What happens if two opposing candidates both support abortion?
First of all, refrain from putting any labels or endorsements on anyone.
Don't call them anything. Or, if you prefer, call them both pro-abortion.
Then just ask a simple question: Which of the two candidates will do less
harm to unborn children if elected?
For example, is either of the candidates willing at least to ban late-term
abortion? Is either of them willing to put up some roadblocks to free and
easy abortion? Will either support parental notification, or parental
consent, or waiting periods? Has either of them expressed a desire to
support pregnancy assistance centers? How about stricter regulation of
abortion facilities? Has either candidate expressed support for that idea?
Nobody is saying that's the final goal. But ask these questions just to see
whether you can see any benefit of one of the candidates above the other.
One of the two of them will be elected; there is no question about that. So
you are not free right now, in this race, to really choose the candidate you
want. Forces beyond your control have already limited your choices.
Whichever way the election goes, the one elected will not have the position
we want elected officials to have on abortion.
In this case, it is morally acceptable to vote for the candidate who will do
less harm. This is not "choosing the lesser of two evils." We may never
choose evil. But in the case described above, you would not be choosing
evil. Why? Because in choosing to limit an evil, you are choosing a good.
You oppose the evil of abortion, in every circumstance, no matter what. You
know that no law can legitimize even a single abortion, ever. If the
candidate thinks some abortion is OK, you don't agree.
But by your vote, you can keep the worse person out. And trying to do that
is not only legitimate, but good. Some may think it's not the best strategy.
But if your question is whether it is morally permissible to vote for the
better of two bad candidates, the answer -- in the case described above --
Some people, faced with unacceptable candidates, may be tempted not to vote
at all. But that is still a choice, and we are still responsible for the
consequences of not voting, just as we are responsible for the consequences
of voting. If, therefore, to refrain from voting altogether might give the
advantage to a worse candidate, we have to consider that we share
responsibility for that outcome.
In this context, the question also arises as to whether one is required to
vote for a third candidate who does not have a strong base of support but
does have the right position. The answer is,
no, you are not required to
vote for this candidate. The reason is that your vote is not for the purpose
of praising a candidate. It is a transfer of power. You have to look
concretely at where the power is really going to be transferred, and use
your vote not to make a statement but to help bring about the most
acceptable results under the circumstances.
Of course, our conscience may be telling us, “Don’t say it’s impossible to
elect the candidate who doesn’t have a strong base of support.” Of course,
it is possible to elect almost anyone if the necessary work is done within
the necessary time. God doesn’t ask us to base our choices on “the
possibility of miracles,” but rather on solid human reason. The point is
that if there’s a relatively unknown but excellent candidate, the time to
begin building up support for that person’s candidacy is several years
before the election, not several months. What you have to ask as Election
Day draws near is whether your vote is needed to keep the worse candidate
(of the two, less acceptable but more realistic choices) out of office.
Yet another factor to weigh in all of this is the margin of difference in
support between the candidates. The closer it is, and the more crucial your
state or county is in the overall outcome of the election, the more
responsibility you have for considering the impact of your vote.