Why not vote for a candidate you can actually support? Brian Carroll and Amar Patel, the American Solidarity Party ticket, are on the ballot in eight states; you can write them in in all other states. They’re a party that is committed to the protection of human life from birth until natural death, and they manage to do that while supporting a much stronger social safety net, sane criminal justice reform, and a commitment to environmental conservation. It’s a party whose platform is explicitly drawn from the tenets of Catholic social teaching: these tenets are the principles of good and thriving human lives for all people, Catholic and non-Catholic.
We’re creatures meant to live together in peace. That takes a lot of work, and it’s work that we all have to do– not just a special class of politicians. Voting is only the tiniest part of that work; see here for a discussion of what voting is, which is probably a good thing to think about before you decide who you actually want to vote for.
The rest of the political work that we do, beyond voting, is good work: the work of being political animals, being humans well, forming families, supporting friend groups, building institutions, enforcing just laws justly, protecting those who need protection. These are not only the job of government, but government policies can help or hurt our ability to do these human tasks well. And promoting governmental policies that facilitate that work is what the ASP is all about.
“The essential political duties we owe to our neighbours,” wrote Oliver O’Donovan, “are those of living together with them peacefully under the law, and of giving proper support to the institutions of government that uphold the law. It is very unglamorous, and very necessary. To this essential basis a democratic polity has added the specific responsibility of voting in elections. To perform that democratic task well is quite difficult. It means listening carefully to political debates and sifting the true from the false in a self-questioning way, aware of the subtle influences of prejudice upon ourselves as well as upon others. It means to be open to persuasion, ready to change one’s mind. It means achieving a clear sense of the difference between what we can and must decide and what we cannot and should not try to decide.”
In America, third parties are policy incubators, and movement incubators: they’re effective means of pressuring policy change in the two major parties. That’s what’s happened with the DSA (the Democratic Socialists of America) and the Democratic Party: the DSA has carved out space for promotion of DSA policy support in the Democratic Party itself; it has (or at least it had, until Bernie’s loss) the ability to tell Party leadership that DSA policies would be vote-getters for a substantial and until 2016 largely invisible section of the electorate. The increased support for single-payer healthcare, which I think would be an extremely good idea, for example, is something that the DSA is at least in part responsible for normalizing in the Democratic party.
I say invisible: but it’s more than that. Third parties create their own electorates, when those electorates are prepared to crystalize out of the supersaturated solution of discontented voters in one of the major parties. Are there enough discontented Republican voters out there who want to put their thumbs on the scale to reshape the Republican party itself, in the post-Trump era, whether that era starts in a couple of months or a couple of years? It seems possible that the ASP could create a subset of Republicans who call themselves, who think of themselves, as Solidarity Republicans: who work within the party to reshape it be the best possible version of itself.
The ASP could, at its best, show the Republicans that if they want to win in the future, then ASP policies and the principled Christian Democratic flavor of the party are the way of the future. The ASP is an alternative future for the Republican party, rather than either doubling down on Trumpism or returning to the Neocon global-capitalist warfare state (Remember George W. Bush? He wasn’t always a nice man painting pictures of himself in his bathtub: I am not prepared to go back to a Republican party that stands for Endless War for Democracy Abroad and Selling Out Workers at Home.)
Vote ASP and make the next 20 years of American politics, you know, better: make the Republican party into one that isn’t run by post-Christian corporate feudalists, but is instead recalled to its best Christian humanist instincts; and even remind the Democratic party that there are such people as pro-life economic leftists and that it might be great to make SOME room for them. A vote for ASP helps to reshape the whole of political space in the United States, on both left and right. It’s a consequentialist and virtue ethicist win, and it would be a win for all of us.
It is not throwing away your vote, and it’s not a nihilistic protest vote. It’s voting for people who you could actually imagine being politically loyal to, whose are honorable, and who have political and metaphysical commitments that are sane.
These are good guys. You’re allowed to vote for good guys.
Happy election day!
(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of Mere Orthodoxy.)
Susannah Black Roberts is senior editor at Plough. She is a native Manhattanite. She and her husband, the theologian Alastair Roberts, split their time between Manhattan and the West Midlands of the UK.