Conservatism Can’t Survive Without the Pro-Life Movement, Part II

In Part I, I argue that it would be politically foolish for the Right to further backpedal or abandon the pro-life cause. Here I want to make the case that the right to life truly is inseparable both from core conservatism and from any meaningful effort to advance conservative ideas—that, in fact, pro-abortion tendencies actually endanger the prospects of those who value limited government, the free market, and strong national defense.

As I explained on June 15, abortion is an affront to the Declaration of Independence. As the unjust taking of a human life, it is wrong for the same reason slavery, theft, assault, honor killings, rape, eminent domain abuse, and individual health insurance mandates are wrong: they are all violations of human liberty and natural rights.  Accordingly, society justly protects its citizens from them via law for the same reason.  As long as conservatism still “holds these truths to be self-evident” that all men have “certain unalienable rights” to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” and as long as conservatism still accepts that “governments are instituted among men” for the purpose of “secur[ing] these rights,” then philosophically-consistent conservatives have no choice but to oppose legalized abortion. Nobody can support abortion in good conscience without either honestly confronting this conundrum head-on, or asking himself what definition of “conservatism” he’s been operating under all this time.

That pro-choice views are an egregious exception to conservatives’ and libertarians’ pro-liberty rhetoric should be obvious. What may be less obvious—but is no less true—is that such dubious thinking cannot help but undermine other core conservative principles and efforts. Continue reading

Advertisements

Conservatism Can’t Survive Without the Pro-Life Movement, Part I (Updated)

The more I reflect on The Great NewsReal Abortion Debate, the more convinced I am that I made a critical error.

I want to revisit the issue of whether or not the pro-life cause is central or peripheral to the conservative movement.  I made clear where I stood on that question—as an egregious deprivation of human rights, abortion should be opposed by every lover of liberty with every fiber of his or her being—but I fear I didn’t go nearly far enough in explaining the implications of the answer.  This essay will explore the practical aspects of the matter; my next one will address the moral and philosophical.

I conceded that I could “basically support” the kind of ‘truce’ David Swindle was talking about, i.e. candidates centering their campaigns on the “two unifying issues” of the free market and defeating Islamofascism. That’s more or less how wartime Republican presidents since Ronald Reagan have run for office anyway (in Reagan’s case swapping out Islamofascism for the Soviet Union), and that’s okay.  I don’t have a problem with our candidates emphasizing some issues more than others to put voters’ most immediate concerns front and center, or to address crises that demand immediate resolution.

However, that doesn’t exempt a candidate from talking about the right to life at all, or from being pro-life.  I have already argued that pro-life principles are inseparable from core conservatism, and that abortion cannot be regarded as merely one issue among many, and I’ll elaborate more on those points in the next post.  But it’s also important because whether or not one is capable of recognizing abortion for the evil that it is, and is willing to do something about it, tells us something about what he or she is made of. I know there are exceptions (Ron Paul is pro-life but deranged, Joe Lieberman is radically pro-abortion, but firm on the war), but I truly believe that strongly pro-life candidates will tend to be of a higher caliber than pro-choice candidates in several qualities that will benefit public servants, and the American people, in all areas: Continue reading

Now Is Not the Time for Truces

Possible GOP 2012 candidate Mitch Daniels thinks we need a “truce” on social issues:

“We’re going to just have to agree to get along for a little while,” by casting social issues like abortion aside so the next president can focus on fixing the beleaguered economy.

Expecting a backlash if the remarks weren’t explained further, Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack followed up with the governor. He asked Daniels if his remarks meant the next president shouldn’t try to stop the abortion funding in the Obama health care law or put the Mexico City Policy back in place to stop international abortion funding.

Daniels said the United States faces a “genuine national emergency” concerning the economy, budget and national debt and that “maybe these things could be set aside for a while.”

“But this doesn’t mean anybody abandons their position at all. Everybody just stands down for a little while, while we try to save the republic,” the governor added.

Daniels replied, “I don’t know,” when asked if he would issue the executive order every pro-life president has done by instituting the Mexico City Policy Obama revoked.

Given how little our national leaders actually do to end abortion or preserve marriage once they get into office, Daniels’s proposal sounds less like a game plan for “saving the republic” and more like a lazy excuse to not talk about issues he doesn’t feel like discussing.

Joseph Lawler rightly notes that Daniels’s cowardice on the Mexico City policy isn’t a truce, but unconditional surrender.  And so, the Republican march of mediocrity continues…

The Paul File Continued (Updated)

The following is an addendum to my recent NewsReal posts about Ron & Rand Paul’s disgusting relationship with radicalism and their dangerous misrepresentation of facts on all things national-security and foreign-policy related:

During the 2008 Republican National Convention, Ron Paul held a counter-event, & the campaign invited crackpot Jesse Ventura to speak there. Ventura’s tirade about what “really happened” on 9/11 was met with wild applause by Paul’s audience.

On 9/11 Truther Alex Jones’ show in 2007, Paul claimed, “if you have a 9/11 incident or something like that, they use that to do the things that they had planned all along.”

In January 2008, Paul’s Midland County, MI, campaign coordinator was one Randy Gray, who happened to moonlight as “a longstanding active and vocal organizer for the Knight’s Party faction of the Ku Klux Klan.”  The campaign did not comment on the controversy, but did scrub all traces of Gray from their websites. Continue reading

Will Amnesty Torpedo the GOP’s Comeback?

Now that healthcare reform has passed, there’s been chatter about a possible amnesty encore.  Some speculate that “immigration reform could KO health care.”  On the surface, that seems to make sense – the public hates ObamaCare and everything the Democrats did to pass it, and given how much they hated amnesty when President Bush pushed it, trying again could backfire spectacularly on the Democrats.

However, it could also end up killing all the momentum and goodwill the GOP’s built up with the public over health care.  The GOP will have enough trouble maintaining momentum on healthcare going into 2010 and keeping it all the way to 2012, and unlike healthcare, a fair number of prominent Republicans can be expected to defect to the Left on immigration, casting fresh doubts in voters’ minds as to their judgment, responsibility, values, and trustworthiness.

RNC Chair Michael Steele needs to get in front of this as soon as possible by committing to support only anti-amnesty candidates and opposing any pro-amnesty ones.  If the GOP is to regain the public’s trust, it has to make it crystal clear that its defectors – even leaders such as McCain, Kyl, Graham, and McConnell, are just that: defectors.

ObamaCare Truth & Consequences

Via Power Line, here’s a list of 20 Ways ObamaCare Will Take Away Our Freedoms, and an op-ed on The Real Arithmetic of Health Care Reform (also, here’s a handy summary of what’s in the bill, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, and for you masochists out there, the bill’s full text, courtesy of Open Congress).  Read ’em, print ’em out, and have ’em ready for the next time your lefty friends spout disinformation from the White House or MSNBC.  This recap of the states’ experiences with government meddling in healthcare is required reading, too.

Also, check out my latest NewsReal post for where we go from here.  The short version: we can, and must repeal this bill, but the GOP is really gonna have to bring their A-game.  And for a great explanation of what should actually be done to improve American healthcare, Ann Coulter’s got you covered.

Michael Medved: What Does “Get Back to the Constitution” Mean?

Michael Medved is, bar none, one of the most intelligent, knowledgeable, and eloquent guys in all of talk radio—which is why it’s such a shame that he devotes so much of his skill to deflecting substantive criticism away from the Republican Party.  Townhall’s Greg Hengler highlights the following exchange between Medved and a caller (h/t to Hot Air):

Here is a great exchange between a caller to Michael Medved’s radio show who’s obviously influenced by Glenn Beck’s daily mantras like “There is no difference between the two parties — they’re both ‘progressive’,” etc. Without naming Beck’s name, Medved goes off on this caller (read: Glenn Beck). Take a listen:

I’ll be the first to agree that Beck substantially overstates the similarities between Republicans and Democrats (in fact, I’ll go even further and say that Beck’s analysis often comes across as impulsive and poorly thought out), and this particular caller does not make his case well at all.  But while Beck overstates the problem, that doesn’t exonerate Medved from understating it.  He challenges the caller to provide a single example of an issue on which John McCain and Barack Obama were on the same page.

I’ll take that challenge, Michael: not only is McCain’s role in campaign finance reform the stuff of legend, but it could even be argued that he’s even more to the left here than Obama is.

I do believe that satisfies the original challenge, but let’s throw in a second, for good measure: immigration.  McCain is also infamous for his left-wing zealotry in favor of amnesty, and though he may have backpedaled ever so slightly in 2008 for political expediency, he incredibly ran an ad running to Obama’s left here as well, accusing Obama of playing a role in killing 2007’s amnesty bill.

Besides, being somewhat better than the alternative is still not sufficient to rise to the level of good.  Take abortion, for example—when your opponent gets caught red-handed on the wrong side of starving newborns to death in broom closets, it doesn’t take much effort to look good by comparison.

On almost every conceivable issue, John McCain’s conservative credentials have serious flaws, not the least of which was the mainstream conservative Club for Growth’s judgment that his “overall record is tainted by a marked antipathy towards the free market and individual freedom.”

I voted for McCain. I understand that half a loaf is better than no loaf.  I don’t demand 100% ideological purity from every single politician.  But the GOP’s lack of commitment to conservatism is bigger than a handful of isolated blemishes; it’s an identity crisis that caused and enabled many of the Bush presidency’s failings and led to the election of Barack Obama.  Will Medved admit that this is a real, legitimate problem?  How does he propose that we address it?  (And no, throwaway admissions that “Republicans aren’t perfect” don’t count.)

As to the third party question: it’s true that anyone who expects a third party candidate to actually win the White House is delusional, and I’m not aware of any existing third parties that deserve to be taken seriously.  But while many disgruntled conservatives may have mixed-up views of them, a decent third party might be useful in a different way: not as a replacement for the GOP, but as the catalyst for real GOP reform.  As long as Republicans keep limping along on life support, the Beltway types will take their every victory as an affirmation that they’re doing enough right that they’re justified in maintaining the status quo.  It’s doubtful that anything less than a real threat to Republican viability would be enough to force any real self-reflection.

What’s most shameful is Medved’s angry, impatient reaction to the idea that Republicans need to “get back to the Constitution”:

What does that mean?  Stop with the slogans! Talk to me about reality! Americans are out of jobs, there’s 10% unemployment in this country.  We are being spent into oblivion […] so why are you talking about pie-in-the-sky stupidity, fantasy land, kindergarten, childish idiot stuff?  I mean, and you are!

Regardless of Brian’s inability to articulate his message, the fact remains there is no way Medved does not know exactly what “get back to the Constitution” means.  He’s simply too smart, too informed, and too active a conservative intellectual not to.  Take the courts—did the GOP put up much of a fight against Sonia Sotomayor?  Federal influence in education, healthcare, and environmental & workplace regulations have obvious constitutional problems.  In many cases, the GOP has been on the wrong side of these questions, and even when they haven’t, often they fail to make an issue of the constitutional aspect (though there are a few bright spots).  Is restoring a proper understanding of & reverence for the Constitution no longer a major priority of conservatism, in Medved’s view?

This exchange was indeed educative, but not for the reason Hengler thinks.  It demonstrates that, while talk radio personalities like Michael Medved are a tremendous asset in some ways, in others they’re part of the problem.