Common Sense is not common - Mark Twain

BY Wanda Franz, Ph.D.

Former Senator Alfonse D’Amato, the New York Republican, was first elected in 1980. He was reelected in 1986 and in 1992. Senator D’Amato managed to do this in liberal New York in spite of a solid pro-life record in the Senate: he voted pro-life 85 times on 89 roll calls.

When Senator D’Amato stood for reelection in 1998, he ran into opposition from some pro-lifers who considered him not pro-life enough or disliked him. Some misguided pro-lifers actively worked against him, others simply refused to vote for him in the general election—it was a matter of "principle," and Senator D’Amato didn’t match their notion of a pro-life candidate.

Senator D’Amato lost to a Democrat who had previously been in the House of Representatives where he (1) was a shrill promoter of abortion, (2) co-sponsored the infamous "Freedom of Choice Act" that would have established abortion on demand under a federal law, (3) co-sponsored the "Reproductive Health Equity Act" that would have required federal funding of all abortions in any federal program, and (4) had voted 97 out of 100 times for the pro-abortion side. In other words, the Democratic candidate was the "ideal" pro-abortion candidate. And his pro-abortion zeal was gratingly expressed: as one senator observed, "There is no more dangerous place than between Senator Schumer and a TV camera." Yes, we are talking about the very same Senator Chuck Schumer who now proudly basks in the glory of having organized the Democratic takeover of the Senate in the 2006 election.

Note that Senator Schumer was so goal-oriented, that in 2006 he was willing to allocate large campaign funds to more or less pro-life Democratic candidates—as long as they would have a good chance to unseat an established pro-life Republican. Senator Schumer is not stupid. Senator Schumer was not interested in "making a statement"—Senator Schumer concentrated on changing the balance of power in the Senate.

I am recounting what happened in 1998 and in 2006 so that we may internalize valuable lessons.

First, "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 system. Just recall how the Democratic pro-abortion leadership in the Senate is absolutely opposed to appointing constitution-oriented judges to the federal bench.

Second, "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 a fool. And those who refuse to vote because the pro-life candidate is not "ideal" should look in the mirror. Most of the time they will not perceive an "ideal" pro-life voter.

Third, "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 a pro-abortionist win, the pro-life cause has been betrayed—no matter what highfalutin "principled" stance has been invoked to justify such moral posturing. Simply staying above the fray and not voting in such a case may not have the ringing sound of a "statement," but it still has the same effect. Such non-voters allow the pro-abortionist to win. Again the pro-life cause loses—a negative difference, in effect. What true adherence to the pro-life cause compels us to do is to make a positive difference: actively working for the pro-life candidate, ensuring the loss of the pro-abortionist.

Fourth, "don’t fall in love with your candidate." We all know candidates, 100% pro-lifers, who would make great presidents, representatives, or senators—except that they just have no chance of getting elected. People have all kinds of motives for giving candidates their votes. Unfortunately, electing a 100% pro-life candidate into office motivates only a minority. The perfect pro-life candidate, if one is available, may not have the same perfect appeal to the generally wishy-washy-on-life-issues public. A realistic assessment may tell us that the election of that perfect pro-life candidate is unattainable. Sometimes, there is the temptation—especially in a primary fight—to fight so tenaciously for the hopeless candidate that the eventual winner becomes tarred as "not sufficiently pro-life"—weakening her for the confrontation against the pro-abortionist in the general election. So your guy can’t win the primary: (1) don’t demonize the other pro-life candidates during the primary race, and (2) close ranks behind the pro-life winner and support him in the general election.

Fifth, "the perfect is the enemy of the good." In many ways this principle restates what was observed above: in 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 bending 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 hard cases and invented "constitutional" rights. And fourth, such "imperfect" laws save lives.

Just look at South Carolina, where pro-lifers got several laws on the books, ranging from parental consent, to abortion clinic regulations, to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, to the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (and more). And now South Carolina Citizens for Life is working on legislation requiring ultrasound images of the baby to be given to a woman before an abortion. And the result of all this imperfect legislation? Abortions in South Carolina peaked at 14,133 in 1988. In 2004, the number of abortions had dropped to 6,565—a 53% reduction that far exceeds the national decline.
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  • irish 2008/10/25 13:51:18
    when will these "representatives" truely start representing the people who elected them??
  • This Much irish 2008/10/25 16:17:46
    This Much
    oh my that is an excellent question - and I have no idea

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2008/04/02 23:37:39

fighting the good fight

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