And yet, Mark also made it clear, especially on his now defunct blog, that doing so was nothing less than dancing with Satan. It was compromising the purer faith and potentially jeopardizing your soul. Those who tried to argue for Romney or McCain were subject to a blistering assault from Mark, and many of his readers, with the accusation that they were putting tribalist loyalties above their very salvation. If Mark's public writings made it clear he had little good to say about voting for the lesser evil, his blog posts drove the point home in no uncertain terms.
In fact, by the end Mark was saying there was no real justification in his mind for voting for the lesser of two evils for either party:
"So here’s the deal: I see no proportionate good in supporting candidates from either party who support grave evil. I do, however, see a proportionate good in refraining from voting should no candidate appear on the ballot who does not advocate grave evil." (National Catholic Register, 2011)But now, Mark is stuck allowing liberal Catholics a clean conscience even if they cast a vote for one of America's most pro-culture of death politicians, Bernie Sanders.
"The Church's intellectual and moral tradition on such questions is not geared toward telling you what to think, but how to think: how to navigate the varying prudential decisions that must be made in order to cast a vote with a reasonably quiet conscience. And that means different Catholics will arrive at different conclusions in good faith." (National Catholic Register, 2016)Note the difference in tone. True, technically nothing has changed. Mark says the same thing, sort of. But the emphasis now is clearly on the acceptability of voting for the lesser of two evils in good faith, under certain conditions, rather than insisting there is really only one way for the serious Catholic to vote.
How do we reconcile such an apparent disconnect in only four years? Easy. Mark demonstrates how a talented writer can play at words in order to make sure that when he said Red was the best color four years ago, he clearly meant Blue was entirely acceptable. Mark has discovered an out. He now says you still can't vote for the lesser of two evils. That's voting for evil. Just like he said. But if you vote to limit evil then it is just fine. The first, which he accuses conservatives of, is clearly cynical and wrong.
|That is the lesson of the story ... if you interpret it correctly|
See the obvious difference? No? Well, neither do I. Because there isn't one. Not in the real world of day to day living. Most who vote in such a way will likely feel they are doing it because 'this fellow will do less damage and evil than that fellow over there.' That's all. That's what they meant with supporting Romney. That's what those who will vote for Bernie will probably mean. And, at the end of the day, that's what the Bishops say. But Mark, who made it clear the jaws of Hell potentially yawn before those who would take the lower road of voting for the lesser evils in 2011, now has to scramble to justify why doing the same thing for a Democratic candidate he clearly admires, despite the candidate's vibrant track record for the culture of death, is actually hunky-dory.
If you want to know when to pull the ripcord on someone, consistency is a good thing to watch. At least consistency or the willingness to admit change, since people, as Nate points out in the comments, do change. Do they say what was true four years ago is still true today? Do they admit they have changed and see it differently? Or do they seem to be saying it's all different, but was really always true as long as you interpret it correctly? When following shepherds, make sure they plot a straight course for the sheepfold every time, or admit this time it will be different. If it looks like a different sheepfold than last time, and yet the shepherd insists it's all the same, you might want to jump ship and find a new shepherd.