Saturday, February 09, 2008

Beyond Abortion

Once again, everyone on this blog talks about abortion, and candidates' views on abortion, as if abortion were the only true measure of a president's (or a politician's) morality and the direction in which he or she will take the country from a moral point of view. This is false, and it hurts the cause of those who would like to see abortion be reduced (it won't be eliminated, even if Roe v Wade is reversed).
Regardless of George Bush's personal views on abortion, and of how his nomination of SCJs Alito and Roberts may play out in the long run, I cannot think of any administration that has done more to destroy every other aspect of collective morality and social justice in my lifetime. I think of what victims of Katrina had to endure and of how many people needlessly died because, however keen Mr. Bush's sense of morality may be on abortion, he had no sense of urgency about the role of federal government in providing help. (He may be excused for having such a detached view of the tragedy. He is his mother's son, and it was his mother who said, "[...] so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them" about the evacuees in the Houston Astrodome). His appointment of incompetent cronies to posts of high responsibility, even those that had national security implications, was immoral. His rush to war with Iraq was immoral, costing billions and lost lives. His promises of bringing to justice anyone involved in outing Valerie Plame (whatever you think of her role in the CIA) were empty (he rushed to commute Scooter Libby's sentence) and immoral. His budgets were immoral (as many, even some Evangelicals, contend). His favoritism towards oil companies in shaping energy policy was immoral, and dangerous for national security. And I could go on and on.

Yes, Mr. Bush's views on abortion are different (in name) than Mr. Clinton's were. But even under President Clinton abortion steadily declined, as one would expect to happen in times of economic prosperity and confidence in the future, regardless of Monicagate and the blue dress.

I share, to a point, all of your views on the importance of reversing abortion, just not through legislation only (which ebbs and flows) but through education. But, as Dr. Groothuis put it, politics operates in the realm of the possible, not of platonic ideals. Therefore it is important that people learn to see the whole picture, instead of a detail, as important as it might be. Without a big picture view of morality, the changes we can bring into effect will be short-lived and easily reversible.

Look at things from another perspective: whatever you think of Barak Obama (I am not too sure about Hilary Clinton myself), he seems reasonable and open to different ideas. He seems more interested in effecting positive change, than he appears to be attached to an ideology. Think about the good he could do, the unity he could foster, the peace and prosperity he would strive to bring about, and pray that he sees the issue of abortion for what it really is. Why, write to the White House and let him know. Without enmity, with grace.

Voting for McCain, would not be the disaster that voting for eight years of Bush under false pretenses has been. His views on abortion are generally (not entirely) pro-life (he does not support the repeal of Roe v. Wade in the short term, while in the past he said he supported a constitutional amendment to ban abortion, which is an appalling view of what issues the constitution should address), he supports an expansion of federal stem cell research funding, he is hawkish in foreign policy, and would wage permanent war against those he perceives to be a national security threat without qualms for innocent lives lost (which are a byproduct of every war). Historian and informal McCain advisor Niall Ferguson said of him that if the U.S. has an imperialist class, then John McCain sits at its head.

I beg you to consider all of the above when you vote. Evangelicals alone, Christians alone, cannot change the course of this nation on abortion. Public opinion often matters more than politics. You need everyone on board if you want to accomplish permanent change. But every time you speak of morality as if abortion was the only issue that matters, you alienate many who, like me, see morality in a broader sense, and you ultimately hurt the cause that is so important to us all.

Recommended Reading

Adding It Up

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