It’s 2024, which means it’s an election year, which means…what exactly?
The presidential primary season begins in less than two weeks, and the ridiculousness of this year’s cycle should not be overlooked. First, the primaries are foregone conclusions, met with all the enthusiasm of a parish singing “Be Not Afraid” for the 487th time in the past decade. Both the Democratic and Republican nominations are already locked up, at least on paper, and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who at first promised to shake things up a bit, hasn’t really moved the needle since he went Independent (and paradoxically started sounding more like a boring major party candidate).
Second, it’s very possible that at least one of the two presumptive major party nominees (and perhaps both!) will not actually be on the ballot come November. The Dems might drop President Biden due to his apparent death three years ago, and the GOP might not be allowed by the courts to put former President Trump on the ballot.
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Finally, even if both Biden and Trump make the November ballot, there are strong reasons to believe that the fix is in, and Trump won’t be allowed to retake the White House, no matter how many people vote for him.
Like I said, ridiculous. The absurdity of this year’s election, in fact, makes me wonder if there’s any point to voting at all—a conclusion I’ve been contemplating for the past few years already. Many factors have been moving me in that direction, but let me just mention a few.
The 2020 election and fallout is of course a major factor. Although I don’t believe that there’s definitive proof the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, if it was, that’s just proof that Trump was powerless to stop the deep state while he was in office. Trump supporters arguing that the election was stolen are just arguing for Trump’s impotence at this point.
Regardless if the 2020 election was stolen, however, it was a perfect dry run for the deep state for future elections. The 2020 election results were declared not by election boards nor by the courts, but by the media. There was still some question as to the results when the media, on the Saturday after the election, declared Biden the winner. It was then considered a fait accompli. Again, I’m not saying Biden wasn’t the legitimate winner, but I am saying the corporate media wasn’t going to allow another result to happen, regardless of the actual vote totals.
Think about it for a minute. Here we have a disputed election, with one candidate—the sitting President, at that—refusing to concede and demanding a closer look at the ballots. In response, the corporate media, the courts, and the Congress not only don’t look into this, they instead spend the next few years persecuting (and prosecuting) those who dared to question the results. The idea that we have a free press not beholden to the deep state is clearly a myth.
So even if the 2020 election was won by Biden fair and square, the Elites now have a precedent for actually overthrowing legitimate election results. They will be able to do anything they want in November, and they can be confident that the corporate media, as well as the other levers of the deep state, will allow them to get the result they want.
(Note: this doesn’t necessarily mean the Democrat will win. For example, if for some reason a deep state shill like Nikki Haley wins the GOP nomination, she likely would be an ideal president for the powers-that-be.) So even if the 2020 election was won by Biden fair and square, the Elites now have a precedent for actually overthrowing legitimate election results. Tweet This
Adding to my cynicism toward voting is the reality that, even in a fair election, your vote almost definitely doesn’t actually count, at least not in a presidential race. Most states are solidly Blue or Red, so presidential votes in those states definitely don’t matter. Even in the “Purple” states, your one vote has a statistically negligible impact. So, best case scenario, the chances of your vote mattering in a presidential election is less likely than being hit by lightning while sitting in a cave in the desert on a clear and sunny day.
Finally, let’s say you vote, and your vote counts, and your candidate wins the election. Hurray! Now what? Do you believe that he or she will be able to actually overcome the deep state and effect real change in the country? We already saw that a candidate that ran solely on this idea of draining the swamp ended up putting Anthony Fauci forward as the face of the federal Covid response.
With all this being said, I just might not vote this November. Should my fellow Catholics join me and sit out the 2024 presidential election?
The Catechism states that Catholics are morally obligated to vote:
Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country. (2240)
This is not a moral absolute, however. General negative moral prescriptions, such as “thou shalt not commit adultery” are typically absolute, but specific positive moral commands, such as “go out and vote,” often allow for exceptions when greater principles are at work. Catholics are obligated to obey traffic laws, for example, but can break them for a higher good, such as getting to a hospital in an emergency.
Are there, then, situations when a higher principle invalidates our obligation to vote? What if our voting gives legitimacy to a corrupt system? After all, voting signals approval that one supports and submits to the electoral process; what if a Catholic comes to the conclusion that we no longer have a legitimate process for selecting our national leader?
I ask these questions with some trepidation, to be sure. Crisis Magazine has been at the forefront of Catholic political participation for more than 40 years. Twenty years ago one of my predecessors was highly influential in the corridors of the White House. Most of our readers have always voted, and consider voting a serious, perhaps even sacred, duty. Who am I to call into question the whole system?
Let us look again at the Catechism. In the paragraph preceding the one that notes an obligation to exercise the right to vote, it states:
It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom. the love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. (2239)
This is the absolute moral obligation: we must contribute to the good of society. And this should be interpreted with subsidiarity in mind: I’m far more obligated to contribute to the good of my local community, or even my state, than I am to the needs of those living thousands of miles away from me.
How exactly each person contributes is up to him, and will correspond to his particular state in life (a mother with six kids under the age of 8 likely cannot be a political activist, for example). Might a Catholic believe that the best way to contribute to the good of society is to work for a radical (yet peaceful) reconstruction of the political system, in a way that includes not participating in the voting process? I think that’s a legitimate possibility.
I know some will call this defeatist thinking. “You’re a surrender monkey! We can’t walk away from the process—we have to work to change it!” Perhaps. Or perhaps the best way to change it is to let it die, while working to build up a new and better system. Maybe democracy—or at least a democratic republic like ours—has had its day and inevitably ends up a mess (arguments for other systems, such as monarchy or breaking apart the nation via secession, will have to be made another day).
All this being said, I still haven’t decided whether I’m voting in the 2024 presidential election. Decades of voting propaganda doesn’t wash away overnight. And if I do vote, I have no idea who I’ll vote for, although I know some candidates I will most definitely not vote for. Perhaps I’ll fill in a write-in candidate of my choosing (Ron Paul? Frodo Baggins?), so I check the box of fulfilling my obligation while not completely endorsing the overall system. We’ll see.
Please note that I don’t think Catholics who do participate in the 2024 presidential election are doing anything immoral, and at Crisis we will continue to run analysis about the candidates and the election from our stable of knowledgeable writers. Yet I think it’s possible that those who abstain from this election might be choosing the better path. When there’s little point in voting, perhaps it’s best to just stay at home on November 5th.