Pro-Life Movement: Democrats Need Not Apply

First of all let me say that I intend for the title of this piece to be polemical. I hope it is not the case, in all circumstances, that pro-life organizations and major players in the movement, are unfairly excluding, or consciously undermining budding pro-life Democratic candidates and causes. But my own experience is worth sharing and considering- just in case.

When I was deciding to run for Florida State legislature back in 2005-2006, I thought that I could be a very effective new breed of pro-life leader. If I could become a successful pro-life Democrat candidate, I would be able to encourage imitators, and the Florida Democratic Party establishment would have to choose whether or not to risk an open split in their ranks on social issues, or develop a bigger tent on issues like abortion to become more neutral in their public positioning, and more supportive of pro-life Democratic candidates.

I saw an opportunity in the overall weakness of the local Democratic Party in Brevard County, Florida, in that I became the only Democratic challenger to a Republican incumbent in any state legislative race in the county. Beggars can’t be choosers, so the local Democratic establishment and activist base, became mildly supportive of my candidacy- despite the fact that I was not only pro-life, but also very consistent down the line with the entire Catholic social doctrine. This cuts both ways, of course, as hardened liberals and conservatives both like to pick and choose their way through the social teachings and counsel of the Church.

The Republican incumbent I chose to run against was entering his last race for the district due to term limits- he was completing his third term and four was the limit. I figured that even as a long-shot I would be in a good position for a run during the next cycle- given that the Republicans would have to field a new candidate, and even though my district was gerrymandered to favor Republicans, I would have some name recognition, and hopefully the Catholic and pro-life community support to a degree heretofore unheard of for a Democrat. I also figured that the pendulum was going to be swinging back to the Democrats after eight years of the unpopular Bush administration.

My predictions were accurate, but I was shocked at the lack of support I received from the Catholic and pro-life communities. I naively thought that I could contact the biggest pro-life organizations in the state and find open arms and tangible support for my mission to cultivate a solidly pro-life movement back into the Democratic Party. My first call to an executive member of the big Right to Life organization would prove to be a bad omen. The person I spoke with was unimpressed with my idea that the pro-life movement needed to get going with a two-party strategy, because the American people were not going to just sit in the Republican Party’s lap no matter what. The pendulum swings back and forth in American politics, and it is bad for the pro-life movement to put all their eggs in one basket. They will be taken for granted by the one party, and they will inspire only more hatred from the other party, when or if they get power. This was the theme of my communication, then and now, but the response from the pro-life leader then, was maddening. She seemed more interested in my position on Immigration than in what unique things I was proposing to promote a pro-life agenda. She was an apparently conservative Catholic who didn’t agree with the U.S. Bishops and their views on immigration policy- I was more on the side of the bishops- and this riled her. At one point I had to interrupt her and shout that my position on immigration should be beside the point- I was calling her organization because I wanted to make the case that on the Abortion issue I was proposing a much stronger position than my opponent- and I thought that that should warrant support from any organization claiming to be all about defending the lives of the unborn.

This was the start of a very frustrating campaign to try to gather in pro-life organizational and activist support. I ended up with no visible support from any organized sources. When I met with other pro-life group leaders, I was met with many who were Republican Executive Committee members who told me they could not publicly support me in any way- not even sign my candidate petition- because they had taken vows to never support a non-Republican candidate. When I contacted university pro-life clubs, I never even received back a courtesy email (Ditto for area Catholic parish pastors and parish coordinators for Life, and Catholic Women’s Clubs) .No one even wanted to see if there were legal means of assisting in the furthering of my campaign. No candidate forums, no meet and greet the candidates, nothing. I have since written an extensive recommendation on how to get Catholic parishes more involved in the political process- fully legal- and I will share this information another time.

Now, I know that many of you may be thinking that I was offering one of those watered-down Democrats for life type pro-life agendas’; Maybe not interested in criminalizing abortion, only seeking to find economic support for unwed mothers in the form of public assistance. The fact is that I proposed a very ambitious pro-life agenda that included much, much more than any other pro-life candidate that I am aware of. And the Republican candidate I ran against was considered “pro-life” but I didn’t see any legislation he put forth, I never saw him use the bully pulpit to promote a Life agenda, and in the few candidate forums we attended together, I was the only one to bring up the pro-life issue and identify myself as being “pro-life”.

I repeatedly contacted the main office of the main pro-life organization in Florida, and I told them that they should either back me or use my proposals to get the Republican candidate to match my promises, if he was going to continue to get their backing. I proposed that I would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade, by challenging that ruling on the basis of the 5th and 14th Amendments, drawing upon all the scientific evidence since Roe v. Wade that proves that human life begins at fertilization/conception. I also promised that I would put forth legislation to regulate fertility clinics to prevent the freezing and storing of “spare” human embryos- I argued back in 2006 that this was creating the supply for the embryonic stem cell demand- cut the supply and the American people would not tolerate the cloning of human embryos. I couldn’t believe that the pro-life movement wasn’t making a major push against the fertility clinics abuse of human embryos, by freezing them in perpetuity or destroying them- if we aren’t outraged by that, then how would people understand our opposition to the research and destruction of these discarded embryos?

I made these points over and over again to anyone I could find in the pro-life community leadership. I was ignored. I even put forth the idea that we should be regulating the alcohol advertisements for sporting events- particularly NCAA college events- because of the fact that these ads target young men in particular, and binge drinking at college, and out, leads to lots of bad behavior- not the least of which- sexual activity and unplanned pregnancies leading to many abortions. Sports used to be the domain of children; it appealed to our innocence- getting rid of alcohol promotion is one way to fight back in the culture wars.

My campaign in 2006 ended in a predictable failure- I received 40% of the vote, which was considered a strong showing, and a good start for my next campaign. When I attended the first town hall meeting of the Republican who beat me, I asked him about regulating fertility clinics, and he looked at me like he’d never heard of such a thing. It was obvious that the Life organization had made no attempt to have him upgrade his pro-life agenda. I could not even get the main Life organization to return my phone call asking what the criteria had been, to explain why I did not earn the endorsement or support for my candidacy from the organization. I spoke with someone at the office level who shared my disbelief over the way I was being treated, but it was obvious what was going on. I was a Democrat, I was pushing against the grain and group think of mainstream pro-life organizations.

I decided to start my new race early for 2008- people were predicting that this was going to be the year of the Democratic return to power, and I was very well-positioned for a second run. This time I had time to gather petition signatures to get on the ballot, and not have to raise the $2000 alternative fee, just to get my name into consideration. The problems developed immediately. The Democratic activists smelled Republican blood this time around, and they sure didn’t want a social conservative like me to be representing the new wave of Democratic leadership. I had hopes that the Catholic community and the Pro-life groups would now come to their senses and at least help me to get on the ballot. Oh no, not again!

The main Pro-life organization had improved quite a lot from the last go-round, there was new blood in leadership roles, and they were verbally much more communicative. There was no tangible assistance however, and the pro-life community did not produce a single petition gatherer for me. My wife had given birth in the meantime, and my home life was a much busier place with 3 children now. I needed some serious help- not money mind you- just help in gathering some 850 petitions to get my name of the ballot. It just didn’t happen- and I still don’t get it. I ended up getting nearly 1000 petitions with the help of very few- a retired pro-choice Democrat, a former student, a few assists here and there- but most of the leg work was my own. I was pretty much abandoned by the Catholic community, the pro-life community. As it turned out, the 1000 petitions didn’t all get through at the Board of Elections- because of the gerrymandering a lot of folks signed, thinking they were in my district, but they weren’t. So I didn’t get on the ballot. The new Republican candidate ran unopposed. After the “election” I talked to him about regulating fertility clinics, he didn’t seem to know what I was talking about- and so the pro-life movement goes- these are your pro-life representatives.

I don’t know how I could have represented a more complete pro-life agenda. I am a pro-life maximalist; I go in for plans like the Pregnant Women’s Support Act which address significant root causes for the abortion choice- according to the research. And I go for outlawing abortion at the federal level based on a determination that life begins at conception. I believe that fertility clinics should not be creating human embryos which are not going to be implanted inside their mother’s womb- even though I see In-Vitro as inherently wrong; I think the first step is holding all fertility clinics accountable for every human embryo. I tried to convince the pro-life establishment leaders that I would have made a very effective public witness for the pro-life cause. I am a teacher, I communicate with high school teens every day. I was willing to challenge the underlying assumptions of our culture regarding sexuality and responsibility. I was not a partisan hack, and I wasn’t in the pocket of big special monied-interests. But still it was not enough for the forces that be in the pro-life movement- local, state, or national.

It is my observation from personal experience that the pro-life movement is way too cozy with the Republican Party. This has led to a softening of the movement, where it seems that lip service and a few legislative pro-life set asides, are sufficient to earning the full-fledged support of the movement leadership. Personally, I don’t even consider the national Republican legal strategy to have abortion simply sent back to a state’s rights issue, as truly and fully pro-life. There is a natural law obligation to settle this right to life at the highest levels of our governing authority.

I am suspicious of many who loudly claim that they are prioritizing the abortion issue as the single-issue that cannot be placed to the side, or calculated in some kind of proportionality debate. When I offered myself as a truly believing and vigorous pro-life candidate, I was not met with open arms by many who identified themselves as big pro-lifers. The reason I suspect is that I am a Democrat in the model of FDR- as was Ronald Reagan by the way. Many pro-lifers talk a good talk, and they love having easy Democratic Party targets that are pro-legal abortion. But when a genuine pro-life Democrat steps forward, many of these folks seem to get very uneasy. It would seem that their views on government, taxation, war and immigration, are a whole lot more important to their actual vote than they openly claim. Having the Democratic Party as the Party of Death is very convenient for pro-life, conservative ideologues, and they may be part of a self-fulfilling prophesy if they ignore or mock legitimate pro-life Democratic candidates and legislative initiatives.

In concluding, as a pro-life Democrat and former candidate, I did not feel that there was a meritocracy operating in the aspects of the pro-life movement which I encountered- and I made a lot of overtures to many, many official pro-life organizations. I stand by my view that the cause of the unborn will ultimately depend on a broad Two (at least) Party strategy. The Democratic Party was once the Party most aligned with the pro-life movement- see Kristen Day’s book- Democrats for Life. There is no reason that we cannot take back the Party for Life with the help of all the minorities who traditionally vote Democratic, but who are very religious and pro-life at heart. We simply need to get to work organizing in these communities- not to try to make them into Republicans, but to empower them to reform the Democratic Party for Life. We need pro-life Obama-like candidates to compete for the hearts and minds of the next generation. I am hoping to use my position as Vice President of Florida Democrats for Life organization, to get my foot in the door at churches and pro-life organization meetings, to push for this new wave to hit within my Party. My thesis is that Republican pro-lifers seem afraid of the competition, they have not shown openness to cooperation with Democratic pro-lifers, and they use their positions of leadership within the pro-life community to frustrate potential pro-life leaders who do not share their affection for the Republican agenda beyond the Life front. There should be board positions awarded to Democrats who hold strong pro-life credentials, and who should be part of the decision-making process for the organized pro-life movement. I await evidence that this is happening. I pray it will. God Bless. Tim Shipe (timshipe.com)

93 Responses to Pro-Life Movement: Democrats Need Not Apply

  • I can’t speak to your race Tim, but in my experience the pro-life movement is eager for pro-life Democrats. Bob Casey, Senior was a hero to many of us for example. However too often a Democrat who is touted as pro-life turns out, upon closer examination, not to be. Bob Casey, Junior is a prime example of this.

    http://newledger.com/2009/02/the-excommunication-of-bob-casey-jr/

    I have voted for pro-life Democrats in the past and will in the future, alhough as a partisan Republican it seems quite unnatural for me when I do so! There are a lot of votes for Democrats available when they run uncompromising foes of abortion, and I hope we will see more such candidates in the future.

  • Had a similar feeling last week. I am on the Governor’s committee for early childhood issues in my state. A Republican state rep came to our committee to discuss finding ways to define early school readiness to empower stay-at-home mom’s to better educated their young children. Part of his proposal was to give reimbursements to moms who stay home. After the Rep. left you should have felt the hate(I use that word reservedly)from the almost completely Democratic committee members. There were a variety of reasons but certainly they were not consistent with Catholic social teaching which encourages mothers to stay home and the state to find ways to compensate their work in the home.

  • Let me preface this by saying that I think the pro-life movement MUST become bipartisan if our efforts are to succeed. As long as abortion is seen as a partisan issue, it will be almost impossible to effect lasting change.

    That said, the blame for your predicament rests squarely on your fellow Democrats.

    First, and foremost, you have chosen to associate yourself with a party that sees “a woman’s right to choose” as sacrosanct. Don’t blame pro-lifers if they are reluctant to back candidates who choose to do business with that party.

    Second, you should probably blame the pro-life Democrats who have gone before you. We often hear about how Republicans only pay lip service to the pro-life cause, which, in many respects, is absolutely true. But how much moreso have pro-life Democrats paid lip service to the pro-life cause only to get to the statehouse or to Capitol Hill and either vote party line with their pro-choice leadership or, worse, “grow” in office and become pro-choice in order to get key committee appointments and/or to continue to get re-elected by Democrat voters.

    The facts are that pro-lifers have been burned by BOTH parties, but have been burned far too often by pro-life Democrats who say one thing at home and then vote with the party’s leadership. I think what we need to see are some pro-life Democrats who will CONSISTENTLY buck their party leadership on key votes (and maybe even vote against people like Nancy Pelosi for leadership positions). What we need to see LESS of is Sen. Casey voting against reinstating the Mexico City Policy.

    In short, pro-life Democrats need to EARN the trust of pro-life voters and pro-life organizations. It’s there for the earning, in part, because the Republicans have done much to lose that trust. I hope and pray, for the sake of the unborn, that pro-life Democrats (as well as pro-life Republicans) will do what needs to be done to earn that trust.

  • So basically, it’s pro-life Republican’s fault that
    I’m wondering Tim. Where you known to the people you contacted? Did you have a history of participating with them and supporting them?

    Pro-life Democrats are not successful in getting elected by pro-life Democrats? And it’s the fault of pro-life Republicans?

    You need to understand that you won’t further the cause of pro-life by bringing pro-life Republicans over to your side, you will further the cause of pro-life by converting your fellow Democrats back to the pro-life cause, that means voting for a pro-life candidate REGARDLESS of party affiliation. That means not supporting ANY leader or legislation which is in opposition to life, etc.

    This point is probably the biggest hurdle that Dems for Life faces. Their candidates often compromise (Casey Jr. for example), and they tend to support the Democrat leadership regardless of their opposition to life (Pelosi and Reid). Until they can be seen as solid champions of life, they will continue to be doubted by pro-life Republicans.

    In any event, pro-life groups should foster the pro-life cause in all arenas including the Democrat party, and so should seek to offer what support they can. I know our group would give an opportunity for pro-life democrats candidates, but there are none to my knowledge in Harris county.

    We simply need to get to work organizing in these communities- not to try to make them into Republicans, but to empower them to reform the Democratic Party for Life.

    I agree with this 100%!

    We need pro-life Obama-like candidates to compete for the hearts and minds of the next generation.

    Obama-like in what way exactly?

  • The facts are that pro-lifers have been burned by BOTH parties

    Totally correct, it’s deeply frustrating for us when even staunch pro-lifers compromise (such as supporting Arlen Spector, or giving Sebelius the nod for HHS). When the Rep. party toyed with the idea of electing a pro-abortion presidential candidate, it caused a huge stir, probably the reason that the most soldily pro-life but marginal candidate Huckabee surged up from the bottom of the pack as he did.

    The worst part of this is that ending abortion is completely within the grasp of the Catholic voters. If no Catholic voted for a pro-abortion candidate, there would be virtually no pro-abortion candidates. We represent around 25% of the electorate in almost every district, and frankly, where we don’t, it’s usually pro-life protestant strongholds. Neither party could survive without reasonable split among the Catholics.

  • Republicans (and others) like to make a lot of noise about wanting to promote meritocracies all around- my complaint is that when I presented myself to as many pro-lifers as possible, as a candidate promising on paper and in person, to pursue all the things I mention in my article- and as well- saying “look, if you don’t want to go with me then just make sure you go to your prefered Republican candidate and have him promise to match my promises- then you can hold him accountable”- When even this didn’t stir anything up- I became indignant.

    You can say that the blame rests all over the map- past Democrats and all- but in a meritocracy I should be able to be judged as an individual based upon the merits of my own efforts- why do some of you want to give free passes to those who failed to take up my challenge? I was willing to buck my party on several fronts because my conscience demanded it- on Life issues, Marriage, Education, and even nuclear energy- I think it is obvious that partisanship is a huge problem- the Compendium of Social Doctrine warns us away from being uncritical supporters of political parties- I think I have adequately proven that I am willing to criticize and challenge my party of choice- are Republicans really going to claim their party is near-perfect on Life issues and all else? Come on- wake up. Don’t excuse lazy prejudice- I spoke to my own experience and this is what led to me posting this article.

  • I’m not a Republican, and I don’t need to “wake up”. No one claim that Republicans are “near-perfect on Life issues”, and, in fact, I said just the opposite. I even said that they’ve done much to lose the trust of pro-lifers, thereby giving an opportunity for pro-life Democrats to earn that trust.

    That’s the point. Trust needs to be earned (and it can be lost, as the Republicans have recently shown). Don’t just expect to walk in to the local pro-life org’s headquarters and say “I’m a pro-life Democrat and – given the history of past “pro-life” Democrats – expect everyone in the local pro-life organization to uncritically support you.

  • But Tim, if the pro-lifers in your district had abandoned the Republican and supported you, would you not have been knocked out in the 2008 Democrat primary by the pro-abort Democrats, so that you could be replaced in an open general with a solid pro-abort?

    Why would the pro-lifers want to risk their position, poor as it was, on someone who didn’t even have the backing of his own party?

  • What Jay said.

    Get in the trenches with these guys, go to the marches, donate to the crisis pregnancy centers, volunteer, etc. I doubt they will turn you away once you’ve shown them not told them.

    Frankly, I am suspicious of pro-life Democrats because of what they might have done to advance within a party who’s platform includes abortion on demand. How do you become a prominent pro-life democrat? By not endorsing most of their candidates? By not donating to the party funds? By protesting against their activities? By raising the pro-life message every chance you get?

    Let’s be clear that by “pro-life message” we are talking about justice for the unborn, not just “reduced abortion rates”.

  • “We need pro-life Obama-like candidates…” This is where I think Catholic Democrats get taken up in their ideology. Catholic social teaching is very nuanced and open to interpretation. It is not the Democratic Party platform.

  • While I can understand the reaction of the pro-life advocates (who were also partisan Republicans) for the reasons that Matt, Jay and others have mentioned — I do think it sounds like they were going about things the wrong way with you.

    Regardless of what one thinks of the politics involved, our model for how to be a successful single issue advocacy organization should probably be how the NRA has successfully opposed gun control over the last 20 years. They have a set of ratings based on questions they ask candidates and the actual votes of legislators, and they happily provide positive ratings to Democrats when the Democrats earn them.

    The difficulty with the abortion issue (and life/family issues more generally) is that over the last 30 years many pro-lifers have been trained by circumstances to see electing Republicans as invariably more advantageous to them. (And often it is.) However, that allows the issue to be a clear party split and makes it harder to achieve the kind of general victory which in many ways the NRA has now achieved in regards to guns. (25 years ago it was a very split issue, but many major Democrats endorse gun rights as well as a matter of political survival. The NRA has successfully moved the goalposts.)

    It seems to me that the pro-life movement should have two clear electoral strategies:

    1) Provide primary support in the form of volunteer work and money to any candidate (Democrat or Republican) who professes to be (or in the case of those with a track record, has shown by votes to be) pro-life.

    2) In the general election, provide some sort of approval to all pro-life candidates, and only throw themselves in hard if one candidate is significantly better than the other.

    In this case, that would have meant helping you get on the ballot for the Democrats, and then standing back during the general election.

    In the short term, this might mean giving less support than some in the GOP would like, but in the long term I think it would mean stronger success. In order to be a successful single issue organization, you need to be truly _single issue_ in your focus and not allow party loyalty to keep you from taking over sections of the other party.

    While NARAL, NOW and Planned Parenthood are certainly huge opponents (with more money than anti-gun forces ever had, since they have ways of making money off abortion directly) we as pro-lifers need to learn to play both sides of the aisle better — especially in the conservative Southern states where if a Democrat manages to get in, we want to make sure that doesn’t mean ceding a pro-life vote. Pro-life Democrats should be able to win down here, and it’s better to have that if the GOP fouls up in an election than have pro-choice Democrats get in.

  • This is a story that shows the importance of the SCOTUS nomination for the pro-life movement.

    Right now, the pro-life movement is powerless-except for the pro-life Dems in the Senate. They are they only ones who could help lobby for a pro-life nomination?

    If they don’t, then I think the Democrats will have lost a significant opportunity, maybe even their last one, to impress pro-lifers that they have a home and their pro-life candidates are legitimate.

    However, I agree with Shipe that the association with the GOP has hurt the pro-life movement in the sense that they seem to be less pro-life on other issues (war, death penalty, etc). This could be equally true for Democrats, but having a less partisan pro-life movement would do wonders for the pro-life witness & credibility.

  • I just wonder who the “leaders” were you contacted? I mean, it’s blatantly obvious that NRLC is nothing more than a Republican PAC. I have a friend who worked for them a while at their DC headquarters and left convinced that NRLC has no intention of ever outlawing abortion (evidence: their main issue on their website is still partial birth abortion). She, btw, supported Ron Paul in the primary and Chuck Baldwin in the general election, and refuses to vote for any candidate who’s involved with the Council on Foreign Relations.

    It works both ways. I know a lot of people who claim to be “pro-life” Democrat voters, who still fail to support pro-life Democrats when they present themselves. Meanwhile, pro-lifers have learned not to trust Democrats.

    Let me present a different case. Last year in South Carolina, we had a candidate, Bob Conley, a Latin-Mass attending Catholic, win the Democratic Primary mostly due to technicality. He’s a Ron Paul supporter, and ran as a pro-life “blue dog” Democrat: he was opposing “Leaping Lindsey” for his positions on Immigration, funding of Planned Parenthood and compromising on judicial appointments. But he took Democrat positions on several issues, such as the War (which supposedly is so important to Democrats) and the environment. He got *no* support from the Democrat Party, who described the election as “Republican versus Republican.”

    Setting the immigration issue aside, I’ve never understood why anyone thinks that Catholic social teaching leads to support for the Democratic Party.

    I’ve read the encyclicals, and I just don’t see it. Subsidiarity precludes doing most of what the Democrats want at the federal level (state is another story). Federal involvement in education violates subsidiarity and parents’ rights, and public education at such has *always* been an explicitly anti-Catholic institution. The Church says workers should have ownership of their work: this certainly doesn’t happen in socialism.

    Plus, the encyclicals *always* say we have freedom to make up our own minds about social issues *so long as we’re taking subsidiarity and the common good into account*. As far as political stances taken by a certain bureaucracy in Washington DC that has no real authority under Canon Law and represents the opinions of its lay staffers more than it necessarily represents the “bishops.” . . .

  • I think the Pro-Life movements as to poltics needs to be very much like the NRA. They at times will not give endorsements of one over the other if the two have similar psotions. That has helped

    That being said I have seen pro-lifers wupport Democrats in my State. In fact after redistricting the black majority Congressional District might be won by a very African American pro-lifer that is currently State Senate pro-tempe

    In other races I have seen support fot botht he dem and the Republican when their views were similar.

    SO I guess it is where you are at.

  • Tim,

    I appreciate you standing up and fighting that fight, and here’s hoping that the Democrats become much more open to candidates like you. I’m afraid though, that Jay is correct: the “right” to abortion is as close to a “non-neg” position as one can get in that party. Shame.

  • DC,

    I think a lot of what you say is being done by
    “National Right To Life”, and by others. They are pretty non-partisan as far as I can tell. I agree with this approach, and we do need to learn a lesson from the NRA on this.

    It seems to me though, that opposition to gun control doesn’t cross the orthodoxy line in for the Democrat base the same way that true pro-life positions do.

  • Johnathon

    I think the key is to make the Dems pro-life from the bottom up

    State legislators and others are ones that often will be picked to go for the the congressional and Senate Seats.

    We have seen success in this on the local level.

    The problem I see is this. There is a lot of criticism of the two parties. Maybe a good bit justifyed. THe problem is that critcism of the parties often leads to people not being involved in the parties on a local level. THis is where a lot of the action happens. SO there fore the partyumachinary is often run by people that don’t have pro-life viewpoints. Espcially in the democrat party. This has all sort of implications

  • I agree with Darwin on the NRA model. And, as I stated right off the bat in my first comment, the pro-life movement MUST become bipartisan for our efforts to succeed.

    The main point I’m trying to make is that pro-lifers need to see solid concrete examples of pro-life Democrats standing up to and bucking the pro-choice leadership of their party on a consistent basis. Over and over again. Just like pro-gun Democrats do.

    During the past election, Democrats made much of the contention that pro-life support for Republicans has garnered little in the way of results. True. Pro-lifers have not been able to achieve their objectives by hitching their wagons to the Republican Party. But supporting pro-life Democrats has achieved even less over the years … apart from sell-outs.

    What would the NRA do if Democrat candidates talked the 2nd Amendment talk at home but voted with the party’s leadership on gun control measures when they got to DC? The NRA certainly wouldn’t be so open to supporting those candidates in the future. That’s the predicament pro-lifers are in. All I’m saying is that the onus is on the pro-life Dems to prove themselves worthy of pro-life support; the onus is NOT on pro-life voters and pro-life orgs to suddenly give them unquestioning support.

  • To Follow-up: First of all I don’t respond to anyone directly, I try to keep on the topic without getting into all the “I said nothing of the sort” type of lame back n’forths- my criticism in the commentary is directed at either something someone mentioned, or is an attempt to broaden the argument to address something that some – might- be implying- but I don’t want to get into a load of personal attack back n’ forths- it is unholy and it brings out my own beast within- so I have none of it.

    Now something I didn’t bring out earlier which is relevant- first- I am pretty well known in local pro-life circles, I am there for the rallies, and I host a pro-life club on the high school campus where I teach, and I am very well known among the students for having an extremely strong pro-life and orthodox Catholic point-of-view.

    Part of my strategy in trying to attract pro-life community support was to openly say- ” Look if you are pro-life, and with all things being equal on the Life issues, then you are going to vote your party- no doubt about it”. But I was looking for support for pro-lifers just to get my name on the ballot as a Democrat for the second run- I told pro-lifers that if they didn’t help me get on the ballot, then a pro-choice Dem would probably get on the ballot- but they wouldn’t if I was there because I paid my dues, I ran when no other Dem would run, I had some name recognition- it wouldn’t fly for a pro-choicer to challenge me. But I had to prove that I could get enough support to at least get the petitions in to qualify- and this is where I really felt let down by the pro-lifers and the Catholic community in general.

    You can say- well you can’t expect Republican pro-lifers to vote for any Democrat- although I would argue for the merit system, if I promise to do more for the cause of Life, then I should get the nod from those who claim that the Life issue is THE issue, and as such there can be no proportionality complexities. But for arguments sake- ok- if Republican pro-lifers don’t trust any Democrat’s pro-life credentials- then so be it- don’t vote for me. But the second layer of my claim was that pro-lifers should support me to the extent of getting my name on the ballot as a Democrat, because at the very least I would be the probable lone pro-lifer in the Democratic Party primary, and wouldn’t want to have two pro-lifers competing for the office come November? Now at this point I don’t see any wiggle room- I wasn’t asking for total support all the way from the pro-lifers, I was asking for that of course, but I wasn’t saying it was all or nothing. I said- just help me get on the ballot, help me secure my spot in the Democratic field because I can represent pro-life in the internal Democratic primary- and if I can show I have a lot of pro-life and Catholic help, then maybe I can scare off some Democratic pro-choicers from challenging me. At least help me to get to the general election and compete for pro-life votes in the general election- whether you would vote for me over a Republican or not- I asked only for the opportunity to make my challenge.

    And this is where things broke down- the volunteers never came- I even put an ad in the local paper for area pro-lifers to help get a pro-life candidate on the ballot- nothing. I have concluded that many- I am not calling out anyone here on this blog- I’m sure you are all perfect saints- but many non-blogger Republicans or anti-Democrats, are blindly prejudiced in the way they respond to even genuine pro-life Democrats like myself- in fact- I think many just shut down automatically- The Democratic Party is the Party of Evil so no new thinking is necessary- the assumption is made that no matter who the Democrat is, they are not legit, or they are representing an evil political party, so we shouldn’t be empowered to even compete on the one issue that is supposed to bond together the pro-life community- abortion.

    Maybe things are different in other parts of the country- I want to find out- which is why I wrote this article- I really don’t enjoy rehashing what is past- I am continuing to do pro-life work outside of being a candidate, I really didn’t want to become a politician, but I was willing to step up- now that I’ve been shot down I am just continuing to fight in different arenas. I would like to help inspire those- particularly in the minority and religious communities, who are already Democrats for the many reasons that cause people to find the traditional Dem Party to be the one that has had a better philosophical orientation to the proper role of government- and one that defends the weak from the wolves. For those who see abortion in particular as a great failing for Democrats, and are willing to stand up and work for reform within, and to challenge the Republicans on Life and other essential fronts in the political wars- these are the folks I aim to spend the majority of my time with- the young and charismatic, the old and faithful volunteers, to work for Life within the Democratic Party the same way those who hijacked the Party worked to move the Party away from the Right to Life for the unborn.

    Having cleared up some loose ends here- like why I wasn’t just mad because Republican pro-lifers didn’t up and vote for me- but my upset was more to do with the fact that pro-lifers didn’t even help me to get on the Dem ballot to make sure there was going to be two pro-lifers competing. And two, I wasn’t an unknown to the pro-life community, and like I said the Republican I was challenging was not one who was front and center out there promoting pro-life legislation and education- so I didn’t have to be the most visible guy to be able to make a challenge. I did have other problems associated with my campaign- first being, it was my first run for public office, and I had not lived in the area for more than 3 years when I first started running- that was definitely to my down-side for sure- I acknowledge that- but still thought that my ability to communicate and commit to specifics should have warranted more support from those claiming that Life or being Catholic was #1 for them as voters. I wanted to put those people to the test- and I even circulated flyers- I’ll post them here sometime if anyone is curious- that based issue positions on Catholic social teachings and Scripture. You know the push against slavery and for civil rights drew so much support from churches and church people, I just don’t understand the fears we have as religious folk to get very specific about where our motivations come from in the political fight on various issues.

  • …if I promise to do more for the cause of Life, then I should get the nod from those who claim that the Life issue is THE issue…

    You sound like someone who, if you had run last year against my GOP pro-abort state rep., I would have cheerfully voted for you, and possibly even worked for you.

  • Thanks Paul- you know part of the reason I had an even tougher time drawing some help than the reasons I gave above- the area I live in here in Florida is pretty apolitical compared to other places I have lived- like Columbus, Ohio, my hometown. In Ohio,the friend of mine who first led me to the Catholic faith, he used to run for Congress, not just state house, and the rules set up in Ohio were much easier for folks to get on the ballot. He ran and won a couple of primaries, with maybe two or three Dem opponents. When I moved to Florida and settled in, I thought maybe I could pick up where he left off down here, but it requires a lot more to get on the ballot here. I understand that you don’t want a hundred candidates, but in Ohio, it didn’t play out that way, and here like I said in my article- I was the only one in Brevard County to even challenge a state rep in the 2006 election cycle- I suppose you could blame the rules, blame voter and candidate apathy, maybe it is the Florida heat and beaches?? We are pretty laid-back here, with lots of sunshine and warmth year round you kind of get into that vacation mindset and stay there. Problem is I don’t want to move for all kinds of family and work reasons, but I want to be part of something dynamic politically- internet has helped to provide some outlets.

  • Tim,

    I am sympathetic with your plight to an extent. However, here’s where we part ways.

    What indication did the pro-lifers of your district have that your ability to influence your party would extend anywhere beyond your district, should you happen to win? What guarantees would any pro-life group have that you would not become another in a long line of starry-eyed idealists who would bow before the power brokers in the legislature (who happen to be pro-abortion) soon after arriving in Washington? And wile I don’t question your “street-cred” among those who *know* you, how would someone not in your circle of influence know whether you really meant what you said, and whether you could actually effect the change needed.

    For me, the easier task than converting the Democratic Party from inside would seem to be converting the *Republican* party from inside! I would much rather have seen you run as an Orthodox Catholic Republican, who fought the Party on its approach toward foreign policy, its approach to the preferential option for the poor, and all of the other giants of Catholic Social Teaching. Frankly, I believe you’d have an easier task (and run MUCH less risk of being cast out of the Party) in the Republican party (the lesser of two evils). As long as access to abortion appears to have sacramental significance to most of the Democratic Party, it will be impossible for me to support *any* Democratic candidate (including you); you are stained by association with such a pro-abortion Party, and that keeps many of us form being able to support you.

    Heck, run as an independent; I’ll come work blocks for ya!

  • Given the history of the Dem party, unless you had some MAJOR history as pro-life, I wouldn’t be willing to risk it, either. Especially if the person you were running against was at least friendly to pro-lifers.

  • Thanks for the feedback- If I was just starting out in my adult life, I would probably be an Independent, since I really have fundamental issues with both major parties- but my political formation began back when I was 13 years young, and I was inspired to go volunteer for the Carter campaign of 1976- now this was a strange thing because neither of my parents were Democrats, and I didn’t have an inspiring teacher coax or assign anything that would have forcibly drawn me into Democratic politics. The ideal of what I perceived at that time has stuck with me- Democrats were for the little guys- and this was before I had any inkling of pro-life or the religious life at all- I wasn’t brought up with religious instruction or church attendance.

    As a twenty-something I became pretty much a by-the-numbers liberal- now some things I still agree with- like American foreign policies- really bad stuff- though I did sign up for the National Guard for 6 years- I found that I am able to be patriotic and self-critical of my nation’s leadership simultaneously.

    But as a Catholic convert- with a big big help from the social encyclicals- I came to see things from a Catholic teachings point-of-view- and so I find common areas of agreement with both liberals and conservatives, but neither place is my home when it comes to politics- my favorite read over the past couple of years has been the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church- so that should tell you all you need to know about where I will come down on most major political topics.

    The fact is that while I retain my status as a Democrat, because I believe that it is possible that God gifted me with something way back when- when I stand up before an audience of Democrats, I am not some outsider, some infiltrator, I am one who can expose the traitors to the Democratic past, and tradition, I don’t publicly support any pro-choice candidates, I spread my votes around- I liked Ron Paul more than the rest this time around- but I don’t agree with libertarianism in general, I just thought he was the most genuine in his pursuit of justice- especially with respect to the global community and the unborn- though I disagree with the state’s rights approach on abortion- not strong enough for me.

    For now, I am still going to fight things out as a Democrat, but not as a candidate- I honestly tried, but failed, it has been humbling, but I’m not feeling sorry for myself, I am looking to help build up the Dems for Life movement- it may be part of my life;s work- I am patient- I may have to be! Pray for me

  • Hey Tim,

    You mentioned,

    “my upset was more to do with the fact that pro-lifers didn’t even help me to get on the Dem ballot to make sure there was going to be two pro-lifers competing.”

    Why would they want to do that? We have to face it – for all of the hard talk, most pro-lifers are GOP on most other issues as well. Of course we Catholics have a social teaching we can appeal to, but not that many Catholics read it. Evangelicals have none but what they make for themselves.

    Anyway, I think your strategy is a viable one, because the Democratic Party, like all parties in time, faces demographic changes that can only mean ideological changes. The boomers will be retiring soon, and it is the white liberal boomers that had the biggest emotional investment in abortion. If you throw in strong support for the second amendment, as I believe Catholics ought, I think working class, religious voters without a strong party affiliation will swing your way.

  • I am an old man and have been active in the pro-life movement since its inception immediately after passing Roe Vs Wade in 1973. Until very recently I attended just about all the Right to Life Marches in DC starting with the very first. I remember that one very well, it was 70 degrees in January. Think God was saying something? I wish to commend Tim for challenging we pro lifers and I am very heartened by the very mature responses of so many of you. I am a life time pro lifer who happens to be also a Democrat though I am an independently voting Democrat and will continue to be. I almost left the Democratic Party but after much prayer and reflection felt that God wanted me to stay just where I was at. Don’t misunderstand I am not saying that God supports one party over another. I believe He is asking each of us to serve him in the party where we can best serve Him. For me it is the Democratic Party, for others it is the Republican Party. All of us on both sides of the aisle need to work at making our party more principled centered and support candidates on either side of the aisle who are most principled centered. In my pro life work I have gotten to know Mr. Tim Shipe very well in the past 4 years or so. He is the real McCoy! He is the most principled centered person and political leader I have ever known. I so wished he was in my county, for he would most certainly have my vote. You know what, if he were running for president, he would have my vote as well. He is presidential material through his integrity, intelligence, and willingness to never compromise his values which are in complete alignment with principles (i.e. natural law or law of human interaction). He is the personification of the “pro-life Obama-like candidates”. Tim, yes you lost twice, but you must still run again and again. As for many of you who participated in this blog, regardless of your party affiliations, imitate Tim and run as well. We saw how the country voted on both sides of the political spectrum. They are hungry for principled centered leaders. We all know that the rights of the unborn is a front and central principle/right….a right to life. When I go home to Heaven, you can be assured God will still have me working for His unborn and those, like Tim who supports this cause. God bless all of you.

  • There it is again “Obama-like candidate”. Could someone explain exactly the qualities, background and/or principles this man possesses which make him such an ideal?

  • I agree with Matt. There is no such thing as an “Obama-like candidate”. He violates the principal of subsidiarity by wanting to impose socialism.

  • Tito,

    to that I could add… empty suit, teleprompter addict, liar, hater of the unborn, oppressor of the true faith…

  • Let’s not digress into bashing OBama- till then this is a very good exchange.

    One commented they felt better time spent reforming the Republican party from the “inside”. Good idea!! I hope you’ll find it easier that reforming the Democratic party from the inside. As vocal Pro-Life Democrats, we historically have not been accepted by the Democrats or the Pro-Life movement. In my experience, the people involved in the Pro-Life movement assume you are a Republican and that you want to join them in bashing Democrats. It is evident in the emails I receive from many Catholics from my parish, Cursillo and Prayer meeting communties. Most of these emails have nothing to do with the Pro-Life issues and are simply character attacks and attempts to be funny.

    I agree, the only way to reform the parties are from the inside. The problem with the Democratic party is that the people setting the policies don’t reflect the general party membership. There are alot of Democrats that could futher the pro-life movement, if we could get them off the sidelines. As someone commented earlier, get involved at the local level.

    There have been some recent gains for Pro-Life Democrats and it is encouraging. While simply reducing abortions is not the end goal, it is a worthy goal and a much needed step to educating people.

    However, if you doubt the general topic- Pro-Life movement, Democrats need not apply- keep an eye on your in box. It’s not just the NRTL and other organizations- it is the whole pro-life movement.

    I do appreciate many of the comments as to why pro-life Democrats are not currently accepted as candidates. One big issue that I have is that being a Democratic member is often not accepted in the Pro-life movement.

  • Matt and Tito,
    Obama is smart and charismatic. He has personal approval ratings over 70% and policy approval ratings over 60%, despite his “socialism.” He’s also very good at politics. I didn’t vote for him and I am quite worried about some aspects of his presidency, but I wonder how trapped in the Fox-newsecho chamber you have to be not to understand why a pro-life candidate with his appeal would be good. And seriously – 16 of the past 24 years had Republicans in the White House. 12 of the last 24 had Republicans in control of Congress. How well has that worked out for pro-life Catholics. Maybe a strategy of encouraging pro-life Democrats is worth considering, in spite of the national party’s flaws.

  • Zak,
    Obama is smart and charismatic.

    So what? I can name numerous examples of smart charismatic leaders who I would not glorify.

    Gene,

    There have been some recent gains for Pro-Life Democrats

    What gains are those? Defeating a pro-abortion policy, leader, or nominee?

    Let’s: Nancy Pelosi, nope. Harry Reid, nope. Funding of abortion and abortion advocacy, nope. Funding of embryonic stem-cell research, nope. Sebelius, nope. Obama’s SCOTUS nominee, not bloody likely.

  • I’m all for converting the Democratic Party to being pro-life, but that really has to be responsibility of pro-life Democrats, doesn’t it? And I’ve heard very little (more than none, but very little) in the way of efforts by pro-life Democrats (and ostensibly pro-life Obama supporters in particular) at persuading pro-choice Democrats to oppose abortion.

    It’s not as though Republicans are so much smarter than Democrats at recognizing the humanity and right to life of the unborn that the GOP platform calls for a life amendment to the Constitution while the Dems’ platform defends abortion as a right.

    The GOP’s performance on life issues, imperfect as it is, is far and away better than the Democrats’. And that’s to the credit of Republican pro-lifers.

  • He has personal approval ratings over 70% and policy approval ratings over 60%,

    This is incorrect, but also irrelevant. George W. Bush had much higher ratings than this well into 2003, but shall we say events transpired to bring those numbers down. As for his personality, well, I think Colour wrote an apt song about that.

    but I wonder how trapped in the Fox-newsecho chamber

    Goodness, people are still repeating this tired mantra? And they expect to be taken seriously?

  • Whhops, I meant to say that “Living Colour wrote an apt song about that.”

  • There is a lot of personal taste stuff going around posing as serious commentary. Back in 2000 I personally “liked” both George W. and John McCain, better than Al Gore- it was a gut personality thing- not really linked too specifically to the issues. But my feelings changed on both Bush and McCain, I’ve come to really dislike them on the personality front and the issue front.

    I read Obama’s book “Audacity of Hope”, I liked his personal narrative, I like his personality. I don’t like his stand on abortion, gay rights, and other important issues, but he has personal qualities that many people- like myself- really connect with- more so than others in the public political arena. I did not publicly support Obama, or any other candidate, I did openly praise Ron Paul for various things, including the fact that I personally “liked” him- again based upon my reading his book and watching him in interviews and debates.

    The fact that my comment, that Democrats need an Obama-like pro-life candidate, should not be surprising given his success at the ballot box, and his obvious personal appeal- look at the facts- he came from no where- his daddy wasn’t a well-connected figure, his name is contrary to prior assumptions of major presidential candidates- so how can anyone claim that obama is a completely hateful personality?

    You can make the claim that you personally despise- not only some important policies he represents- but the man himself- his personality, his intellect, his manner of speech and so forth- ok- no problem- I can grant that- it is your gut feelings- I like myself, but you might decide I am a horrible, nasty guy for reasons that my wife may disagree with- but you feel what you feel. And this has become a “feelings” piece, because some here cannot stand the fact that I have recognized the broad appeal of President Obama- he doesn’t just appeal to pro-abort liberals on the personal level- I recognize that reality, and I say that cultivating pro-life Obama-like candidates within the Democratic ranks is a worthy endeavor. Obviously for die-hard anti-Obama, anti-Democratic party across-the-board types, my comment is not popular. If you “hate” obama, I doubt it is just because he is pro-choice for many- I doubt it is just about political beliefs for many- and I’m NOT claiming that it is racist to “hate” obama- I am saying that some people we like and some we don’t- just because someone is Catholic and has very similar beliefs to mine, is no guarantee that I will “like” them or even want to spend a minute of my time being around them. But their wives may beg to differ- such is the subjective stuff of life- I expressed a subjective opinion- that we Dems for Life should help cultivate pro-life obama-like candidates, and some bloggers just won’t accept that many people seem to personally like the actual Obama- even as they may disagree with him on many fronts.

    I suggest we move beyond the subjective feelings- and focus on the meat of my article- which had precious little to do with liking the Obama brand- and much more to do with how the pro-life movement would benefit from taking an honest Two-Party strategy instead of ignoring or demonizing all Democrats- pro-life or not.

  • Tim, Thank you for your wonderful contribution. As I read your blog and the responses that follows I become more and more aware of an amazing blindness with regards to the attempt to turn the Catholic faith and all its great tradition into a partisan political tool.

    I was once a member of the Young Republicans (in college) but I left for two reasons, Their Market Fundamentalist policies challenged my Catholic faith and their pro-life and family agenda seemed highly superficial. I had a political conversion when I meditated at the FDR memorial in DC and found a political vision for America that I could support in conscience. I personally feel that the foundational values of the Republican (neo-conservative) is primarily an individualistic meritocracy and this ultimately contradicts any authentic desire to promote the common good or address issues such as abortion. The Democratic Party has opened its tent somewhat to those of us with a pro-life agenda but if it can actually adopt a more visible pro-life position then we could move forward with the Catholic social agenda. In truth I do feel that the Democrats have more openness on this issue then the Republican have on the rest of Catholic Social tradition. So I have parted ways from the staunch Republican ideals towards a tent that at present anyway seems open to reform and dialogue.

    Catholic Social Teaching offers us a rich heritage of social principles. Subsidiarity is certainly an important value of our Catholic Tradition, but to elevated it from the its place in the hierarchy of social values is a disservice to what it contributes to the Catholic Social Tradition. Their is indeed a hierarchy, Life and Dignity of the Human Person is preeminent, none of us, I suspect, would challenge that. Rights and Responsibilities are next as they flow from the first value. Our faith honors the full rights that are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Encyclical Pacem in Terris is a testament to that. This includes the negative rights that are enshrined in our own Bill of Rights under the Constitution and the first 17 articles of UDHR. However the Catholic Church also supports the Positive rights that exist in articles 18-27 in the UDHR and although they currently are not defended by the Constitution they are the vision of the four freedoms and the second Bill of Rights which remains as one of FDR’s unfinished works. Our faith tells us that we (as civil society and government) have a moral responsibility to education, healthcare, standard of living and labor rights. And yes, along with subsidiarity our social tradition tells us over and over again about the principle known as the Preferential Option for the Poor, as Pacem in Terris tells us:

    “The very nature of the common good requires that all members of the state be entitled to share in it, although in different ways according to each one’s tasks, merits and circumstances. For this reason, every civil authority must take pains to promote the common good of all, without preference for any single citizen or civic group. …Considerations of justice and equity, however, can at times demand that those involved in civil government give more attention to the less fortunate members of the community, since they are less able to defend their rights and to assert their legitimate claims.” -Pacem in Terris #56

    No Party can ever claim a hold on Catholic Tradition because our tradition comes not from mere political ideology but from the Divine Word of God. We serve our faith well in working with the coalitions that make up both parties and the independent movement as well. Ultimately the Democrats and Republicans both hold legitimate values that our enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. The Republicans uphold individual liberty while the Democrats uphold the communal pursuit of happiness. These parties both have a place for American Catholics. We should both be aware of the limitations we will have by virtue of working in coalition with others. But at no point should either of us claim to monopolize the aspects of our faith and tradition. Like Tim I will do my part to influence that good American values of the Democrats with the Social wisdom of our Catholic faith. I would hope that those who continue to be Republicans Catholics will see that their Catholic identity is much more sacred then their Republican ideals.

  • Tim,

    suggest we move beyond the subjective feelings-

    you’re accusing others of what only you have done. The claims I made are:

    empty suit, teleprompter addict, liar, hater of the unborn, oppressor of the true faith…

    All of those points can be demonstrated to be reasonable. I don’t object to the claim of “smart”, and “charismatic”. I just don’t see those as being particularly rare.

    His father? His real fathers are Saul Alinsky, Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright.

    Don’t even talk about “humble”, Obama went to the finest school in Hawaii and on to the Ivy League.

    Obama is an “engineered” candidate, 7 years at state legislature, 2 years into the senate term (a seat he stole from his democrat opponent) and he’s on to the presidency, can’t even talk without a teleprompter… empty suit.

  • Matt,

    I am sorry but I do not find any rational legitimacy in your last comment. To say that he is an empty suit that requires a teleprompter is to simply be in absolute denial of his amazing speaking ability and charismatic style. The testament to this is the impact he is having on world affairs and the delicate cooperation he is getting for the Global economic crisis.

    And to still tie him into a close relationship that he never had with Bill Ayers or Saul Alinsky is another attempt to grasp for straws in hopes of scarring us into thinking that he is a violent socialist which he has proven himself not to be. For whatever reason your recent comments are subjective to a fault. I suggest you free yourself from the fear mongering of Fox news and allow yourself to be challenged in seeing why Obama is making a positive global impact.

  • absolute denial of his amazing speaking ability and charismatic style. The testament to this is the impact he is having on world affairs and the delicate cooperation he is getting for the Global economic crisis.

    Talk about finding no rational legitimacy in a comment. What impact is he having on the global economic crisis? Unemployment is getting worse, not better, and other economic indicators are a decidedly mixed bag. As for his speaking style, I’ll simply agree to disagree. I find him to be a dull, torturous, monotonous speaker, and that’s when he’s got the teleprompter. Otherwise he, uh, is, uh, decidedly, uh, not the, uh, dynamo he is, uh, often described as, uh, being.

    For whatever reason your recent comments are subjective to a fault. I suggest you free yourself from the fear mongering of Fox news

    And there is nothing subjective in your analysis? And really, the Fox news bit is old and tiring. Pick a new line of argumentation.

  • I don’t see the Democrats turning pro-life, or at least tolerant to pro-lifers, until the leadership does. To be frank: the efforts of failed candidates will not make the Democrats pro-life, no matter how many there are.

    I think that a well known national leader needs to make a public break, that will force the rest of the party to either accept him or not. And I’m not talking about some nominal pro-lifer like Senator Harry Reid, who votes for pro-abortion judges and pro-abortion administrators. I mean a national leader who says, “I can’t vote for Obama’s judge because he is dedicated to abortion, which is unconscionable. I cannot in good faith support the lie of Roe v. Wade any longer.”

    Let the Democrats deal with a national leader who turns on them on this issue. If they let him keep his seniority, his chairmanships, and his leadership positions, then I believe that will go a long way towards breaking the monopoly that NARAL has over the Democrats.

    Small-time failed candidates are not going to have any influence in turning the party pro-life. I just don’t see it happening.

  • John,

    I am sorry but I do not find any rational legitimacy in your last comment. To say that he is an empty suit that requires a teleprompter is to simply be in absolute denial of his amazing speaking ability and charismatic style. The testament to this is the impact he is having on world affairs and the delicate cooperation he is getting for the Global economic crisis.

    Are you denyng that he NEEDS the telepromptor in order to engage his “amazing speaking ability” and “charismatic style”? Furthermore, that is the very definition of an “empty suit”, looks good but no substance. He even uses the teleprompter at press briefings, something that none of his predecessors needed.

    Obama is a pure political animal, he’d throw his grandmother under the bus. Wait… he already did that. He’d throw his own pastor under the bus… wait, he did that too… let’s see, who will throw under the bus next?

    And to still tie him into a close relationship that he never had with Bill Ayers or Saul Alinsky is another attempt to grasp for straws in hopes of scarring us into thinking that he is a violent socialist which he has proven himself not to be. For whatever reason your recent comments are subjective to a fault. I suggest you free yourself from the fear mongering of Fox news and allow yourself to be challenged in seeing why Obama is making a positive global impact.

    Wow, where to begin.

    1. Obama had a long association with Bill Ayers, Ayers mentored Obama and brought him in to “community organize” for his foundation and sit on it’s board. He kicked off his political career at a fundraiser at Bill Ayers home. It seems likely that one of Obama’s books either borrows heavily from, or more likely was ghost written by Ayers.

    2. Obama has demonstrated that he is an Alinksyite to a tee. The “community organizing” groups use “Rules for Radicals” as a bible, it’s clear Obama follows him.

    3. Notice you failed to mention Wright, no doubt there that he is a “father” to Obama, glad you are not completely blind.

    4. I never said he was violent (except to the unborn).

    5. Making a positive global impact… really? Where? DPRK is launching missiles over Japan, Russia is not backing down from Georgia, Iran still pursuing nuclear weapons, pirates are attacking our ships with near impunity, US funds now being diverted to the spread of legal murder of the unborn, China still abusing human rights (now with US blessing)…. what is the positive?

  • I’ve got to agree– Obama off the teleprompter is nothing to brag about; if he’d talked like that in my high school English classes, he’d have barely passed public speaking.

    On the teleprompter, even the Brits found him long-winded and kind of dull.

    For the Bill Ayers thing… shoot, if you’ll ignore the masses of evidence for that, no repeating of it will get through to you.

    Can we please get to details instead of pointing and yelling “you’re not objective enough”?

    I’d be delighted if the Dems could get a pro-life movement going in their party– it would cut a lot of grief in the Republican party, since most of the folks pushing a dem-lite agenda tend to boil down to “basically Democrat but don’t believe in killing babies.”

    Now would be the time to get a pro-life Dem group together, but it must be done by Democrats. If it’s done by X or Y pro-life group, it will be attacked as a front for religion by the media. (this will probably happen anyways, but it’s not a bad idea to lower how much ammo you give them.)

    Frankly, the amount the use of the “Fox news” bogyman, coupled with references to how much international cooperation Obama’s brought us– where? They made nice noises at G-20, but didn’t talk them into doing their own “stimulus” packages– and your mind reading of folks’ reasons for saying or doing things… you do sound a whole lot like the “pro-life until challenged” politicians I’ve met before.
    I don’t believe you are that, because I don’t have lovely mind-reading powers– but the indicators show enough risk that I still wouldn’t support you.

  • Make no mistake, the idea of turning the Democrat Party to a Pro-life party is daunting and incredibly challenging. I am by no means sure that it can even happen, but I certainly do believe it is worth a try. The possibility lies in creating a link to the social vision that the Democrats already have with regards to family social services and develop a consistent argument for abortion to be seen as an individualistic choice that does damages that family and local community. This is going to be a hard sell however and I have yet to gauge the strength of the Pro-Choice group.

    With regards to Fox, that is a bit of media humor that just doesn’t get old. Consider Robert Kaufman’s who was publicly defending the Bush administration when he mentioned that the Republican need to acquire another Television station besides Fox. Here check out this link:

    So much for Fair and Balanced.

  • Foxfier,

    you do sound a whole lot like the “pro-life until challenged” politicians I’ve met before.

    I don’t think that’s a fair thing to say, we should take Tim at his word.

    I’ll criticize him for blaning Republican Pro-lifers for “keeping him down”, but that’s out of line.

  • A good opportunity for Pro-Life Democrats would be to rally opposition to Obama’s Supreme Court nominee if the nominee is in favor of Roe. He may nominate Diane Wood and she is especially atrocious on the abortion issue.

    http://forthegreaterglory.blogspot.com/2009/05/great-potential-nominee-for-scotus.html

  • John,

    Make no mistake, the idea of turning the Democrat Party to a Pro-life party is daunting and incredibly challenging. I am by no means sure that it can even happen, but I certainly do believe it is worth a try. The possibility lies in creating a link to the social vision that the Democrats already have with regards to family social services and develop a consistent argument for abortion to be seen as an individualistic choice that does damages that family and local community. This is going to be a hard sell however and I have yet to gauge the strength of the Pro-Choice group.

    Absolutely! The black pastors may be a key to this, if they can be rally their people and open eyes to the racist slaughter of abortion. The political powers bow to their constituency, if a pro-life constituency can assert itself, their will be change.

  • Matt McDonald-
    if you read the rest of the post you’ll see that I specifically stated that I don’t think he is one of that sort. A bit less nicely that I might, but I tend to get annoyed when folks try to say what someone else’s motivation is, rather than respond to what’s said.

    I’m pointing out that the similarity is high enough that, without some very strong reasons to overcome the similarities, folks will assume that he is; it’s not nice, and it’s not kind, but it is how folks’ minds tend to work.
    For a strained metaphor: what has a bill like a duck, and webbed feet like a duck, swims and lays eggs? Could be a duck or a platypus, but the former will be assumed before the latter, unless you can set up a big section that says “PLATYPUS FARM”. (told you it was strained)

    That’s why I say there needs to be a Democrat movement that’s pro-life– it has to be strongly Dem first, and show from those principals to pro-life, if they’re going to get any kind of a decent movement going.

    If it’s from pro-life groups, they’ll be accused of mixing religion and politics, or of being Repub plants (probably with this very post as evidence!).

    If it’s from a Repub group, then it’ll be accused of being a front, a stalking-horse, a fraud.

    If from a Dem source, then it will be accused of mixing religion, but if it’s political theory first that won’t stick as well; there will be accusations of trying to siphon votes off of the Repubs— which, fairly, is pretty true by definition, but not the primary point.

    It has to be solid enough, philosophically, to get to people and to stand on its own.
    There’s the right urges in the Dem party– for crying out loud, my aunt the nurse is a pro-life Dem pissed as heck that she couldn’t vote for Obama because of his horrific abortion voting record.

    If I were trying to form a Dems for Life group, I’d probably start with the Nazi doctors’ “work” on small children, have a solid base in basic biology of what is a human, and see if that movie about clone farming for spare parts from a few years back was any good–probably use Horton Hears A Who as well.
    Have to get an emotional hook that at least as strong as “look at these poor women, suddenly having to pay for all the expenses of a baby, and it keeps them from being able to live their lives!”
    (Making it easier to adopt might help with this– a row of couples with their arms open, asking for the children they can’t give birth do, is a big impact; has the downside of being utilitarian, and might bring in the homosexual issue, which is too much added grief.)

    Shoot, there’s a bunch of ladies that tour the nation talking for pro-life events– because they are survivors of abortion attempts. This is *totally* up the alley of usual Dem tactics!

    If the OP wants help in the form of suggestions of what to do, that’s free– there’s no risk in unofficially sharing ideas, and as the TLDR read section above shows, there’s a LOT to be had. Might be worth what you pay for it, but it’s food for thought.

    The problem comes when he wants folks to risk it all on, this time, it really being true– to throw in and support him, when the only way he’ll get far is if he’s lying. (as someone pointed out above– pro-life Dems tend to be attacked by the established Dem party, and don’t get invited to the supportive stuff. Have to have enough grass-root support to overcome this– enough people they don’t want to piss off.)

  • Foxfier,

    I did, and I agree largely with your post, I object to this statement even if you qualify it:

    you do sound a whole lot like the “pro-life until challenged” politicians I’ve met before.

  • I’m sorry you feel that way; liars lie, they say what someone who would be a good choice would say; if it happens enough, folks don’t trust the good guys anymore.

    Seems like a pretty simple fact to me– liars have to say what the good guys would say.

    Politicians have a big tendency to say what they think will get them elected, no matter what they actually think or want to do– that’s why so few folks trust what they say, even if there’s not a long history of similar situation folks lying on the specific topic like there is for this.
    (Even if I like folks, I try to make sure to go over what they’ve done and check it against what they say– talk vs walk. The bigger advantage they’d get if I believed them and it wasn’t so, the more evidence I want to support that it is so.)

    It’s kind of like “causing scandal”– it doesn’t matter if that young man and woman are “doing it”, it’s that they look like they are, because they’re living together. Enough folks have done wrong that even those who haven’t need to make it clear they’re not.

  • Hey Guys- let’s not put aside my central beef- not that Republican Pro-Lifers in general didn’t support my candidacy- but rather that the leaders of pro-life groups and organizations were not helpful in my attempt to gain traction as a pro-life Democrat. My thesis is that these organizations must be truly non-partisan and it is in the interest of the pro-life cause in general to cultivate a Two- or more- Party strategy. And my particular case in point was my run for office, where I put forth the notion that pro-lifers in general should support the man, not the party- if I could establish myself as a credible person who was making assertions to do specific things as a legislator for the pro-life cause, then I should have been given serious consideration. As a Catholic high school religion teacher, a Knight of Columbus who wrote a monthly pro-life column in the Knights Bulletin, and one who stood up for Life in hostile environments such as Democratic Party Executive Committee Meetings, and Democratic Women’s Club candidate forums, I thought that I had earned some significant credibility. I feel that there is no meritocracy in place in places where there shouldn’t be blind partisan bias- like pro-life organizations. That’s my beef in short.

  • There is a pro-life organization in the Democratic Party and it is called Democrats for Life of America (http://www.democratsforlife.org/). Tim Shipe is a member and has been just voted Vice President of the Florida Chapter of the Democrats for Life of America (http://www.floridadfla.org/). Tim Shipe and Freda Stevens were voted in as Vice President and President respectively to lead the Florida Chapter and our state Democratic Party to best support the rights of the unborn. We Catholics need to work in our respective parties to bring these parties more aligned with the social teachings of our Holy Catholic Church which are totally aligned with Principles and Laws of Human Interaction. Remember all of us are united regardless of party affiliations because of our Catholic heritage given us by the blood of martyrs. We are united by our desire to defend the rights of the unborn. There is more that unite us than divide us. We need to diligently work within our respective parishes in assuring good God fearing Catholics choosing to enter the political arena get the proper exposures. This is called “Catholic Action” in the truest sense of the word. We need to make our Catholic Voice heard. We MUST live our faith!!!!

  • The links I gave above to the democratic prolife organizations did not work. Let’s try again:

    http://www.democratsforlife.org/

    http://www.floridadfla.org/

    These should work now!!!

  • And I think that your basic beef has merit, Tim.

    If someone trying to get onto the Democratic ticket at any level is willing to eschew the all-too-available pro-choice money available to them and brand themselves as pro-life, I think that pro-life organizations should give them the benefit of any doubt and help them win.

    Given the center of gravity of the pro-life movement, it wouldn’t be any surprise if they then sat out the general election and let you and the GOP candidate fight it out on the merits, but it is unquestionaby better to stack both sides with pro-lifers wherever possible.

    That this was not done by your local pro-life organizations in this case was, I think, a failing — however understandable to many of us.

  • Tim Shipe-
    I understand what you’re saying, I just don’t agree.

    There is a cost in supporting folks; historically, it’s wasted on pro-life Dems because if they’re honest, they don’t get far–party won’t let them; if they’re not, then it’s a double-cost because you just advanced someone who is counter to your cause.

    If you could establish a strong pro-life record, and enough of a Dem support base to overcome the party resistance that even you mention, then yes– you’d be a good investment of time and political capital.

    Basically, I think you’re going at it backwards– you want the pro-life groups to help you build a Dem base; they want you to show you’re serious by building Dem base that they can support.
    Saying that the reason they won’t help you is because they’re too bound to Repubs probably won’t really help issues, especially since most of the pro-life folks I know that fit your implied views are Independents.

  • I did mention some improvements made in the main pro-life organization from the time of my first run and then the second- I had some good conversations with leadership at the beginning of the second run, and did receive an official endorsement for the Democratic Primary from that organization- the problem was in getting some actual help in getting access to volunteers to help me get on the ballot- around 1000 signed petitions from my district were needed. As I stated in my original piece- my wife had were blessed with a third child in between elections, and the timing was difficult for me to get out and bang on doors in the evenings. This is one reason I am hoping to locate younger men and women, who don’t have families yet, but have the values necessary to become solid moral leaders, it is tough having a young family and a career outside of law, and trying to run as a first time candidate- or anytime candidate.

    I will publish soon, something I circulated around a while ago in Catholic circles- some ideas I have for helping to promote the Catholic social doctrine in our American political system- here is a quote from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church which should hit all of us, as Catholics, no matter what our party orientation is: #573

    “It is difficult for the concerns of the Christian faith to be adequately met in one sole political entity; to claim that one party or political coalition responds completely to the demands of faith or of Christian life would give rise to dangerous errors. Christians cannot find one party that fully corresponds to the ethical demands arising from faith and from membership in the Church. Their adherence to a political alliance will never be ideological but always critical; in this way the party and its political platform will be prompted to be ever more conscientious in attaining the true common good, including the spiritual end of the human person[1201].”

  • At the sites that Jim mentioned you can find information about the gains made by the pro-Life Democrats. Currently, the Pro-Life Democrats were mentioned by the Bishop in a statement for the Pregnant Women Support Act, which is championed by the Dems for Life.

    Also, there should soon be a Pro-Life Democrat named as the ambassador to the Vatican. Granted, that is because the church has turned down 3 Pro-Choice candidates proposed by the present administration.

    More information is available about the increasing number of Pro-Life Democrats in office. Although, regrettably there have been minimal gains in Florida.

    As Pro-Life Democrats, we are committed to facilitating change within the party. Their is definitely a PR campaign to be waged in order to change the party. Recognition from the Bishops and Pro-Life organizations can go a long way. It should be noted that Priest for Life have also recognize the Dems for Life at various times.

    Of course, to get the Pro-Life organizations recognition, there will need to be a successful PR campaign within the Pro-Life movement. The traditional strength of the African-American churches in the Democratic party can be a strong voice for change- as noted in an earlier post. Tim has actively spoken to African-American churches. Alot of our state organization is white Catholic men. The new president of our state chapter has been a candidate for office, active within the party at local levels, and knowledgeable about the workings of the party. We are Blessed that she also happens to be evangical African-American woman.

    The fight to change the parties from within, will IMHO not be won by a Senator splitting from the party over the supreme court nominee. It will be won at a grass roots level- and with plenty of prayer.

  • Tim, I have a question:

    To set up, I will shortly be announcing my own candidacy for State Representative as a Republican, to seek to unseat a Republican pro-choice incumbent. I’m facing a fight in the primary, and then in the general, both against pro-aborts. I’m doing this specifically because my State Rep. is a pro-abort Republican.

    My question: Does Democrats for Life try to recruit pro-life Democratic candidates to oppose pro-choice Democratic incumbents?

    My perception has been that they do not; instead, they mostly support ostensibly pro-life Democrats against strongly pro-life Republicans (I’m thinking of Casey Jr. vs. Santorum, for example).

    I’d be interested on your comments on this point.

  • The fight to change the parties from within, will IMHO not be won by a Senator splitting from the party over the supreme court nominee. It will be won at a grass roots level- and with plenty of prayer.

    I think this is true of both parties. Both need to be re-invigorated with some new, if not necessarily youthful, blood. Neither party is exactly behaving like the responsible party model envisioned by those eggheaded political scientists years ago – you know, guys like myself. :)

    The thread hit a bump in the road earlier, but that shouldn’t detract from Tim’s points. I’d echo some of the cautionary notes from upthread, and add one of my own. Tim’s case is somewhat different in that, if I read his post correctly, he was running for a state legislative seat. But if I saw a Tim Shipe-like character running for Congress, I’d still have a hard time voting for him because, in the end, he’d be voting for Nancy Pelosi as Speaker and organizing the House along very far-left lines. It may not be fair, but there are going to have to be a lot more Tim Shipes and Gene Dickeys before the party has changed substantially. Baby steps, I suppose. That said, I’d trade my Rep (Van Hollen) for Tim Shipe in a heartbeat.

  • Tim and all,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for having such an intelligent and christian sharing of ideas. It is so refreshing to see.

    God Bless you Tim for being such a brave and loving Christian, advocate for the unborn and political activist. What a breath of fresh air in a stagnant pool of partisan rhetoric and language of hate and intolerance.

    Jesus wants us to love one another. The readings for this Sunday really drive this home. We CAN be good Christians, pro-life advocates and also find our role in changing the world. I don’t have to be Democrat or Republican. I stand firmly in the center with Christ. I choose to love both sides, especially when they are wrong.

    Thank you again. All of you.

    Dianne Phillips

  • *dryly* It’s possible that comparisons to cesspools or saying folks sound “intolerant” and “hateful” aren’t the way to get folks to work hard for your goals– if nothing else, the irony is rather strong.

  • On the other hand, foxfier, there seems to be little to gain in trying to placate people who have no intention of helping you anyway :)

  • Ah, the famous Christian value of utilitarianism! How could I forget that we should only refrain from going out of our way to insult those who might be of use to us….

  • Foxfier,

    Well done!

  • I have long believed that restoring a pro-life presence to the Democratic Party should be a VERY high long-term priority for the pro-life movement, equal in importance to getting the “right” justices on the Supreme Court. (Of course the Republican Party also needs a pro-life presence as well, but that’s another story)

    I am a firm believer that a movement as critical as pro-life should NOT have put all its political eggs in one basket (the GOP); the result is the dire situation we have now.

    Here’s my cautionary tale. In Illinois in 1998, we had a real, live, pro-life, downstate Democrat, Glenn Poshard (then a Congressman), running for governor against Republican George Ryan, also (ostensibly) pro-life. I was tempted to vote for Poshard, but in the end, voted for Ryan believing that as a Republican he would be more reliable when it came to pro-life and other issues.

    Well, if I had a time machine I would give anything to go back and reverse that vote. Ryan turned out to be crooked as a dog’s hind leg, and he didn’t even accomplish anything in the pro-life arena (outside of his famed death penalty moratorium, if you count that as a pro-life issue). Not only that, but Ryan’s corruption pretty much discredited and destroyed the Illinois GOP and paved the way for the election of the even more infamous Blago, who posed as a reformer. Today the entire state is firmly in the control of pro-abort Democrats.

    If Poshard had been elected, we might have avoided much of the disgrace of the last 10 years. Of course, because he was pro-life (as well as pro-2nd-Amendment) he didn’t get the backing of the Chicago Democrats, and that hurt him as well.

  • Paul- Dems for Life is a very loose coalition- there are no marching orders from the national office to direct us to find candidates to challenge only Republican pro-lifers- our state chapter has a range of folks doing mostly their own thing- there is not even agreement as to what the best strategy is to end abortion as we know it- there are those who are focused on the reduction track, and making more and more legal restrictions, making abortion rare by making abortion providers legally accountable for the bad effects of abortions on women, making sure they have full disclosure of all the potential ills before they can proceed with an abortion.

    I am a pro-life maximalist, I believe abortion must become illegal- not for the mothers, but for the providers, and not just given back to the state legislatures, but based on natural law and drawing upon the 5th and 14th Amendments, abortion must end in all of America. I also stand up for the social programs and economic assistance that can take away the root causes of abortions for the many women who claim that economics and lack of assistance are the top reasons for their choice for abortion. And I believe in fighting the spiritual battles, in the culture, I have started a Facebook cause- “Dads Protecting Daughters” trying to find small and large ways to push back against the dominant hedonistic culture. I will take up any cause that will save some lives of children, I don’t want women seeking illegal abortions, I try to have compassion for everyone in the mix of such tragic choices- I believe like Fr.Corapi says, this is a genocide against unborn, unwanted children, my heart breaks for the young women and men who blindly support and procure abortions- forgive them Father for they know not what they do- if I can help persuade by working on the laws, working with the youth as a teacher, working the political fronts on the many interrelated issues that make up our society’s common good- then this is what I can do, along with prayer. I asked my pro-life club to join me everyday after school to offer a prayer for President Obama to have a St.Paul like conversion on the issue of life for the unborn, and my wife and I keep the president and the unborn in our nightly rosary intentions. I am open to doing whatever I can, and I had thought that running for office may be something that took my participation to the next level of personal responsibility. I encourage more of you to consider making the plunge to experience the process for yourselves- I learned so much, and I want to use the experience to help reform some institutional weaknesses in the pro-life movement- as I perceive them anyway.

  • Elaine- funny you should use the phrase- “Putting all the eggs into one basket” that was my line all the time with pro-life organizations- I reasoned that since the majority of Americans are not voting primarily with abortion in mind, there will be a pretty consistent shifting of power between the two major parties- given that both parties have critical weaknesses and cannot sustain popularity as a result. For the pro-life movement to try to build up their base in only one major Party, this will only result in the one party taking them for granted, and the other party completely hating them. The best approach is one that I believe the major Pro-Life leaders like Fr. Pavone, have already concluded- there has to be more outreach from the movement to build up pro-life Democrats- I lobbied Fr. Pavone and Fr. West strongly in person when I met up with them after speaking to my school. Father West of priests for life has been very encouraging to me personally, and I think Fr. Pavone understood and obviously saw things similarly in what I heard from him after the elections.

    I can work with pro-life Republicans, I don’t have any grudges, in fact the Republican who defeated me openly praised me in our campaign because it was one devoted exclusively to the issues, no personal attacks, I spoke with him after candidate forums, and there was no bad blood- I just happened to believe that on Life issues and more I would be a stronger leader. Nothing personal, it was professional. We need civility in our political process, we must be able to strongly express the truth on issues, but we should not focus so much on the personal attacks, we can love our enemies by granting them our prayers and openly pursue the idea that the other fellow may just have as good of intentions as I do- we just disagree and it may come to a non-violent confrontation in illuminating debate and perhaps in a democratic vote. The pope has not called for us to take up arms to defend the unborn, so we are compelled to work through the non-violent channels of persuasion and political action. Let’s do so with grace, humility, intelligence and holy passion!

  • Fox,

    Was Jesus being a utilitarian in Matthew 7:6?

    How unChristian of Jesus!

  • Joe-
    Might want to read 7:1.

  • Way to change the subject. Clearly we are not obligated to extend unlimited patience to people who are manifestly hostile to truth and goodness. It doesn’t mean we have to ‘judge’ them per 7:1 – if walking away is a judgment, anything and everything is.

  • Clearly we are not obligated to extend unlimited patience to people who are manifestly hostile to truth and goodness.

    Glad you hold your fellow pro-lifers in such high reguard.

  • That “Elf” is one lucky fella!

  • Fox,

    Ok, whats the objective here?

    Argument for the sake of argument? Argument for fun? Seriously insisting that we shouldn’t prioritize our limited time and resources so that they are most effectively used, in favor of some vague alternative?

    It isn’t about “them” – though I don’t hold anyone in high regard who can’t put aside their ideological psychosis long enough to support a candidate like Tim. It’s about what we do with the time and resources we have.

    You want to make a serious argument against that, go ahead. If all you have is a snarky quip, I’m done.

  • Zak,

    I am all for a pro-life Democrat. I myself have not voted for Obama, but I have given money to the Democratic Party and none to the GOP. I don’t watch FoxNews and for that matter I don’t even have cable.

    You can’t characterize people that are pro-life as automatically Fox News viewing GOPers.

    I would not hesitate to vote for a pro-life Democrat, unless of course the GOP candidate was even more pro-life than him/her.

    I agree that we need someone with the stage presence and charisma of Obama. Just please be specific about that when mentioning an Obama-like candidate.

    Pax.

  • Tito,

    “I have given money to the Democratic Party”

    Even given the vicious pro-abort platform upon which the entire party virtually rests?

    I am greatly disappointed.

  • e.,

    To my hometown (where I grew up in Hawaii) local Democratic Party which is very pro-life.

  • You know, sometimes I think it would be better if both parties — actually ALL parties, including Greens, Libertarians, etc. — based their official platforms on economic and foreign policy issues only, and took no stand at all on social/moral issues like abortion or gay marriage. Not because those issues aren’t important, but because they are TOO important to be used as political footballs or to become the exclusive “property” of a particular party.

    It would be the responsibility of each individual candidate to decide how he or she stood on those issues, and of each individual voter to take those stands into consideration when voting. I would think that under a system like this, pro-lifers would eventually exist in every party and pro-life voters would be free to vote for them without worrying about endorsing an officially “pro-death” organization.

    Which brings me to another point brought up by another political blogger of my acquaintance. A political party is not a church, and therefore need not act as if it were one.

    The Church teaches divinely revealed, unchanging truths necessary for one’s eternal salvation, while political parties teach humanly created truths which can change as circumstances change and are intended simply to make one’s temporal life easier or more secure. A political party need not, and should not, take its “doctrines” as seriously as the Church does its doctrines, and a political party can tolerate dissent to a greater degree than a religious body.

    While I think pro-lifers as individuals have a duty to support pro-life candidates (provided that they are reasonably competent and honest — electing corrupt or incompetent pro-lifers only serves to discredit the cause and make it harder to elect similar people in the future) I do not think that political parties AS A WHOLE should necessarily be beholden to one side or the other.

  • The problem being Elaine is that abortion, like slavery in the nineteenth century, is not only a moral issue but also a political issue. The issue has transformed both the Republican and the Democrat parties. Like slavery it presents us with stark choices for the future of our country. As a pro-life Republican I am dedicated to keeping the Republican party on the pro-life side of the issue and I will fight, and have fought, any faction within the party that wishes to change that. It is impossible to have parties simply ignore this issue, and any party that attempted to do so would never have my vote.

  • The problem with the “putting eggs in one basket” argument is that, in my (possibly mistaken) perception, it wasn’t the pro-life movement that abandoned the Democratic Party, but the Democratic Party that purged itself of pro-life leaders.

    I don’t anyone who wouldn’t like to see the Democratic Party become a pro-life party, but as I said, I really think that goal is for Democrats to achieve.

  • It is one thing to say that making the Democratic Party a pro-life party is a goal for Democrats only to work on achieving- but my point is that we should have support in that mission from pro-life organizations who are supposed to be in theory and legally, non-partisan. If the pro-life organizational leaders are themselves too tied to a Republican-only approach to fighting legal abortion, then they are doing a disservice to the unborn. If leaders of the pro-life movement are going to be joining Republican Executive Committees and taking vows to never support any non-Republican candidates in any way- I think that is a problem because pro-lifers should support the candidate “the man” and not just automatically support someone because of party affiliation. Democrats for life need at least the chance to compete for pro-life votes, and pro-life organizations should not be standing in their way by protecting the Republican Party from any pro-life competition. That’s my central thesis here- I hope many out there aren’t missing the forest for the trees in reading all the comments here.

  • Absolutely Tim.

    I read this article a long while ago. I think it captures many points essential to this debate.

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3798/is_200307/ai_n9282019/

  • Sorry if this type of comment has been made above (don’t have time to read this many). I agree with your premise – that pro-life organizations should get behind anti-abortion candidates of both parties. Here in Indiana, many local Democrats are pro-life (such as our representative Joe Donnelly). They’ve been embraced by pro-lifers for years. Your experience may be based on particularities of Florida, not pro-lifers across the board.

  • I’m late to the conversation, but I want to congratulate Tim Shipe on his 40 percent showing in his first race.

    I also want to focus on Foxfier’s comment: “you want the pro-life groups to help you build a Dem base; they want you to show you’re serious by building Dem base that they can support.”

    May I ask what Shipe offered to the teachers’ union, labor, and other Democratic interest groups in Florida?

    One basic task of a politician is to deliver goods to his supporters. If he can’t do that, he won’t win support.

    Without pro-lifers or other allies in leadership positions among these interest groups, Shipe would be dropped the moment a more party-line Democrat comes along.

    Somebody else pointed out that Shipe’s stand likely puts a ceiling on his political career. People will be less inclined to back someone unlikely to secure key committee positions or big donor and patronage networks. Which means he must be a better politician than others to overcome his principled handicap.

    And of course, what did Shipe offer his constituents besides a laudable pro-life stand and an alternative to the Republican? Moral stands are good, but people will also want someone who can deliver on other issues. Given his past as a teacher, I assume education was a point of Shipe’s expertise.

    Anything else?

  • One more thing: the donors for these pro-life groups tend to be Republican. Given a choice between alienating a big supporter and supporting a candidate the donor dislikes, the group will be very conservative, in the bad sense.

    I think pro-life groups merit a friendly but critical audit. While they’re often working hard with minimal financial resources, it seems like some political pro-life groups don’t do much besides issue unread (sometimes unreadable) press releases, organize a once-a-year March for Life event, and ask for more money.

  • The pro-life movement is making a serious error in shunning dedicated right-to-life Democrats like Tim Shipe. Most pro-life groups are so closely aligned with the Republican Party that any Democratic candidate, life affirming or not, is seen as harmful to the cause. Such thinking is rooted in the unrealistic expectations that many pro-lifers have about the short-term prospects for substantial restrictions on abortion in this country. A ban on abortion in the vast majority of states is not just a Supreme Court decision away.

    Furthermore, Republicans have made cynical use of pro-lifers to win elections but have produced little in results. We have experienced Republican control of Congress during this decade. Symbolic votes were taken on constitutional amendments to ban flag burning and gay marriage but never on protecting the unborn. A majority vote of Congress could remove abortion from the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. At the very least, such a vote would have been a strong symbolic statement but the vote was never taken. Republicans use social conservatives for votes and deliver the results to those with economic agendas like the Club for Growth. This approach enables Republican to indefinitely “cage” the votes of pro-lifers while risking little political capital.

    Pro-lifers who agree with the Republican Party on other issues should continue to work within the GOP but it makes sense to have a pro-life presence within the Democratic Party.

    The pro-life movement got its first taste of political influence as part of the Reagan coalition. Almost 30 years later, the Reagan coalition has fallen apart just as FDR’s New Deal coalition eventually collapsed with the passage of time. Being tied to the declining Republican brand is like a millstone around the neck of the pro-life movement. The largest potential growth constituencies for pro-lifers all come from predominately Democratic segments of the population – African American, Hispanic and young voters. A smart strategy would be to target these groups to move the Democratic Party in a more pro-life direction. Otherwise, pro-lifers are left with only a shrinking rural white Republican base and possibly doomed to political irrevelance.

    With some backing from the pro-life movement, candidates like Time Shipe could be a force in the Democratic Party. Lacking such support, a pro-life Democratic candidate such as Shipe (unless they are wealthy and able to fund their own media blitz) has to build their own local army of supporters since their is no automatic base of support. A pro-life Democrat doesn’t get help from the right to life committees and religious right forces or your typical progressive groups. The pro-life movement needs to open a second front within the Democratic Party.

  • The problem at its heart isn’t that Democrats aren’t welcome in the pro-life movement so much as that pro-lifers aren’t really welcome in the Democratic party. Sure, they’ll tolerate them at the local level, maybe even small potatoes state level, but when push comes to shove the party leadership will expect to be able to whip everyone, big or small, in favor of Planned Parenthood and the whole lot.

  • Tim interesting article and ongoing discussion. I remember when you ran. I thought a Pro-life Democrat?? Go Don Quixote, go.
    After the November election my family and I left OLOG and went to St. Joe. If you want a pro-life community, start go to St. Joe.
    Father L. and Father B. at OLOG believe pro-life means only anti-death penalty. How many times has Father L. gone on a death penalty protest? Answer, dozens of times. How many times has he gone on a anti-abortion protest? Answer, ZERO.
    OLOG was so far into the Obama camp OLOG was the newest member of the DNC.
    Being a member of KofC at OLOG I know many Knights who profess to be pro-life but voted for Obama.
    Any Catholic who voted for Obama is part of the problem and should be excommunicated.
    Abortion is an Intrinsically Evil Act. In the Orlando Diocese’s Faithful Citizenship Workshop, it clearly states, “As Catholics we are not single-issue voter. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an Intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.” Listed as Intrinsically Evil Acts:

    1. Abortion
    2. Euthanasia
    3. Human Cloning
    4. Destructive Embryo Research
    5. Genocide
    6. Torture
    7. Racism
    8. Terrorism

    If I’m not mistaken, Obama supports 4 of the 8 listed Intrinsically Evil Acts (Abortion, Euthanasia, Human Cloning, and Destructive Embryo Research). The Faithful Citizenship workshop also states that “all issues do not carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions.”
    Notice that Death Penalty is not listed as an Intrinsically Evil Act.
    Personally I am Pro-Innocent Life. I have no problem with the death penalty. A court of law found these people to be guilty and passed a sentence of death.
    Anti-death penalty people want people to have “Life Sentences”. One problem. Life sentences never are life sentences. Getting out after 20 years is not a life sentence. For a life sentence to be real the prisoner gets out only in a pine box. The unborn have no say. No voice. No court case. Hence Pro-Innocent Life.
    After reading your article I noticed you got no support from Pro-life groups. The reason the (D) at the end of your name. The reason for no support from OLOG was stated above.
    Run again, this times as a Republican you’ll do better.

  • RD, I could not agree with you more. Someday all of us are going to stand before our Maker and render an accounting on how we defended the unborn and the defenders of the unborn whom he gave as a gift to the pro-life cause, His cause. I know Tim personally and see his goodness 1st hand. He is as pure and principled centered as they come. I personally believe His vocation to defend the unborn and run for political office comes from our Creator and to Tim’s credit he has responded admirably to that call even though that response meant significant suffering on his part and rejection from a large portion of the pro-life which should welcome him with open arms. Tim heroically answered God’s call, but what about the rest of us. Are we really responding to God’s call of defending His unborn in the best way possible. There will come a time where we must render an accounting for our actions in this most essential of causes.

  • Hello you it´s just I absolutely enjoy your great blog, I would feel very special if you allow me to write a review about your amazing webblog on my small iPod Newssite http://www.concretecost.org would you say yes? Yours,

  • Gregory- of course you can review my blog piece- for good or ill I share my experience for public consumption!

  • Tim, I think that’s spam that slipped through the net.

  • Joe- thanks I did try to click on the contact web address and it went into something spam-like- oh well

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