On Saturday, Sept. 29th fifty leaders of the social conservative movement gathered in Salt Lake City, Utah to discuss their plan of attack in the event that the presidential nominee for the Republican and Democratic parties are both pro-choice. To clarify the events that took place at that meeting, James Dobson wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times. In it he writes of the conclusions the group came to, "If neither of the two major political parties nominates an individual who pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life, we will join others in voting for a minor-party candidate. Those agreeing with the proposition were invited to stand. The result was almost unanimous."
He continues to ponder with pen the possibility that voting for a pro-life candidate could cost social conservatives the presidency,
The other approach, which I find problematic, is to choose a candidate according to the likelihood of electoral success or failure. Polls don’t measure right and wrong; voting according to the possibility of winning or losing can lead directly to the compromise of one’s principles. In the present political climate, it could result in the abandonment of cherished beliefs that conservative Christians have promoted and defended for decades. Winning the presidential election is vitally important, but not at the expense of what we hold most dear.Another issue discussed on that Saturday was the possibility of backing a third party candidate that would run as the pro-life alternative. There was less unanimity on this topic. Rasmussen Reports ran a poll on how such a third party candidate would effect the election, and the results aren't very encouraging for social conservatives. If it comes down to Giuliani, Clinton, and __________ (3rd party candidate), the poll indicates that the 3rd party votes would tip the election in favor of Hillary Clinton. I can't imagine James Dobson and his 49 friends thrilled about that outcome.
Of course, I cannot imagine James Dobson failing to foresee such an outcome either. One can't help to think this is more of a political threat than it is actual contingency planing (you don't actually think these leaders would support a pro-life Democrat do you?). Something along the lines of, "Lest you forget Republican party, social conservatives carry serious capital every election cycle. We delivered the White House to President Bush, and we can do the same for the next Republican nominee, but do not take us for granted. Our vote does not come cost-free. Bend on abortion or we'll take our votes elsewhere."
So, for social conservatives, I ask this one question: Are there other ways to protect the sanctity of life? I understand the opposition to abortion. I am father to a beautiful 8 month old baby girl. I am aware of the outrageous numbers of abortions that occur in this country. I've heard the commercials on my local Christian radio station calling abortion "genocide" and citing it as the number one killer in this country, however, I can't help but to think there might be other issues dedicated to preserving the sanctity of life. Here are some examples of such 'pro-life' issues :
- Opposition to war. Not just the U.S. war in Iraq, but wars in general. Are the lives lost in war not as valuable as an unborn fetus? Can one support war and be pro-life?
- Opposition to the death penalty in all fifty states.
- Support pouring resources into improving inner city ministries and charities where the cycle of drug use and gang violence leads many to the conclusion that death is inevitable.
- Support Stem-cell research. Tell Michael J. Fox you value life in one sentence and don't support stem cell research in the next. See how he responds.
- Support any U.S. legislation that increases financial assistance for AIDS relief in Africa and in other parts of the world.
- Support efforts to end the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. If abortion truly is the American "genocide," why is this "genocide" worth more activism than the Sudanese?
So, I'd recommend finding out how Republican and Democratic candidates feel about these other issues of "life." Or are social conservatives only concerned about certain types of lives?