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Having Principles Means Having Fewer Choices

People don't always seem to understand this, but here it is: Having principles means having fewer choices.

That's true even when it feels like you could do something that might prevent a bad thing from happening. If that something goes against your principles, then either you won't do it, or you don't really hold that principle.

If you think torture is intrinsically evil, or that "going after" the families of your enemies is evil, you can't vote for someone who would do those things. I mean, you can, but don't pretend that torture or murder are against your principles.

If you think abortion is intrinsically evil, you can't vote pro-"choice". I mean, you can, but don't pretend that you're pro-life if you're willing to vote for a candidate who supports the right to choose pre-natal infanticide.

Casting a vote reveals what principles you truly have. A vote for Hillary isn't just a vote for Hillary -- it's a vote that demonstrates that a candidate with her principles will get your vote. Likewise with a vote for Trump. And the political class will take note, and adjust their future platforms accordingly.

The problem isn't just the candidates (although there are massive problems with the candidates). It's us.

This idea -- that having principles leaves us with fewer choices -- extends far beyond the election. But at least for this election, its consequences are clear.

Comments (108)

I plan to write in Mike Maturen and Jose Munoz of the American Solidarity Party, but is it not licit to vote to vote for the evil candidate who is not a complete narcissist and sociopath if my state is in close contention as Election Day approaches?
I thought the Catholic Church (with which I am not in communion, but I respect it) allowed a vote despite a pro-abortion stance, though never because of it.

I thought the Catholic Church (with which I am not in communion, but I respect it) allowed a vote despite a pro-abortion stance, though never because of it.

No.

I have a bit of resentment toward science for creating things like contraception, for medicine and other technology of the likes. If the Lord wills your death, then your death should be received with grace that you are chosen to pass. If a woman's life is threatened by a pregnancy, is it not the Lord's will that she should pass, and be a martyr of women? I'm sure if we didn't have medicine, the world would deplete, but so would disease. If one believe in the Lord and that the Lord will provide, should we still worry about overpopulation? That's what I wonder. Are bacteria taking over? Should we continue to practice medicine and pharmacology or is it blasphemous to do so?

Either Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton will be the next president. If Trump is bad and Clinton is very bad, I will mitigate the damages and vote for Trump. Principles does not enter into it except for determining which is the lesser evil. How does voting for some obscure person who cannot win mitigate the damage? Maybe you feel you have no duty to mitigate the damage and help prevent the very bad person from winning. Elections are a practical matter and your principles may not be one of the possible choices. I see my duty as choosing the better of the two choices.

If you think torture is intrinsically evil, or that "going after" the families of your enemies is evil, you can't vote for someone who would do those things. I mean, you can, but don't pretend that torture or murder are against your principles.

Nice try, Jake, but that's a false equivalency based on a falsity. Trump never said he was going to "kill" families. "Take out" can mean a variety of things. And when Trump was given a chance to clarify what he meant by "taking out," he said the following: "“I would be very, very firm with families. Frankly, that will make people think, because they may not care much about their lives, but they do care, believe it or not, about their families’ lives.”

So where exactly did Trump say he would kill innocent family members? You twisted the truth in order to produce a false equivalency.

I mean, you can, but don't pretend that torture or murder are against your principles.

Since when is torture intrinsically evil?


Casting a vote reveals what principles you truly have. A vote for Hillary isn't just a vote for Hillary -- it's a vote that demonstrates that a candidate with her principles will get your vote. Likewise with a vote for Trump. And the political class will take note, and adjust their future platforms accordingly.

Except nothing in Trump's platform advocates committing intrinsic evils. Much in Hillary's platform does. The responsible Catholic citizen can thus vote for Trump. In fact, in order to avoid complicity in intrinsic evil, the responsible Catholic citizen MUST vote for Trump.


This idea -- that having principles leaves us with fewer choices -- extends far beyond the election. But at least for this election, its consequences are clear.

The consequences are clear. Except, they aren't what you think they are. For the "consequences" entail that Catholics are morally obliged to vote for Trump.

are. For the "consequences" entail that Catholics are morally obliged to vote for Trump.

Heh.

What's so funny, Jake? One candidate supports intrinsic, grave evil (Hillary); the other candidate, as I've shown, does not (Trump).

Failing to act in this case, if a person has the means to act, to prevent the commission of intrinsic, grave evils is sinful. It is to sin by omission.

1) The Israeli Govt does target families of the terrorists. For instance, by rendering them homeless. There are also other ways--their children might be disenfranchised, refused certain conveniences etc.
Are these actions intrinsically immoral?
2) USA in the Indian wars did directly target families of the combatants.Often massacring them wholesale. Was this intrinsically immoral? So, those presidents that led those wars, it must have been immoral to vote for them too?

Speaking of the Indian wars, I've read that the US government contracted hunters (Buffalo Bill Cody, for example) to wipe out the buffalo populations in order to starve out the plains Indians and apparently it worked.

1) As you've described it, no. As long as the families are not literally left to die. Some deprivations are in order and quite acceptable as a deterrent to would-be terrorists.
2) Yes, that was intrinsically evil. And yes it would have been immoral to vote for the Presidents who did those things if one were aware, before the election, that they intended to do those things.

Failing to act in this case, if a person has the means to act, to prevent the commission of intrinsic, grave evils is sinful. It is to sin by omission.

If I am to follow your logic, I think one needn't use the word "intrinsic" here. If someone is about to commit a grave evil -- whether that act is intrinsically evil or not -- then he must act, or he is committing a sin of omission. Grave evil is grave evil, after all.

Is that your argument?

Not quite. For there are hypothetical circumstances under which a non-intrinsic, gravely evil act could be justified. In fact, there must be such possible circumstances, otherwise the evil in question would be intrinsic.

But, just to be clear, under such circumstances the act itself would not be evil, even though the outcome very well could be. (The absence of moral evil, but the presence of physical evil.)

there are hypothetical circumstances under which a non-intrinsic, gravely evil act could be justified.

You're speaking gibberish, Ghost. Let's nail this down better.

Abortion is an intrinsically evil act, so let's not deal with that.

Killing a person is not an intrinsically evil act. By "not intrinsically evil", we mean that it could be evil under some circumstances (e.g., if we are merely angry at that person) and not evil, i.e., justified, under others (e.g., in self-defense).

In the non-justified case, if you kill a person you are committing evil.

In the justified case, if you kill a person you are not committing evil.

This is not about outcomes, but about the acts themselves.

Are we agreed so far?

Yes.

Zippy beat you to it:

https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/evil-always-has-more-utilitarian-options-than-good/

It's unfortunate how often it needs to be said, but consequentialism is a heck of a drug.

Then let's revisit your original statement:

Failing to act in this case, if a person has the means to act, to prevent the commission of intrinsic, grave evils is sinful. It is to sin by omission.

I think the word "intrinsic" is unnecessary. Let's insert specific sins into this sentence instead of general ones to prove the point.

The following covers intrinsic evils:

Failing to act in this case, if a person has the means to act, to prevent the commission of abortion is sinful. It is to sin by omission.

The following covers acts that aren't intrinsically evil, but which may nevertheless be gravely evil in the event.

Failing to act in this case, if a person has the means to act, to prevent the commission of murder is sinful. It is to sin by omission.

"Murder", in this case, means "killing someone" but additionally denotes that this killing is unjustified.

This, then, is an almost-exact restatement of your case, without the unnecessary word "intrinsic". Do you agree that this is your argument?

Failing to act in this case, if a person has the means to act, to prevent the commission of grave evils is sinful. It is to sin by omission.

I might well have stolen it from Zippy, CJ. He says it forcefully and well -- but it bears repeating, because so many people seem to think that it's not true.

Sure, but there's an important epistemological difference here. In one case, I know the act that the person vocally supports is evil; in the other, I may not know, because the evilness depends on circumstances.

I'm not talking about voting yet. We need to understand the principle you're espousing before we apply it to voting specifically.

In other words, I'm trying to pin down your precise argument about what is and is not a sin of omission with respect to other people's actions.

So, is this your claim? "If you know that someone will commit a grave evil, and you have the means to prevent them from committing it, failing to act is sinful."

To be clear: If you know that someone will commit a grave evil, and the act they're committing isn't intrinsically evil, then of course you must know that it is evil in these specific circumstances.

Yes and yes.

Great! So let's check this principle to see its boundaries. Again, we're not applying it yet to voting, but looking at the principle itself.

Let's start here: What does it mean to say that we have the means to prevent them from committing a grave evil? Again, let's start with concrete examples rather than abstractions, to get a feel for what is going on.

Note that I'm not advocating anything in particular in the list below, in case anyone wants to claim that I am.

You have a friend who is a divorcee. She has told you that she's going to sleep with a new boyfriend, which is adultery against her husband. You have the power to do multiple things:
* Talk to her and try to prevent her from sleeping with him.
* Talk to him and try to prevent him from sleeping with her.
* Forcibly prevent him from entering her apartment.
* Pray for them.
* Call the husband to try to get him to intervene.

Which of those must I do in order to avoid a sin of omission? Any? All? Why? Are there other things that I must do that I haven't listed here?

Which of them may I choose to do, but I won't commit a sin of omission if I choose not to?

Are there any of those that I must not do? They are clearly in my power, so why is it not a sin of omission if I don't do them?

----

There is an abortion clinic in your area. You have the power to do multiple things:
* Protest outside the clinic, which could deter some women from entering.
* Bomb or in some other way sabotage the clinic, which would stop additional abortions from occurring.
* Pray for the women going into the clinic, which will influence some of them not to have abortions.
* Talk to the owner about eliminating the lease for the abortion clinic.

Which of those must I do in order to avoid a sin of omission? Any? All? Why? Are there other things that I haven't listed here?

Which of them may I choose to do, but I won't commit a sin of omission if I choose not to?

Are there any of those that I must not do? They are clearly in my power, so why is it not a sin of omission if I don't do them?

Remember, these aren't rhetorical questions. These help us understand the principle you're espousing.

I'll stop there for now. The why of your answers is equally important as the specifics.

I can already think of much more creative things I can do to spoil the mood or otherwise interfere in the adultery example:
* I can make a ruckus ouside her house / apartment / whatever and spoil the mood
* I can play loud music outside her door, the music being of a sort that's not conducive to sexual activity
* I can pound on her door until the cops come to arrest me and she has to make a statement
* I can throw pebbles at her window
* I can call her on the phone
* I can call her mother and ask her to call her on the phone
* I can call his mother and ask her to call him on the phone
* I can slide papers under her door that include the reasons not to commit adultery
* I can slip a live squirrel into her house / apartment / whatever

These have varying amounts of legality involved, and some of them will eventually get me arrested or have a restraining order slapped on me or something. But I have the power to do them all. There are probably an infinite number of things I can do in that situation, really.

Jake,

This is the key question: "What does it mean to say that we have the means to prevent them from committing a grave evil?"

Your two interesting examples have either already proven that I regularly commit sins of omission (daily? hourly?) or something is wrong with Ghost's analysis of what exactly a sin of omission involves (at least as it applies to voting.) But I think I'm jumping ahead a few steps...looking forward to Ghost's response!

Not just daily or hourly. Continuously, I think.

Jake, I'm laughing out loud about the live squirrel. You're doing great. Keep it up.

:) Realize that that one's funny, but the point isn't to be funny per se. The idea we're poking at here is serious, and the Ghost could easily find texts that back up the high level of what he said. Getting to brass tacks will help us understand what those texts mean.

Sins of omission are extremely slippery. I would go so far as to say that there are few clear-cut cases in which one can accuse someone else of a sin of omission, and almost certainly not in the political realm. There *are* clear-cut cases, but they are obvious and extreme. If I bring a baby home from the hospital, place him on the floor, and never make any effort feed him, until he dies, while I watch TV, that's a horrible sin of omission. I have responsibility for him and have deliberately starved him to death.

But one has to get inventive like that to have a cut-and-dried case. For every such cut-and-dried case there are probably, literally, an infinite number of cases that one could dream up in which it is by no means obvious that the person was obligated to act *at all*, much less in some particular, prescribed way.

If one wants to argue for a "sin of omission" in less drastic circumstances, it's easier to make a case where there is a systematic omission: Never exercising, not troubling oneself over political affairs out of sheer laziness, never offering to help anyone else, being selfish, etc.

Jake, I'm laughing out loud about the live squirrel. You're doing great. Keep it up.

Jake's right: this isn't funny, Lydia. We'll see if Jake's still laughing after Hillary gets elected, the culture continues in the direction it's been going on, and his 10 children ultimately get removed from his custody by child services b/c Jake told them that SSM is wrong.

Briefly:

The adultery scenario. I think the only thing incumbent on you is to tell him/her it's wrong and not to do it, and only if you think that he/she is sufficiently receptive to possibly change his/her mind. At any rate, what is suggested here is a hypothetical scenario involving the prudential employment of fraternal correction. The Catholic Encyclopedia lists the following criteria for the necessity to engage in fraternal correction: "the delinquency to be corrected or prevented is a grievous one; there is no good reason to believe that the sinner will adequately provide for himself; there is a well-founded expectation that the admonition will be heeded; there is no one else just as well fitted for this work of Christian charity and likely to undertake it; there is no special trouble or disadvantage accruing to the reformer as a result of his zeal."

Which brings me to the abortion scenario. The adultery scenario involved two people voluntarily engaging in a sin that directly affects the guilty parties, and does not directly involve the destruction of innocent life. It is qualitatively and quantitatively different from the abortion scenario. Qualitatively, because the abortion case involves evil being directly wrought on the innocent. (In the adultery case, the participants are guilty, and they reap what they sow. And no, the c*ckolded husband is not innocent; inasmuch as he assented to the divorce and separation of bed, he reaps what he sows as well. A bit of a raw deal for him, but there you go.) Quantitatively, because an up-and-running abortion clinic aid and abets murderers (moral evil) and results in multiple murders (physical evil); in other words, if you run the tally, there's a lot more evil being generated.

The other difference with the abortion scenario is that it involves a lot more actors and bearers of responsibility. You can't fraternally correct a legally-sanctioned killing organization. It's just a much messier case. Still, you can apply some of the principles of fraternal correction; in terms of reasonable chance of success, personal cost, the sin of vigilantism (for reasons St Thomas points out, this is almost always a no-go), etc.

But let's get back to the voting for Trump case. I realize you want to pour a large pitcher of casuistry and obscurantism over it, so you can keep you conscience clear. I understand that.

It comes down to this. If Trump wins and appoints pro-life justices, there's a non-zero chance of saving hundreds of thousands of lives by virtue of a judicial review of Roe v. Wade made possible by at least two new SCOTUS appointees. If Hillary wins, it's a moral certainty that the slaughter will continue. All you have to do is get off your duff and vote Trump. Doing so involves no cost to you and effects the outcome, however slight.

And there's more. What do you think the effect will be on the culture to have another Democrat in office for four more years, especially one with a compliant SCOTUS? You're a smart guy, Jake. Think it through.

But let's get back to the voting for Trump case. I realize you want to pour a large pitcher of casuistry and obscurantism over it, so you can keep you conscience clear. I understand that.

Be pointlessly hostile and condescending on the Internet much?

All you have to do is get off your duff

Because anyone who disagrees with you is a lazy lout who wants to sit on his duff.

It's amazing how careful and systematic Jake is being while you're wasting your pixels on cheap shots like that. Speaking of utilitarian calculations, it might occur to you that that sort of nonsense accomplishes less than nothing good.

Be pointlessly hostile and condescending on the Internet much?

Aiming for a monopoly or something?

As for Peri's point, I agree, but I want to go back to something Jake said.

Likewise with a vote for Trump. And the political class will take note, and adjust their future platforms accordingly.

That's oversimplified to the extreme. They don't always adjust their platforms: they often adjust how they communicate. They attempt to persuade you further. And one of their key ways of doing so is by screaming 'racist!', 'sexist!' and 'shame!' on people.

A move which, by refusing to vote for Trump, I suppose one is therefore endorsing.

If those are your principles, bad news: you have rotten principles.

Lydia,

Be pointlessly hostile and condescending on the Internet much?

I really believe what I've described is what Jake's trying to do here. I'm not trying to be hostile or condescending. As I've said (in a deleted post), that's not my personality. I'm irenic, and always try to be fair with people. At the same time, I speak my mind.

Because anyone who disagrees with you is a lazy lout who wants to sit on his duff.

It wasn't an insinuation of laziness. It was implying how little personal cost there is to voting, how easy it is, etc.

It's amazing how careful and systematic Jake is being while you're wasting your pixels on cheap shots like that. Speaking of utilitarian calculations, it might occur to you that that sort of nonsense accomplishes less than nothing good.

From his author description and from what I've read of his, Jake seems like a great guy. Catholic, family man, and all that. I respect him. At the same time, I have to level with him. That's all I'm doing.

We'll see if Jake's still laughing after Hillary gets elected, the culture continues in the direction it's been going on, and his 10 children ultimately get removed from his custody by child services b/c Jake told them that SSM is wrong.

If my ten children ultimately get removed from my home by child services because I taught them that same-sex "marriage" isn't actually marriage, it will be because the culture has continued in the direction it's been going on, not because Hillary got elected.

This is made doubly clear by the fact that Hillary only supports same-sex "marriage" because it's politically expedient: c.f. the video in which she declares her belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. If the culture were such that it opposed Hillary's positions, we wouldn't be having this conversation. That's why repentance is so much more important than politics.

Since your claim that I am obligated to vote for Trump is based on my ability to do so, I think we need to pursue that further.

I think the only thing incumbent on you is to tell him/her it's wrong and not to do it, and only if you think that he/she is sufficiently receptive to possibly change his/her mind.

This is the interesting bit. Your claim, which we slowly and carefully elucidated, was that "If you know that someone will commit a grave evil, and you have the means to prevent them from committing it, failing to act is sinful." It's obvious that there are other things you could do beyond telling them that it's wrong and not to do it. I've listed some of them.

Understand, I get that you think we need to do is talk to him, her, or them. My question is, why is your responsibility limited to this one act out of the infinite set of possible acts?

Put differently, why aren't these other things that are in your power also part of your obligation?

The adultery scenario involved two people voluntarily engaging in a sin that directly affects the guilty parties, and does not directly involve the destruction of innocent life. It is qualitatively and quantitatively different from the abortion scenario.

I have to go back to your claim: It says "If you know that someone will commit a grave evil..." Adultery is a grave evil. Abortion is also a grave evil, and yes, I would say it's the worse of the two. But they are both grave evils. That leads me to the following questions:

1. Was your claim misstated? Should the conditional be something more like, "If you know that someone will commit a grave evil that results in loss of life...", or something else yet?

2. If your claim was misstated, does that mean that we have additional actions in the case of abortion? If so, will you please review the list of actions I made above and answer the questions related to them? (That is, are all of them compulsory, any of them compulsory, any that I must not do, etc.)

3. If your claim was not misstated, will you please explain what criteria you used to determine which actions are required to avoid sins of omission in the abortion scenario vs. those that are required to avoid sins of omission in the adultery scenario, and why you believe those criteria are critical?

I should add, I guess, that it would be far easier to shut up and say nothing than to talk about these things. Voting is much easier. So if I have a major malfunction, it has to do with my brain or my mouth, not my duff.

I agree with Crude that the political class will change their modes of communication as well as their platforms. I'm not sure why he thinks that voting for Trump will reduce the amount they yell "sexist!" or "racist!", though, or why not voting for Trump would endorse such languag .

If anything, a vote for Trump seems like it would endorse the crudity that has become part of his campaign, which surely won't do anything to reduce those cries from the other side.

A vote for Trump is a vote for civility? No. No, probably not.

If my ten children ultimately get removed from my home by child services because I taught them that same-sex "marriage" isn't actually marriage, it will be because the culture has continued in the direction it's been going on, not because Hillary got elected.

And there's a real causal relationship between Hillary getting elected and the political--if not also the social, following to some degree in tow--cultural trajectory strengthening its current course. Trump's net effect on the social culture is unknown; betting odds is that it will continue slouching toward Gomorrah. What seems certain is that he will, at minimum, redirect the political culture in a more favorable way. Or do you dispute that?

This is made doubly clear by the fact that Hillary only supports same-sex "marriage" because it's politically expedient: c.f. the video in which she declares her belief that marriage is between a man and a woman. If the culture were such that it opposed Hillary's positions, we wouldn't be having this conversation. That's why repentance is so much more important than politics.

Hillary is the social culture's marionette. That's why she's so dangerous. Trump--to some extent, at least--is not. True, repentance is more important than politics, but the social culture can't be healed if the political culture destroys the ability and wherewithal for anyone to do any healing.

Since your claim that I am obligated to vote for Trump is based on my ability to do so, I think we need to pursue that further.

OK.

This is the interesting bit. Your claim, which we slowly and carefully elucidated, was that "If you know that someone will commit a grave evil, and you have the means to prevent them from committing it, failing to act is sinful." It's obvious that there are other things you could do beyond telling them that it's wrong and not to do it. I've listed some of them.

That was my claim, and I agree.

Understand, I get that you think we need to do is talk to him, her, or them. My question is, why is your responsibility limited to this one act out of the infinite set of possible acts?

It's not limited to that. As I said, it was a moral minimum, under the right conditions. In other words, under the right conditions, if you did just that, you wouldn't be sinning by omission.

Put differently, why aren't these other things that are in your power also part of your obligation?

There's scriptural guidance for fraternal correction; how to do it, etc. It's been developed by Catholic tradition. Almost all of it involves talking with the sinner. There's neither any tradition nor any scripture passage about releasing squirrels into people's homes or illegally putting people under house arrest to stop them from engaging in sin.

I have to go back to your claim: It says "If you know that someone will commit a grave evil..." Adultery is a grave evil. Abortion is also a grave evil, and yes, I would say it's the worse of the two. But they are both grave evils. That leads me to the following questions: 1. Was your claim misstated? Should the conditional be something more like, "If you know that someone will commit a grave evil that results in loss of life...", or something else yet?

I don't think it was misstated, so much as it was cursory and informal. In other words, if I were writing in Philosophia Christi, I either would have turned that statement into a paragraph or given it a massive clarifying footnote.

2. If your claim was misstated, does that mean that we have additional actions in the case of abortion? If so, will you please review the list of actions I made above and answer the questions related to them? (That is, are all of them compulsory, any of them compulsory, any that I must not do, etc.)

No, I don't have time for that. I'm not taking the day off to go into excruciating detail about what is a very intricate prudential question.

3. If your claim was not misstated, will you please explain what criteria you used to determine which actions are required to avoid sins of omission in the abortion scenario vs. those that are required to avoid sins of omission in the adultery scenario, and why you believe those criteria are critical?

The criteria in the adultery case are pretty much same as those for any case in which fraternal correction is appropriate.

As I've said, the abortion case is significantly more complex. What's the goal? Stopping this particular woman walking into the clinic from slaughtering, stopping the clinic from slaughtering, overturning the law that's allowing the clinic to slaughter?

It's a helluva lot more complex and a question of prudence. What's clear is that doing nothing is morally unacceptable.

Taking it back to Trump. Not voting is doing nothing. Now you could reply, "I'll be like David French, and take on legal cases that are important for the conservative/pro-life cause; I'll write against abortion on this blog; in short, I'll do things which absolve me from being morally obliged to vote Trump."

The issue with this approach is that not voting has a real, known effect on an outcome whose weight absolutely crushes the significance of almost every other personal effort you make to prevent evil. Voting is also easy, which means if you don't do it, you sure as heck better have some grave reasons for not doing so.

I agree with Crude that the political class will change their modes of communication as well as their platforms. I'm not sure why he thinks that voting for Trump will reduce the amount they yell "sexist!" or "racist!", though, or why not voting for Trump would endorse such languag .

I'll leave it to Crude to make the case for this, if he wants to.

My only response is simply to say I'm incredulous at your incredulity. In fact, Jake, to be honest with you, your incredulity on this point makes me kind of angry.

I'll get to the other comment in a bit, but this really surprises me: You're angry with me because I don't believe that voting for Trump will reduce the left's propensity for yelling "racist" and "sexist"?

In other words, you think that a Trump presidency will reduce Leftist name-calling?

And/or you think that not voting for Trump is an endorsement of such name-calling?

I'll get to the other comment in a bit, but this really surprises me: You're angry with me because I don't believe that voting for Trump will reduce the left's propensity for yelling "racist" and "sexist"?

I wasn't angry with you per se. I was just angry at the state of things. At any rate, I'm not angry anymore.

In other words, you think that a Trump presidency will reduce Leftist name-calling?

Leftist name-calling would be total joke if it didn't have social/political power. Now, most people can deal with some degree of social ostracism. But when that social ostracism gets ensconced into law? Law suits get filed (and won)? People get run out of jobs and chased out of the public square? Let's not kid ourselves; that kind of stuff trickles down from on high. The President--his policies and appointments--either encourage it or discourage it. And it has a big effect.

And/or you think that not voting for Trump is an endorsement of such name-calling?

Well it certainly isn't helping things.

Okay. I don't know that I agree with you fully about the general principle, and I definitely don't agree with respect to Trump, but that's separate from questions of moral obligation, so I'll let it go for now.

I agree with Crude that the political class will change their modes of communication as well as their platforms.

I don't believe the 'political class' will change their platforms, many times. I don't think the concerns of voters re: immigration matters to the political class. On that topic, the only thing that changing the platforms is literally changing the political class.

I'm not sure why he thinks that voting for Trump will reduce the amount they yell "sexist!" or "racist!", though, or why not voting for Trump would endorse such languag .

In part, since Trump is expressly fighting that kind of reasoning and tone policing - 'You can't say immigrants bring crime, that's racist! You can't say that woman is incompetent, that's sexist!' And one's refusal to vote is as much an expression of principles as one's decision to vote for a particular candidate.

So refusing to cast a vote means that fighting such a thing isn't a big concern after all. Or it's outweighed by other factors like... what, he's insulting at times?

If anything, a vote for Trump seems like it would endorse the crudity that has become part of his campaign, which surely won't do anything to reduce those cries from the other side.

If Trump wins, it will signify that those cries no longer have much sway, which would itself go some way towards reducing them or their effectiveness. It's a twisted, Frenchian kind of logic which dictates that the best way to fight against PC language and thought policing is to strictly police your language and thought until these people stop complaining.

If my ten children ultimately get removed from my home by child services because I taught them that same-sex "marriage" isn't actually marriage, it will be because the culture has continued in the direction it's been going on, not because Hillary got elected.

You're acting as if the election of the president is irrelevant to culture, which is quite a position to take. Or better yet, that public chastizing and condemnation of people for their language is just completely distinct from that PC culture.

People may want to speak up against the removal of your children, but since suggesting that harsh criticisms of sodomy may be a case of unthinkable, punish-worthy crudity by then, they'll keep quiet. After all, while you may love your children, toleration of crudespeak is way, way too high of a price to keep them.

But don't worry. You can be assured that whoever is tasked with raising them will make 'Never, ever, EVER say or think anything we consider crude' to be a top priority, and that attacking and criticizing those who say or even support speakers of crude language is of the utmost importance.

To prioritize the all-holy fight against 'crudity' in this way is a case of rotten principles.

Trump's net effect on the social culture is unknown; betting odds is that it will continue slouching toward Gomorrah. What seems certain is that he will, at minimum, redirect the political culture in a more favorable way. Or do you dispute that?

This part of your argument is essentially a bet that Trump will be better for our culture than Hillary will be. As such, it's a question of prudential judgment, and certainly not part of an argument that I'm morally obligated to vote for Trump. It is, therefore, a distraction rather than part of our argument.

Therefore I'll ignore it except to say, yes, I dispute that "he will, at minimum, redirect the political culture in a more favorable way." Since it's a distraction, I'll leave details for another time.

Me:

My question is, why is your responsibility limited to this one act out of the infinite set of possible acts?

Ghost:

It's not limited to that. As I said, it was a moral minimum, under the right conditions. In other words, under the right conditions, if you did just that, you wouldn't be sinning by omission.

I'm sorry, but I need to pause again to clarify terms.

The way I understand and use the terms, I have an obligation to do something if I have a responsibility to do it. If I don't have a responsibility to do something, I don't have an obligation to do it.

But I could use "moral minimum" the same way. I have an obligation to do something if it's the moral minimum. If something is more than the moral minimum, I don't have an obligation to do it.

So if this one act (confronting the adulteress) is the moral minimum for this situation, then my responsibility for this situation is limited to confronting the adulteress.

So I'm still back to the question, why is my responsibility limited to this one act, to the exclusion of the myriad other possible actions?

If you want me to use your language, I can phrase it this way: Why is this the moral minimum, rather than something else?

You sorta-kinda answer that here, I think:

There's scriptural guidance for fraternal correction; how to do it, etc. It's been developed by Catholic tradition. Almost all of it involves talking with the sinner. There's neither any tradition nor any scripture passage about releasing squirrels into people's homes or illegally putting people under house arrest to stop them from engaging in sin.

But your claim said, "If you know that someone will commit a grave evil, and you have the means to prevent them from committing it, failing to act is sinful."

It didn't say, "If you know that someone will commit a grave evil, and you have scriptural guidance that has been developed by Catholic tradition that shows you how to intervene, failing to act is sinful."

It didn't say, "If you know that someone will commit a grave evil, and fraternal correction is appropriate, then failing to give fraternal correction is sinful."

So I'm currently left back where I started: If I know that someone will commit a grave evil, how do I know what kind of interventions are appropriate? How do I know what the "moral minimum" is, such that if I do less than that, I will be committing a sin of omission?

As such, it's a question of prudential judgment, and certainly not part of an argument that I'm morally obligated to vote for Trump. It is, therefore, a distraction rather than part of our argument.

I do find it rather interesting that there is such passion (to put it mildly) on the side that is making, really from the beginning to the end, a prudential argument. I see this even in people who are (to my mind) doing a better job of it than the interlocutors in this particular thread. But it's a little odd. If one's entire argument is based on estimates of probability that are *by no means* cut and dried, followed by estimates of one's own prudential obligations to act based on those estimates of probability, that seems like the obvious sort of case where reasonable men can differ. This is precisely _not_ the side that is saying that such-and-such is an intrinsic wrong. That's the *other* side.

Yet, after an entire slew of essentially prudential arguments, one gets this firm, downright, "You are obligated to vote Trump and if you don't you're committing a sin" type of conclusion (often stated with a good deal of bitterness, sarcasm, anger, etc.) that seems like it hardly even *could* be justified by the type of argument that it concludes. I see it constantly, on Facebook, blogs, everywhere. It's very striking.

First, I'll be clear that I'm not a non-voter. I'm just not choosing either Hillary or Trump. Telling me what "not voting" means to you is irrelevant. I suspect that voting third-party or doing a write-in will get the same responses I'm getting, but I thought I should make that clear.

In part, since Trump is expressly fighting that kind of reasoning and tone policing

So, because a candidate fights something I disagree with, I must vote for him or I agree with the thing I disagree with?

Well, no... So it must be something else. Perhaps it means that "it's outweighed by other factors". That would be more like it. There are loads of reasons not to vote for Trump. I could enumerate them, but you've seen the reasons already.

If Trump wins, it will signify that those cries no longer have much sway, which would itself go some way towards reducing them or their effectiveness.

I submit that you misunderstand the situation.

We show that cries no longer have much sway when we demonstrate that they embody concerns that people shouldn't be concerned about. One example is Scott Walker: He was anti-school, anti-poor, etc., but when he implemented his policies, the schools got better and the economy improved.

With Trump, the labels fit. He really is sexist (not just a sex-realist), racist (not just a race-realist), a demogogue, and an authoritarian. Since the labels fit, they would be effective. The truth can be used as a weapon even better than a lie can.

It's a twisted, Frenchian kind of logic which dictates that the best way to fight against PC language and thought policing is to strictly police your language and thought until these people stop complaining.

I didn't say that and don't mean anything like it.

You're acting as if the election of the president is irrelevant to culture, which is quite a position to take.

It's not irrelevant, but it's logically posterior to culture.

To prioritize the all-holy fight against 'crudity' in this way is a case of rotten principles.

This is a silly way to interpret what I've said.

There are loads of reasons not to vote for Trump.

Sure. He's anti-PC, he opposes abortion, he's a nationalist, he opposes massive muslim migration, he opposes unilateral disarmament in free trade, he's popular with those disgusting white-trash communities that need to die, he attacks the press for being biased, etc.

Those are certainly the reasons I see cited most often.

With Trump, the labels fit. He really is sexist (not just a sex-realist), racist (not just a race-realist), a demogogue, and an authoritarian.

If you think that Trump's acts 'really are racist' or 'really are sexist', much less in any morally condemnable way, then once again: your principles are rotten. 'Demagogue' and 'authoritarian' are just as inane, but they're also side-issues compared to those two.

It's not irrelevant, but it's logically posterior to culture.

Only if you're thinking with your posterior. This is not a case of strict one-direction cause and effect.

This is a silly way to interpret what I've said.

Merely apt. Really Jake, at this point I half-expect you to react to a question of 'How is Trump racist?' with a 'Are you freaking kidding me!?' or equivalent.

Hillary thanks you for your continued support.

It seems that our interactions have reached the limit of their value, Crude. I wish you well.

It seems that our interactions have reached the limit of their value, Crude.

No, I think demonstrating the failures and inadequacies of your approach has yet more value.

Please, deliver the coup de grace. Demonstrate how Trump 'really is racist'. Put some meat on those bones. Or will 'are you freaking kidding me' be the cry after all?

Trump called Hillary the "founder of ISIS". This is, I suspect, something neverTrumpers can not abide for it implicates USA. Andrew McCarthy at NRO yesterday castigated the Beltway Republicans for their support of the Obama-Clinton policy in Libya and for colluding in the smuggling of arms from Libya to Syrian jihadists. You see, they never probe into why America had a consulate in Benghazi or what was the Ambassador Stevens doing there.

The consequences are clear indeed.

.

This is, I suspect, something neverTrumpers can not abide for it implicates USA.

That's it! That's why I'm so adamant on this matter! Bedarz, how in the world did you ever find me out??

(Uh, actually, I never even heard of that particular comment before now, I was against the 2nd Iraq war and appalled by U.S. policy in Libya, but, yeah, *that's* what it's all about.)

I am not going to get into the discussion of the politics of voting for Trump, but I do want to discuss the moral theology being put forth with regards to voting for Trump in the comments, because they are, somewhat muddled.

To begin with, it is the first principle of moral theology that one may not do evil that good may come from it. Now, abortion is an intrinsic evil and no one can, reasonably, support an intrinsic evil. Thus, Clinton, being pro-abort,supports an intrinsic evil. There are nine classical ways to be an accomplice to sin:

By counsel.
By command.
By consent.
By provocation.
By praise or flattery.
By concealment.
By partaking.
By silence.
By defense of the evil done

Voting for Clinton is positive remote consent with evil (supporting her support of abortion rights) and no one may, morally, do so, especially if a non-sinful option (Trump) exists. To vote for Clinton is a sin of commission as an accomplice.

The question is, is then, one morally obligated to vote for Trump? The answer is, no. This is because of the Catholic principle of Probabilism, which states that (from the online 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia article, Probabilism):

"Probabilism is the moral system which holds that, when there is question solely of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of an action, it is permissible to follow a solidly probable opinion in favour of liberty even though the opposing view is more probable."

The Wikipedia article has more information.

Even if Trump appears to be right on all of the issues, nevertheless, one would only be obligated to vote for him if one had certain knowledge that his positions were, in fact, correct. There have been many times when things appeared to be correct, only, later, to be found to be disastrously wrong. St. Thomas makes this very point about obligation and certain knowledge:

"St. Thomas maintained that a precept does not bind except through the medium of knowledge: "Unde nullus ligatur per praeceptum aliquod nisi mediante scientia illius" ("De Veritate", Q. xvii, a. 3); and Probabilists are accustomed to point out that knowledge implies certainty."

Thus, one cannot be morally obligated to vote for Trump if there is at least one other action (voting for some other candidate, etc.) which has a fair probability of being an acceptable moral choice. Where there is no moral obligation, there cannot be a sin of omission or commission. Thus, there is no sin of omission in not voting for Trump. Political expediency is a separate topic and you guys can discuss this. In other words, voting for Trump is a merely prudential moral matter, not an obligatory one.

As for the examples for fraternal correction proposed, above, not enough information is given in the examples to determine if a positive moral obligation exists. There are five criteria for deciding if there is an obligation to fraternally correct someone (from the Catholic Encyclopedia article, Fraternal Correction):

"Given a sufficiently grave condition of spiritual distress calling for succour in this way, this commandment may exact fulfilment under pain of mortal sin. This is reckoned to be so only when

the delinquency to be corrected or prevented is a grievous one;
there is no good reason to believe that the sinner will adequately provide for himself;
there is a well-founded expectation that the admonition will be heeded;
there is no one else just as well fitted for this work of Christian charity and likely to undertake it;
there is no special trouble or disadvantage accruing to the reformer as a result of his zeal."

The Chicken

Very much along the lines of what MC is saying about moral theology, here is our former blog colleague Jeff Culbreath making an interesting comparison to using vaccinations made from aborted fetal tissue.

https://culbreath.wordpress.com/2016/05/08/donald-trump-vaccines-and-the-lesser-of-evils/

Bedarz,

Trump called Hillary the "founder of ISIS". This is, I suspect, something neverTrumpers can not abide for it implicates USA.

One of the big fears of Trump is that he's an isolationist, with far less of an interest in nation-building. I sometimes wonder how much of that is due to a lot of people being pretty useless if the hornet's nests of the world aren't being kicked. Of course, almost as bad is getting pinned with blame for some of the problems in the world.

Of course, there's other issues. Immigration is one, and I say with a heavy heart, the churches seem bound up in that one. Church leaders of various stripes recognize that if they're not importing immigrants, their flocks would be very small, and they'd either become far less relevant (ugh) or would have to devote tremendous effort to converting/bringing back the natives (UGH) if they wanted to continue to be a 'community leader' worth a damn. To say nothing of the fears of being accused of 'not being loving' by people who treat abortion and sodomy as secular sacraments.

I hadn't brought this into the realm of sin, only principle. When Ghost of Perelandra brought up the idea that it's sinful not to vote for Trump, I pursued that.

If the issue of sin has been put to bed, we can limit the rest of the discussion to principle.

Ghost, do you agree with the analysis put forth by the Masked Chicken?

This part of your argument is essentially a bet that Trump will be better for our culture than Hillary will be. As such, it's a question of prudential judgment, and certainly not part of an argument that I'm morally obligated to vote for Trump. It is, therefore, a distraction rather than part of our argument.

Nope. Given that Hillary vocally supports grave, intrinsic evil, and given that Trump does not, it is a moral certainty that the former candidate will cause or be accessory to grave, intrinsic evil, while the latter will not. The cultural considerations are more big picture and a side issue.

Therefore I'll ignore it except to say, yes, I dispute that "he will, at minimum, redirect the political culture in a more favorable way." Since it's a distraction, I'll leave details for another time.

It's not a distraction; it simply gives increased gravitas to the case being made.


The way I understand and use the terms, I have an obligation to do something if I have a responsibility to do it. If I don't have a responsibility to do something, I don't have an obligation to do it.

That's right.

But I could use "moral minimum" the same way. I have an obligation to do something if it's the moral minimum. If something is more than the moral minimum, I don't have an obligation to do it.

Yep.

So if this one act (confronting the adulteress) is the moral minimum for this situation, then my responsibility for this situation is limited to confronting the adulteress.

Yep.

So I'm still back to the question, why is my responsibility limited to this one act, to the exclusion of the myriad other possible actions?

If you want me to use your language, I can phrase it this way: Why is this the moral minimum, rather than something else?

You sorta-kinda answer that here, I think:

There's scriptural guidance for fraternal correction; how to do it, etc. It's been developed by Catholic tradition. Almost all of it involves talking with the sinner. There's neither any tradition nor any scripture passage about releasing squirrels into people's homes or illegally putting people under house arrest to stop them from engaging in sin.
But your claim said, "If you know that someone will commit a grave evil, and you have the means to prevent them from committing it, failing to act is sinful."

It didn't say, "If you know that someone will commit a grave evil, and you have scriptural guidance that has been developed by Catholic tradition that shows you how to intervene, failing to act is sinful."

It didn't say, "If you know that someone will commit a grave evil, and fraternal correction is appropriate, then failing to give fraternal correction is sinful."

So I'm currently left back where I started: If I know that someone will commit a grave evil, how do I know what kind of interventions are appropriate? How do I know what the "moral minimum" is, such that if I do less than that, I will be committing a sin of omission?

You have to perform the analysis on a case-by-case basis. That's why I said earlier that bringing in adultery and abortion scenarios, while useful in making some important points, was also muddying the waters.

"With Trump, the labels fit. He really is sexist (not just a sex-realist), racist (not just a race-realist)..."

Given that the key claim of your initial post (i.e., that Trump advocates killing terrorists' family members) was shown to be false, and that your argument seems to rest on the claim that 'there are compelling reasons to not vote for Trump, even though not doing so will help Hillary get elected,' Crude's right: you need to back these charges up. Otherwise, your argument is sheer assertion and can be dismissed out-of-hand.

Bedarz wrote:

Trump called Hillary the "founder of ISIS".

How DARE he! It's amazing to me that otherwise sensible people, people likely familiar with various kinds of nuanced historico-critical methods of Bible-reading, suddenly can only abide the-letter-killeth, fundamentalist-literalist interpretations of whatever Trump says.

Lydia wrote:
one's entire argument is based on estimates of probability that are *by no means* cut and dried, followed by estimates of one's own prudential obligations to act based on those estimates of probability, that seems like the obvious sort of case where reasonable men can differ. This is precisely _not_ the side that is saying that such-and-such is an intrinsic wrong. That's the *other* side.
Well step to it, Lydia. How would you respond to the "side" that argues from 'intrinsic wrong'?

MC wrote:

The question is, is then, one morally obligated to vote for Trump? The answer is, no. This is because of the Catholic principle of Probabilism, which states that (from the online 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia article, Probabilism):

"Probabilism is the moral system which holds that, when there is question solely of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of an action, it is permissible to follow a solidly probable opinion in favour of liberty even though the opposing view is more probable."

The Wikipedia article has more information.

Even if Trump appears to be right on all of the issues, nevertheless, one would only be obligated to vote for him if one had certain knowledge that his positions were, in fact, correct.

One days have morally certain knowledge that Trump's positions are correct. (By the way, that's the best kind of certainty you can get when dealing with human beings.)

Thus, we may safely conclude that one is obligated to vote for Trump. Thank you.

As for the examples for fraternal correction proposed, above, not enough information is given in the examples to determine if a positive moral obligation exists. There are five criteria for deciding if there is an obligation to fraternally correct someone (from the Catholic Encyclopedia article, Fraternal Correction):

That's what I said, and then I listed the exact same criteria from the Catholic Encyclopedia. If you're going to make the charge that the moral theology discussed in the comments on this thread is "somewhat muddled," the least you can do is shown that you've actually read the comments.

A final note:

Lydia, what happened to you? Back in the day, you wrote a whole article calling for a ban on Muslim immigration to this country, and over several years you've written a slew of anti-abortion posts. Now, it's 2016, and Trump has not only assured us that he will appoint pro-life justices to the court (and he, uniquely, will be in a position to appoint more than one justice), but he's the first presidential candidate to EVER call for a ban on Muslim immigration! I figured you'd be overjoyed. But no, all of this must not matter because Trump told MK she had "blood coming out her wherever."

And what the heck happened to his site? It's gone from being brazen, in-your-face anti-liberal to scolding Milo over tweets.

But the key indicator is this: Back in the day, Br!an Le!ter used to lose sleep over this blog, waxing apoplectic and constantly fuming about it under the 'Texas Taliban Alerts' tag on his website, Liar Distorts. It should tell you something that this no longer happens. In fact, one imagines Le!ter in a dark room, with only his face visible in light of the screen, reading WWWtW's recent anti-Trump stuff, muttering to himself, "Preach it, Lydia. Preach it, Jake."

Speaking of moral certainties, here's one: if Le!ter agrees with you, you know you're wrong.

Brief correction:

Jake wrote :

This part of your argument is essentially a bet that Trump will be better for our culture than Hillary will be. As such, it's a question of prudential judgment, and certainly not part of an argument that I'm morally obligated to vote for Trump. It is, therefore, a distraction rather than part of our argument.

I responded:

Nope. Given that Hillary vocally supports grave, intrinsic evil, and given that Trump does not, it is a moral certainty that the former candidate will cause or be accessory to grave, intrinsic evil, while the latter will not. The cultural considerations are more big picture and a side issue.

Sorry, Jake, in my haste I completely misread you. Please ignore the above response.

As for MC, I agree with this claim of his:

Even if Trump appears to be right on all of the issues, nevertheless, one would only be obligated to vote for him if one had certain knowledge that his positions were, in fact, correct.

But we differ inasmuch as I believe that we DO have (morally) certain knowledge that Trump's positions are correct. Hence, the moral obligation to vote for Trump follows.

"That's what I said, and then I listed the exact same criteria from the Catholic Encyclopedia. If you're going to make the charge that the moral theology discussed in the comments on this thread is "somewhat muddled," the least you can do is shown that you've actually read the comments."

I realized that you talked about fraternal correction, but I felt it necessary to explicitly spell out the conditions under which it becomes obligatory to fraternally correct someone, because it that is not, always, the case.

"But we differ inasmuch as I believe that we DO have (morally) certain knowledge that Trump's positions are correct. Hence, the moral obligation to vote for Trump follows."

Certain knowledge and morally certain knowledge are not quite the same. Morally certain knowledge, for instance, is the criteria by which annulments are granted in the Catholic Church, but many of these decrees of nullity might have been based on psychological theories which have, now, been shown to be incomplete, so if the guidance of a psychologist is part of the moral certainty, it does not rise to the level of speculative (theoretical) certainty, but, merely empirical certainty, which depends on how the experiment is run, the assumptions, etc. This was part of the problem with the priest scandal, because some bishops were told by psychologists that the pedophiles could be treated and re-assigned. The bishops were morally certain, but morally certain judgments are not infallible.

Moral certainty is practical. The sort of certainty to require obligation is a little more stringent. If someone tells you that you have an obligation to do something, first of all, the speculative or theoretical judgment kicks in - is this action sinful - once it passes the speculative judgment, then it becomes a matter of practical judgment - ought I to do this? Now, one may be morally certain that Trump's positions are correct, but this does not rise to the level of theoretical knowledge of real certainty that they are, indeed, correct (it is still, merely a probability assessment). Given that the speculative aspect of the judgment is not certain, but merely probable, one may use probabilism to arrive at the practical action. Hence, again, because, say, the Trump's immigration issue is a matter of probability of being correct, not actual certainty (even if one feels that the probability is, "close enough," to make it morally certain), one is not obligated to vote for it.

Now, on the other hand, if your conscience to a moral certainty tells you that you must vote for Trump, that is another matter. Assuming that you have a well-formed conscience, your conscience might, indeed, morally bind you to vote for Trump, while someone, else, with an equally well-formed conscience might not be so bound. Thus, there is no general obligation that binds all, but it might bind some.

The Chicken

P. S. Sorry for any typing errors. My vision is very blurry, today (I think my optic nerves are swollen)

Well step to it, Lydia. How would you respond to the "side" that argues from 'intrinsic wrong'?

No, I meant that I'm the one arguing that it can be intrinsically wrong to vote for a wicked candidate. It's you guys who are arguing from your estimate of practical consequences. So you should be more willing to live and let live with those who disagree with you--either concerning probable consequences or concerning the most prudent response to those estimates of consequences.


Lydia, what happened to you? Back in the day, you wrote a whole article calling for a ban on Muslim immigration to this country, and over several years you've written a slew of anti-abortion posts. Now, it's 2016, and Trump has not only assured us that he will appoint pro-life justices to the court (and he, uniquely, will be in a position to appoint more than one justice), but he's the first presidential candidate to EVER call for a ban on Muslim immigration! I figured you'd be overjoyed. But no, all of this must not matter because Trump told MK she had "blood coming out her wherever."

I still support a ban on Muslim immigration. I call everyone to witness that it deserves better than to be associated with the name of this particular candidate. That's one of the worst things that could have happened to a good idea.

I'm trying to figure out why, "So-and-so has assured us ________," where ______ words that are coming out of his mouth happen to be something I've advocated, is supposed to mean automatically that I'm overjoyed with his candidacy. Or even support it at all.

Surely it doesn't take too much imagination to realize that being or not being overjoyed at a candidacy, supporting or not supporting a candidate, is not determined that simply. Dare I say, that simplistically. Obviously not. Just make up some candidate (one assumes there could be such) whom *you* would consider a nightmare for whatever reasons and then imagine that he says _____ and _____ that happen to agree with what you have previously said about some issues. Good grief. As though conservatives are supposed to salivate reflexively when a candidate rings a bell with his words.

One of the most bizarre things is the bullying of people to vote for this candidate because of "his positions" on x or y when he is scarcely even putting any effort into being well-informed, consistent, clear, and convincing on a large range of issues that conservatives, especially social and religious conservatives, like me have long cared about. As witness the fiasco of the meeting with the evangelical leaders where they were practically hand-feeding him issues to address intelligently on the religious liberty front and getting virtually nothing but stream-of-consciousness and self-evident ignorance in return. One would think he would have to put up a better show of intelligently addressing "our issues" in order for us to get all this rhetoric about how we have to for him because of "his positions" on "our issues," but evidently not.

No, I meant that I'm the one arguing that it can be intrinsically wrong to vote for a wicked candidate. It's you guys who are arguing from your estimate of practical consequences.

Well, there's also the little matter of disputing that the 'wicked candidate' is, in fact, wicked. Yes, we've seen the 'racist' charge thrown out again, but that never goes anywhere - God forbid he suggested -criminals- and undesirables are well-represented among illegals, and worse, he opposes muslim immigration.

The sexist charge is even funnier, since it's a charge you lot should be familiar with. Let's face it: superficially the standard view of the folks at WWWtW is what the popular culture would summarize as 'racist, sexist homophobes'. I thought such labels were viewed with appropriate suspicion, even contempt, but apparently if one likes border walls or (even worse!) is skeptical of the current state of free trade, well, all bets are off.

One would think he would have to put up a better show

On abortion? He put up the best show around: he managed to, on 'our issues', appear more sincere about his pro-life credentials than many a pro-life wonk, who just needed a bit of provocation to become apologists and defenders of women who procure abortions.

On gay marriage? His VP is Pence, who - thought a conservative squish - at least has something of a track record on that front, in a good way.

But I understand. Hillary 'I don't care if they're persons, you can abort them up to the moment of birth' Rotten naming multiple SCOTUS judges pales in comparison to Trump not paying proper attention to the most central religious issues: pressuring Putin to lessen the restrictions on foreign missionaries who want to lecture Russians on grievous sins, like the reality of white privilege and the evils of confederate flags and restrictions on muslim immigration.

More seriously, I sometimes suspect the real reason conservatives hate Trump is he set the bar too high on some issues. Opposing illegal immigration was easy when one only had to do better than Rubio. But enduring a firestorm of media hatred and refusing to back down? That's not a standard many want to stick around. If being a conservative comes with people expecting you to fight, not apologize, when matters get hot, then clearly quite a few folks are willing to slam down an order for one of those ugly 'I'm With Her' t-shirts.

Conservative feminists. Ugh.

I'm sorry, Ghost, but this stuff doesn't follow.

First you told me that if I knew someone was going to engage in a grave evil, and I had the means to intervene, not intervening was a sin of omission.

Then you told me that there are things that I have the power to do, but I don't have to do, in order to intervene.

Now you're telling me that I "have to perform the analysis on a case-by-case basis."

None of this logically leads to any conclusion remotely like "I have to vote for Trump or I'm committing a sin of omission." I'm performing an analysis on this case, and it leads me to think that voting for Trump is a really, really bad idea.

Given that the key claim of your initial post (i.e., that Trump advocates killing terrorists' family members) was shown to be false, and that your argument seems to rest on the claim that 'there are compelling reasons to not vote for Trump, even though not doing so will help Hillary get elected,' Crude's right: you need to back these charges up. Otherwise, your argument is sheer assertion and can be dismissed out-of-hand.

I don't actually need to do anything, because it has been argued to death already.

You think you showed my claim to be false, but what you did is say that he says he means something other than what he said. And maybe that's true: It's impossible to tell what's coming out of the man's mouth next. But he did say that he would take them out, and when challenged by a general who said that soldiers wouldn't follow an illegal command, Trump said, "They won’t refuse, they’re not going to refuse me — believe me." And then he said stuff after that about treaties and laws and no, he wouldn't order it. Hey, maybe you're right and he doesn't think he should do that. Maybe I'm right and he does.

But even if you think you're right about that, there's a laundry list of reasons not to vote for him. Concrete things like threats against reporters, support for single-payer healthcare, continuing "pro-life" support for Planned Parenthood funding, support for eminent domain, an obvious and complete lack of understanding of the Constitution and its principles, as well as the more character-oriented things like his philandering, belligerence, and so on.

There were popes who bellicose in speech and hard to get along with. This isn't about that. Leaders are sometimes like this.

He's not a leader. He's a totally unacceptable candidate. About the only thing he has going for him is the Supreme Court nomination issue. And I believe he would back his nominee to the hilt, no matter what kind of pressure he came under -- but I believe that's true whether his nominee was a Scalia, and the pressure came from the left, or a Harriet Myers, and the pressure came from the right. So no, I don't trust him there, either.

The damage he causes won't merely be to the anti-abortion cause, as he continues to fund Planned Parenthood, but also to conservatism itself. He has already done it. And I don't mean leftist attacks on conservatism will be more effective: I mean conservatives across America are removing their spines to support this profoundly non-conservative candidate, and losing their conservatism as a result. It's already happening. It will continue to get worse if he's elected.

Remember that the Tea Party arose as a principled conservative voice in opposition to the liberalism and tyrannical aspirations of Barack Obama. Who is going to arise in opposition to the liberalism and tyrannical aspirations of Donald Trump? Where conservatives might have, they've already been split by the "need" to elect him.

Thus, we may safely conclude that one is obligated to vote for Trump. Thank you.

Does not follow.

Lydia, what happened to you? Back in the day, you wrote a whole article calling for a ban on Muslim immigration to this country, and over several years you've written a slew of anti-abortion posts. Now, it's 2016, and Trump has not only assured us that he will appoint pro-life justices to the court (and he, uniquely, will be in a position to appoint more than one justice), but he's the first presidential candidate to EVER call for a ban on Muslim immigration!

If you feel betrayed, next time we should find a conservative pro-life candidate who would ban Muslim immigration. Those things aren't bad just because Trump is.

Pastor Rick Wiles had a different recollection of Trump's meeting with the Evangelical leaders back in June:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cc4Un3LIK_Q

I don't actually need to do anything, because it has been argued to death already.

Insofar as the people who say 'Trump is a racist' have repeatedly been blown out of the water as liars or lunatics, yep.

I mean conservatives across America are removing their spines to support this profoundly non-conservative candidate, and losing their conservatism as a result.

This candidate has shown more spine on issues they care about than the GOP has in a good, long while. Of course, some in the GOP were hoping they could fake opposition to abortion and illegal immigration and gay marriage until such time that they could say 'Oops! Oh well, nothing we can do at this point, sorry guys.'

On the latter one, we're already effectively sunk. On the first two, we still have a chance for this election. But suddenly all those dire threats of how horrible a Clinton presidency would be and how this is the most important election ever have been cast aside, and now effectively supporting Hillary Clinton is totally acceptable. Because golly gee, we can't cast a vote for someone who insults MSNBC and Univision reporters. That's scary!

If you feel betrayed, next time we should find a conservative pro-life candidate who would ban Muslim immigration.

That's so cute! Jake Freivald thinks we'll be able to meaningfully talk about pro-life issues or immigration after a Hillary presidency, complete with Hillary SCOTUS picks. Newsflash: not without a candidate who's a lot more 'authoritarian' than you imagine Trump to be.

But, that's okay. You're part of the conservative wing that fetishizes going down in noble defeat. A bit of warning: it may not look, or feel, nearly so noble when the time comes.

Pastor Rick Wiles had a different recollection

Perhaps you are not aware that the transcript is on-line?

https://www.yahoo.com/news/transcript-donald-trumps-closed-door-meeting-with-evangelical-leaders-195810824.html

I don't know which bit is the most pathetic, but a nominee is the part where Tony Perkins asks him about attacks on religious liberty in the military, and he maunders on and appears *utterly uninformed and clueless* about what Perkins is talking about. (A topic, by the way, that we have reported on here at W4.)

But "most pathetic part of that meeting" is a hot competition.

And yet Rick Wiles, and others apparently, came out of the meeting with a very positive feeling.

Still not able to find anything worth talking about in the condescension and pseudo-responses from Crude. If he says something worth talking about, I'll talk about it.

and now effectively supporting Hillary Clinton is totally acceptable

By strict logic, then, those of us who decline to vote for Hillary are "effectively supporting Trump" and you have no need to come around here and hector us about it.

Jake,

Still not able to find anything worth talking about in the condescension and pseudo-responses from Crude.

It's cool, Jake. I called you out to back up the 'racist' charge against Trump and you couldn't deliver. I won't complain about your retreat; pointing it out is more than enough for me.

Paul,

By strict logic, then, those of us who decline to vote for Hillary are "effectively supporting Trump"

The funny thing is, Paul, you guys spend a heck of a lot more time nowadays knocking Trump and Trump's supporters, as opposed to knocking Hillary. I imagine the problem being that, at this point, knocking Hillary feels like you're helping Trump.

And if you want Trump to lose and Hillary to win, well. What does logic tell us there?

"Didn't" != "Couldn't".

"Called you out" != "made a rational argument".

Andrew E.: So Trump made a good impression on this guy. Lovely. Brilliant. I have no doubt that Trump makes a good impression on a lot of people. Doing so is a large part of the foundation of his wealth. And a large part of his rather remarkable success in politics this past year has arisen out of his ability to make a good impression on TV viewers.

These details set in a balance of political wisdom and judgment amount to something a bit less than jacksquat. Innumerable con men are gifted with an ability to impress, to instill confidence and fellow-feeling. American history is teeming with this kind of thing. Back in the ancient history of 2008, we had all this still-my-beating-heart infatuation with an impressive and unique politician -- but on the other side. It was sufficient to beguile a number of right-wingers, even.

But this remains unanswerable: Trump evidences an almost complete want of curiosity concerning public matters at issue. There has been no perceptible improvement in his understanding of the Constitution, the American political tradition, the crisis of what used to be called the West, the Republican Party, the conservative movement, Christianity, or about anything else, since he first threw his hat in the ring. He has, in short, eschewed gaining even the most basic of intellectual familiarity with the arguments that have guided conservative politics for a generation.

As for the one issue he appears to have some useful knowledge about -- immigration -- his accomplishments are still purely in prospect. A half-dozen House Freedom Caucus backbenchers have done more practical work to oppose destructive amnesties than Trump ever has. Again going back into ancient history, I'm old enough to remember when George W tried to foist an amnesty on us early in his second term. And guess what happened? Tough minded Republican congressmen told him to go pound sand and blocked the impending travesty.

Trump, meanwhile, waited until he already spent almost seven decades on this earth to discover that mass immigration is a problem.

What Lydia and Jake mention upthread is a real danger: That Trump's ignorance and stupidity will discredit sound ideas. I don't know if Lydia meant to, but she paraphrased a great line by John Henry Newman: Some political factions "are so intemperate and intractable that there is no greater calamity for a good cause than that they should get hold of it."

Jake,

"Didn't" != "Couldn't".

In your case, Didn't && Couldn't == True.

"Called you out" != "made a rational argument".

I've made my arguments, I've supported my claims - it's easy, since they're obvious. If you'd like me to highlight one thread, here's a tasty one: one of the popular 'Trump is a racist' threads is that he's called for a moratorium on muslim immigration, which most of the media and the SJWs insist is a dog whistle for barring 'brown people'. Now, I think that's baloney for a number of reasons, but one thing is clear: by that standard, you lot are klansmen.

Come to think of it, you lot are sexist too by most of the same standards. Shall we talk women priests? Abortion? Sex in general? Take it from a fellow social conservative: it's better to laugh at those words than try to use them to your advantage.

It's a good thing you can't meaningfully support your claims, Jake. If you gave it a try, I'd probably have to say 'Stop hitting yourself'. And as we both know, I prefer to be mature, civil and respectful in these conversations.

Paul,

As for the one issue he appears to have some useful knowledge about -- immigration -- his accomplishments are still purely in prospect.

False. He stood up to a fire that practically no conservative was willing to, especially at the national level. While the party was screeching gloom and doom, denouncing him for what he said, he stood firm and took the heat. Every other conservative - including Cruz - would have backed down, apologized, and said the were misunderstood. Probably adding, 'I just think we need to have a lot more LEGAL immigration. Like, 20 million or so people!'

And guess what happened? Tough minded Republican congressmen told him to go pound sand and blocked the impending travesty.

I seem to recall it differently: a furious base told their idiotic representatives that they'd be punished if they tried. Then they tried again, and now 'Cantor'd' is a word. They tried yet again with the twin plagues of Jeb and Rubio, and now we have Trump.

What Lydia and Jake mention upthread is a real danger: That Trump's ignorance and stupidity will discredit sound ideas.

Have you shrinking violets noticed yet that the left has been making advance after advance with stupid ideas, proffered by morons and entertainers? Black Lives Matter is hilarious when it's not violent, and they continue to advance. The conservative battle plan of 'We'll change the minds of millions with our George Will style arguments, and also we'll suggest the Democrats are the REAL racists!' has failed time and again. Which is why at this point you guys are so convinced you're going to lose that you refer to it yourselves and make it sound noble. Very Fox and the Grapes.

Maybe stop tsk-tsking people for being so offensive to you delicate sensibilities, and quit trying to purify your ranks of all but the most boring.

And yet Rick Wiles, and others apparently, came out of the meeting with a very positive feeling.

That would be funny if it weren't so sad. I pointed to a *transcript* and even gave an *instance* of what I meant, found right there in black and white, and *that* is the comeback?? Well, then, I guess my own powers of reading comprehension must just be deranged. Somewhere in all of that blather, evasion, and obvious ignorance of what his *own supporters* are bringing up and setting up as easy spike balls for him there are buried profound insights, couched in language that I'm missing but that was understood by Rick Wiles and "others" who were present (as opposed to the other others, who went away duly unimpressed). Or maybe the insights and knowledge that gave Wiles warm fuzzy feelings appeared in holographic letters over Trump's head and hence didn't make it into the transcript? Goodness.

He stood up to a fire that practically no conservative was willing to, especially at the national level. While the party was screeching gloom and doom, denouncing him for what he said, he stood firm and took the heat.

So during the multiple amnesties attempted under both Bush and Obama, when GOP politicians were standing firm (Obama, when thwarted, went in for blatant executive authoritarianism, which Crude now appears to suggest is admirable), no one ever called them names like racist and nativist? I mean, until Trump came along, all the immigration restrictionists in Congress were spared any fire from the Left? Is this a serious argument?

Have you shrinking violets noticed yet that the left has been making advance after advance with stupid ideas, proffered by morons and entertainers?

Nope. No one at What's Wrong with the World has managed to notice the advances of the Left. You got us, Crude. Once again your tight reading of our posts is showing.

Paul,

Obama, when thwarted, went in for blatant executive authoritarianism, which Crude now appears to suggest is admirable

No, Crude now suggests that this illustrates why angst over authoritarianism is a lost cause: the left already engages in it aplenty, like it or not. And one reason they do so is because they're rather secure in their feeling that the right will never respond in kind. If they felt otherwise, they may well be more hesitant.

no one ever called them names like racist and nativist?

And they fell over themselves trying to insist and prove that they weren't, or hiding and hoping that it would all blow over after their unpopular vote - a common move. They stood firm there largely because they had a greater threat to death with: pissed off voters who were signaling they'd punish them severely for anything less. Otherwise their attitude towards it was similar to their attitude towards Planned Parenthood: failure theatre.

Which is another why we have Trump right now.

You can say, rightly, that no matter how much the GOP tries to appease the left, it will not be enough - they will still be called racists, they will still be called sexists. That didn't keep Jeb! or Rubio from trying to win the presidency by running around the country speaking in spanish.

Nope. No one at What's Wrong with the World has managed to notice the advances of the Left.

Read it again, Paul. Slower. Pop your pills this time, and put on your glasses. You said: "What Lydia and Jake mention upthread is a real danger: That Trump's ignorance and stupidity will discredit sound ideas."

I said: "Have you shrinking violets noticed yet that the left has been making advance after advance with stupid ideas, proffered by morons and entertainers?"

Here's the lesson, which you missed: angsting over the fact that your so-great ideas are being defended by someone who isn't as eloquent and learned as you'd like is one reason why you've been losing.

Here's a thought: Trump's the nominee. Despite having spent less money. Despite having been hated by the donor class. Despite a lot of things.

You lot have things to learn from him. Whatever his faults, he - and his supporters, by the by - have done some things right that you're not doing.

Figure that out, and learn. Or, I suppose, you can keep hoping that Hillary wins. That'll show 'em!

By the by, so long as I'm pointing out things you guys have failed to learn: should I note the hilarity of folks here angsting about what Donald Trump will do to that precious 'conservatism'... when George W Bush, complete with house and senate control by the GOP, helped torpedo it to begin with?

Hell, Trump did the one thing most of you guys couldn't figure out how to do: he humiliated the Bushes and repudiated W's rotten legacy. No Bushes at the RNC this year. On behalf of Trump's supporters, and probably Trump himself: you're welcome.

Can we count on Crude to follow the example of Dear Leader and endorse Paul Ryan and John McCain? If not, what does he make of these endorsements?

Here's the lesson, which you missed: angsting over the fact that your so-great ideas are being defended by someone who isn't as eloquent and learned as you'd like is one reason why you've been losing.

If that's a lesson, it's a truly convoluted and borderline incoherent one. Not only do I reject the view that Trump is defending my ideas, I reject the view that he is consistently defending any ideas -- except for those inchoate ones relating to his own greatness.

But look. The fact that Leftist stupidity is rarely discredited as it should be, that it endures in a zombie state to infect each new generation of fools, is surely a lamentable fact of life. (Almost no one ever had to answer for absolutely indefensible useful idiocy concerning Communism, for instance.) But this lamentable fact is quite incidental to the prospect of wise and sound ideas being discredit by Trump. "Since the Left wins with stupid ideas, let's try some stupid ideas ourselves!" That does seem to be a pretty clear statement of core Trumpism.

I'm going to make some further points in the (perhaps vain) hope that some of this rancor and bitterness can be replaced with a certain satisfying clarity of disagreement.

Some of the points that Crude emphasizes in praising Trump are ones that we would disagree on even if Trump were an unobjectionable public figure. For instance, the horror of free trade, which none of us here shares. Or the admiration for Putin. Or the approach to NATO as a protection racket useful for pushing around little Baltic countries. Or the blind "law and order" defense of police.

So on these particular issues, and plenty more, Trump repels rather than attracts us, even if we were to posit a world where Trump is a serious and well-informed politician.

One thing that strikes me in the admiration of Trump and disdain of his critics is the double standard (a huuge double standard, one might say) about having spine. Apparently standing up to bullies, having principles, not being used, and refusing to be pressured are admirable only when not exercised in response to Dear Leader. One would think that the advocates of manly virtue would be _particularly_ disgusted by the way in which, say, socially conservative Christians are being used by a candidate who has a fairly evident disdain for their particular concerns and ignorance of any details related to those concerns. But apparently, when the candidate is the Chosen One of the alt-right, nothing says "manly strength" and "saving the West with muscular Christianity" like licking the boot of an ignorant, braying mountebank who despises you.

Regarding the endorsements, it's not difficult. Trump is fighting a multi-front battle. Even Paul Nehlen gets it.

https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2016/08/06/necessary-trump-endorsements-to-avoid-disunity-media-narratives/

Can we count on Crude to follow the example of Dear Leader and endorse Paul Ryan and John McCain? If not, what does he make of these endorsements?

I'm a nobody on the internet, Paul - my endorsement isn't valuable. I'd like to see Ryan and McCain both lose. As for what I make of those endorsements? Trump gave what he got: they endorsed him, while simultaneously taking their time and giving him crap. It didn't look like either were going to be sniped by challengers, so Trump made a half-assed endorsement after taking his time and giving THEM crap. Such is life.

But this lamentable fact is quite incidental to the prospect of wise and sound ideas being discredit by Trump. "Since the Left wins with stupid ideas, let's try some stupid ideas ourselves!" That does seem to be a pretty clear statement of core Trumpism.

What's the stupid idea, Paul? Attacking the press as biased and in the tank for Hillary? Remarking that we should pause islamic immigration until we figure out a way to screen it properly? The idea that we should deport illegal immigrants and build a wall? The idea that we should stand up and fight when we're attacked over all of this?

Show me the stupid idea there, with stupid meaning anything but 'Well the media and our political opponents hate that!' What was the right's brilliant strategy up until this point? Apologies and capitulation, with a heavy dose of attacking our allies over 'principle'.

A tradition that continues to live on, I notice.

For instance, the horror of free trade, which none of us here shares. Or the admiration for Putin. Or the approach to NATO as a protection racket useful for pushing around little Baltic countries. Or the blind "law and order" defense of police.

Believe me, Paul - the fact that what you lot truly value is free trade, Russian conflict and overseas adventures is not exactly a surprise to any onlooker. Though the implied sympathy for Black Lives Matter, the one place where Trump's been standing with the police, is a heck of a thing.

Lydia,

With the possible exception of 'Caitlyn' Jenner, a woman's advice on how to be manly is as valuable as her advice on proper urinal etiquette.

Meanwhile, you're engaged in the typical delusion that 'standing up for what I believe in' is what -really- matters, with the content of that belief being secondary. In fact, standing up for rotten principles isn't noble. Dare I say it: a Christian who prioritizes, as Paul just did, 'Free trade, conflict with another Christian nation and overseas military adventures' is a Christian with some curious priorities. At least even the irreligious in the alt-right tend to recognize the value of protecting their own communities. At WWWtW, that virtue is utterly secondary to free trade, and if such trade plays a role in whole communities being devastated, the knee-jerk response is 'screw them, the inefficient should be eliminated - scatter to the winds!'

Though the bit about boot-licking someone who despises you is funny. Trump seems, at worst, apathetic about social issues fights. At best, very sympathetic to how Christians have been knocked around in the media. I suggest you take a look at your 'allies' - from Gary Johnson, to the Facebook and Twitter teams, to the general Trump-hating - to remind yourself of the flavor of the boots you lick.

"... a woman's advice on how to be manly is as valuable as her advice on proper urinal etiquette"

There are some Lacedemonian matrons I'd like to introduce to you.

Well, after all I suspected that my efforts were in vain. Crude's talent for misrepresentation has not abated. But to repeat, all I said is that we do not share Trump's horror of free trade. Crude's rendering of this comes out as "At WWwtW, [protecting one's own communities] is utterly secondary to free trade" and "the knee-jerk response is 'screw them, the inefficient should be eliminated.'" Or again, all I said is that we have no admiration for Putin and think NATO is more than a personal protection racket. Crude's rendering: a deep desire for "conflict with another Christian nation and overseas military adventures." Nor did I "priorize" these disputes. I mentioned them only to demonstrate that these are substantive disagreements with Trump's views (to the extent that he has any substantive views) -- quite aside from Trump's personal viciousness, ignorance, and buffoonery.

Paul,

But to repeat, all I said is that we do not share Trump's horror of free trade.

Trump's not horrified by free trade. He's horrified by trade agreements which leave us at a disadvantage, and his view is that such agreements should serve the interests of the nation that makes them. We should fight for the best deal we can get. There's something wrong about a Christian who would prioritize free trade, come what may for their country and their communities.

'Crude's rendering' of that view is that some folks here defended Kevin Williamson's view about how 'white working class communities deserve to die'. You want to talk about ignorance and viciousness? It was on display there, in spades. And from here, there were cheers. Not even a 'look, Williamson was a jackass, but here's some of what he got right and some of what he got wrong'. Just full on defense. Rather like the full-on offense with regards to Putin. I loved being told by supposed would-be guardians of tradition and culture that the nation that has no historical orientation towards, or modern interest in, 'religious freedom' simply cannot decide to grant favor to the orthodox church and expect it to work. Except for the fact that they did, and it did. Like it or not.

Finally, substantive disagreement is obvious. It really seems like his criticisms of globalism, TPP, illegal immigration and more has made him persona non grata. I'm just pointing out that, for all the 'conservative' schtick, it sure seems that when push comes to shove, you guys support Hillary. Supporting the mormon with the Planned Parenthood affinity who was an effective architect for Obamacare? That you could swing. The hotheaded uberhawk who was a liberal media darling until he ran against Obama? Sure. But Trump's not willing to go to war over the freaking Ukraine, he wants to build a wall on the border, and he questions TPP? Too far, too far!

Complaining about personal viciousness, ignorance and buffoonery while you lot quietly throw support to Hillary freaking Clinton? That, my friends, is golden.

Paul,

Like his hero Trump, I propose we give Crude his very own nickname. Unfortunately, 'lying Ted' was already used so how about 'perfidious Crude' since it has a bit of a haughty elite flavor to it and we try and cultivate an aristocratic culture around here!

But more seriously, once more for the record because every time Crude misrepresents him I feel honor-bound to come to Kevin Williamson's defense (especially as I think Trump is particularly foolish when it comes to his ideas about international trade) -- Kevin's quote was in reference to places like Garbutt that had no jobs to offer their young men. He wanted them to move to an economically vibrant community - a place that could realistically support a working class. Those places still exist because we still make things in this country - we just make them in generally higher-value, finished goods industries and our best companies seem to be able to grow and thrive in states where the regulatory and tax climate (you know, old fashioned conservative Econ 101 ideas) is favorable. But Crude would understand all of this (even if he disagreed with the policy advice) if he was a careful reader, which we are all learning (hello Jake!) he is not.

To defend Williamson is to defend trade deficits. On trade deficits Trump is right and National Review is wrong.

Here was a pretty good interview on CNN last weekend with Stephen Cohen, a professor of Russian studies, discussing Russia, NATO and Trump.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCMyHJJrdDw

John McCain has come up a couple times in the thread. This is a little off topic but quite a bombshell so I thought I'd link to it. The relevant part of the podcast begins at 13:30.

http://www.trunews.com/listen/trunews-08-04-16-john-mccains-1969-tokyo-rose-propaganda-recording-released

There's something wrong about a Christian who would prioritize free trade, come what may for their country and their communities.

To repeat, I did not priorize free trade. I stated that I disagree with Trump (again to the extent that he has said anything substantive). I regard free trade from a pragmatic, not a dogmatic perspective. So I neither febrilely denounce it, nor uncritically laud it. To the extent that Crude represents this as "priorizing" free trade to the "elimination" of communities, he's lying.

Basically, the only way Crude can carry on his rants is by blatant misrepresentation of his opponents views. Like this latest which hilariously presents this website as having endorsed by McCain and Romney.

I'm not entirely sure why Crude continues to frequent a website run by people whom he apparently holds in contempt, but I'm sure I won't rise tout his bait when he pretends he has outsmarted me somehow.

On trade deficits Trump is right and National Review is wrong.

I suppose I think neither is right. Nor do I expect I would agree with you, Andrew.

On NATO, it seems highly dubious to me that the Alliance's border should have moved farther east than, say, Krakow. That was unwise provocation towards Russia. Furthermore, it would have behooved us all to lend more imagination and charity to our relations with the countries of the old Iron Curtain after its blessed and well-deserved fall. The Atlantic Alliance was a superb achievement in its Cold War context, having helped to prevent a calamitous war between America and the Soviet Union. But after Russia was free of the Soviet yoke, NATO needed to be carefully re-evaluated and hardly anyone in power did that.

Trump was in the public eye through all these events. He was generally on the side of the authorities. He praised the Chinese, not for trying to throw off Communism, but for living under strong powerful men who can run students over with tanks. Trump was blustering about how NATO allies are taking us for a ride in the 1980s, when the Soviet threat was still very real.

So Trump's authoritarianism covers many decades and many details of policy, Russian nationalists and Chinese Communists. Let's just put that out there as my biggest substantive beef with the man. That Crude admires it demonstrates the distance of principle between us.

Jake -- you're still (relatively) new here, but for some reason we have a knack for attracting commenters who disagree with us to the point of despising us, but still stick around to pretend to be offended, at having found something disagreeable.

Well, as I recall Trump's statement regarding the Chinese was a simple matter of fact recognition that the Communist regime was facing an existential moment of crisis and they made the decision to keep existing. And in the great game of realpolitik, when an adversary demonstrates their willingness and capability to do that when the chips are down, it must be respected. And therefore accounted for when dealing with them.

While on the subject of cozying up to Communists, recall Cruz siding with the Communist Left against the First Amendment and the Constitution during Trump's attempted Chicago rally back in March, which he of course doubled down on several times afterward. That wily Cruz, saw a potential opening to advance his political career and he took it, Constitution be damned (I guess he decided he'd already crossed that line with the whole born in Canada thing). And that wasn't something that happened 30 years ago.

Wow, Andrew E.

He contrasted Chinese strength with American weakness, right after having said that his "biggest problem with Gorbachev" was "not a firm enough hand." Google will autofill your search and send you straight to the text from Playboy.

Paul, the Trump enthusiast's standards for what constitutes an "endorsement" or "support" are entirely dependent on whether Trump is the person making the statement. So, per Crude, this website is constantly "throwing support" to Hillary Clinton for being critical of someone else entirely, whereas Trump is in no way guilty of "throwing support" to Putin, the ChiComs, Planned Parenthood, or anybody else whom he has lavishly and explicitly praised, by name.

Paul, I understand that it happens, but not the people who do it. My main purpose in commenting was to make sure everyone knows that my lack of engagement is deliberate rather than from oversight, ignorance, or having been "beaten".

In fact, standing up for rotten principles isn't noble.

Because the only possible reason for James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Franklin Graham, et. al. to refrain from their absurd endorsement of Trump would be rotten principles.

Because the only possible reason for James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Franklin Graham, et. al. to refrain from their absurd endorsement of Trump would be rotten principles.

Not sure of your meaning here, because Dobson and Perkins are on the record as having endorsed Trump. Do you mean why they took so long to endorse him?

(Endorsement citations below.)

From TIME magazine (July 21st, 2016):

“I have decided to endorse Donald J. Trump for President of the United States, not only because of my great concern about Hillary Clinton,” Dobson said in a statement. “I am supporting Mr. Trump primarily because I believe he is the most capable candidate to lead the United States of America in this complicated hour.”

Tony Perkins has endorsed Trump:

From Newsmax (July 21st, 2016):

"Donald Trump is the nominee of the Republican Party, and I will be voting for Donald Trump in November, and I will urge my fellow Americans to do the same," Perkins said, The Hill reports. "Donald Trump has committed to upholding and protecting the first freedom and therefore our ability as citizens to unite our nation once again under God. Let us go forth from here and do that work."

So, per Crude, this website is constantly "throwing support" to Hillary Clinton for being critical of someone else entirely, whereas Trump is in no way guilty of "throwing support" to Putin, the ChiComs, Planned Parenthood, or anybody else whom he has lavishly and explicitly praised, by name.

Not quite the same. Trump's praise of the aforementioned is always combined with significant criticism; he has never given blanket support to any of them. And he has made indications that he will actually take actions to stop them, such as defunding PP and not allowing Putin to advance further into Ukraine.

The key difference is: while Trump is committed to taking action to DISALLOW the above to achieve their nefarious ends, you folks are not committed to stopping Hillary Clinton from achieving hers, since you refuse to vote for Trump to prevent her election.

Obviously, the first paragraph of my previous response is a quote. (I guess I'm going to have to start preview all my posts now, because often the quotations tab is not working consistently.)

Jake wrote:

I'm not entirely sure why Crude continues to frequent a website run by people whom he apparently holds in contempt, but I'm sure I won't rise tout his bait when he pretends he has outsmarted me somehow.

Well, it is in fact contemptible to accuse someone of racism without substantiating the charge, as you did to Trump.

Lydia wrote:

One thing that strikes me in the admiration of Trump and disdain of his critics is the double standard (a huuge double standard, one might say) about having spine. Apparently standing up to bullies, having principles, not being used, and refusing to be pressured are admirable only when not exercised in response to Dear Leader.

Au contraire, Lydia.

If you guys had pro-life principles, you would be doing everything in your power to not allow a woman to be elected who will set the pro-life movement back half a century (at least).

If you guys stood up to bullies, you'd be standing up to the PC-leftist-pro-death party by supporting its most powerful viable antagonist: Trump.

If you guys cared about not being used, you wouldn't allow yourselves to be used by the left to subvert the election of Trump and, in so doing, assist in the election of Clinton.

If you guys cared about not being pressured, you wouldn't be pressured by the NeverTrump gang into NOT CAVING INTO TRUMP EVER, even if the alternative will be the election of someone who will, in all likelihood, enact policies that will ensure that conservative causes are destroyed, and that a conservative will never hold the presidential office of this country again.

Lydia wrote:

No, I meant that I'm the one arguing that it can be intrinsically wrong to vote for a wicked candidate. It's you guys who are arguing from your estimate of practical consequences. So you should be more willing to live and let live with those who disagree with you--either concerning probable consequences or concerning the most prudent response to those estimates of consequences.

No, I'm arguing that it's intrinsically wrong to not vote against a wicked candidate.

I still support a ban on Muslim immigration. I call everyone to witness that it deserves better than to be associated with the name of this particular candidate. That's one of the worst things that could have happened to a good idea.

Maybe it does deserve better. But we have to realists. Voting option a): a Muslim ban and a less-than-stellar candidate. Voting option b) 550% increase in Muslim immigration.

Take your pick.

I'm trying to figure out why, "So-and-so has assured us ________," where ______ words that are coming out of his mouth happen to be something I've advocated, is supposed to mean automatically that I'm overjoyed with his candidacy. Or even support it at all.

Well there's that, plus: look at the alternative. Don't you want to do everything reasonably within your power to stop the alternative?

Just make up some candidate (one assumes there could be such) whom *you* would consider a nightmare for whatever reasons and then imagine that he says _____ and _____ that happen to agree with what you have previously said about some issues.

Sure: Mitt Romney. And I didn't even have to make him up.

Then on principle, a voter can only voter for him/herself? There are no candidates that I agree with 100% and would have to sacrifice some principle in order to cast a ballot.

What then is the principled response to current elections?

Jake wrote:

First you told me that if I knew someone was going to engage in a grave evil, and I had the means to intervene, not intervening was a sin of omission.

Then you told me that there are things that I have the power to do, but I don't have to do, in order to intervene.

That's because the first statement was presented informally; the second statement was a clarification.

Now you're telling me that I "have to perform the analysis on a case-by-case basis."

That claim isn't even inconsistent with my first, informal claim. For instance, it requires a case-by-case analysis to determine whether, in a given situation, one KNOWS that the intrinsic evil will be done and whether one HAS THE MEANS to prevent it.

None of this logically leads to any conclusion remotely like "I have to vote for Trump or I'm committing a sin of omission." I'm performing an analysis on this case, and it leads me to think that voting for Trump is a really, really bad idea.

Well, let's have an explanation of your analysis, then.

I wrote:

Given that the key claim of your initial post (i.e., that Trump advocates killing terrorists' family members) was shown to be false, and that your argument seems to rest on the claim that 'there are compelling reasons to not vote for Trump, even though not doing so will help Hillary get elected,' Crude's right: you need to back these charges up. Otherwise, your argument is sheer assertion and can be dismissed out-of-hand. I don't actually need to do anything, because it has been argued to death already.

Jake replied:

You think you showed my claim to be false, but what you did is say that he says he means something other than what he said.

No, I didn't. I said "take out"--i.e., the actual words he used--do not necessarily mean "kill." It's not that he didn't mean it; he never even said what you think he meant!

And maybe that's true: It's impossible to tell what's coming out of the man's mouth next. But he did say that he would take them out, and when challenged by a general who said that soldiers wouldn't follow an illegal command, Trump said, "They won’t refuse, they’re not going to refuse me — believe me." And then he said stuff after that about treaties and laws and no, he wouldn't order it. Hey, maybe you're right and he doesn't think he should do that. Maybe I'm right and he does.

Well, maybe he was confused by the question, because, like you, the questioner thought he meant "kill families" by "take out families," but Trump himself didn't mean that.

You still lose, because Hillary has said, and repeated, over and over, that she will keep the slaughter of the unborn going in this country. That's definite.

So we have Trump--who, according to you, MAYBE meant "kill families" even though he didn't say that and even though he reneged on that interpretation via a later clarification--and Hillary, who has said, explicitly and repeatedly, that she will take measures to keep up the slaughter of infants.

There's your choice.

But even if you think you're right about that, there's a laundry list of reasons not to vote for him.

OK, let's analyze them, one-by-one.

Concrete things like threats against reporters,

Well, obviously they weren't death threats, so not intrinsically evil.

support for single-payer healthcare,

Not intrinsically evil.

continuing "pro-life" support for Planned Parenthood funding,

Prima facie, not intrinsically evil, inasmuch as he wants to stop PP from doing abortions. Arguably intrinsically evil inasmuch as even non-abortive support of PP involves the distribution of condoms-- but "arguable," because "pro-life" is sometimes meant to exclude the distribution of condoms.

support for eminent domain,

Not intrinsically evil.

an obvious and complete lack of understanding of the Constitution and its principles,

That's hardly a "concrete thing." Let's have some evidence. Also, even if true, not intrinsically evil.

as well as the more character-oriented things like his philandering, belligerence, and so on.

Belligerence=not intrinsically evil. Philandering=intrinsically evil, BUT even though done in the past, no indication and no claims that he will do this in the future; therefore, pointless to mention.

He's not a leader. He's a totally unacceptable candidate.

I thought you said you were going to give "concrete" reasons? These are value judgments.

About the only thing he has going for him is the Supreme Court nomination issue. And I believe he would back his nominee to the hilt, no matter what kind of pressure he came under -- but I believe that's true whether his nominee was a Scalia, and the pressure came from the left, or a Harriet Myers, and the pressure came from the right. So no, I don't trust him there, either.

Well, he doesn't definitively support intrinsic evil, and Hillary does, so...

The damage he causes won't merely be to the anti-abortion cause, as he continues to fund Planned Parenthood, but also to conservatism itself.

WHAT KIND OF DAMAGE DO YOU THINK HILLARY WILL DO TO THE ANTI-ABORTION CAUSE? (As for PP, Trump's said he's going to defund PP as long as it does abortions.)

He has already done it.

Cite?

And I don't mean leftist attacks on conservatism will be more effective: I mean conservatives across America are removing their spines to support this profoundly non-conservative candidate, and losing their conservatism as a result. It's already happening. It will continue to get worse if he's elected.

And the conservative movement will cease to ever again enjoy viable electoral chances if Hillary wins, so...

Remember that the Tea Party arose as a principled conservative voice in opposition to the liberalism and tyrannical aspirations of Barack Obama. Who is going to arise in opposition to the liberalism and tyrannical aspirations of Donald Trump? Where conservatives might have, they've already been split by the "need" to elect him.

Who's going to arise if Trump...? Better question: who's going to arise if Hillary...?

an obvious and complete lack of understanding of the Constitution and its principles,
Also, even if true, not intrinsically evil.

It's not intrinsically evil to be illiterate and never to have heard of the Constitution. Does that mean that it could ever be legitimate, much less a duty, to vote for someone who is illiterate and has never heard of the Constitution as President of the United States? This is an example. I'm not claiming that Trump is illiterate. Ignorant, however, yes, definitely. (Judges sign laws, don't you know? And _all_ issues of religious freedom are issues for the Supreme Court. Etc.)

There are all sorts of ways to be completely unqualified for the office.

And, yes, some of them involve "value judgements." Like "This guy is an ignorant, blowhard, narcissistic, mountebank without a concern or thought in his head except for feeding his own ego."

And, yes, that could make it inappropriate (and God knows, a fortiori, not a _duty_) to vote for such a person for president.

Don't you want to do everything reasonably within your power to stop the alternative?

You're smart enough to know that that is simplistic. But since you raise the question and insist upon it in those simplistic terms, no, not necessarily. Because "everything reasonably in my power" includes voting for someone unqualified for the office. Not just because I "don't agree with him 100%" or "less than stellar," or any of those other milquetoast descriptions. I believe that voting for someone is a statement that he is at least minimally qualified for the position and that I support him for that position.

Sure: Mitt Romney. And I didn't even have to make him up.

Then I assume you weren't, what was your word?, _overjoyed_ at his candidacy!!! Point made.

Moreover, if Romney was really your "nightmare" (my word), I mean, okay, whatevs, I happen to think that's way over-the-top, but in that case, it would have been _understandable_ for you to decide in the end that you couldn't bring yourself to vote for him, and men of good will should have been able to treat that as an understandable and reasonable position on your part. Not state that it was a sin (for heaven's sake) or "intrinsically wrong" (for double heaven's sake) not to vote for him.

If you guys cared about not being pressured, you wouldn't be pressured by the NeverTrump gang into NOT CAVING INTO TRUMP EVER,

Now that's downright amusing. I prefer to think of myself as in the _forefront_ of the NeverTrump gang (at my extremely obscure level). Maybe I'm the baddy out there pressuring _other_ people not to cave in to Trump ever. Though I prefer to think of it as "persuading" and also "giving permission to people who have a false conscience causing them agony." What the heck do you know about who has pressured any of us? Do you seriously think we've been browbeaten or pressured by some nebulous NeverTrump movement? Do you know what our friends and family are saying? Do you know what we're getting grief for on Facebook or in e-mail or over lunch from our wider circle of friends or what direction it's coming from? You're making up our biographies?

No, you know none of this. You're just making up (fairly lame) rhetoric. Otherwise known in polite circles as blowing smoke. It really doesn't serve any valuable purpose at all.

Trump isn't racist for calling for a moratorium on Muslim immigration. I don't actually have a problem with that, though he was stupid not to distinguish between citizens and non-citizens. Before anyone yells at me (since apparently I'm susceptible to bullying about political positions -- who knew?), here's the quote from his campaign's press release:

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.

Not very smart. But Islam's not a race, and a moratorium on the immigration of a particular class of people isn't really a problem Constitutionally or morally.

So what's the deal with Trump's alleged racism, and why is it important?

Ah, remember: We were addressing the preposterous idea that "If Trump wins, it will signify that those cries [of racism, sexism, etc.] no longer have much sway".

Now, there are a number of indicators that he's a racist -- not merely someone who notices that certain racial groups share characteristics, but who blatantly judges people based on their race rather than on evidence -- but his comments about Judge Curiel anchored it for me. He basically said that he was Mexican and therefore had a conflict of interest.

Okay, okay, I sense that you're about to start yelling at me again about how small of a thing this is, or how it's not really true, or something. Here's the thing: What I think is irrelevant to this part of the argument, except insofar as I'm not a totally unreasonable person and I can conclude that Trump is a racist.

The opinion, stated by Crude, was that Trump's election would reduce the cries of racism and sexism, and my counteropinion is that no, they won't, because Trump is racist and sexist. Let's make sure we remember the context in which this came up. This is me:

We show that cries no longer have much sway when we demonstrate that they embody concerns that people shouldn't be concerned about. One example is Scott Walker: He was anti-school, anti-poor, etc., but when he implemented his policies, the schools got better and the economy improved.

With Trump, the labels fit. He really is sexist (not just a sex-realist), racist (not just a race-realist), a demogogue, and an authoritarian. Since the labels fit, they would be effective. The truth can be used as a weapon even better than a lie can.

So it doesn't matter if you agree with me. It doesn't matter if you think the things that poor Donald has been misunderstood. What matters to that part of the argument is that a reasonable person (not to mention leftists!) can look at Donald Trump and see both a racist and a sexist, and that the cries of racism and sexism will not abate, but intensify.

That, Ghost, is why I don't need to justify why I think Trump is a racist. It's not relevant to that part of the conversation.

Now, I have a lot of things to do, so I'm probably going to continue to ignore some of the dumber things that get said on this thread. But at a minimum, it would help if we remembered what we were talking about.

I messed up the blockquote above. The paragraph starting with "With Trump, the labels fit." is also part of the blockquote.

You're acting as if the election of the president is irrelevant to culture, which is quite a position to take.
It's not irrelevant, but it's logically posterior to culture.

I suppose, but it also has an effect. In fact, one may either re-enforce the other, or one may actually undo the other. Abortion gained much more support after RvW than it had before it (the SCROTUS rulings being an extension of election consequences).

Tend to fall long TMC's analysis - I can see where one could vote for Trump, but don't see how it could be considered a moral obligation to do so. Even if Trump's stated policy positions are "correct," one still has to factor in whether it is credible he will (or even intends to) carry them out. "No new taxes" and all that.

I can see where one could vote for Trump, but don't see how it could be considered a moral obligation to do so.

Yep. It's really that feverish sense that folks have to dogmatize on this that fills me with horror. A sullen vote for Trump, followed by a trip to the liquor store? -- okay, defensible. After all I've been drinking on election night for a decade.

Shouting that every NeverTrumper is a traitor? Uh-huh. That won't fly.

Wow. Lots of comments since I was first comment out of the gate August 3. I coincidentally found what I had been thinking of when I questioned whether one might not vote for a candidate despite an evil position:

If you’re enthusiastic about voting for Trump or Clinton, I’m concerned about your moral code.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to vote for them. Rather, it’s just an acknowledgement that we’re facing what the USCCB calls a “difficult choice” in its Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship voters’ guide:

34. Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who favors a policy promoting an intrinsically evil act, such as abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, deliberately subjecting workers or the poor to subhuman living conditions, redefining marriage in ways that violate its essential meaning, or racist behavior, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases, a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.
In other words, if you’re supporting your candidate because of their support for torture, abortion, etc., you’re sinning. However:

35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position even on policies promoting an intrinsically evil act may reasonably decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.
36. When all candidates hold a position that promotes an intrinsically evil act, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.


(https://ethikapolitika.org/2016/08/19/16292/ ) Am I missing something, Jake?

Dear Reader John,

Article 35 is a poorly stated version of the doctrine of Double Effect, since it does not discuss the conditions under which it comes into play:

1. The nature of the act is itself good, or at least morally neutral;
2. The agent intends the good effect and not the bad either as a means to the good or as an end itself;
3. The good effect outweighs the bad effect in circumstances sufficiently grave to justify causing the bad effect and the agent exercises due diligence to minimize the harm.[2]

Criteria number three is what makes the bishop's statement squishy.

Article 36 is a poorly stated version of the notion in moral theology of a Perplexed Conscience: if either of two choices leads to an inescapable evil, then one may, morally, chose whichever decision seems best. The perception that either choice is evil may be in error. The classic example is the supposed dilemma of either staying at home to tend to a sick child or missing Mass on Sunday. This would not be a genuine perplexed conscience, because necessity knows no law and charity must take precedence. A genuine perplexed situation would be if you are a doctor tending to conjoined twins and you can only save one (both have equal chances of survival). To my knowledge, only Hillary espouses an intrinsic evil. Thus, there is no question of a perplexed conscience in this election. One does not have to vote for a Trump; one cannot, morally, vote for a Hillary.

In my opinion, we need a national dialogue on the formation of conscience in this country, because all of the people voting for Hillary in the election are either morally clueless (the charitable assumption) or implicit murder supporters. The sad thing is that the USCCB guidelines are so poorly written that they seemed to give cover in the last election for Catholics who wished to vote for Obama. They cannot be used to justify voting for Hollary in this election, in my opinion. That the bishops do not make this clear is, in my opinion, scandalous and I am both afraid and saddened to say this.

The Chicken

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