The personal blog of Frank Lesko. Award-winning writer. Non-profit entrepreneur. Activist. Religious professional. Foodie. Musician. All around curious soul and Renaissance man.

See also my professional blog: The Traveling Ecumenist.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

To Pro-Life Voters

I sympathize with you. But let me clarify where I stand, as there can be some miscommunication with the terminology. I have what you could call a consistently pro-life position. I find myself not just against abortion, but also the death penalty, war, and anything that impedes and restricts love and life to grow, mature and develop. I find my pro-life expression in supporting the arts, in appreciating nature and beauty and education. It is just about the most unpopular stance to take in modern American politics.

In fact, "life" is the benchmark upon which I make all my moral decisions. Does something support life? Does something oppose life? That which supports life is that which I support. And so on. I see education as a pro-life stance. I see the environment as a pro-life stance. I see the arts, community building, peace making and war stopping to be pro-life.

In the Catholic world, we call this the "seamless garment" (John 19:23). All life is a single garment interwoven together, but without a seam or any sort of natural place where it would be logical to separate or tear it. It belongs together as one piece. The young, the old, the infirm, the unborn, the injured, the mentally retarded, the brainiacs, the soldiers, the saints--we're all woven into the fabric of life.

However, to advocate and support life at every stage means you run out of politicians to vote for.
Some people don't vote, as a result.

Some try to pick and choose--they are against abortion but can tolerate war and the death penalty, because in those cases at least you are getting the "bad people." Well, wars often involve carpet bombing civilians and many innocents go to death row. Not so simple. Some vote against war and the death penalty but shrug their shoulders over abortion--they figure it is already a law and there are some claims to womens' equality--claims they don't believe in, but it is easy to look the other way on this issue. We all find ways to justify our vote. You may find me doing it in this post, as well.

A Pro-life stance is not just about your relation to other people. It is about your relationship to yourself. What does it do to you when you justify killing another person? What has become of your own humanity when you find yourself finding excuses why this or that person or group is not worthy of life? Darth Vader didn't start off as a machine. As you can see from Luke Skywalker, it happened slowly--first his hand was replaced with a mechanical one. Then his heart was in play, and Luke had to choose: Life or machine.

The Betrayal of the Pro-Life Movement

I will say this to all the people against abortion out there: You have been betrayed. The Republicans have given you a lot of lip service and gladly took your money, but they have done NOTHING against abortion. NOTHING. Ronald Reagan took office in 1980, and there has been a strong pro-life Republican presence in Washington since. There have even been times when there has been both a Republican Congress and Presidency. Still, what have they done against abortion over the last 28 years? These were such "strong anti-abortion" people. Surely the powerful Ronald Reagan would have stood up to Congress to push some pro-life legislation through. Where was he?

They have led you to believe that somehow they "can't" do anything. They succeeding in convincing you that all they can do is slowly nominate Supreme Court justices, and that over time maybe just maybe they will be able to do something about abortion. But don't believe it. Congress or the President could have introduced, advocated for and supported all sorts of policies and legislation if they really wanted to do something about abortion. They could have let the Supreme Court fight it out. You could have seen these politicians talking about these issues when it comes time to make a law and not just when it comes time to get your vote.

In business terms, the pro-life movement didn't get much for the millions and millions of dollars it has invested. And I realize this is something that can't be looked at purely as a business investment. If nothing else, it is good some politicians are at least giving it lip service, even if that is all they are giving it. It keeps the conversation on the table and there are pro-life role models out there--sort of. But let's face it: Both the Democratic and Republican policies are not very pro-life at all--they just pick and choose some issues to support and others not to support, but they aren't driven out of an innate support for life itself. It is hard to see how George W. Bush values unborn babies when he seemed willing to go to war and blow some babies up for . . . what reason was that war for, again?

Right in line with that, John McCain is willing to use your pro-life sympathies to get your vote and your dollars. He says he will work against abortion as president. What has he done against abortion the last 26 years in Congress? Why is he waiting until now? In the meantime, he sees no sign of stopping a war that is killing lots of born and unborn children in another part of the world. I don't know what he'd do about abortion, but judging by his record I'd say it would be very little. But I do know what he'll do about the children in Iraq, as he has been very clear and consistent on that one.

I can't claim to know every bit of legislation ever attempted in the last 28 years. Perhaps I'm missing something. But you would think with all the talk around election time and the massive campaign machinery of the anti-abortion movement you would see a little more action than you do. I don't see anyone fighting this out on the streets of Capital Hill. And I believe there is a reason for it: They don't really plan to do anything at all about abortion.

If the Democrats were smart, they would take a softer stance on abortion which would undermine the Republican base. Had the Dems taken a more inclusive position when it comes to abortion, I am a firm believer they would have won the Presidency under both Gore and Kerry for sure, and possibly Dukakis and Mondale. The Democratic Party--a party supposedly of diversity--has taken a hard line stance on abortion and it probably lost them their edge in American politics. Who do you think those Reagan Democrats, Southerners and Catholics were who left the Democratic Party in droves in the 80s? That's right: The Pro-Life movement.

But pro-life is bigger than abortion.

I ask the pro-life voters to consider this as you vote. Are you getting what you think you are getting with the Republicans? Are they valuing and respecting your money and your vote? You already know my answers to those questions.

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