March 05, 2008

This past fall, I held an informal poll of the students at the first-rate liberal arts college where I’m privileged to teach, asking them to choose between two presidential candidates: John Calvin or Niccolo Machiavelli. Their responses were uniformly interesting, as I’d expected. I posed the question just so sharply as a way of preparing them for the kind of political choices they’re liable to face in future. Mind you, I held the poll way back in November, when our options for 2008 weren’t quite so evidently grim: A messianic huckster who treasures a visceral hatred of Whitey, and a center-left, jumpy militarist who wants to feed the coffers of big business by opening the borders.

Of course, as a lifelong pro-lifer (I’ve been working for the cause since I was 11 years old), I respond to the same Pavlovian stimulus on which the Republicans have been relying for years. Under no circumstances could I pull the lever for a candidate who favors the legalized murder of the unborn. Period.

But that doesn’t exhaust the question of what to do when the black day rolls around this November, and we’re offered the option to vote. Even if (as I believe) it’s a mortal sin to vote for Obama, that doesn’t mean we have the moral right to vote for McCain. While the dismal two-party system in this country may conspire to reduce the morality of voting to a mindless “either/or,” we are not obliged to hack off enough relevant parts of our brains to play along.

Indeed, the very arguments which make it impossible to vote for an enthusiastic baby-killer are also applicable to the question of voting for McCain. It is always and everywhere evil to intentionally kill the innocent—agreed. So that leaves out the Democrats. But where does it leave the Republicans?  How many unjust wars must one be willing to countenance in the hope of shifting the votes on the Supreme Court? How many foreign civilians should we be willing to sacrifice? How many American soldiers? To press the point home further: If our country engages in one fourth of the conflicts called for by Norman Podhoretz (esteemed by McCain, and one of his endorsers), there is no prospect of our continuing without a military draft. Which would include women. So, how many American boys and girls are we willing to force at gunpoint into foreign wars, for the price of swaying the Court? Which of your daughters are you willing to send to “liberate” Teheran?

And what exactly would it mean to sway the Court? Even assuming (generously) that John McCain would abandon his long-time track record of fudging the social issues and appoint another Scalia instead of another Harriet Myers, and assuming that we could actually attain the Holy Grail which all of us have sought since 1973—overturning Roe v. Wade—what would that mean?

Make no mistake, it would be a wondrous thing to remove the disgusting blot on our Constitution which was put there by leftist judges under the sway of the Rockefeller population report. It would feel great making the abortionists spend their blood money fighting state by state for the “right” to ply their trade. It would set back the Left on a wide variety of issues, as they had to defend a sector of their rear which they’d long assumed was safe. And we might even save some babies.

But how many, really?  Imagine an optimistic outcome. Imagine that enough Catholic faith and Protestant works combined to sway every legislature that is “in play” on the abortion issue, and we achieved our maximum impact. Imagine we outlawed or seriously restricted abortion in a majority of the states. Does anyone really think we can do much better than that? With this optimistic outcome, abortion would only be legal in (a fair guess) the following states:

New York
New Jersey
Rhode Island

If any of you have reason to think that the sanctity of life might prevail in one of these states, I invite you to send me more reasons for hope.

In this optimistic scenario, we would see the relocation of abortion clinics to airports, and whole new aspect added to the work of travel agents. ( can offer new options beyond a hotel room and a rental car.)
We might well be able to reduce the rates of abortion among the very poorest American women, who couldn’t afford a regional airfare—which would be a very good thing. But little more than that. Come the advent of the next Democratic president, we could expect the use of federal funds and other forms of pressure to squeeze the “unenlightened” states to get in line with those that reflect elite opinion. And the whole thing would start to erode. Of course we would fight, and we might well hold out. We might well be able to keep abortion a regional “privilege”—even as the influx of left-leaning immigrants continued to undermine our majorities in states across the country.

And that is the best case scenario.

As a single-issue pro-life voter, I have to ask if this mild improvement is worth electing a president pledged to waging aggressive wars across the world… the prospect of unisex conscription… the crushing burden of taxes on families required by never-ending war … the further corruption of what’s left of the conservative movement… the further enrichment of big business at the cost of the native working and middle class…

It is morally permissible to vote for McCain? Spend 30 minutes reading the news about Iraq, the cost in American lives, the damage to our military, the cost to our budget—and most of all, the civilian casualty figures. Now apply the same numbers to Iran, Syria, and Lebanon. Imagine what other countries might pop up on the radar of the paranoids running the War Party. Think of all those foreign children, too.

In the 2008 election, both parties are pro-death. We really don’t have a vote.


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