Saturday, September 20, 2008

One Issue Voter?

By Rich Bordner

There's a common thought afoot in evangelical circles when it comes to the current political climate:

"We shouldn't just focus on abortion. We need a more holistic approach to politics and social justice. Poverty, AIDS, etc. are 'life' issues too."

In fact, I just talked with two members of my church recently on this very topic. Both are voting for Obama. Both claim to be pro-life. Both will vote for Obama for economic, environmental, and global (i.e., anti-Iraq war) reasons.

As its stated, the statement is true. Poverty, et al, are things we evangelicals (actually, Christians of all stripes) need to battle. However, the upshot of this has been to put abortion on the back burner, treating it as less important than the other concerns. This has steered many evangelicals towards voting for Obama. This is a problem, for several reasons:

1) This presumes that the Democratic solution (traditionally, it has involved some form of bigger dependence on government) to poverty and such is the best solution. This is far from obvious. Liberals and conservatives alike both care about the poor and the ill. What is up for debate is which has the better solution. Far too often, it is assumed that liberals are the ones who care because they are for a government program dealing with the problem.

2) Imagine we are in Germany around 1940: "Hey, Hitler is doing wonders for this country's economic stability. Yeah, what he's doing with the Jews is sad, but hey, we gotta put food on the table! Our nation's pride and economic stability are important concerns too, not just 6 million Jews being slaughtered." That would be horrendous. Protecting innocent life should ALWAYS be front and center.

3) Similarly, around 40 million babies have died from abortions ever since Roe v. Wade. Given this, putting abortion on the backburner is the least compassionate thing we can do; it will show that we really don't care about "the least of these."

4) Obama is crazy when it comes to abortion. Not only has he pledged that he will do everything in his power to uphold and solidify Roe v. Wade, but his voting record is about as extreme as it gets. In fact, in Illinois, he led the opposition to the Infant Born Alive Protection Act, which would have secured medical care to babies born alive after botched abortions. He swears that the reason why he voted against it was because it lacked "neutrality language" in regards to Roe V. Wade, but he shot down the attempt to put such language in the bill!

5) Some prefer to talk of "reducing the number of abortions" through caring for women in crisis pregnancies (mostly through some form of government funding) rather than attacking the law head on. This eases their conscience in voting for Obama. Of course, reducing the number of abortions is a laudable goal, but that shouldn't be the only thing we do. As Melinda Penner at Stand to Reason has pointed out in a recent blog, this leaves a very odious doctrine ensconced in our law: that the unborn are not fully human and are not worthy of protection under the law. That, my friends, needs to be shown for the evil it is. Therefore, if we do not relentlessly attack that plank of our law with everything we have (including our vote), we must ask ourselves just how pro-life we really are.

6) Strictly speaking, it doesn't matter if McCain is likely or not to completely topple Roe v. Wade. Most likely, he will not, given that he will probably be working with a Democratic legislature. What matters is: who is likely to make progress, any progress, towards outlawing abortion. McCain: certainly yes. His voting record alone speaks to that truth. At the very least, he will keep us from moving the other way, towards entrenching Roe further in our law and societal soul. Obama: certainly not. He will move us in the other way, both through perhaps vetoing anything that remotely smells pro-life, through funding the industry of abortion, and through appointing judges that play fast and loose with the Constitution. That's how the problem started in the first place, after all.

Therefore, if this was the only issue/reason I had for not voting for Obama (in actuality, the reasons are many), I wouldn't think twice about it. Despite the public chiding one issue voters get, my conscience would be clean.

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