One of the most frequently voiced criticisms of right-leaning Catholics is that they were insufficiently critical of the Bush Administration over the past eight years. According to this criticism, conservative Catholics were too eager to paper over the faults of the Bush Administration, and they failed to object at critical points to the Administration’s policies. While such generalizations can be problematic, I agree with this critique in broad outline. One of the lessons I’ve taken from the past eight years is that this is a temptation that must be consciously resisted.
It’s hard to express my disappointment, then, at the recent post entitled Mexico City? Try Gaza Instead…over at Vox Nova. Here’s the post:
I haven’t seen 22 weeks yet, but I’m going to, and I think all pro-lifers should. It brings home the ugly reality of abortion and the bitter grief and despair that inexorably, in this world or the next, each abortion brings. Here is a review. May God forgive us all for this great evil that flourishes in our land and in our world. Abortion is the ultimate taking of the gracious gift of life, and spitting in the face of He who granted it. Humanity has the capacity for so much good, and this great evil drags us down lower, much lower, than the innocent beasts. I pray that I will live to see the day when abortion will be viewed with the same horror that we now view slavery.
Apparently Doug Kmiec’s change of heart last year was not limited to topics pro-life. As noted at the Volokh Conspiracy, he also reversed his position on the recent Heller decision, which overturned the DC handgun ban, in a span of about five months.
In February, Prof. Kmiec joined an amicus brief to the Court which argued “the [Second] Amendment secures to individuals a personal right to keep and bear arms and that the decision below correctly interpreted and applied the Amendment in this case.” When the Court affirmed the lower court decision overturning the ban as the amicus brief he joined suggested, Kmiec took to the pages of Slate to criticize the decision, arguing that the Heller majority misconstrued the Second Amendment, and their ruling had no basis in “Constitutional text, history, and precedent”. Here is Kmiec’s explanation for the switch as provided to the popular Volokh Conspiracy legal blog:
Douthat flagged the following graph by Razib at Secular Right, summarizing the views of Americans by age on abortion and homosexuality:
I confess I am disappointed to see one of my colleagues at American Catholic dismiss the “Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama” as only so much “fruitless and pointless rhetoric”.
In response, permit me to explain what led to my own signature of the letter in question.
Readers of Catholics in the Public Square are no doubt aware that I have emphatically disagreed with Henry and those contributors at Vox Nova who supported Barack Obama throughout the 2008 election.
At the same time, to say Catholics shouldn’t have cast their vote for Obama is not the same thing as asserting that they were prohibited from doing so. This, at least, seems to be the conclusion drawn from the USCCB document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship”:
There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position [on abortion] may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.
Suffice to say I was among the those who did not believe a “grave moral reason” existed that warranted voting for Obama. And if some members of Vox Nova disagreed, I’ll give them the benefit of a doubt, and trust they thought about it as long and hard as my own decision to vote for Senator McCain.
With the election of the most anti-life president in this nations history, Christians across America will soon be facing a daunting gauntlet of attacks on the sanctity of life. We need to now follow Jesus more than ever, embrace His teachings, practice our faith, evangelize our friends and neighbors, and pray. Pray and strive for prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance with faith, hope, and love.
This is spiritual warfare on a massive scale. We need to win the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans in order to push back against evil. What is at stake are unknown millions of innocents that will be slaughtered for Mammon’s sake. Not since World War II and maybe even the French Revolution has human civilization been faced with such dark forces arrayed against it. The time for fruitless and pointless rhetoric ended on November 4th. We now cannot stand by the wayside and negotiate the nonnegotiables with those that intend to do harm to the most vulnerable among us. No equivocating, no complacency, and no compromise.
Pray and fast for President-elect Obama and our glorious nation.
The Republican Party is often described as a three-legged stool consisting of social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and foreign policy hawks. I had recently been encouraged by the moderate nature of some of Obama’s early appointments (e.g. retaining Joe Lieberman as Chair of Homeland Security, appointing Clinton for Secretary of State, talk of retaining Gates as Secretary of Defense). My thought was that these moves indicated a moderate streak in President-elect Obama that might translate into opposition to radical measures like the Freedom of Choice Act. Ross Douthat, in a characteristically smart
post, has caused me to reconsider, highlighting the dangers of Obama-the-foreign-policy-centrist for social conservatives:
Perhaps the most villified US President since Abraham Lincoln, George Bush has been a strong pro-life President.
One of the most common complaints directed at pro-lifers is that they are trying to overturn a Supreme Court decision that is popular with the American public. In one respect, this is a fair point. Roughly sixty percent of the country, when asked, says that they would not support overturning Roe. At the same time, roughly 2/3 of people say they would prefer the type of ‘stricter limits’ on abortion that are barred by Roe and Casey.
Noting this disconnect, Peter Suderman recently suggested that pro-lifers should focus on framing Roe as a barrier to compromise on abortion.
Morning’s Minion over at Vox Nova, recently argued that the pro-life movement should disentangle itself from the Republican party. I think a fairly good argument can be made for this position, although I don’t find it entirely convincing. As anyone familiar with the blogosphere is aware, however, the fact that a good argument can be made for a position does not mean that a good argument currently is being made. Here’s the post:
One of the primary tasks of a historian, as I understand it, is to craft a coherent narrative out of the available facts. These narratives are important, as people are often suspicious to the point of irrationality when presented with information that contradicts their preconceptions. For this reason, I think it is worthwhile to push back on a few of the narratives that have been circulating over the past week about the reasons for the Republican defeat. A number of commentators have suggested that the Republican party’s anti-abortion position is hurting the party with social moderates, and that the party going forward needs to distance itself from pro-lifers.
One way to evaluate this advice is to identify the primary causes of the recent Republican loss. Why did 53% of voters choose Barack Obama, when 51% had voted for George Bush four years ago? It seems to me that the three primary reasons were Iraq, the economy, and the McCain campaign, in that order.
Today, regarding Kmiec (et al.):
But to claim that a candidate who seems primed to begin disbursing taxpayer dollars in support of abortion and embryo-destructive research as soon as he enters the White House somehow represented the better choice for anti-abortion Americans on anti-abortion grounds is an argument that deserves to met, not with engagement, but with contempt.
He echoes my weekend frustration.
Every election cycle, the New York Times and similar publications run op-eds or features discussing the ’emerging trend’ (always emerging, never quite emerged) of pro-lifers reconciling themselves to voting for the Democratic party. These articles vary widely in quality, and range from intelligent and provocative (if flawed) to embarrassing, but the most common feature is disenchantment with the current state of the Republican party. I will grant that the case has been easier to make this year given the widespread dissatisfaction with the Republican party (particularly among the chattering classes).
Nevertheless, I think the answer to the title of this post is that, yes, pro-lifers are stuck with, or at least would be best served by, support for the Republican party. Some points for consideration:
While there is generally little to rejoice at in the results of yesterdays elections, there is a glimmer of light on the West Coast for those who believe in Christianity and Western Culture: As of this morning California Proposition 8, which would amend the California state constitution with the words “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” looks to be winning out after a hard fought campaign. The LA Times refuses to call it yet, but with 91% of precincts reporting, Prop 8 leads by 350,000 votes, 51.9% to 48.1%.
President Elect Obama had opposed the measure calling it “divisive”, but although Obama won California by 2,400,000 votes, Californians refused to allow to stand to a court ruling earlier this year in which 2000’s Proposition 22 defined traditional marriage by statute.
As the father of an autistic son, who is one of the lights of my life, I find it hard to convey adequately how much the pro-life witness of the Palins means to me. This video, which discusses Palin’s “special base”, does the job for me.
For years pro-lifers have dreamed about a national candidate who is not only pro-life, but who actually talks about it, and not just to pro-life groups. We have such a candidate in Sarah Palin. Here is the text of the relevant portion of her remarks at a rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania today: