By Wanda Franz, Ph.D.
Politically, we live in interesting times. The depression that
afflicted so many of us after the pro-abortionists' victory in the
2008 election is lifting. With the primary elections coming up, we
see the possibility of pro-life gains. But before we become too
euphoric we need to look realistically at politics and elections.
Increasing the numbers of pro-life voters. Politicians may sometimes
not understand what they are voting for, but what they do understand
is political power. They generally know how to count, especially the
successful ones. The prospect of a large number of pro-life voters
electing you to office or sending you home in defeat does clarify a
We shouldn't be too cynical about
politicians looking at pro-life voters this way. First of all, we
need their votes to pass pro-life legislation.
Second, for many practical-minded people
the persuasiveness of an idea depends to a large degree on how many
people are attracted to that idea. That means that the public clout
of pro-lifers at election time goes beyond electing pro-life
candidates: it means the affirmation and legitimization of pro-life
principles in the eyes of the fence-sitters, the "independents," and
the "middle-of-the-road" types. Electing pro-life majorities and
taking control of the public agenda has the effect of moving more
people into our column. For the right-to-life movement, the obvious
lesson is that we must recruit as many pro-lifers as possible for
participation in public life. For a start direct your friends and
acquaintances to www.nrlc.org and
Elections have consequences. Just recall how Bill Clinton wrecked
the pro-life policies of his presidential predecessors, how he gave
us judges such as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, how he
unleashed the abortion drug RU-486 on this country, how he pushed
the pro-abortion agenda at the UN, and how he wanted to make
abortion a routine procedure within a federally mandated healthcare
And just observe how Barack Obama, the
most pro-abortion president yet, is following in Clinton's
footsteps: weakening the conscience protection for pro-life medical
personnel, pushing for mainstreaming abortion in a new health care
regime, appointing numerous pro-abortion functionaries throughout
his administration, and so on.
Also, remember how the Democratic
pro-abortion leadership in the Senate is absolutely opposed to
appointing constitution-oriented judges to the federal bench.
Finally, recall the long recount in the
U.S. Senate election in Minnesota in 2008. A few disputed (and
questionable) votes gave the pro-abortion Democratic leadership a
filibuster-proof 60-seat majority (since lost, thanks to the voters
Thus your vote matters.
There are no ideal candidates for political office--or, at best,
very few of them. Anyone who thinks that one day there will be a
majority of saints running Capitol Hill is foolish. And those who
refuse to vote because the pro-life candidate is not "ideal" should
look in the mirror. Most of the time, they may not see an "ideal"
In 1982, Mario Cuomo, a "pro-choice
Catholic," defeated Lewis Lehrman, the pro-life candidate in a close
election for New York governor. The election was a clear example of
what pro-life voters should NOT do. (1) Some considered Mr. Lehrman,
the pro-life candidate, as "insufficiently" pro-life, because Mr.
Lehrman had doubts about the advisability of a "Human Life"
amendment to the Constitution. Hence, these pure pro-lifers refused
to vote for him--out of "principle." What "principle" possessed them
to hand the election to "pro-choice" candidate Cuomo by default? (2)
Because of this supposed lack of purity on Mr. Lehrman's part, some
grassroots pro-lifers refused to distribute his literature before
the election, leaving significant voter blocks uninformed. (Note
that Cuomo heavily advertised in Catholic papers.) (3) Others
carried "principle" even further. They voted for a third-party
right-to-life candidate whose only contribution was to take votes
away from pro-life candidate Lehrman and, thus, give "pro-choice"
candidate Cuomo an additional increment of 1%--significant in as
tight a race as this.
Non-actions and actions have consequences. As demonstrated above,
suppressing the pro-life vote for a viable candidate (by refusing to
vote for him or distribute his literature) or siphoning votes off to
a third-party candidate has the unintended consequence of electing
the pro-abortion candidate!
The point is not to make a "statement" but a difference--more
accurately, a positive difference. When a "statement" (e.g.,
actively opposing a pro-life candidate facing a pro-abortionist) has
the effect of defeating the pro-life candidate and letting the
pro-abortionist win, the pro-life cause has been betrayed. Simply
staying above the fray and not voting in such a case has the same
effect. Such non-voters allow the pro-abortionist to win. True
adherence to the pro-life cause compels pro-lifers to make a
positive difference: actively working for the pro-life candidate and
ensuring the loss of the pro-abortionist.
Don't fall in love with your candidate. We all know candidates who
are 100% pro-lifers, but have no chance of getting elected.
Sometimes, there is the temptation--especially in a primary--to
fight so tenaciously for the hopeless candidate that the eventual
winner becomes tarred as "not sufficiently pro-life," weakening him
for the confrontation with the pro-abortionist in the general
election. So don't demonize the other pro-life candidates during a
primary race, and close ranks behind the pro-life winner and support
him in the general election.
The perfect is the enemy of the good. By insisting on the
unattainable we may lose the attainable. And when we lose as
pro-lifers, babies die. Think about that.
Beyond elections, this principle is
brought home to us again and again when we pursue legislation. Many
of us in the trenches have suffered the arrogant criticism of
"principled" pro-lifers who dismiss our legislative efforts because
"they do not outlaw abortion." First of all, these critics don't
understand what laws realistically can be passed, given the current
political situation and state of public opinion.
Second, they don't grasp what role even
limited legislation can play in moving public opinion in our
direction. Third, they fail to understand that such laws refocus the
debate on the plight of the babies and the abuses of the abortion
industry--away from the empty rhetoric of "choice," the hard cases,
and invented "constitutional" rights. And fourth, such "imperfect"
laws save lives.
Supporting the pro-life cause takes lots of work and money. Please
do your share.