Why Pro-Lifers Should Not Vote for McCain
Friday, October 24, 2008
Public Relations Committee Chairman
I have spoken to a number of people recently who wonder why I will not vote for "pro-life" Republican John McCain in November. After all, they tell me, we cannot afford a Barack Obama presidency, and McCain is the only person who has a realistic chance of beating him. And, even if religious conservatives have had concerns about McCain's pro-life credentials, we can rest comfortably knowing that his vice-presidential running mate is so strongly opposed to abortion that she personally rejected medical advice to terminate her last pregnancy and her family seems to be standing alongside her unwed teenaged daughter, who is now pregnant.
I will not discuss my thoughts about Sarah Palin in this article, except to say that questions about her experience are completely irrelevant: for one, her Constitutional duties are to "preside" over the Senate and cast tie-breaking votes, and to replace the President if he dies. Also, she is the only person on a major-party presidential ballot who actually has executive experience (mayor and governor).
I also will not discuss my thoughts about Obama. The man's platform makes Bill Clinton look like Jerry Falwell. I cringe at the thought of an Obama-nation.
However, McCain is not such a great alternative either. We need to look past the rhetoric to the facts. We also need to remember only a few months or years ago. Sadly, the pro-life movement in America suffers from a severe case of attention deficit disorder coupled with amnesia.
[In the following, I should give some credit where it is due. Thanks to Jonathan Hill, National Chairman of the America First Party; I borrowed a lot of information he shared with several other party leaders in responding to a recent email from a nonmember. His research is always thorough. Also, another AFP member, Joe Spitzig (National Committee member from Ohio), recently gave a rather humorous quip about the idea of "not voting for candidates who have no chance of winning" which inspired some of my thoughts that appear about three paragraphs below.]
Let me start by rebutting some of the usual arguments:
Argument # 1: McCain is the only person who has a realistic chance of beating Obama.
First: So what? As I explained on my blog on August 17, 2008, Christians should vote their consciences, regardless of the odds. We should not vote for the "lesser of two evils" just because one has the best chance of beating the other. As long as we continue to support this mindset, we will continue to have poor candidates to choose from, and our nation will continue to decline. If the Founding Fathers had made their decisions in 1776 based on the odds, we would still be singing "God Save the Queen."
Second: Does this argument really make sense in states where the presidential-election outcome is virtually guaranteed? I live in a "blue state," where Democrats usually gain all of our Electoral College votes. Does anybody seriously think John McCain has a chance of beating Barack Obama in New York? Obama has New York tied up, and I seriously doubt he will get less than 67% of the vote here. If we are going to vote for someone who has a chance of winning, then we in New York have only once choice: Barack Obama. (Thank you, Joe Spitzig - your quip is especially true for those of us who live in New York. You probably have more of a race for Ohio's electoral college votes.)
Argument #2: McCain will try to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Let us look at the history here.
In 1999, McCain ran against George W. Bush for the Republican nomination, and his stance on abortion was one of the major reasons he lost the election. According to Carol Tobias of the National Right to Life Committee, McCain said that abortion is "necessary," that he would not overturn Roe v. Wade, and that reversal of that ruling would endanger the lives of thousands of women. You can go to the National Right to Life website at this link to see the article.
Some might say that McCain has become more conservative on this issue in recent years, but I think the real change has been in the pro-life movement: We have become more worldly and less committed to our principles. As recently as 2006, the National Right to Life Committee gave John McCain a 75% rating, indicating a "mixed" voting record on pro-life issues. This information is still readily available on the nonpartisan On the Issues website (see near the bottom of "Voting Record" under "John McCain on Abortion").
I find it very troubling that National Right to Life now says that McCain is "thoroughly pro-life." Their own previous literature proves otherwise, and I find it appalling that a supposedly Christian organization is willing to resort to such outright lies in pursuit of a political goal. Make no mistake: We will never achieve victory in the pro-life arena until we repent of our worldliness and our idolatry (trusting the Republican Party instead of God). National Right to Life needs to either repent of their hypocrisy or close its doors, so that more worthy pro-life groups can lead the way.
Lest we forget, groups like the NRLC have historically opposed both embryonic stem-cell research and the so-called "morning-after pill" (also known as Plan B or RU486). McCain is in favor of extending stem-cell research, which will kill embryos in the name of science. This is thoroughly contrary to the essential core belief of the pro-life movement: that life begins at conception and that the embryo and fetus must be protected and nurtured. While I found no information about McCain's views on the morning-after pill, our so-called "Christian" President George W. Bush actually approved over-the-counter sales of the drug, which means God will hold him accountable for countless deaths to preborn babies. I suspect that a McCain Presidency would be guilty of the same sort of hypocrisy.
Second, anybody who has actually read the Roe v. Wade decision (as I did when I took Constitutional Law in college) knows that the decision does not require a Supreme Court ruling to overturn it. The ruling itself specifies that, if a fetus were to be considered a person, it would share all the constitutional protections that a fully-developed human has. Abortion would be illegal.
Ron Paul (R-TX) has continually introduced the Sanctity of Life Act in the House of Representatives. This bill, if it became law, would state that human life begins at conception; it would provide protection for the fetus or embryo in the uterus. A simple act of Congress would ban abortion. However, even when the Republican Party controlled both houses of Congress, the bill languished in committee. The "pro-life" Republicans refused to support the bill. And, Sen. John McCain was apparently not "pro-life" enough to introduce a companion bill in the Senate.
John McCain will not try to overturn Roe v. Wade. History proves it. Until a few months ago, the Christian pro-life movement knew it. How quickly we deceive ourselves.
Argument #3: McCain will appoint conservative Supreme Court justices, who will overturn Roe v. Wade. Obama will appoint justices who will protect it.
Part of this argument has been rebutted previously. And, I will not argue against the second part. Obama's Supreme Court appointees will be liberal.
However, part of this argument, as currently expressed, goes like this: Since President Bush appointed pro-life Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito, we only need one more pro-life Supreme Court Justice to overturn Roe v. Wade.
As I pointed out in my article about the partial-birth abortion ban, this is also a fallacy. John Roberts and Samuel Alito had an opportunity to express their opposition to Roe v. Wade, but they did not. They signed a ruling that should NOT have satisfied pro-life advocates. While partial-birth abortion should be banned, they supported a ruling that banned it for the wrong reasons, and that actually allows it under quite a few circumstances (the partial-birth abortion ban actually defines circumstances under which the procedure can be performed, if one reads the bill and the Supreme Court ruling carefully).
Only two Supreme Court Justices, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, signed a concurring decision arguing that partial-birth abortion should be banned because Roe v. Wade was a bad decision that should never have become accepted law. We still need three Supreme Court justices to get a true pro-life majority on the Court. Based on McCain's previous record on abortion, I think it is safe to say we will not get those appointees from him.
Now, let us move on to a few other issues.
Will we have freedom of speech under a McCain Presidency? This is an important issue; after all, our ability to speak out on abortion and other issues requires protection of our free-speech rights.
If you do not think this is an issue pro-lifers should think about, consider the "Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act" (FACE), which makes it a federal offense for someone to block an abortion clinic during a protest. President Clinton signed it into law; a federal court ruled it unconstitutional. However, "when a federal court finally declared FACE unconstitutional, the Bush Justice Department flew Peter Keisler to New Orleans to argue before the Fifth Circuit for its reinstatement. Unfortunately, Keisler's strong advocacy against the Constitution won the day, and the disreputable FACE is now back on the books" (America First Party press release).
John McCain is co-author of the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act, a bill which some authors have called one of the worst attacks on the First Amendment in American history. It prohibits certain organizations from criticizing candidates around election time. It makes it harder for grassroots lobbying organizations (such as the American Family Association) to help ordinary Americans who want to contact their elected representatives on specific issues. This raises serious concerns about McCain's support for free speech.
This shows that, sometimes, we need to look beyond the standard rhetoric to the related issues. Will McCain support funding for Planned Parenthood? (Probably, based on previous spending votes.) Will he stand by his "pro-life brothers and sisters," or will he use the full weight of the law against them? After all, it does seem as though federal investigations and criminal charges against pro-life activists have increased during the Bush Presidency, even when we had a "pro-life" President leading the executive branch of government.
As a final issue, I point to McCain's support for free-trade agreements and a "path to citizenship" for "undocumented workers." Both issues have reduced the number of available jobs for American workers, and have hampered the wages of the jobs that are available. It should be obvious that this is at the very root of our current economic woes in this country. Until we find leaders who will stop encouraging our companies to outsource jobs overseas, and who will stop allowing illegal immigrants to come into our country and work off-the-books (taking jobs away from Americans who would be entitled to a minimum wage and other protections, etc.), we will not see a stable economy.
Yes, just about all of my arguments apply to Obama as well, perhaps even more so in most cases. However, that is still no reason to vote for John McCain. The America First Party, has recommended that voters vote for either Bob Barr or Chuck Baldwin this year. This decision was made, in part, because neither candidate is on the ballot in all 50 states. Both are strongly pro-life (not just during the campaign season, either). Let us just say that I am voting for the one who, in addition to abortion, agrees with church teaching on other key issues, such as marriage. I may be giving my first-ever write-in vote next month.
My candidate will not win in November. But, at least when it is time to pray for our nation, I can tell God, "I am trusting in You, not in institutions that were established by man on worldly principles."