me call myself a Democrat is that we are supposed to be against these kinds of things.
So now let’s talk about Mr. Romney.  I said before that I didn’t think Romney believes in anything but Romney, and after watching three debates and following this race pretty closely, that opinion has not changed.  I just can’t think of any good reason to vote for him.  I have absolutely NO CONFIDENCE that he will make any meaningful changes in abortion policy.  I sincerely hope I am wrong, but let’s remember that his sister, his wife, and most recently a campaign surrogate have all more or less gone on the record saying he won’t make any changes and that this is just not a big issue for him.  Yes, I know what he says himself, but he says all kinds of things all the time, half of which contradict each other–he will say anything to win.  You can say–and I have actually read some comments from prominent pro-life sources that try to assert this–that his wishy-washy comments are just to get votes and he’ll hop on board the pro-life train as soon as he’s elected.  But how do I know that?  And don’t we want a president who is unapologetically pro-life no matter what, if that’s the only reason he’s getting our vote in the first place?  Let’s not forget, too, that Mr. Romney used to be one of those “pro-life for myself, pro-choice for others” politicians, and he has a great story to back up his reasons for his stance–the botched illegal abortion that killed a young relative of his.  I haven’t heard him mention her lately, have you?  Wouldn’t you like to know what changed his mind?
Like I said, I’m basically a Democrat at heart, so a Republican is going to have to provide something extra to make me want to vote for him.  Mr. Romney’s stance on abortion does not convince me.  And I know he says he will repeal the HHS mandate, but I don’t know if I believe it.  Plus as I’ve said I think it’s a moot point anyway, plus his repealing of it is tied to his repealing of Obamacare, which doesn’t exactly appeal to this uninsured American who will be spending more hard-earned money this month on medication than I can afford.  Oh, and that’s hard-earned but UNTAXED money because we are part of that lowly 47% who just won’t ever take responsibility for our own lives.  I suppose Mr. Romney would like us to just not claim our five dependents and reject Mr. Bush’s tax credits so that we can pay income tax in addition to the self-employment tax which we DO have to pay.
In 2008, I did not vote for President.  I went to the polls and voted in the local races, but I just skipped that part.
This year, that doesn’t feel quite right. I’ve read that not voting at all is cowardly or lazy.  I know I am not lazy and I hope I am not a coward.  But I read another article this year that said that in voting for a candidate you are effectually agreeing with their stances, that you are complicit in what they do.  And I just can’t bring myself to do that.  Maybe it would be different if I lived in a swing state.  But Mitt Romney takes Tennessee no matter what I do tomorrow.  That gives my vote a sort of purity–it’s just between me and my conscience.
I could pick a third party candidate, like the Libertarian, who is against the drone wars and the eroding of our freedoms, or the Green Party candidate with whom I appear to largely agree, but unfortunately my areas of disagreement with both of them are in significant areas.  So here is what I have decided to do.
I am going to write in “None of the Above.”  I want the record to reflect that this pro-life Democrat could not find a candidate that she could in good conscience vote for.  For me, that is the most honest vote, after tons of study of both secular and religious documents, much discussion and debate, and plenty of prayerful reflection.
I hope that you will respect my decision, as I plan to respect yours.

UPDATE:  In 2016, my conclusions are different, and I will be explaining them in a future post.

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  1. Caroline says:

    As you know I certainly respect your decision. I love how you always are so thoughtful about your politics and you really walk your talk, Leslie. You are one in a million. Love to you, friend.

  2. savvylegacy says:

    God certainly led me to your blog! I am so grateful to not feel so alone in my political standing (just today, an all-out Facebook war erupted on all sides between my friends; the comment thread on my wall counted over 130 angry comments)! Every single thing you said, I feel completely aligned with. I refuse to be brainwashed by the two-party mentality in any way whatsoever. I am a Catholic, and Jesus guides my worldview. Thankyou for your eloquent display of your values! We are not alone!
    Also, I have just started up my own blog. I humbly beg of you to read my first post. Between this and Tumblr, and by my efforts of promotion through Facebook, I have been blessed with over 50 visitors in 3 days.
    I would love to work with you, and I would deeply value your feedback.
    Me reading your online blog does not exactly provide the greatest sense of human interaction or intimacy… but from what I have read from you, it has been exquisitely lovely meeting you! I wish you the best!

    • lesliesholly says:

      Thank you for your lovely comments. I just visited your blog and actually pinned your post. The pictures are wonderful. I will go back and read and give you feedback later today or tomorrow, because I want to give it the attention it deserves and I am in my sleepy afternoon phase at the moment. 50 visitors already is awesome. You are off to a fantastic start!

  3. savvylegacy says:

    Reblogged this on Savvy Legacy and commented:
    The political positions espoused by this woman are identical to mine.

  4. Ashley says:

    Hi Leslie,
    I’m the teacher who wanted to meet you at the football game a few weeks ago. As I told you then, I have LOVED your political commentary on this blog. It is so refreshing to hear intelligent, well-thought-out ideas which speak to both sides of the political battles. Who to vote for to lead our country is not an easy decision, nor should it be. I love that you openly acknowledge that. I am frustrated because I feel like the most common attitude right now in the general public and even in church is one which seems to discourage thinking and seems to deny the complexity of so many issues. I, too, am a committed Catholic who is pro-life, mostly-Democrat and who hopes that by providing living wages, educational opportunities, health care, and spreading the wealth around (yes, I would also like to be more like Europe in those areas) we can cut down on the number of unwanted pregnancies and give women who want to keep their babies a realistic choice to do that, rather than make them feel forced into abortion by poverty or lack of opportunity. Especially since even the most pro-life (or anti-abortion, more accurately) presidents have not been able to overturn the Supreme Court’s decisions, even by nominating conservatives/Catholics to the Court. Maybe it’s time to consider some other ways to prevent abortions, all while making life more dignified for ALL.
    Shew. It seems that I should use my blog to air some of these frustrations, rather than hijack your comment thread! Sorry! All that is to say THANKS for writing all this!

    • lesliesholly says:

      Ashley, no worries–I love comments! Do you have a blog? I would love to read it. I am so happy to hear your thoughts, because I often feel like a lone voice on a lot of these issues and it can get kind of scary speaking up like this. 🙂

      • Ashley says:

        I do have a blog…I think if you click my name it’ll take you there. You’ll be disappointed, though. It has nothing deep on it at all…it’s mostly just pictures and stories of my 2 year old. I’m too afraid to publish anything “controversial” like you can…I seriously worry about losing my job. But I love thinking about it all and discussing it when I can 🙂

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