An Election Is Not a Suicide Mission

To the pro-choice side, especially to lukewarm pro-choicers looking to feel better about their own muddled sense of things, this choice has sometimes been cast as evidence that pro-lifers don’t really believe our own rhetoric — that if we really believed abortion to be murder, really murder, we wouldn’t be incrementalists and small-r republicans on the issue; we would support violence, rebellion, nullification, secession, you name it.

.. The strongest counterpoint to this line of argument comes from the Roman Catholic catechism’s teaching on just war. As the Catholic writer John Zmirak noted in the aftermath of the Planned Parenthood shootings last years, the church does not allow nations to take up arms and go to war merely when they have a high moral cause on their side. Justice is necessary, but it is not sufficient: Peaceful means of ending the evil in question need to have been exhausted, there must be serious prospects of military success, and (crucially) “the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.”

.. So long as your polity offers mechanisms for eventually changing unjust laws, it’s better to accept the system’s basic legitimacy and work within it for change than to take steps, violent or otherwise, that risk blowing the entire apparatus up.

.. But the Trump alternative is like a feckless war of choice in the service of some just-seeming end, with a commanding general who likes war crimes. It’s a ticket on a widening gyre, promising political catastrophe and moral corruption both, no matter what ideals seem to justify it.