Election day in the United States of America is November 6th.
Modern democracies, which claim to be governed by the voice of the people, are almost universally disappointing. Only those who worship the State, or a certain party, can be truly peaceful with the results of an Election. This ‘liturgy of liberalism’ is an extravagant ceremony, but it often comes off as insincere, rigged, and ridiculous.
For the rest of us, the time after an Election is a return to the usual agony of politics. We wait and see whether those who we elected do the things they promised to win our vote. By voting, we feel some degree of allegiance to our chosen candidate. The mental discomfort of such decisions is set aside when convince ourselves that we have made the right choice. Our pride demands that we cannot feel cheated, so we are tempted to pave over the inconsistencies between our values and the politics of whoever received our support.
There is, of course, an argument to be made for strategic voting. Because it has already been made at nauseating length, a brief summary suffices: When we think about the horror of abortion, the brutal mass murder of the unborn, our hearts justly burn for these innocent children—and we might take the Republicans up on their promise. When we think about the plight of workers, the economic persecution of the family, we are rightly indignant at the outrages of capitalism—and we might turn to the Democrats for help. This debate should not be dismissed, but it should not be our only consideration.
In the past decades, Republicans have delivered only occasional anti-abortion policy, though they may nominate some judges who quibble with Roe v Wade. And most Democrats do nothing to dismantle capitalism, though they may expand the bureaucracy of the welfare state. There are some rare cases where a partisan candidate might do good on multiple fronts. But these are very rare indeed.
There are also third parties in America, despite what it seems. But the voting process—through gerrymandering, ballot access rules, and first-past-the-post—has made it structurally impossible for them to succeed. These important political organizations can do great good on the local level and in the national discourse: the American Solidarity Party is a promising place for the post-liberal politics of virtue to organize. But the ASP, as of yet, is not likely to field candidates for even one of the positions on any given local ballot; much less are they poised to win office.
So until the day arrives when there are just candidates, how does a Catholic vote, if at all? Barring the many obstacles of law or circumstance, he or she should vote, for it is the duty of Christians to “proclaim to the nations: the Lord is King” and the Church tells us that “co-responsibility for the Common Good makes it morally obligatory to exercise the right to vote” (CCC 2240).
One answer is this: a write-in vote for “Christ the King” in all offices. The purpose of this is threefold. First, it removes the temptation to defend the unjust actions of a strategic single-issue candidate who received one’s vote. Liberalism is constantly tempting us to an idolatry of the State. Second, it refuses to be stained by association with the wickedness any liberal faction. “Liberal democracy is the Devil’s tool to make us complicit in the sins of tyrants.” And third, it sends the clearest possible message about the allegiance of one’s heart. No one can discern the exact motives behind votes for various liberal parties, but a vote for “Christ the King” begs no such ambiguity. And while a dozen integralists voting in this way would amount to silence in the noise of our modern media, a growing movement of Christians with such a protest would eventually demand recognition. We may someday soon have candidates supporting the politics of virtue. Still, we cannot allow meaningful political activity to be reducible to voting. Integralists have much work to do throughout the rest of the year.
The world will not be redeemed through the ballot box. It is money, not the masses, that truly drives liberal politics. But we can nonetheless subvert the Devil’s weapon to praise his conqueror, Our Lord, Jesus Christ.