decisions, decisions ...

By Diogenes (articles ) | Oct 31, 2007

Remember the counter-behaviorist paradox called Buridan's Ass: the hypothesis that a donkey placed between two equidistant bales of hay would starve, because the exactly counterpoised stimuli of attraction could give him no cause to go for Bale A rather than Bale B?

Your Uncle Di thinks this equipollent attraction explains the journalistic silence -- well, near-silence -- on the part of progressive Catholics regarding the Democratic primary campaign. The Lefties just can't make up their minds which of the two front-runners is more adorable, and so they stammer in a confusion of delight. All their ideological Christmasses have come at once, issue by issue, with both candidates playing the role of a cheerfully bountiful Santa. Abortion? Obama: check; Clinton: check. Sodomy? Obama: check; Clinton: check. 1950s Central European party control? Obama: check; Clinton: Czech. If you're a self-described Catholic of the Anna Quindlen stripe, what's there not to like?

If the usual demographic allegiances operate according to form, there'll eventually be a split along class lines as the primary campaign heats up. For Democrats on hourly wages (in general), race trumps gender; for Dems on salary (in general), gender trumps race: recall who lined up behind Anita Hill and who behind Clarence Thomas during the latter's confirmation hearings. From the GOP point of view, perhaps the best-case scenario is that Hillary wins the nomination after a bloody primary, and that black voters in the key swing states, disheartened by the loss of their man, stay home next November and thereby hand the victory to the Republican.

Which brings us to the unappetizing question of the Republican field, a kind of anti-Buridan dilemma. In this case the Catholic voters are repelled in equal measure by the likely nominees and numbed by an equilateral disgust. Abortion? "Next question, please." Sodomy? "Next question, please." Second Amendment rights? "First I've heard there was such a thing ..." Faced with the choice between a Hillary Giuliani and a Rudy Clinton, the question becomes whom we shall send to curse the tents of Jacob, not how they were better blessed. A very tough call. For us Catholics, what we need is not Buridan's Ass, but Balaam's.

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  • Posted by: - Nov. 06, 2007 11:51 PM ET USA

    I'm voting for this donkey.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 02, 2007 11:24 AM ET USA

    How can we engage the culture if we stay home from the polls? Yes, both frontrunners leave a lot to be desired, but that doesn't mean we should abandon the voting booth. A friend of mine who is in his late 60s says that for years he has been voting for the lesser of two evils -- but he votes every time there's a federal, state, or local election. Aren't there other issues that matter? Taxes? Immigration? The appointment of judges to overturn Roe v. Wade?

  • Posted by: - Nov. 01, 2007 8:13 PM ET USA

    Hence the need of the donkey to have eyes on both sides of his cute little head. He can look at the Democrat candidate and the Republican candidate both placed equidistantally from him and not bother to move to vote for either one.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 31, 2007 5:27 PM ET USA

    It is possible to vote (even write in) for someone who supports Church teaching. This may be the first time in my 60+ years that I will not vote for a major party candidate. Certainly if it comes down to the two named in the article neither will get my vote.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 31, 2007 5:23 PM ET USA

    I continue to believe that Hillary and Obama will cut a deal before they cut each other's throat, and the result will be a Clinton-Obama ticket flush with unprecedented cash and the media in thrall, in which event the Republicans might as well stay home.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 31, 2007 4:13 PM ET USA

    Well, one can always vote for a third party candidate. I would also maintain that principled abstention from a given race (as opposed to not voting from apathy or sloth) is not contrary to the obligations of Catholic citizens.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 31, 2007 1:31 PM ET USA

    The dilemma is sharpened by the Catechism's teaching (CCC 2240) that it is a Catholic's civic duty to pay taxes, defend his country, and vote. But can it be a duty to vote when either major party vote puts a pro-abortion pro-sodomite politician in the White House?