Is the evangelical curse, â€œMay Your Vote Countâ€?
That seems to be the outcome from the Tea Partyâ€™s Revolution, according to number four in Christianity Todayâ€™s Top Ten Stories of 2010. Pro-life groups had targeted Democrats â€“ even pro-life ones â€“ who voted for President Obamaâ€™s health care package because of its apparent allowance of federal funding for abortion. The effect is to make the GOP the home of pro-life candidates, and to make abortion a more contested issue and therefore attract more publicity and debate.
This may be good for Republicans but if you want to restrict abortion, do you want it to be more partisan or might it be wiser for a consensus to emerge. As the CT story reported:
â€œTo the extent that the pro-life movement tries to restrict the definition of being pro-life to the Republican Party, unless the stars realign and the Republican Party becomes two-thirds of the electorate, they’re cutting themselves off from the possibility of building the kinds of alliances that might be able to advance the pro-life agenda,” he said. “If you want to do something about stem-cell research, or make progress on the whole of the pro-life agenda, you’re going to need some Democrats to come along. Going after pro-life Democrats is not going to help the pro-life cause.â€
And so after the elections, half of the approximately forty pro-life Democrats lost their seats. According to a story at Politics Daily:
. . . the same wave that swept GOP candidates to a takeover of the House on Tuesday also washed away half of the 40 or so pro-life Democrats who had given the movement unprecedented influence in their party and in Congress.
Moreover, many of those pro-life Democrats, including such stalwarts as Rep. Steve Dreihaus of Ohio’s 1st District and Kathleen Dahlkemper from Pennsylvania’s 3rd District, were in fact targeted for defeat by major pro-life organizations like the Susan B. Anthony List, which argued that those Democrats had betrayed their cause by backing health care reform and so deserved their fate.
Some of which is to say that politics is a very crude device for changing the world, two-party politics all the more so. So for those neo-Calvinists who think that having a vote is virtually the same has every Christian voter a Christian magistrate, they may want to re-think just how valuable democracy is for bringing Christian convictions to bear on public life. If my vote for a Republican pro-lifer only serves to ratchet up the divisiveness of abortion, am I actually making a difference?
Maybe a better strategy would be the old Southern one of gaining control of a state and seceding. California may not be the most desirable of places for pro-lifers to live, but given the stateâ€™s bleak economy, the United States may be willing to let the Golden State go.
9 thoughts on “If the Gypsy Curse is â€œMay You Receive What You Wantâ€. . .”
Antiabortion activists have increasingly caused me to scratch my head. They seem to have taken on something of a “lost cause” mentality, defining themselves so narrowly (and defining the acceptable means of opposing abortion so narrowly) that they end up counting as enemies many who would otherwise be sympathetic to the pro-life cause. In fact, it seems that a significant amount of antiabortion activists’ ire is directed to castigating fellow pro-lifers for what they perceive as an insufficient commitment to the cause. See, e.g., the Baylys or Lee Wishing of World Magazine.
This trend does not bode well for the unborn in America. Americans are pretty conservative, at least in a Kirk-Scruton sense. In any political debate, the winner will be the side that eschews the language of exclusivism and succeeds in making its viewpoint seem more normal, mundane, or natural. For example, the gay rights movement is gaining ground primarily because they have moved away from a combative approach, and have become more satisfied with incremental changes. Being gay is seen as being pretty mundane, especially among those under 40. Heck, they even landed the support of conservative icon Ted Olson in their fight against California’s Proposition 8. Antiabortion activists need to take a cue from the gay rights movement.
I work every day with 25-44-year-old urban professionals whose politics is best characterized as center-right. In recent years, I’ve sensed an increasing disinterest in the abortion debate, even among those who believe that abortion is wrong. Opposition to abortion is quickly coming to be viewed as the stuff of kooks and wingnuts. And it’s not occurring because our nation is in moral decline or because the proponents of abortion-on-demand have confused people. No. The growing ambivalence toward abortion–even among right-leaning young professionals–is due to the continued efforts of antiabortion activists to isolate themselves from the political main. In fact, on two recent occasions, I’ve heard politically moderate 20-something lawyers compare the prolife movement to a fertility cult. While the hard-core activists may revel in such opposition, I suspect that it signals a growing tendency to accept abortion as a mundane aspect of American life.
Antiabortion activists have increasingly caused me to scratch my head. They seem to have taken on something of a â€œlost causeâ€ mentality, defining themselves so narrowly (and defining the acceptable means of opposing abortion so narrowly) that they end up counting as enemies many who would otherwise be sympathetic to the pro-life cause. In fact, it seems that a significant amount of antiabortion activists’ ire is directed to castigating fellow pro-lifers for what they perceive as an insufficient commitment to the cause. See, e.g., the Baylys or Lee Wishing of World Magazine.
Bob, it’s not only fellow religionists who share their moral and political opposition to abortion but insufficient moral indignation who are out (i.e. â€œfaithlessâ€) but also those who demonstrate insufficient faith. Do they understand there are such things as Atheist, Agnostic and Secularist Pro Life Leagues?
But something tells me insufficient epistemology is enough to keep the bench strength compromised by limiting it to signatories of ECT and the Manhattan Declaration, etc.
This trend does not bode well for the unborn in America. Americans are pretty conservative, at least in a Kirk-Scruton sense. In any political debate, the winner will be the side that eschews the language of exclusivism and succeeds in making its viewpoint seem more normal, mundane, or natural.
Fair point, but at the same time, the point is at least as much if not more about identity politics as it is about actually getting something done. Were it about getting something done then I think we’d see less exclusivism. Plus, once a more conservative political arrangement wins the day it would diminish an activist sense of moral superiority and being on the right side of righteousness. So it all may be a case of self-sabotage in order to retain that sense. Ironic how big dose of viral 2k would go a long way to help.
I really like your proposed solution, but do we have to take California? Really?
There is something to this, of course. Sometimes you lose for winning.
But where are the great pro-life achievements of these last few years of strong Democratic (and thus bipartisan) support for pro-life issues? None come to mind.
Monopartisan suport can be all that is necessary to advance an agenda. See Obamacare.
According to NARAL (http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/government-and-you/us-government/choice-composition-congress.html), there are 42 more “anti-choice” votes in the new Congress. I doubt very sincerely that pro-lifers will find that this new Congress is much of a curse.
I think you nail it. The pro-life movement today is dominated by those who are more content with ham-fisted rhetoric than they are with substantive strategies to a) reduce abortions, and b) take a long view that allows for incremental victories. What is sad is that so many individuals feel vindicated in their opposition, and pay no mind to the fact that they not only aren’t effective, but also carelessly galvanize the opposition, and even worse, alienate those who would support them under more reasonable constraints. The net effect is that little changes, and those who are effective and thoughtful are often not heard over the noise of the “truly committed”.
The problem with your point is that we all have to live, work, and associate with many who are as in favor of abortion as we are against it. If you are appealing to an “Obamacare” type solution, you will more likely do more damage than good. The centrist majority, many of whom are pro-choice will simply send another legislative referendum, and lean left in the next election cycle. The pro-life, long view has to account for the social implications of their objectives and build strategies that demonstrate the merit of their convictions and their plausibility in our plural society.
A change in abortion policy would be on the order of magnitude of the abolitionist movement. It took decades after abolition for public opinion to change, in the south in particular. Assuming that abortion made illegal one day (which I hope happens), the pro-lifers are going to discover that the work has just begun as they have to deal with the political and social fall-out of this kind of ruling.
I agree that an Obamacare-type solution to abortion would create blowback. After all the actual Obamacare elicited a very firm electoral response. All sorts of issues have tons of people entrenched on both sides with great passion.
The reality–as it is usually is in politics–is not to elect the right people, but to make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.” (HT: Mark Steyn quoting Milton Friedman) That’s why Gallup’s numbers (http://www.gallup.com/poll/128036/New-Normal-Abortion-Americans-Pro-Life.aspx) are so encouraging.
The term “pro-life” means different things to different people. To many, the term can only be applied to those who favor criminalization of abortion as murder. But plenty of people refer to themselves as “pro-life” who do not necessarily agree with such policies. So, the statistics don’t say much unless you ask follow-up questions. The statistics may simply mean that the term “pro-life” has taken on a broader meaning over the course of the past decade. Also, these statistics don’t account for those who call themselves “pro-life”, but who have largely divested themselves of any practical interest in the abortion debate.