Avoiding Election Day Traps

When Election Day arrives, so do the traps that come with it. Be sure you avoid these pitfalls, and help others avoid them, too!

1. I’m a nobody — I only have one vote, and my vote doesn’t count!

This trap overlooks the lessons of history that show how elections can be decided by a single vote or a handful of votes. Remember the 2000 Presidential election! Less well known, perhaps, are these facts:

A shift of less than one vote per precinct in a handful of states would have defeated Woodrow Wilson in his bid for re-election in 1916. A few votes per precinct in Illinois and a couple of other states and then Vice President Richard Nixon would have defeated John F. Kennedy in 1960. In 1974, Congressman Louis Wyman was declared the victor in the U.S. senate race in New Hampshire, after a recount, by just two votes.

Election history provides many similar examples.

Yes, your one vote counts, and you can also influence many other votes!

2. They’re all bums! — No candidate is worthwhile!

This is the trap of looking for the non-existent perfect candidate. But your vote is not to canonize the candidate; it is to give him or her temporary power to do some limited good. If both choices look evil, try to see how one may be better than the other. This is not “choosing the lesser evil.” Rather, it is choosing to limit evil, and that is a good.

3. I can’t be a single-issue voter!

First of all, most people are. It is usually a “single issue” that motivates a person to rally around a candidate.

But if you don’t want to be a “single-issue” voter, at least you can be an intelligent one, and realize how the many issues are related. At the foundation of them all is the right to life, without which no others are possible. If a politician can’t respect the life of a little baby, how is she supposed to respect yours?

4. The election doesn’t matter. — We can’t put our trust in worldly power. Those we elect whom we think are on our side disappoint us anyway.

We don’t put our trust in earthly power and government, but in the Lord. Political involvement is not our salvation, but it is our duty. It is God Himself who gives us the opportunity and wisdom to shape our society according to His laws. Surely, any human leader can disappoint us, and many do. But we are not responsible for predicting or controlling the future, nor are we capable to do so. We are responsible for analyzing the positions of the candidates and choosing those whose positions correspond to the moral law and the common good.

I will discuss several more Election Day traps in my next column. In the meantime, please

  1. Pass this column along to others.
  2. Say the daily prayer at ElectionPrayer.com.
  3. Distribute our voter guides, available at PoliticalResponsibility.com

Thank you!

Fr. Frank


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About the Author

National Director, Priests for Life Father Frank Pavone is a native New Yorker who was ordained in 1988 by Cardinal John O’Connor. He is a priest of the Amarillo Diocese in Texas and serves full-time in pro-life leadership with his bishop’s permission. In 1993 he became national director of Priests for Life. He is also the president of the National Pro-life Religious Council, and the national pastoral director of Rachel’s Vineyard, the world’s largest ministry of healing after abortion. He travels throughout the country preaching and teaching against abortion. He lived in Rome for two years while serving on the Pontifical Council for the Family, and recently was appointed to the Pontifical Academy for Life. In 2005, he was present at the bedside of Terri Schiavo as she was dying and was an outspoken advocate for her life. He was invited by members of the Class of 2009 at Notre Dame to lead an alternate commencement ceremony for those students who refused to attend the ceremony in which President Obama was honored. Father Pavone has received the “Proudly Pro-life Award” by the National Right to Life Committee, and numerous other pro-life awards and honorary doctorates. Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade abortion decision, has described him as “the catalyst that brought me into the Catholic Church.”

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