Friday, November 20, 2020

Disproportionately Affected

One thing I hear all the time from my Democratic friends is that a law is unjust because it disproportionately affects minorities. Crime laws are unjust because there is a disproportionately high number of minorities in prison. Drug laws are unjust because they disproportionately incarcerate minorities. And the old saw, voter ID laws are unjust because they disproportionately disenfranchise minorities. But is that true? Out of six studies performed from 2014 to 2018, three found no effect, one found an increase in minority voter participation, and one found a slight decrease. Guess which study gets all the publicity? Now, newer studies have debunked that, finding flaws in the methodology of the study that found a decrease.

I'd like to look at it from the other side, however. I believe voter fraud disproportionately disenfranchises minorities. I was listening to this podcast by Dan Crenshaw and, interestingly, one of the most common kinds of fraud is perpetrated by people who have houses in multiple states, who receive mail in ballots and vote in each state. Now I don't know about you, but I'm guessing you have to have money to own multiple houses, meaning the rich are disenfranchising the poor, and minorities. Another type of fraud is ballot harvesting, which again is likely ti disproportionately affect the poor and minorities, who live in more densely populated areas. Finally, there is the old gray train, going through minority-filled city neighborhoods and offering to "help" people with their votes, often with a promise of a meal or some money. Again, this is disenfranchising minorities.

Even if voter fraud were color blind, it would still disenfranchise minorities more than whites, because there are fewer of them. It's simple mathematics. Let's say there are 100 people voting, and 90 of them are white, 10 are black. It only takes 10% voter fraud by whites to completely eliminate the black vote, even if they all voted in one monolithic block. In a more realistic split, just 1% or 2% voter fraud will nullify any chance minorities have of influencing an election.

So it seems to me that is you really care about minority rights, the thing to do is enact laws to safeguard legal votes and eliminate voter fraud. Ignoring or encouraging fraud is just another racist policy of the racist Democrat party.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

If your world view is threatened...


...by a Supreme Court justice reading the Constitution as it is written, then you have not done government right. Here's why.

Let's say you want to make abortion legal everywhere. How do you do that? You get the senate and the house to vote on a bill, get it passed, get the president to sign it, and it becomes law. Likely that law will be challenged, and it will go to the supreme court. Let's say the court decides there is nothing in the Constitution to allow you to write such a law (hint, there isn't).

No problem, you simply write an amendment to the Constitution, get it passed by two thirds of the house and senate, and get three fourths of the states to ratify it. It then becomes the law of the land, and no amount of SCOTUS finagling should be able to knock it down. When the Republicans freed the slaves, gave them the right to vote, gave women the right to vote, etc. that's how they did it. And so you can't really have a Supreme Court justice decide to deny women the right to vote (for instance).

The Democratic party, and sadly, a lot of Americans, think that the role of the Supreme Court justices is to "vote" for what they want. Conservative justices will always vote for conservative things and liberal justices will vote for liberal things. We need to have a balance, or a majority of people who will "vote" the right way. But that's not what the Supreme Court is supposed to be about. They are supposed to see if the laws being enacted correspond to what's written in the Constitution.

Will that stop some liberal policies from being enacted? Yes. It will also stop some conservative policies from being enacted. That's life. You either live within the rule of law, or there is no law, only raw power to oppress your opponents. Don't like the Constitution? As noted, there is an amendment process. If you can't get the amendment you want passed, it's because the American people actually don't want what you want, and you have no legal or moral authority to do what you want.

If Democrats wanted abortion to be legal everywhere, they have had forty seven years to pass a law, and potentially an amendment. Instead, they relied entirely on perverting the judicial branch, and now they are crying because they are in the minority. And their solution is still not to go the legal route (pass laws and/or an amendment) but threaten to impeach existing justices they don't like, or pack the court with ones they do. Pathetic.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Seamless Garment Voting

My Catholic friends fall into one of two categories: Democrats and others. The Democrats are all voting Democrat because of something called "the seamless garment." The others are voting based on Catholic non-negotiables.

Without going into too much detail, the concept of non-negotiables is mentioned in Pope Benedict XVI's Sacramentum Cartatis. It basically says that there are some issues that are just wrong. You can't support them, even for the sake of doming some other good. These issues are the right to life, marriage and the family, and religious liberty.conscience rights. The idea is not that other issues aren't important, but that these issues are so fundamental to every moral good that support for them is abhorrent to morality.

The seamless garment theory was created by Cardinal Bernardin in 1984, and says that everything is connected, as are the threads in a single piece of cloth. This is, of course, true, and the idea of the seamless garment was to ground other issues, such as concern for the poor, peace, human rights, into a right relationship, all based on the fundamental rights mentioned above (aka non-negotiables). The problem is that it has been inverted by some Catholics to claim that  all issues are morally equivalent because they are interrelated. This gives some Christians the notion that issues like immigration or the death penalty, for instance, are as important as abortion or euthanasia.

Of course, that is not what the seamless garment is about, but I thought it would be interesting to look at voting issues in terms of both the correct seamless garment theory and the distorted popular misconception of the seamless garment theory. Where do the parties stand? Is there a reason to vote Democrat under the seamless garment misconception?

Abortion

The Democratic party and the Biden/Harris ticket are not only in favor of legalized abortion, they want to support and increase it, both in number of abortions and in type of abortions. Making Roe v. Wade law, using tax payer funding to pay for abortions, making abortion part of foreign aid and coercing foreign countries to relax their own abortion restrictions will all increase the numbers of abortions. They have also called for eliminating all restrictions on late term abortions, allowing abortions for any reason and at any stage in pregnancy, even up to (and possibly after) birth and denying health care to already born babies who are not "wanted." No matter which criteria you use, this is a reason not to vote Democrat.

Transgender

Pope Francis, when asked what the preeminent issues for voting were, replied that abortion was preeminent, but it wasn't the only serious issue - he mentioned "transgender" as another extremely important issue. The Democrats and Biden/Harris have called for expansion of transgender "rights" by saying that transgender people must be allowed to choose to compete in any gender's sports leagues, shower and change in and gender's rooms, and force individuals and businesses to recognize the gender they choose. Biden has called for children as young as eight to choose their own gender without anybody being able to deny them. No matter which criteria you use, this is a reason not to vote Democrat.

Religious Liberty/Conscience Rights

Democrats have called for an end to religious "exceptions" and a repeal of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Biden has said he plans to prosecute the Little Sisters of the Poor over their refusal to pay for abortifacients. No matter which criteria you use, this is a reason not to vote Democrat.

Other non-negotiables

To keep this short, let's just say that on fetal tissue research, same sex marriage, school choice, parental rights, etc., no matter which criteria you use, these are all reasons not to vote Democrat.

Racism

The Democratic party is the party of racism. From the KKK to segregation, the Democratic party has opposed every piece of civil rights legislation. Harris aggressively prosecuted minorities, and even withheld information that might have freed inmates. Harris' family owned slaves. Biden authored a crime bill which gave lengthy prison sentences to minorities who committed minor offenses. Biden has made numerous disparaging comments about blacks. Many of the parties policies are racist, or support racist organizations, like Planned Parenthood, which was created to reduce the population of minorities, and still does through aggressive advertising aimed at them, and by placing abortuaries mainly in minority populated areas. No matter which criteria you use, this is a reason not to vote Democrat.

Immigration

The Democratic party favors open borders and non-enforcement of immigration laws in the US. This policy has been disastrous for immigrants,  exposing them to criminals and sacrificing their safety. A recent study showed that 80% of all women who entered the US illegally were sexually assaulted in the process. In addition, human trafficking (aka slave trading), drug trafficking, and weapons trafficking are all enabled by the Democrats' policies. It was Democrats who "invented" separating children from parents and keeping them in cages at the border. No matter which criteria you use, this is a reason not to vote Democrat.

Climate

The Democratic party favors shutting down the US fossil fuel industry. This ensures that all the fossil fuels used will be environmentally dirty, and extracted without benefit of US environmental protections. In addition, they want to mandate solar and wind power. Both of these technologies are destructive of the environment, and not sustainable. Because they are intermittent, they do not reduce the need to have fossil fue powered backup plants. Because they are diffuse, the amount of land that would need to be stripped to supply the energy needs of the US is four times the total land area of the US. The energy used to make a solar panel is close to the total amount of energy it will produce, and the materials used are toxic, and will eventually seep into ground water. No matter which criteria you use, this is a reason not to vote Democrat.

War

Despite lip service to peace, Democrats have not followed through. The Obama administration (of which Biden was a part) made unprecedented use of drone strikes, killing 3,500 people, including American citizens, without due process of law, or a congressional declaration of war. He ramped up military activity and broke agreements with our allies. Billions in cash were clandestinely delivered to enemies of the US. On the flip side, President Trump has been nominated four times for the Nobel Peace Prize for brokering peace in the Middle east, in Europe and Africa. The war in Afghanistan is finally coming to an end under President Trump. No matter which criteria you use, this is a reason not to vote Democrat.

Law and Order

As a senator Biden pushed for a crime bill that directly led to the unconstitutional "stop and frisk" policy, and directly led to the current crisis of minorities in prison. He is (finally) under investigation for his "quid pro quo" deals with Ukrainian officials to get his son a job, and to interfere in criminal investigations into his dealings. Biden and Harris have refused to condemn burning and looting in our cities (in fact, Harris said that the looting "should continue"). There was the weaponization of the IRS under the Obama administration, the weaponization now of the media and social media, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, etc. Harris refused to look into credible evidence of trafficking in human organs by Planned Parenthood, and instead colluded with them, took money from them, and prosecuted the journalist who uncovered their crimes. She withheld evidence that could have cleared two black men on death row. No matter which criteria you use, this is a reason not to vote Democrat.

Civility

One reason I have heard is that the Democrats are "civil" unlike President Trump. So let's look at how civil they are. Consider the Kavanaugh hearings, the Clarence Thomas hearings, etc. - they even invented a word "borking" for what the Democrats did to Supreme Court nominee Bork. They repeatedly called the president names, called him racist, despite a lack of evidence. In the first debate, Biden interrupted the president many times, calling him a "clown" and other names. Half of Americans have been called "deplorable" and "racist"...  I could go on, but I think it is clear that no matter which criteria you use, this is a reason not to vote Democrat.

Health Care

The Democrats favor a return to Obamacare. The problem is that Obamacare doesn't solve any problems, but rather, institutionalizes them in government bureaucracy. In other words, instead of making drugs cheaper to manufacture, or regulating drug profits, it merely forces everyone to share the cost. From a Catholic perspective this goes against the principle of subsidiarity, that problems are best solved locally, not in a one-size-fits-all approach. It also doesn't make sense from a purely secular perspective. Lastly, it is not economically feasible. Obamacare worked for a few years because parts of it had their costs deferred to future years. In the next few years, as those costs kick in, premiums will become even more astronomical. The problems that it claims to solve - uninsured people, preexisting conditions - were either not actual problems, or have already been solved in other (better) ways. Jesus calls us to care for the sick. He does not call on us to take money from our neighbors to pay for it. No matter which criteria you use, this is a reason not to vote Democrat.

Voter Suppression

The Democratic party is the party of voter suppression, with a history that goes all the way back to Jim Crow laws, poll tests, etc. Today Democrats claim that voter ID laws are voter suppression, based on the racist theory that minorities aren't capable of getting government ID, yet they don't consider it suppression to require government ID to driver, receive government benefits, health care, etc. What they are pushing is lax election laws that encourage fraud. Voter fraud is voter suppression, since every "extra" vote cast nullifies the vote of a real voter who voted the other way. Given that minorities are minorities their votes are more easily nullified by voter fraud, so actually voter ID laws would help ensure minorities votes counted. No matter which criteria you use, this is a reason not to vote Democrat.

Death Penalty

Yes, the party platform states that Democrats oppose the death penalty, which takes the lives of about 20 convicted criminals per year in the US. Republicans are split on this issue.

Conclusion

In short, there is no issue, other than perhaps the death penalty, where the Democratic party does not directly go against Catholic teaching or the good of society. Even if you say all these issues are equivalent in moral value, the death of 20 people does not add up to the rest of the issues. Abortion alone kills 75 million human beings every year.

 

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Quarantine

As you may or may not know, we went to Florida a little while ago, to visit my in-laws, and so we are in our "voluntary quarantine" phase. So naturally I've been thinking about New Jersey's quarantine rules.

I understand the desire to quarantine people who have traveled in order to slow the spread of the virus. That's sound science. But NJ doesn't quarantine all travelers, only ones coming from certain states. And that I find puzzling.

If you quarantine people based on the distance they travel, that makes sense. By trying to localize contact points to spread the virus, you would keep outbreaks, if any occur, local.

If you quarantine people based on how they travel, that also makes sense. For instance, we traveled by air, and were exposed to TSA workers, people in the airport, the other people on the plane, the previous occupants of the plane, etc. - literally hundreds of contacts. If we had traveled by RV, we might only have been exposed when buying food and gas.

But New Jersey does neither of these, but quarantines based on state. Now at the time we were in Florida, the case rate and death rate for people in Florida was half of what it was in New Jersey during the same period. So we are less likely to have been bringing the virus from Florida than if we had visited Freehold. Where is the "science" behind that?

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Who's life matters?

Over the past few weeks I have been excoriated by several friends (who have, for the most part, unfriended me over this issue) for not repeating the phrase "Black Lives Matter." To paraphrase the common argument (I'd quote it but I am blocked from being able to read what they wrote).

"You can't say 'all lives matter' when black lives are especially at risk. As long as black people are being killed we have to say 'black lives matter.'"

And I get it. I really do. The reason I don't parrot the slogan is that it doesn't mean what it claims to mean. But the argument I was given got me to thinking. People are donating billions of dollars, holding demonstrations around the country, and wanting to make sweeping changes to our entire society to correct the issue of police killing blacks.

In 2019, the number of black killed by police was 259. That's sad. But in the same year, some 865,000 children were killed in abortions. An estimated 300,000 of those children were black.

So a black child is over 1000 times as likely to be killed by its mother in an abortion than to be killed by police. Where is "Black Lives Matter" over this? Where is the outrage? The billions in funding? The demonstrations? The only ones who care about these children are those in the pro-life movement. Their demonstrations are poorly funded and not even acknowledged by the media, until president Trump started attending.

If you want me to chant "Black Lives Matter" with you start caring about black lives, you hypocrites!


Saturday, August 29, 2020

A Biden truth

In my post on Presidential Impeccability I discussed can a Catholic vote for Donald Trump. Now I'd like to tackle the flip side, can a Catholic vote for Joe Biden. Just as in the case of Donald Trump, the answer hinges on the three "non-negoatiables" (please see the post linked to above for the whole discussion on non-negotiables.

Many of my friends who plan to vote for Joe Biden tell me they're actually voting for Kamala Harris, because they don't feel Joe Biden will be able to serve all (or maybe any) of his term. With that in mind I'm writing this as "can a Catholic vote for Joe Biden or Kamala Harris, and will be presenting material regarding both candidates.

So without further ado, let's go through the list:

On the dignity of human life from conception to natural death Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are not acceptable. Joe Biden has a 100% abortion support rating from Planned Parenthood and Naral. In 1992 Casey v. Planned Parenthood was struck down, upholding and affirming Roe v. Wade, due to a single vote, by Justice David Souter, whom Joe Biden had helped approve for SCOTUS. On the day this happened, fellow senator Warren Rudman describes meeting Joe as follows:

“At first, I didn’t see Joe; then I spotted him waving at me from far down the platform,” Rudman later recorded in his memoirs, Combat: Twelve Years in the U.S. Senate. “Joe had agonized over his vote for David, and I knew how thrilled he must be. We started running through the crowd toward each other, and when we met, we embraced, laughing and crying.”

An ecstatic Biden wept tears of joy, telling Rudman over and over: “You were right about him [Souter]! ... You were right!”

The two men were so jubilant, so giddy—practically dancing—that Rudman said onlookers thought they were crazy: “[B]ut we just kept laughing and yelling and hugging each other because sometimes, there are happy endings.”

Joe Biden opposes the Hyde amendment, which forbids using federal dollars to pay for abortions. He has promised to repeal the Mexico City policy, which forbids using federal money to support expansion of abortion in foreign countries. Biden is ok with China's "one child" policy of force abortion and sterilizations. Biden said he was "proud" to support a euthanasia bill.

Kamala Harris also has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood and Naral. She opposes the Pain Capable Child Protection Act, which would limit late term abortions. Harris co-sponsored the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” which calls for abortion without limits until birth. Harris announced that as president she would require states that have a history of passing pro-life laws to seek preclearance from the Justice Department before they could enact any laws that would impact abortion on demand. Under her plan, any new pro-life laws would be considered unenforceable without preclearance from the Justice Department.

As Attorney General of California, when presented with video evidence that Planned Parenthood was committing crimes by illegally selling body parts, Harris colluded with Planned Parenthood to charge the reporters with crimes. That case is still ongoing, and Planned Parenthood still has not been investigated. 

On the dignity of marriage and family, Joe Biden has performed a same sex marriage. stuff
The protection of the right of parents to educate their children. 

As A.G. of California Kamala Harris refused to defend Proposition 8, the ballot initiative where Californian voters declared marriage to be between a man and a woman. A direct result of that was the legalization of same sex marriage in California.

On the protection of the right of parents to educate their children, Joe Biden wants to eliminate charter schools and eliminate funding sources for private schools. Kamala Harris has not voiced an opinion on the matter, although her overt bias against religious freedom and Catholics in particular make it unlikely she is a friend of private schools.

So... in pretty much every non-negotiable bot Biden and Harris are unacceptable candidates for a Catholic.

...and yet so many Catholics, even ones who claim to follow the Magisterium, plan to vote for them. Here's why I think, not only are they wrong, but they are putting their immortal souls in danger. The Catechism says:

1857 For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."

 So, the question is, is voting for Biden/Harris considered grave matter? Certainly being involved in abortion is (performing one, have one performed, paying for one, enabling another person to have one). But what about voting for abortion? In Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II writes:

Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops... I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church's Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. 
No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church. 
Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection...
In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to 'take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it.
Please take the time to go read all of Evangelium Vitae. It is not a long read, and there is so much more there and the brief excerpts I have included above.
 
I would think that would settle things, but I have heard two arguments to "get around" this teaching and vote for Biden/Harris.

The first argument involves a note, that Cardinal Ratzinger wrote at the bottom of a fraternal letter to the US bishops:
 
A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation with evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stance on abortion or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share the candidate’s stance in favor of abortion or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.
 
From this some have concluded that as long as they say "I don't like abortion, but boy, that Joe Biden has a better plan for 'X' than Trump"  they can freely vote for whomever they please with a clean conscience. However, they ignore the phrase "can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons." What does "can be permitted" and what are proportionate reasons?
 
"Can be permitted" in the context of the letter means "still able to receive Holy Communion" - in other words, he's not saying it's fine, just that it's not a mortal sin.

As for proportionate means, what is "proportionate" to the brutal murder of close to a million completely innocent human lives every year? The answer is really only one thing - the brutal murder of even more completely innocent human lives. That is, if you were voting for a pro-abortion candidate because if you didn't a worse pro-abortion candidate would win. George Weigel explains it much better than I could in this article. The situation is not simple, but it is clearly not the case that this note is a "loophole" to let Catholics ignore 2,000 years of church teaching.

What about climate change? If the world ends in twelve years that kills more people than abortion. Could that be a proportionate reason? For this to be a proportionate reason, we would at least have to be as certain about those deaths as we are about the reality of abortion. That presupposes the following:
  • Biden/Harris alone have the power to change the earth's climate (e.g. the president has the power necessary to unilaterally change things).
  • Biden/Harris will change the climate as their top priority (e.g. it's not a campaign promise).
  • There is no other way to change the climate (e.g. we cannot work with any other lawmakers to address the problem)
There are problems right away with those assumptions. Although Biden has said he will eliminate fossil fuels by 2050 he has not proposed how that can be done (hint: it can't). Also, given that it was a priority for Obama/Biden for eight years, and there were no significant steps taken, it is unlikely that Biden/Harris can/will make such changes in half that time.
 
It is also unclear whether the methods the Democrats have proposed will even have a positive impact on climate. For instance, many of the initiatives put in place during the Obama/Biden administration, such as electric vehicles and solar power, simply moved environmentally dirty operations off to China and other countries with lax environmental laws and emissions exceptions in the Paris agreement. The current administrations' insistence on manufacturing things in the US has actually cleaned up some industries and reduced pollution, and Trump's Affordable Clean Energy Act is projected to reduce CO2 emissions by 35% by 2050. It is not at all a black and white issue.

In short, it is not a proportionate reason.

The second argument is that voting for a candidate is not the same as voting in favor of the policy. To me this seems a bit of a stretch because the only reason to vote for a candidate is because you want them to implement the policies you approve of. I suppose you could say "I don't care what the candidate's policies are, I just vote straight Democrat" but why vote Democrat unless you like the policies of the Democratic party (which are also extremely pro-abortion).

Another way to look at this is to use an analogy. Could a southerner in the  Civil Ware era say "I support Jefferson Davis and the south, but that's not related to supporting slavery?" As any honest person will tell you "A vote for Jeff Davis is a vote to preserve our southern institutions" (aka slavery). Likewise a vote for Biden is a vote to expand "women's healthcare" (aka abortion). When something is as integral to a person's platform as abortion is to Biden/Harris it is disingenuous to claim that your vote will not be an approval for them to go ahead with their support of abortion.
 
Ironically enough, this very same argument was used by Planned Parenthood to skirt the law against performing partial birth abortions.
 
“The federal abortion ban is a law, and laws are up to interpretation. So there are some people who interpret it as, it’s intent. So if I say on day one, ‘I do not intend to do this,’ what ultimately happens doesn’t matter.” (emphasis added)

For these reasons, I believe if you as a Catholic vote for Biden/Harris with full knowledge (knowing what has been discussed in this post) and consent, you are at risk of committing a mortal sin. I know people will excoriate me for pushing an agenda, and I am pushing an agenda, but my agenda is not political, it's spiritual. I don't want you, dear reader, to be in sin. Even if it is not mortal.
 
My other agenda is that we have, for the first time since 1973, a real chance to reduce the number of abortions in the US. Under president Trump abortions are already at the lowest level on over a decade. Having a president who promotes a pro-life cause, appoints pro-life judges, and allows pro-lifers to have a voice in government and the public square is already starting to change minds and hearts.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Presidential Impeccability


As you may or may not know, I expend a lot of effort into determining who to vote for. I don't believe in party politics, but in examining the positions and policies of individual candidates, and choose the one according to the principles of my faith and conscience. On the odd chance that you care what Mike thinks I will share my views about voting in general, and in the 2020 presidential election, in particular.

But the focus of this post is not to do all of that, but to speak to a particular issue - can a Catholic vote for Donald Trump given that he is "X" (substitute your own value for X - liar, adulterer, racist, etc.). I have seen a lot of arguments along the lines of
A: "Catholics can't vote for Biden because he is pro-abortion."
B: "Well, then Catholics can't vote for Trump because 'X'. therefore Catholics are free to vote for Biden as the lesser of two evils."

First off, there are more than two candidates. If you can't vote for Biden, that doesn't mean you have to vote for Trump, and vice versa. There are several other candidates, such as Brian Carroll, or Tom Hoefling, who embrace most of Catholic social teaching without being Joe Biden or Donald Trump. If you honestly can't vote in good conscience for either major party candidate, rather than violate your principles, vote for one of them, or write in another candidate. "But that is throwing away my vote" - nonsense. It is staying true to your values. If being on the "winning" side in a political contest is more important than your conscience and moral values, you need to rethink your priorities.

Back to the issue at hand. There are "non-negotiables" from a Catholic perspective. These are explained here, and I encourage you to read the whole thing, but here is a summary. From the EWTN site, the distinction is as follows:

Non-negotiable issues involving essential moral goods (e.g. life, liberty) are the most important. Essential goods directly oppose intrinsic evils which may never morally be chosen.

Negotiable issues, on the other hand, are not matters of essential goodness or evilness. Rather, they involve determining the best means, or policies, to achieve good ends.

If a candidate (in any race, not just POTUS) promotes any non-negotiable issues, a Catholic may not support that candidate unless there are no candidates who do not support non-negotiables, in which case he must vote for the candidate who he believes will do the least harm.

In the 2016 election, there were five non-negotiable issues identified specifically.

  • Abortion
  • Human Cloning
  • Euthanasia (assisted suicide)
  • Stem Cell Research
  • Homosexual "Marriage"

In the 2020 elections, this is the list.

  1. The dignity of human life from conception to natural death.
  2. The dignity of marriage and family, upon which the good of every society and the human race itself depends.
  3. The protection of the right of parents to educate their children. 

What happened? Did some issues become "negotiable"? Did new ones become "non-negotiable?" Part of it depends on what's at stake in an election. In 2016 parental rights to educate children wasn't an issue at all -  nobody was attacking that right. Now that right is threatened. The first four issues on the list did not go away, but have been combined into one item in this year's guidance.

Note that this list does not say anything about the impeccability (moral character) of the candidate. While moral character is important, we are not trying to canonize the person, we are hiring them to do a job, and the important thing is whether or not they will do a good job, not whether or not they have a good personal life. Unless Jesus or Mary are eon the ballot (and boy, I wish they were) we are always going to be voting for someone who is a sinner.

Now let's look at where Donald Trump stands on those issues, and others.

On the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, Donald Trump has been a steadfast champion. He has spoken numerous times about the dignity of human life. He is the first president to promote and attend the March for Life. He has done everything in his power to defund Planned Parenthood. He has surrounded himself with pro-life people, like Marjorie Danenenfelser, Alveda King, Abby Johnson, and others. He has appointed Supreme Court justices and federal judges who interpret the Constitution as it was originally written (and hence can work towards the overturn of Roe v Wade). Likewise his judicial choices oppose euthanasia. He has criticized and removed funding for fetal tissue research.

I have heard objections that Planned Parenthood's funding is at its highest level this year. That is not due to Donald Trump, but house Democrats, who have increased funding to make up for Trump's funding cuts. You can't blame a man for something someone else did.

I've also heard objections that Trump is not pro-life because he does "X" (supports the death penalty, puts kids in cages, wants to arrest immigrants, didn't fund social welfare program "Y", etc.). Some of those criticisms are justified, others are specious, but the one thing they have in common are that they are not non-negotiables. We cannot conflate not letting someone into your country with dismembering a baby. One is a prudential decision which may or may not be best for the common good, the other is murder, plain and simple.

On the dignity of marriage and family, Donald Trump has, for the most part, been a force for good. Again, his judicial nominations have been pro-family, and pro-religious freedom. According to an NBC News report Trump said, referring to same sex marriage:

“It’s irrelevant because it was already settled. It’s law,” Trump said in a "60 Minutes" interview that aired Sunday night. “It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean it’s done. These cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled. And I’m fine with that.”

These comments appear to contradict statements Trump made during an interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace in January, where he said he would "strongly consider" appointing Supreme Court justices who would repeal same-sex marriage.

Does that mean Trump supports a non-negotiable? I think it is a matter of personal interpretation. I see it as something similar to what Bishop Robert Barron said in an interview on the Rubin Report.

Rubin questioned the bishop on his “personal feelings” about the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling that legalized homosexual “marriage”: “I assume you felt it was a wrong decision by the court?”

“I do,” replied Barron. “But I don’t think I want to press it further. I think where we are right now in the States, I’ll apply the Aquinas principle. I think it would probably cause much more problems and dissension and difficulty if we keep pressing it.”

In other words, not wanting to press the issue at this time is a far cry from endorsing it. Given the second part of NBC's coverage, and other remarks the president has made, it seems clear that he does not support same sex marriage, nor does he believe Obergefell was correct, but it is not a hill to die on right now. Making this a campaign issue would likely cause more problems than it would help.

Still, if you personally feel those two words "I'm fine" undo his support of marriage and family in other areas and indicate true support for same sex marriage, then yes, you would have to not vote for Trump as a good Catholic.

On the right for parents to educate their children Trump is a strong ally. He has championed conscience rights, religious freedom, school choice and homeschooling without government interference. His choice for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, is very much in favor of private and religious schools and homeschooling. The president's judicial nominees have been in favor of parental rights and religious rights.

All in all, I think you have to say that barring two words, made in a 60 Minutes interview, there is nothing you can point to about the president supporting non-negoatiable issues. Even those two words "I'm fine" do not, in my opinion, indicate "support" or "endorsement" of a non-negotiable. In fact, as the president's detractors point out, his actions have contradicted those two words.

I also see Catholics decrying other "non-negotiable" issues that the president supposedly supports. Here are a few:

The president supports the death penalty. This is true, but the death penalty is not a non-negotiable. According to Pope Francis' latest statements on the issue the death penalty is no longer needed. That does not change the church's long standing teaching that the death penalty is not intrinsically evil. Abortion is intrinsically evil because it is the intentional killing of an innocent human being. In the case of the death penalty, the human being isn't innocent, and is being killed in a manner of self defense. We shouldn't kill if we have a better means of defense, which is Pope Francis' point, but that doesn't change the teaching, just the circumstances.

The president is pro-gay because he appointed Richard Grenell acting director of the Office of National Intelligence, which made him the first openly gay Cabinet member. In addition, president Trump has worked to decriminalize homosexuality in the 69 countries where it is illegal, and worked on a plan to eradicate HIV/AIDS. The catechism says, paragraph 2358:

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. 

There is no reason not to hire a homosexual person for a job if their sexuality does not impact their ability to perform it, and if they are qualified. In fact, it would be unjust not to. Decriminalizing homosexuality sounds bad, until you realize that most of the criminal penalties being discussed are death. I don't think anybody believes that is just. And eradicating HIV/AIDS is a work of mercy. The disease is not restricted to homosexuals, and even if it were, they deserve to have their health needs met. Although homosexual acts are to be avoided, people with homosexual inclinations should be treated with respect and compassion.

Again, if you honestly feel that this constitutes promoting homosexuality, then by all means vote your conscience. To me this, like his words "I'm fine" do not rise to the level of support.

So can a Catholic vote for Donald Trump in good conscience? I believe one can. There are a few items (his reluctance to challenge Obergefell at this time, and his call for other countries to stop locking up and executing homosexuals) that one could interpret in such a way as to eliminate him as a potential candidate, but I don't believe either of these constitutes support of these issues, merely prudential decisions to get support to address larger issues, like the abortion of almost one million innocent children.