On November’s political imperative (and it’s not about the Presidency)

Here we go.

I’ve been waiting for this, and I’m surprised it’s taken this long during campaign 2016.

The speaker: Eric Metaxas, a writer and commentator whose support for the right to life and religious freedom is beyond reproach. (I commend to you his biography of William Wilberforce and his speeches at CPAC  and University of the South on religious liberty.) Not a Trump fan, he has concluded that voting for Trump is imperative nonetheless.

The statement: “You’re going to have the blood of children on your hands” if you sit this one out or vote third party. He let that fly during an interview with Laura Ingraham that followed his article along the same lines in the October 13 Wall Street Journal

I am not voting for Trump or Clinton. I spelled out my reasons in June, long before the latest tapes and Wikileaks releases involving the candidates. Nothing has happened to change my mind, not even a stern admonition from the estimable Mr. Metaxas.

I’ve been told before that the blood of the babies will be on my hands if I don’t back a certain candidate. First time I heard it, twenty-some-odd years ago, I was hurt. I was afraid that people were going to think less of me.

That was then. Today, while I like approval as much as anyone, I won’t go against my better judgment to get it.

Eric Metaxas is entirely sincere. So are the dedicated pro-life people who are choosing Trump as the alternative to Clinton. People like Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List have staked all their political credibility on Trump. I believe in their good intentions. Let them follow their consciences and best judgment. I’ll follow mine.

In practical terms, as I have written before, I believe the Supreme Court would be in no better hands with Trump than with Clinton. I find his assurances to pro-lifers unpersuasive.

Instead, I sadly think Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa of New Wave Feminists hit the nail on the head when she tweeted, “Supreme Court Justices are the new thirty pieces of silver.”

Ouch. But yes.

The day after the election, indeed the four years after the election, are going to be ugly for the right to life. Face it now. But far from sitting on my hands, as Mr. Metaxas fears, I’m urging people NOT to sit out the election.

Elect Senators and Members of Congress who will take seriously their powers of the purse and of confirmations. Send to Washington people who have something other than contempt for the right to life.

Elect state-level Executive Councilors who will blunt the impact of a governor who wants to send public money to abortion providers.

Elect state senators and representatives who will create a veto-proof majority for good legislation – an abortion statistics law, at a minimum.

There’s the pro-life political imperative this year.

As for the presidential race, something C.S. Lewis wrote in Mere Christianity in a different context seems apt. Screwtape might have seen this year coming.

I feel a strong desire to tell you – and I expect you feel a strong desire to tell me – which of these two errors is the worse. That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.

 (Eric Metaxas photo by Ellen Kolb)

Staying home in November is not an option

Here’s a seemingly gratuitous notification, but humor me for a moment: I won’t be voting in November for either of the major nominees for President.

This comes to mind as I overhear a news channel’s talking head asking a pollster about the people who reject both the GOP and Democratic presumptive nominees – “what if they all stay home in November?”

Stupid question, Mr. Talking Head. A better one: What will those people do down-ballot?

#NeverHillary, #NeverTrump. I am a firm believer in the value of defensive elections – voting for mediocre Candidate A in order to block the election of awful Candidate B, if necessary – but that’s not the situation this year. Instead, to my aging pro-life eyes, there are two titanically, epically unsuitable people slugging it out for supremacy.

What’s left is damage control. And that’s why staying home in November is not an option.

What builds the political firewall against a president who wants to protect the abortion industry, or one who is indifferent to the right to life? A Senate that will say no to pro-abortion judicial nominees; a House that takes the power of the purse seriously; elected officials at state and local levels who promote policies that respect the right to life as something inherent in every human being and who allow life-affirming ministries to flourish.

One presidential candidate is very free with the epithet “loser.” I’m not looking forward to the policies that will come from an executive branch led by such a man. Medically vulnerable people, people with disabilities, the preborn, the dying, the condemned, the refugees: where would they find an advocate in a White House occupied by someone who’s quick to label “losers”?

And then there’s the other major candidate, who thinks abortion is health care and who has no problem with compulsory public funding of abortion providers. She’s a fan of Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate, and she’s been unwilling to defend the rights of dissenting women like the Little Sisters of the Poor. In her world, no human being has any right to live until someone else grants that right. No one has ever asked her to explain the difference between human rights and humanly-granted rights. ¬†Come to think of it, let her opponent ponder that one.

In my lower moments, I’ve thought that these two candidates ought to run on a single ticket, perhaps with the slogan “what difference at this point does it make?”

Neither of these presumptive nominees has earned my vote. It’s for precisely that reason that I refuse to be a bystander next November. The down-ballot races – all those contests below the “President” line – will affect the extent of the damage a President can wreak.

I’m mindful that apart from any defensive effect, the down-ballot races are important in themselves. I’ve spent enough time at the State House to know that.

I’ve already had some lively offline exchanges with people of good will whose views of the presidential race differ from mine. I’ll say this much to everyone who asks me “but what about the Supreme Court?!”: (a) while I know one candidate is sure to pack the Court with abortion advocates, I have no confidence that the other candidate won’t; and (b) the U.S. Senate can be a firewall, unless it decides to be a rubber stamp. So by the way, this year’s Senate race bears close attention.

To all those who are as repelled as I by the presumptive presidential nominees of the major parties, I say be of good cheer. Vote in November. Skip the top line, and then vote with gusto in all the other races, having done your homework about your choices.

But don’t stay home. Discouragement is for losers, if you’ll pardon the expression.