When to vote for the 3rd party

Wynette and I have been having a discussion down in the comments for the Slimy Politics post that I think is worth the focus of a new post.  I’ll start by quoting Wynette’s latest comment:

I fully understand the temptation to find the “all-perfect” third-party candidate to vote for, particularly after being disgusted by the recent headlines of political immorality, but the simple botton-line is a vote for anyone other than Doolittle will result in a Democratic win, which would be very damaging to critical life issues.

Father Pavone addresses the quandry of trying to decide between too less-than-desirable candidates and being tempted to vote for a third-party, “Of course, it is possible to elect almost anyone if the necessary work is done within the necessary time. 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 out of office.”

I’m not in Congressman Doolittle’s district, but I have read about the business allegations made against him and his wife, which are certainly a moral concern. However, with just a few weeks until November 7th, I encourage you to consider voting for him in order to keep the “worst candidate out of office…”

I have a great deal of respect for Father Pavone and what he has accomplished and continues to fight for, but I think it is important not to take a too politically expedient perspective on how to vote.  While keeping a bad candidate out of office is an important factor, there is also a time to make a more principled stand.  This is not about finding a “perfect” candidate, it’s about sending a message to the Republican party that seems to be drunk on power.  Drunk enough that without a stern repremand will only continue to head down the path of supporting new evils just like the Democratic party did earlier in the century.

So the question remains, how does one decide when one should make that stand?  After trying on my own to come up with some criteria, it occured to me that we have a blue-print to follow: Just War Theory.

See, when faced with the possibility of needing to vote for a 3rd candidate, it generally means we’re accepting that evil will occur in the short term (as neither candidate will prevent it) and we’re willing to accept that to find a long term solution.  This is very similar to the choices one must make when deciding to wage war.

Obviously not all of Just War Theory is relevant to an election, but here are the aspects that I think are:

  1. A just war can only be waged as a last resort. All non-violent options must be exhausted before the use of force can be justified.
  2. A just war can only be fought to redress a wrong suffered. For example, self-defense against an armed attack is always considered to be a just cause (although the justice of the cause is not sufficient–see point #4). Further, a just war can only be fought with “right” intentions: the only permissible objective of a just war is to redress the injury. 
  3. A war can only be just if it is fought with a reasonable chance of success. Deaths and injury incurred in a hopeless cause are not morally justifiable.
  4. The ultimate goal of a just war is to re-establish peace. More specifically, the peace established after the war must be preferable to the peace that would have prevailed if the war had not been fought.
  5. The violence used in the war must be proportional to the injury suffered. States are prohibited from using force not necessary to attain the limited objective of addressing the injury suffered.

I’ll re-word these to address an election:

  1. Both candidates must be signficantly morally compromised without hope of redemption to consider looking elsewhere.
  2. There must be specific ways in which both candidates are morally compromised.  For the encumbant this means a voting record that includes injustices and for the challenger a threat of a voting record (or a previous record in other capacities) that is similarly compromised.
  3. Voting for the 3rd party has a resonable chance of making an impact.
  4. The goal of voting for the 3rd party must be to effect positive change down the road.
  5. The differential in evil that would occur should the worse of the two candidates be elected must be less than the long term evil that the lesser of the two candidates going unchecked.

As I mentioned in the previous post I haven’t done enough research to know whether my current Congressional race has reached this level particularly in regards to criteria #1 and #2, but what I will say is that in areas #3 and #4 it would definitely be justified.

The Republican party is suffering right now from unchecked power.  They know that they are the only alternative to the rabbidly immoral Democratic party and that position of comfort has led to unspeakable immorality on their part.  This inexcusable move towards allowing torture is an example of it.  The growing list of personal moral abuses is another.  The continued exaggerated favoring of business interests even in the face of abusing human beings is a third.  A significant setback in the 2006 elections would force them to re-think their positions and I believe would help to purify the party.

Additionally, I am pretty confident that #5 can be justified.  The reality is that the most aggregious moral abuse in this country (abortion) is only minimally relevant issue for the House of Representatives at this juncture.  95% of all abortions are protected by Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.  The partial birth abortion bans and parental notification laws although good, only affect a small percentage of abortions.

What that means is that the only elected official who can have a substantive impact on abortion is the President through his Supreme Court nominations and to a lesser degree the Senators who confirm the nominations.  But that also means that my Congressman has a VERY small impact on the issue and therefore the increased evil that a pro-abortion Congressman could do is minimal.

But what I don’t know is how bad Doolittle’s actions are.  Until I do, I won’t know who I’m going to vote for.

3 Responses to “When to vote for the 3rd party”

  1. Wynette Sills Says:

    Ken, While I too am disappointed and disgusted with the politics-as-usual mentality, voting for an unknown third party candidate is not an effective way to preserve your Catholic principles in the realm of public policy. I have researched all three candidates on Life issues and there is no doubt which candidate deserves support.

    You make several yet-to-be-substantiated assertions that I bring into question:

    #1 “Both candidates must be signficantly morally compromised.” Please compare Congressman Doolittle’s 100% rating by the National Right to Life organization to Mr. Brown’s statement on abortion and Mr. Warren’s Libertarian Party’s position on abortion.

    #2 “Voting for the 3rd party has a reasonable chance of making an impact.” In reality, Mr. Warren, a life guard with no political experience, received a paltry 672 votes, compared to Doolittle’s 63,000+ and Brown’s 26,000+ votes in the primary run-off. Therefore, a vote for Mr. Warren will, in effect, only assure the election of Mr. Brown.

    #3 “The Republican party is suffering right now from unchecked power”. I disagree, for I see a party suffering from a very weakened position due to the immorality of a few disgusting individuals, which taints the whole party’s platform and electoral success on November 7th.

    #4 “This inexcusable move towards allowing torture is an example of it.” Could you elaborate on the “torture” strategies supported by Republicans to defend our country which you find inexcusable?

    #5 “A significant setback in the 2006 elections would force them to re-think their positions and I believe would help to purify the party.” No, a loss in November’s election will irreparably damage our country and further erode what little is left of the Sanctity of Human Life as I agree with you that “…the most aggregious moral abuse in this country is abortion…”

    #6 You say, “Abortion is only minimally relevant issue for the House of Representatives at this juncture. 95% of all abortions are protected by Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. The partial birth abortion bans and parental notification laws although good, only affect a small percentage of abortions.” I strongly disagree with this assertion. Parental notification laws have proven very effective at reducing the number of abortions amongst our most vulnerable teenage population and the atrocity of partial birth abortions should not be legal, period. No “small percentage” of partial birth abortions is morally acceptable nor supportable.

    #7 You assert, “But that also means that my Congressman has a VERY small impact on the issue and therefore the increased evil that a pro-abortion Congressman could do is minimal.” I strongly disagree. The National Right to Life lists numerous critical issues in which Congressman Doolittle has courageously voted to protect the sanctity and dignity of all human life. The damage that either of the other two candidates could impart, if elected, is VERY significant.

    I earnestly await your own conclusion on whom to vote for in the 4th District. If your political scrutiny is as thorough as your football analysis, then I can be assured of a very persuasive post.

  2. Ken Crawford Says:

    OK, best to take this item by item:

    #1. I made no implication that Doolittle was not an excellent politician when it came to abortion and life issues. There are many other ways the guy could be morally compromised. Both candidates can be compromised in different ways for these criteria to play out. If indeed Doolittle is so favoring business interests that he is overlooking the moral issues assocaited to that, he could still be morally compromised while maintaining a perfect pro-life voting record.

    #2. I also made no assertion that the impact must be in the form of an election victory. You’re right, any third party candidate would most likely not win. However, a Republican loss with a third party taking a significant (say 5+%) percentage of the conservative vote would definitely have an impact on how the Republican party reacted to the loss.

    #3. I’m going to ignore this one for the time being as both of our opinions are just opinions that are difficult to objectively decide between. However, I think #4 is the clear dividing issue on this. I would agree that just based on “the Foley incident” and the others like it that my statement would be undefensible.

    #4. This is worthy of a whole new post and I will do so in the next few days. But I’ll be clear to state that I can a VERY prinicipled stand on torture and very much believe that the Republican party has significantly morally compromised itself on the subject.

    #5. Both of our statements are likely true. There is no need to start your comment with “no” as if my statement is not true. “in addition” would be more accurate.

    #6. I’ve looked at the statistics and can tell you without a doubt that you are wrong about the impact of parental notification. Parental notification has almost no impact on the numbers of abortion. In fact, there is some evidence that it may INCREASE abortion rates as the two groups most likely to be accompanying a young lady to the abortion clinic is the father or the mother’s parents (who don’t want the “shame” of a pregnant teenage daughter).

    Beyond that, I did not assert that a small percentage of abortions was acceptable. In fact, the whole post is premised on the idea that at times one must allow evil to happen (as in the case of the Just War Criteria) so as to eliminate greater evil in the long run. What I said was that it was a small percentage, which I’m sure you won’t disagree with. It’s like 0.5% of abortions.

    #7 This really is a re-iteration of #6 if we keep the subject limited to abortion. What muddies the water are the other issues that rightly fall under pro-life like Euthenasia and Cloning. However, since my statement was specifically related to aborion (“the issue” in the quote you give), I think we’re really back to #6.

    Wynette, I want to make it clear yet again that I have not made up my mind and this post was as much a thought experiment to help me understand the criteria I must meet before going to the extreme of voting for a 3rd candidate. They are quite a lofty set of requirements and if I had to guess, by the time I am done I will find that they will not be met and I’ll be voting for Doolittle. However, I think it is important to lay down the criteria and go through the thought process of whether those criteria are appropriate, before subjecting the specifics of the current race to those criteria.

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts (and others who read this blog) about whether the criteria I’ve developed are in and of themselves good criteria, separate from whether any particular race meets those criteria.

  3. Wynette Sills Says:

    With less than a week to go, Doolittle or Brown? And, how about Prop 85?