Veritas et Libertas

My Journey to Discover Truth and Liberty

Why My Conscience Will Not Allow Me to Vote for Romney

I am afraid this is beating a dead horse, but there are several reasons for dredging up the “to vote or not to vote” issue again:

1) The horse may be dead, but it is an important horse. There are many subjects that I disagree with other people about, but I figure it isn’t a big deal, and is not worth publicly disagreeing. However, for anyone who has discussed this issue in person with me, you will know I’m passionate about what I believe. It is no small matter, this comes down to our basic assumptions about the role of government and the duty of the Christian. It is not to be taken lightly.

2) I think through writing. Apparently a lot of people think through talking. I don’t want to discuss something until I’ve thought it through carefully. And one way that I analyze things is to write it as my writing skills are much stronger than my verbal skills. So I’m covering this issue again because I want to test my position yet again. I’m always open to changing my opinion on things. A couple years ago I openly admitted it when I realized my minarchist position was wrong and became an anarcho-capitalist. And since I have a blog, this seems to be the appropriate place to think through things.

3) There are people who are agree with me and may need some encouraging because I’m afraid we are the minority right now. This is for those who have decided not to participate in the elections but have been questioned about it or are beginning to doubt that they made the right decision.

4) Some people simply don’t know what they are going to do. They have no pre-conceived ideas either way and are curious about hearing another viewpoint. So they can hear it here.

Please note that I don’t intend this to be a tirade against those who disagree with me. In fact, if I were someone like that, I probably wouldn’t even bother reading my website, just as I don’t bother reading Fox News or any of the Republican websites that promote voting for Romney. If you don’t understand why I have decided not to vote, then maybe you would find this helpful. Otherwise, I don’t feel at all bad if you don’t finish reading this.

So, with my introduction out of the way, let’s get down to the issue.

Joel Beeke posted an article on his site called, “Why My Conscience Will Not Let Me Not Vote for Romney.”  Please note the double negative, which confused me at first. I was intrigued by the article because several friends posted in on Facebook and because I know Joel Beeke and have read one of his books.

Thanks to several years of formal logic, I now think in logical propositions. It is sometimes annoying, but mostly helpful. I’m always trying to mentally convert an argument to a formal syllogism. I’m going to convert Joel Beeke’s argument to a syllogism and test it out. In italics I will include quotes from Joel Beeke so that it is clear I’m taking each of these premises directly from him.

Premise 1: Christians have a moral obligation to vote.

To avoid the ballot box is to remain silent while a million lives are snuffed out each year.”

Premise 2: Christians have a moral obligation to not vote for a candidate who is pro-choice, or more accurately, anti-life.

“When one considers what the Bible says about the unborn child (Ps. 139:13–14), homosexuality (Rom. 1:26–27), debt (Prov. 22:7), and stealing (Ex. 20:15), including taking from the rich to favor the poor (Ex. 23:3), those committed to biblical truth cannot but groan over the policies that presently rule our nation.” 

Premise 3: Obama is pro-choice/anti-life.

“The President’s unqualified support of abortion goes beyond anything we saw from previous Democratic leaders like President Clinton. His public endorsement of same-sex marriage is well known. His fiscal policy has launched the federal government into reckless spending which runs up our deficit at a rate of more than a trillion dollars per year—that is, more than $3250 of additional debt per year for every one of our 312 million people. At present, our government is in debt more than $51,000 for every person living in our nation. People have documented his socialist agenda for the government to use its coercive power to steal wealth from some in order to redistribute it to others as its officials see fit.”

Premise 4: Romney is pro-life.

“The difference between President Obama and Governor Romney regarding abortion is clear. Romney has far more respect for the right to life and for freedom of conscience than Obama.”

Premise 5: Christians have a moral obligation to vote for the Republican or Democratic candidate.

“In the election on Tuesday, we have only two realistic options. If you don’t vote for Romney, then you have helped Obama.”

Conclusion: Therefore Christians must vote for Romney.

Please note that this looks like a valid argument. It is valid in that if the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true. Validity in logic does not have anything to do with the actual truth of the premises, but merely the relationship between each of the premises and the conclusion.

So I’m going to go through each premise and test the truth of each one. The point being, if even one of these premises is proved false, then the conclusion cannot be proved true.

Premise 1: Christians have a moral obligation to vote.

To avoid the ballot box is to remain silent while a million lives are snuffed out each year.”

This assumes that voting for a pro-life candidate will actually protect the unborn. It assumes:

1) A pro-life candidate will enact pro-life legislation, presumably repealing Roe v. Wade

2) Enacting legislation will stop abortions

Assumption 1 leads to more questions. We have had several pro-life presidents since Roe v. Wade. For example, there was a Republican congress for 6 out of George Bush’s 8 years in office. So, what did he do? I found this article from the American Right to Life group which lists all the pro-choice statements and actions of George Bush, and it isn’t very positive. It seems to deny all empirical evidence and experience to claim that a pro-life president will actually be able to do anything about the abortion laws.

Assumption 2 is always rather weak. Abortion is an effect of sin. We can make it more difficult for abortions to be performed, but no amount of laws, short of creating a totalitarian state to enforce them, will stop people from having abortions. To me, it would seem that being active in supporting a crisis pregnancy center and being personally involved in the lives of couples who are considering abortion is a far more effective way to be pro-life. There are have been abortions for thousands of years, making it illegal will not fix the ultimate problem of sin. Instead of focusing on the effect of sin, we need to be addressing the cause which is our human depravity and desperate need for salvation. And Joel Beeke rightly supports the separation of church and state by saying, “…we are not electing a pastor. We are electing the President of the United States. We do not live in a political system where the head of state leads the established religion of the nation.” So there isn’t really anything that a president can do about reaching the lost, such as spreading the gospel, assuming he is even a Christian.

In the end, despite the drama and sense of urgency in this quote, “To avoid the ballot box is to remain silent while a million lives are snuffed out each year,” I do not find it to be a compelling argument to vote.

And he also tries to argue ad absurdum, “Is it a compromise of principle to vote for someone who does not agree with your perspective 100%? If so, then it seems that you can only vote for yourself!” However, the anarcho-capitalist will point out that this is exactly what would happen in an voluntaryist society and that it is entirely possible to maintain law and justice without being forced to vote for someone you don’t agree with.

Please note that I also covered this issue of the Christian’s assumed duty to vote in this blog post.

Basically it comes down to the fact that God does not command us to vote, and voting/politics is not an especially effective way of promoting Christian principles, so I don’t see that we have a moral obligation to participate in voting.

Premise 2: Christians have a moral obligation to not vote for a candidate who is pro-choice, or more accurately, anti-life.

“When one considers what the Bible says about the unborn child (Ps. 139:13–14), homosexuality (Rom. 1:26–27), debt (Prov. 22:7), and stealing (Ex. 20:15), including taking from the rich to favor the poor (Ex. 23:3), those committed to biblical truth cannot but groan over the policies that presently rule our nation.” 

I would agree with this completely. I have included this quote with Bible verses because for me, that is enough proof of this premise. I would hope that any Christian would agree with this statement.

 

Premise 3: Obama is pro-choice/anti-life.

“The President’s unqualified support of abortion goes beyond anything we saw from previous Democratic leaders like President Clinton. His public endorsement of same-sex marriage is well known. His fiscal policy has launched the federal government into reckless spending which runs up our deficit at a rate of more than a trillion dollars per year—that is, more than $3250 of additional debt per year for every one of our 312 million people. At present, our government is in debt more than $51,000 for every person living in our nation. People have documented his socialist agenda for the government to use its coercive power to steal wealth from some in order to redistribute it to others as its officials see fit.”

I would also agree with this. I appreciated that Joel Beeke included links to verify his statements. Since we’re talking about strict facts here, it would be very hard to dispute the truth of this premise.

 

Premise 4: Romney is pro-life.

“The difference between President Obama and Governor Romney regarding abortion is clear. Romney has far more respect for the right to life and for freedom of conscience than Obama.”

I found the link that Joel Beeke included fascinating. One of the major problems with proving my position is that Obama has been in office, whereas Romney has not. So you will notice in the comparison of the two candidates at the above link that the proofs for Obama’s pro-choice stance are references to bills he has supported, legislation he has approved, and actual actions he has taken. On Romney’s side, there are quotes. Just references to things he has said. Words are cheap, very cheap, especially during election time.

So the questions I think any rational person would ask would be:

1) Has his pro-life stance been consistent through his career?

Most definitely not. According to this article, it wasn’t until 2005 that he began to switch positions. The article references a 1994 debate he participated in against Ted Kennedy, where he said, “I believe abortion should be safe and legal in this country. I believe that since Roe v. Wade has been the law for 20 years, that we should sustain and support that law and the right of a woman to make that choice.” While running for governor of Massachusetts in 2002 he continued to maintain his pro-choice position. Suddenly, while running for president in 2007, he decided to become pro-life. And then during this campaign there have been some doubts about his position, such as this, “‘There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda,’ the Republican presidential nominee told The Des Moines Register in an interview.” And there is a “Romney Approved” ad floating around Youtube that qualifies his pro-life position for those women who concerned about the possibility that he would try to ban all abortions.

2) Has he offered an explanation for his switch from pro-choice to pro-life?

I tried to do a Google search to find any explanations for Romney’s flip-flopping, hoping to find some source where he explains what made him change his mind. But I couldn’t find anything. One minute he’s defending a woman’s right to choose and the next he’s defending the unborn infant’s right to life. I want to know why he changed his mind because it looks suspiciously like pandering to the crowd in order to win an election.

I think this is a good time to define what “pro-life” means. I take it to mean that that you support a human being’s right to life, even though it may be more convenient or simpler for others if that human being was killed. So let’s create another syllogism:

1) Every human being has the right to life unless it is take away through due process of law as punishment for committing a heinous crime of equal proportions.

2) Human life begins at conception and ends at death.

Therefore, every human being conceived and not yet dead has the right to live.

I think that’s all pretty self-evident. And you would expect a pro-life candidate to support the conclusion, right?

However, there are several areas where Romney is not consistent with his pro-life stance.

- Example One: Drone Strikes in the Mideast

The research and evidence makes it clear that using drones to fight terrorism is highly ineffective. See this article, this article, and this one. Drones are highly anti-life as innocent civilians are routinely killed, a part of the “collateral damage.” A pro-life candidate ought to be holding President Obama accountable for supporting this widespread murder of innocent people. Instead we find that Romney agrees with Obama’s policy on drones.

- Example Two: Assassination of Suspected Terrorists

From Reason.org, ‘During the final presidential debate, the moderator asked Mitt Romney about President Obama’s policy of killing suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens, with missiles fired from unmanned aircraft. “I believe we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world,” Romney replied. “I support that entirely.”‘ Again, I find this diametrically opposed to a pro-life platform and belief system.

- Example Three: Promoting War against Iran

War is never pro-life. War always means death. I was shocked to read Romney’s statements about Iran because it is so blatantly pro-war. For example, “U.S. policy toward Iran must begin with an understanding on Iran’s part that a military option to deal with their nuclear weapons program is very real and very credible. This message should not only be delivered through words, but through actions.” And in one of the debates both candidates agreed that “they would use military power if necessary to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.” Since there is no proof that Iran is close to getting a nuclear weapon, or is attempting to build a nuclear weapon and since the U.S. has 5,000 nuclear bombs and is the only country to ever use one (and not just one, but two!), and has a record of invading other countries for at least the last 100 years, it seems like gross hypocrisy to insist that Iran will sooner be destroyed than allowed to have a nuclear weapon. And a candidate who is not opposing the assassination of Iranian scientists can’t really be pro-life.

So, from this information, I would conclude that Romney is not pro-life, or at least not any more pro-life than Obama.

Premise 5: Christians have a moral obligation to vote for the Republican or Democratic candidate.

“In the election on Tuesday, we have only two realistic options. If you don’t vote for Romney, then you have helped Obama.”

This assumes that Romney is a preferred candidate over Obama, as a conclusion from Premise 2 & 3. However, I just got done explaining why I don’t believe Romney is particularly pro-life, which negates the primary reason for voting for Romney over Obama. Also, I disproved the premise that Christians must vote, so it seems entirely possible for Christians to not vote at all.

If Beeke can use hypothetical examples, then let me present one. Imagine an election where Hitler was running against Stalin and they were the candidates of the two popularly accepted political parties. What ought the Christian to do? There would be two realistic options. If you don’t vote for Stalin, then you’ve helped Hitler. In the end, do we do what is right or what will work?

Beeke also seems to be using a sort of circular reasoning here…that we have only two realistic options because we have only two realistic options. In other words, we must vote for Romney because we are voting for Romney. If people like Beeke did not promote the fear of “throwing away your vote” then a third-party candidate might actually have a chance. But because everybody says a third party candidate can’t win, then they won’t win.

Here’s another quote: “Our Lord Jesus acknowledged the wisdom of being careful to “count the cost” before engaging in a large economic or military endeavor (Luke 14:28–32). Our resources are precious. We must not throw them away if we know we cannot accomplish our goal. Your vote is precious.” 

It must be admitted that one vote is not precious. As noted here, “the probability of a person’s ballot being materially significant is unlikely to be greater than the probability of winning the lottery.”

I see several reasons why Christians are under no moral obligation to vote for a candidate from one of the two mainstream parties.

Conclusion: Therefore Christians must vote for Romney.

So, from my examination of Beeke’s premises, I have found that  3 out of the 5 premises are not true. Using the laws of logic, it follows that the conclusion is not necessarily true. It might be true, but a completely different set of premises would have to be used, since this argument does not hold.. In other words, the support for Beeke’s conclusion is not logically consistent.

Let me make a few closing remarks:

1) I realize that Joel Beeke is a highly respected theologian and author in Christian circles. One of my reasons for covering this issue again is because I did not want to lightly disregard the opinion of someone who is far more knowledgeable about Christianity. His beliefs deserve to be taken seriously because of his position.

2) I have come to my position through searching the Scriptures, praying for wisdom, and using the faculties I have been given as well as I can. I know that I don’t have everything right. The depravity of our nature and the noetic effects of the Fall essentially guarantee that I will never have a perfect understanding of everything, at least in this life. I trust it will all be made clear in eternity. At any rate, I know that it is possible for me to someday be convicted that my position is wrong. But until then, I can only maintain this position because I am bound by my conscience and by the Word of God.

3) The recent discussion in our Sunday School class this last Sunday was very helpful in regards to this. We talked about the varying beliefs of Christians in many areas, from parenting/schooling views, to political affiliations to theological issues like baptism. We must try to maintain this balance of accepting different viewpoints but not watering everything down to a wishy-washy subjectivism. It would be absurd to proclaim our beliefs but then qualify it by saying, “I don’t think I’m right on this.” Of course I think I’m right on this issue of voting or I wouldn’t bother writing all this. And this does mean that I must think that those who differ from me are wrong. However, we must be careful not to de-Christianize those with different viewpoints. Therefore let me state that I do not doubt Joel Beeke’s sincerity or his salvation because of what he says, nor do I question the Christianity of everyone I know who is going to be voting for Romney. I am sorry that they feel they must make that choice, but in the end, they must do what their conscience dictates and it does not take away from their position as my brother or sister in Christ. In the end, the words of John Newton are most apt, “The whole system of my politics is summed up in this one verse, “The Lord reigns! Let the nations tremble!” Psalm 99:1

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Very well put, Savannah. I’d also add that Romney is in favor of abortions in the cases of rape, incest and if the life of the mother is in danger, which means he is not pro-life.
    And I’m glad you concluded this the way you did… so many Christians seem to lose sight of the fact that God is sovereign and therefore the outcome has been foreordained by Him and for His glory!

  2. Well said! To God be the Glory!

  3. Greetings anarcho-capitalist, just a few thoughts about your position and the election outcome. You fail to mention the whole scam of voting and the method of elections which probably comes down to the one with the most money WINS. The electorial college vrs. the popular vote is only one aspect. The paper ballots vrs. electronically programed machines. It is endless the way our Government manipulates the power structure. Simply put, we can not change Gods Providence = a morally evil country deserves what it gets !

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