There are those who agree with this analysis, and hold up the Amish as an example to follow. The argument goes that we should at least participate in the local process, even if we cannot find a way to stomach the national candidates. And there is wisdom in that. But can we go even further?
Many consider it some kind of civic sin to not participate in the political process, but consider:
If war is just the continuation of politics by other means andNow, it is possible for war to be just, or moral. If a war is just, then, clearly, we can sin by refusing to participate in that just war. Yet, by the same token, everyone also recognizes that we can justifiably refuse to participate in a war that we consider sinful. If that is so, then the corollary must also be true. As CS Lewis pointed out, "If war is ever moral, then sometimes peace can be sinful." The thought is initially startling, but clearly accurate. This is, after all, the reason a just war is waged - the peace is sinful, and can no longer justly be borne..If we can refuse to participate in a sinful war, then we must also be able to refuse to participate in a sinful peace.
It is not a sin to refuse to participate in a sinful war (war-time pacifism) then
It is not a sin to refuse to participate in a sinful peace (political pacifism).
To put it another way, consider the four criteria of the just war, namely.
In a sinful peace, we may have no "serious prospect of success(fully)" removing the sin while retaining the peace. What can we do in that case? That is, what can be done, short of war, when the political process itself has been so corrupted that we end with a choice like Hillary vs. Bernie vs. Donald? The first two are clearly fungible. If you have reason to doubt Trump's recent conversion to a "conservative" outlook, then all three individuals are entirely fungible. Voting for any particular one has essentially the same consequence as voting for either of the others. If this country actually reaches that point, then voting, participation in the process, is merely validation of the process. My vote merely rubber-stamps horror.
- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
- there must be serious prospects of success;
- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
As has been pointed out elsewhere, you can't vote with a question mark or an asterisk. A begrudged vote for Hillary/Bernie/Donald is identical to an enthusiastic vote for the hydra-headed beast. Both the enthusiastic vote and the clothes-pin-on-the-nose vote count the same, a vote for any one of them has the horrific effect of contributing to that one actually getting the office. Even if the one I vote for does not gain office, even if one of the others gets the office instead, s/he can still point to my vote against them as at least a blessing of the process. No matter what happens, my vote validates their occupancy of the office.
But I am not required to validate a politician's office. In a democracy, I validate the office holder by voting. In a monarchy, I would validate the office by granting public assent to the actions of the king. Thomas More became a political pacifist, he dropped out of the political process, he refused to give his "vote" of assent to the actions of the king. Instead, he "voted" by resigning the royal office that had been given to him and retiring to private life. His refusal to "vote", his refusal to give assent to the political process, led to his death as the king's good subject, but God's first. The king recognized More's refusal to participate in the monarchy's political processes, his political pacifism, as an act of war against the government. When we consciously refuse to vote, we imitate More's action.
Many feel the process can be saved, so they will write in a candidate. That is a valid opinion to hold, and a valid course to follow. We could tear off the offensive part of the ballot. We could leave parts blank. Or we can refuse to vote at all, we could retire from the irredeemably corrupt political process, as Thomas More did. We are allowed to repudiate the entire process. We can refuse to participate in both a sinful war and a sinful peace.
And, if our political pacifism fails, then we have a final option.
Remember the Battle of Athens.