Monday, March 10, 2008

On lesser evils (part I)

"All truth is simple... is that not doubly a lie?" - Friedrich Nietzsche

A dear friend and I had an engaging, and rather heated conversation about my insistence on staying home come next election. This has not been the first time someone has expressed disappointment at my decision; and if I cannot but plead guilty to the twin charges of pessimism and--political--hopelessness, I can at least attempt to make my case--again--for refusing to condone a lesser evil.

I've already discussed at length my antipathy towards, not simply the three candidates remaining in the race for the presidency, but the entire pretext of democracy which continually produces such candidates. As a libertarian, I believe government should be small, sufficient only to protect the rights of life, liberty and property, and to provide a means whereby violations of these rights can be addressed. If the modern American state is not the antithesis of libertarianism, it is nonetheless very much opposed to it. For not only does it concern itself with other "rights", but it routinely allows for the violation of the only rights we can be said to possess.

For instance, while the government currently protects the "right" of the mother to choose to murder her unborn child, it does not protect that child's right to life. Meanwhile, property rights are suspect, and while the democrats are correct to point out that the Bush administration has been less than forthright about protecting civil liberties, true freedom has been a rarity, not only in human history, but even in the ostensible home of the free. From the Alien and Sedition Acts, to Lincoln's jailing of journalists suspicious of the war; from Wilson's similar imprisonment of dissidents, to FDR's internment of the Japanese, George W. Bush is in grand--if not necessarily good--company. Far from being a novel development, the attention paid to the suspension of Habeas Corpus is valuable because government is constantly violating our rights, and without the eternal vigilance of which Jefferson speaks, our liberty, even that little that we have, will disappear.

Surveying the field, it is obvious that Obama, Hillary and McCain are cut of the same cloth as their predecessors. Apparent differences do exist, but on the fundamental question of the role of government they have all declared on the side of largess, that is, against liberty.

But what, you may ask, does all this talk of liberty have to do with anything? These so-called thoughts and ideas emanate, it is said, from a Catholic body. In short, shouldn't the issue of life be more important than liberty, at least to the Roman Catholic?

Technically speaking, this is true. On the other hand, there is a vital connection between inalienable rights. I will not belabor the point; suffice it to say that while it is theoretically possible to have a society in which the citizens, though bereft of liberty, suffer no threat to their actual life, in practice, it is never so. The right to life, liberty and property stem from an understanding of the human being. An absence of rights reveals a lack of understanding of man. The bloody twentieth century gives a good indication of what happens when man is no longer seen as made in the image of God, and instead becomes a mere tool in the hands of his fellow beings. To put it in reasonable shorthand: the loss of liberty leads to a loss of life.

But let us put this all aside to examine the life issue itself. We turn first to abortion. Let's take Obama and Hillary first. As democrats, it's unlikely a Catholic could vote for either of these candidates in good conscience--don't get angry democrats; I'll blast McCain before all is said and done. When NARAL gives someone a 100% stamp of approval, it's a sign to run very quickly in the opposite direction.

This leaves McCain. He gets a 0% from NARAL--good news--but he only gets a %75 from NRLC. Then again, the pro-life Ron Paul only gets a 56%; my guess is his affinity for states' rights hurt him amongst the constitutionally confused ideologues of the NRLC.

We'll get to the war issue in part II, but on the abortion front, the republican nominee is pro-life enough to allow well-intentioned pro-lifers to talk themselves into supporting him. But just like Nixon, and Ford, and Reagan, and Bush I, and Bush II, President McCain won't do anything about abortion. I say this based on the record of his predecessors, which is a bit unfair, but if McCain has a record for doing anything, it's disappointing conservatives. Let's not forget, in one of the more hysterical aspects of this election, Ann Coulter is campaigning for Hillary--against McCain.

Republicans like to point out that since the average Supreme Court Justice is approximately 106 years old, the next President will get a chance to appoint a few more justices. And since the court is divided, just one more justice could help us overturn Roe v. Wade--which makes 2008, altogether now, The Most Important Election Ever. The only problem is that republican appointees have had control of the court for some time now. Seven of the nine have been appointed by republican presidents, and yet, unborn babies keep dropping like Iraqi children--sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself. Deflecting responsibility is also a cop out. Politicians can profess to be pro-life and then act surprised when their nominees turn out to be apathetic about overturning Roe. This reminds me of my favorite part of democracy: how unelected judges make all the important decisions.

The GOP had control of both houses the Congress and the Presidency. All they needed to do was pass a bill that returned abortion to the states; the liberals would have become hysterical and appealed the law, but at least we could find out how Bush's justices were going to
rule on the abortion issue. Of course, since the GOP is full of cowards, this isn't going to happen. It's also worth pointing out that while some republicans--Coolidge comes to mind--might appoint strict constructionists, it takes considerable faith to expect as much from one of the ringleaders of the Gang of 14.

I tried to refrain from bitterness, but am finding it difficult to do so. On the one hand, I am compelled to share my revelation; on the other, as it ends in political despair, I am tempted to refrain from speaking, and allow my fellow man to continue in behavior I can only charitably describe as misguided. But Dr. Eco's Brother William would frown on me for hiding the book from my fellow, well, monks I suppose.

Obfuscated metaphor aside, I must quote Vox Day, who succinctly captures the salient point in the whole abortion debate:

Indeed, it is possible that no party has profited as greatly from the abortion industry as the Republican Party. When one considers the political situation in 1973, with a long-time Democratic Congress, Nixon's resignation just around the corner and a Supreme Court full of liberal Republicans, it is amazing to consider how the righteous anger of millions inspired by the Roe v. Wade decision has helped reshape the American political landscape.

So, it was intriguing to read the uncharacteristically insightful Eleanor Clift making the following observation in Newsweek:

Now that the GOP is within striking distance of overturning Roe, they're having second thoughts ... "Any activist will tell you they'd rather have the issue out there than to have it resolved," says this pro-choice Republican, who has worked on the Hill and for various Republican interest groups. "If Roe were overturned, we'd be electing Democrats as far as the eye can see."

Irrefutable, if unfortunate. Whether or not the republicans are using the abortion issue to maintain power, they benefit tremendously from the status quo in regards the abortion issue. Vox concludes:

But the dark and dirty secret of the Republican Party is that it is only nominally pro-life. Given the history of the last 33 years, voting for vocally pro-life Republicans has proven to be as ineffective a way to stop the slaughter as voting for abortionette Democrats would have been.

His point warrants serious consideration. After more than thirty years, the burden of proof is on the republican party to prove that they are doing something about abortion. I can only insist that one vote one's conscience, assuming it is properly informed by Church doctrine, but I expect the republican party to overturn Roe v. Wade when the Vikings win the Super Bowl--or hell freezes over, which, to a Viking fan--alas, poor chaps--is the same thing.

In part II we'll examine the other life issue, specifically that big old war--sorry, conflict--going on over in the Middle East.


hoosiertoo said...

Change is still possible with the ballot not likely, but possible.

Therefore, the ballot must be used. I have voted pro-life (and 3rd party) for many years now. If we ever win an election and the republicrats refuse to abide by the results, then it's time to opt out - or load up - not before.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

If we ever win an election and the republicrats refuse to abide by the results, then it's time to opt out - or load up - not before.

I think voting third party is certainly justified, but it's essentially a futile effort.

Even supposing that a third party would win, it too would quickly become corrupted just like the republican party.

If Ron Paul ran third party, I'd vote, but I'm not ecstatic about voting for a guy who gets a whopping .4% of the vote.