The Stakes

I’ve not been political this time around, unlike in 2004 when I was just getting a blog started. There are a lot of reasons for that. Mostly, it’s because politics is bad for the soul, seeking partisan answers to deeper questions, inflicting disunity among communities for reasons that have, on the surface, logical reasons but are really more to do with aesthetic and social preference, which we then package with all kinds of more objective sounding arguments.

I’ve sat and listened, or read, a lot of my good friends voicing their support for Obama, sat and listened mostly in silence, not because I respect Obama but because I respect my friends and want to hold onto unity. I’ve sat and watched the people who were most appalled by the Christian Right take on a lot of the Christian Right’s arrogance and style, inflicting their opinions on vague issues and calling it the “Christian Way.”

We can and should discuss issues like poverty and war. However, voicing opposition to poverty and war does not end these or solve these. Indeed, sometimes, as in the 1930s, it exacerbates both. The poor are not helped by self-righteous hand-wringing and the victims of violence are not helped by earnest sounding disapproval.

Both the poor and the victims need help.

How this help is best accomplished is the real conversation on politics, and the real disagreement among those of us of faith. I’ve seen hypocrisy and corruption on both sides, with each side ready to eviscerate the other while dismissing their own faults.

I lost a lot of respect for the Christian Right in the past, and this season I’ve lost a whole lot of respect for the Christian Left, and those who hold to its causes. They are the same to me, which is sad to see. But they are so clearly expressing the same pharisaic mentality, always eager to judge the other.

I lean to the right, still. And reject any attempt for any other Christian so-called to judge me for my political positions. Indeed, I reject their faith as valid if they attempt to do so, putting their politics above their religion, and putting their unity with those who mock the faith against those who share it.

I reject any attempt to enlist Jesus as a political compatriot, for Jesus offended Left and Right, having words for all those who sought to assault others, while denying their own blind hypocrisy.

I lean right because I reject the maybes, the hope so, the promises without foundation. If there was really clear, undeniable help for the poor, I would go that direction. But it’s all politics, as the recent financial crisis shows.

So, I stand on the things I can be assured of. Not that these are the whole of the Christian stance, but they reflect at least a guaranteed part, as opposed to rhetorical, bureaucratic dances.

Why am I voting Republican? This latest from Sarah Palin explains some reasons:

“In this same spirit, as defenders of the culture of life, John McCain and I believe in the goodness and potential of every innocent life. I believe the truest measure of any society is how it treats those who are least able to defend and speak for themselves. And who is more vulnerable, or more innocent, than a child?

When I learned that my son Trig would have special needs, I had to prepare my heart for the challenges to come. At first I was scared, and Todd and I had to ask for strength and understanding. But I can tell you a few things I’ve learned already.

Yes, every innocent life matters. Everyone belongs in the circle of protection. Every child has something to contribute to the world, if we give them that chance. There are the world’s standards of perfection … and then there are God’s, and these are the final measure. Every child is beautiful before God, and dear to Him for their own sake.

As for our beautiful baby boy, for Todd and me, he is only more precious because he is vulnerable. In some ways, I think we stand to learn more from him than he does from us. When we hold Trig and care for him, we don’t feel scared anymore. We feel blessed.

It’s hard to think of many issues that could possibly be more important than who is protected in law and who isn’t – who is granted life and who is denied it. So when our opponent, Senator Obama, speaks about questions of life, I listen very carefully.

I listened when he defended his unconditional support for unlimited abortions. He said that a woman shouldn’t have to be – quote – “punished with a baby.” He said that right here in Johnstown –“punished with a baby” – and it’s about time we called him on it. The more I hear from Senator Obama, the more I understand why he is so vague and evasive on the subject. Americans need to see his record for what it is. It’s not negative or mean-spirited to talk to about his record. Whatever party you belong to, there are facts you need to know.

Senator Obama has voted against bills to end partial-birth abortion. In the Illinois Senate, a bipartisan majority passed legislation against that practice. Senator Obama opposed that bill. He voted against it in committee, and voted “present” on the Senate floor. In that legislature, “present” is how you vote when you’re against something, but don’t want to be held to account.

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a Democrat, described partial-birth abortion as “too close to infanticide.” Barack Obama thinks it’s a constitutional right, but he is wrong.

Most troubling, as a state senator, Barack Obama wouldn’t even stand up for the rights of infants born alive during an abortion. These infants – often babies with special needs – are simply left to die.

In 2002, Congress unanimously passed a federal law to require medical care for those babies who survive an abortion. They’re living, breathing babies, but Senator Obama describes them as “pre-viable.” This merciful law was called the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. Illinois had a version of the same law. Obama voted against it.

Asked about this vote, Senator Obama assured a reporter that he’d have voted “yes” on that bill if it had contained language similar to the federal version of the Born Alive Act. There’s just one little problem with that story: the language of both the state and federal bills was identical.

In short, Senator Obama is a politician who has long since left behind even the middle ground on the issue of life. He has sided with those who won’t even protect a child born alive. And this exposes the emptiness of his promises to move beyond the “old politics.”

In both parties, Americans have many concerns to be weighed in the votes they cast on November fourth. In times like these, with wars and a financial crisis, it’s easy to forget even as deep and abiding a concern as the right to life. And it seems our opponent hopes that you will forget. Like so much else in his agenda, he hopes you won’t notice how radical his ideas and record are until it’s too late.

But let there be no misunderstanding about the stakes.

A vote for Barack Obama is a vote for activist courts that will continue to smother the open and democratic debate we need on this issue, at both the state and federal level. A vote for Barack Obama would give the ultimate power over the issue of life to a politician who has never once done anything to protect the unborn. As Senator Obama told Pastor Rick Warren, it’s above his pay grade.

For a candidate who talks so often about “hope,” he offers no hope at all in meeting this great challenge to the conscience of America. There is a growing consensus in our country that we can overcome narrow partisanship on this issue, and bring all the resources of a generous country to the aid of both women in need and the child waiting to be born. We need more of the compassion and idealism that our opponent’s own party, at its best, once stood for. We need the clarity and conviction of leaders like the late Governor Bob Casey.

He represented a humanity that speaks to all of us – no matter what our party, our background, our faith, or our gender. And no matter your position on this sensitive subject, I hope that spirit will guide you on Election Day. I ask you to vote for McCain-Palin on the November fourth, and help us to bring this country together in the rational discussion of compassion and life.”

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