getting out the vote

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 25, 2004

Headline and lead from a CNS news brief:

Canadian bishops remind Catholics to take politics seriously, vote

Four years after nearly 40 percent of Canadians stayed away from the polls, Canada's Catholic bishops have reminded people of their duty to take politics seriously. "Engagement in the political process is a constant civic duty, not only during electoral campaigns," the social affairs commission of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said in its traditional pre-election message to Catholics.

But why? Why vote, that is?

Most of us are capable of acting in our own interest in ordinary matters and understand the limited value of voting as a mundane and self-serving endeavor. But what interest do our pastors (as pastors) have in the matter? They don't advise us to drink when thirsty, why should they advise us to vote for whomever we choose to vote for?

Our pastors' concern would be intelligible were they to demonstrate -- performatively, within the sphere of their own competence -- that one election outcome was better than another. But they don't. So why is voting meritorious? As Chesterton said, "You cannot admire will in general, because the essence of will is that it is particular." In fact, if we substitute "voting" for "will" in his discussion of the subject in Orthodoxy, the hole in the bishops' bucket becomes obvious:

The worship of will is the negation of will. To admire mere choice is to refuse to choose. If Mr. Bernard Shaw comes up to me and says, "Will something," that is tantamount to saying, "I do not mind what you will," and that is tantamount to saying, "I have no will in the matter."

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - May. 25, 2004 10:15 PM ET USA

    The Canadian bishops want their people to vote. But, sad to say, most of them offer no guidance at all about applying Christian moral principles in the voting booth. Thank the Lord for a serious bishop in a Western Province. Where are most of the rest ?

  • Posted by: - May. 25, 2004 2:58 PM ET USA

    "Mmmmmmmm, Chesterton" -Eternal form subsisting in the mind of God

  • Posted by: - May. 25, 2004 9:45 AM ET USA

    Since Canada is a one-party state, the CCCB needs to remind everyone to shore up the sagging percentage points of Canadians voting as a whole. That way, when gay marriage, abortion and fetal stem cell research get passed holus bolus, we can say that it was a "democratic" result. Oh, and the minimum wage laws usually get a tacit mention as a "social justice" issue.

  • Posted by: - May. 25, 2004 8:51 AM ET USA

    The exhortation to the sheep to get out and vote is one of two things. Either they hope that the (probably apostate) majority of unschooled Catholics, those who practice sterilization, abortion and birth control, will get out there and vindicate them. Or, a show of Catholic force in the direction of the traditional teachings of the Church will allow them to take a stand without fear of losing their income. In either case, the shepherds are hiding behind the sheep.