To begin, I would like to say that I do not want to tell anyone who to vote for. I think that it is inappropriate and immoral to declare, “You should vote for X,” particularly in such an impersonal way as in an article. I do not know your values, dear reader, so I have no business trying to influence your vote in a specific direction. The only thing I can tell you is to vote with your conscience.
A fairly common mentality that I have noticed over the past seven years runs like this: “The other side is so evil and childish that I will ally with whoever can run a viable campaign against them.” Or, in layman’s terms, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
This rationale led otherwise polite and reasonable social conservatives to make excuses for Donald Trump because of the perceived corruption of other candidates and the Democratic party. This rationale declares that “we must win at all costs, even if it means nominating someone who does not reflect our values.” It led otherwise anti-war and anti-corporatist liberals to nominate Hillary Clinton because of the perceived corruption of Trump and the Republic party. Again, “we must win at all costs, even if it means nominating someone who does not reflect our values.” No one votes for a candidate. Instead, they vote against a party and collaborate with increasingly unsavory, unreliable, and disreputable characters.
This mentality is hardly new or unique to American politics. Very few authoritarian evil regimes come to power because they win a majority vote on their own merits. More often than not, they collaborate with a moderate force against a common enemy and later weed out the moderates.
Many people often forget that the Ayatollah did not overthrow the Shah on his own. Instead, a mishmash of communists, liberals and Islamists worked together to oust the Shah. Later, Islamists systematically purged the communists and liberals. The Bolsheviks worked with plenty of pro-democracy Activists in the February Revolution. Later, the Bolsheviks took over in the October Revolution. The conservative German National People’s Party collaborated with the Nazis. Later, many of their leaders were either executed or intimidated into resignation.
Of course, these are the most extreme cases, but the fact still remains that if you collaborate with radical, opportunist people because you are scared of the Shah, the Czar, the Communists, the Republicans, the Democrats, then you run the risk of worse consequences than betraying your values for power.
This is not to say that people coming from different ideologies cannot successfully collaborate when they have a common vision on a particular issue. Coalition parties often do amazing work whenever their collaborations are brief and specific and promote a common goal, not a common opposition. But, ultimately, everyone has their own objectives and ends. Do those various ends square with what Christ wants? If they do not, can you really justify working with someone who you know will be your enemy in the future?
Moreover, “the enemy of my enemy” is a problematic way to view earthly victories as Christians. We know ultimately that Christ has conquered sin and death, so whatever happens is in his hands. Earthly victories over sin, such as victories over abortion, are wonderful, and we should strive for these. But if we violate our consciences for these victories, and cause some unintended consequences which bring about more suffering and sin, are we really doing what is right? If we are in a position where we are constantly making excuses for our allies, then maybe they should not be our allies.
The mentality that the enemy of my enemy is my friend is ultimately problematic because it forces us to define ourselves by other people and not by our own understanding of goodness. Thus, it strips away any true grace we might give to those other people and any sort of humanity that they have. No matter how disgusting their views may be, these people are redeemable.
This mentality is something I struggle with, as well, but it really does matter when it comes to your vote. One should never feel the need to side with sin against sin. Do not be afraid to sit out when there is no good outcome and no moral players.
Midterm season looms. If you find yourself in a difficult position where you distrust and even despise the candidate your party, your family, and your friends chose, keep this in mind. Do not feel pressure to vote for someone only because they work against (or claim to work against) a group you find yourself against. Vote with your values and vote with your conscience, even if that means not voting at all.
The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the values and beliefs of Cogitare Magazine, nor of Grove City College.