Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Why I will not be voting for "the" pro-life candidate

On occasion, it becomes painfully obvious that large segments of the pro-life movement have been completely co-opted by the Republican party.

Consider a the recent article from LifeNews.com, entitled "You Can't be Pro-Life and Not Vote for Mitt Romney." It's exactly what it sounds like.

This extraordinarily poorly thought out diatribe against those of us who would rather not vote for a man has flip-flopped on just about every question imaginable, including abortion, actually makes no positive arguments for Mitt Romney. The presumptive Republican nominee is simply the negation of Barack Obama:
How can someone who believes in the sanctity of life belittle, deride and not support the only chance we have of removing him from office? It’s sheer life-endangering folly.
I admit, there can be little doubt that Barack Obama is the most pro-abortion president we've ever had. But does that make Mitt Romney pro-life? And does it really mean electing him will make any difference for the plight of the unborn?

Let's consider the following argument:
The next president of the United States will also fill between two and four seats on the Supreme Court. As a people who believe abortion is wrong, who do we think will fill those seats with strict-constructionist jurors who will interpret the Constitution and not reinvent and rewrite it?
A curious argument, completely devoid of any basis in historical fact. Consider Ronald Reagan, one of the cherished heroes of pro-life conservatives. His Supreme Court nominees were

Two out of the three justices added to the Supreme Court by Reagan sided with Planned Parenthood in the 1992 decision Planned Parenthood v Casey. How's that for a pro-life record!

And take a look at George H. W. Bush's nominees:
I'll give you a hint: one of these justices is not a "strict constitutionalist."

One could argue, I suppose, that George W. Bush had more success in that area. One could object that Ronald Reagan got "Borked." One could say a lot of things. None of these objections change the fact that voting a conservative into the White House won't ultimately change the fate of unborn children.

Besides, who says being pro-life somehow goes hand in hand with being a "strict constitutionalist"? In most states, abortion was legal up to the moment of quickening, up until the late 1800s. I guess the Founding Fathers weren't strict constitutionalists. (Then again, they didn't outlaw slavery, either.)

"Strict constitutionalism" is nothing more than conservative-speak. This means, in particular, that it has very little meaning beyond, "Whatever the left is doing is probably wrong." There's nothing wrong with being skeptical of the left. But let's not borrow meaningless terminology in order to express our reasons why.

Bottom line: if pro-lifers really believe that faithful adherence to the Republican party has any long-term benefits for our cause, just look at the facts: it hasn't worked so far.

There is a deeper why it hasn't worked, and why I won't be voting for Mitt Romney. The more our pro-life position on abortion is coupled with other positions that people find deeply troubling, the less likely it is that we will gain more support from the general public. When people look at Mitt Romney, it should not surprise us if they see a friend of corporate greed, a man distanced from the plight of ordinary Americans.

And for us pro-lifers, why should we not be deeply troubled by the Republican party's platform on foreign policy? If our core issue is protecting innocent human life from unjustified killing, should we not oppose the idea of preemptive war? Should we not oppose the use of drone strikes over countries with whom we are not even at war? Especially when they kill innocent people, including children!

As if Obama's support of fetal abortion were not enough, it also appears he has no problem aborting his enemies overseas. All the more reason why I oppose Obama. But is Romney any better on this issue? In all of the Republican debates, Romney has constantly tried to make Obama out to be weak on foreign policy. It sounds to me that Romney, if he changes anything about Obama's tactics of drone strikes and military occupation, will only make it more aggressive, more reminiscent of the George W. Bush era, and ultimately more dangerous for innocent human life and for our moral reputation abroad.

Let me be clear: I do not want Obama to be president, and therefore I will not vote for Obama. That is all anyone has any right to ask of me, since I do profess to be pro-life and against any politician who will not defend those most vulnerable in society. Insisting that I vote for "the other guy" solely in order to oust Obama from power is incredibly short-sighted, and for that reason I find it morally repugnant.

One has to think for a moment to understand why it is so short-sighted. Elections are winner-take-all. This means our government will tend to merely oscillate back and forth between two more or less arbitrary but evolving political poles. If both sides have become odious to me because of my conscience on crucial matters involving the dignity of human life, then what gain is there in me participating in this tug of war? Should I not rather vote my conscience? In a free society, liberty of conscience is all we have to stem the rising tide of tyranny.

The author of the aforementioned article would like to play (somewhat hypocritically) the moral superiority card. He seems to suggest that because he has been the recipient of persecution in the name of the pro-life cause, he is entitled to proclaim that "it is a requirement for any pro-life American" that we vote for Mitt Romney. Let's call this the moralist's fatal conceit. Dedication to a cause by no means makes one rational. Sometimes one's dedication can cause a person to do things which are, in the long run, quite counter-productive to the cause.

Ultimately, it is not the presidential election of this year or any year which decides the issue of abortion in the long run. What decides the issue is our ability to persuade thoughtful people to come to our side. How will we ever be successful in persuading thoughtful people if we ourselves throw our blind adherence to a political party with countless other agendas than our own? The world is watching, and it will not judge kindly.


  1. Great piece, Jameson. Is about time people wise up and not allow themselves to be deceived by these politrickcian!

  2. I am reminded of a Southpark episode where the children had to choose between a douche and a turd sandwich to represent them as their mascott......


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