“Life is a Fact, Not an Opinion”

Ever had one of those days when you thought your audio recorder was working, and it turned out it wasn’t? That happened to me the other day when I was supposed to be covering a New Hampshire GOP press conference for a blog to which I’m a contributor. Among the speakers was a retired state rep, Dan Itse, who gave a pro-life speech of rare passion for a party event. I went home eager to transcribe it, and…nothing. (Note to self: store electronics in an inner pocket on 20-degree days.)

Fortunately, GraniteGrok.com posted video, preserving the speech. The Honorable Mr. Itse was inspired – more like goaded – by remarks from the Governor of Virginia indicating acceptance of the idea of infanticide for children surviving abortion. Mr. Itse takes a different view.

Ladies and gentlemen, my friends, you’re probably wondering why Governor Northam was so overjoyed at that legislation in Virginia. I believe that it was because it ratified what he had probably been doing for years. His voice was one of experience, not conjecture….New Hampshire must send representation to Washington, D.C. that knows life is a fact, not an opinion. If we can’t do that, then God save us.

Read the full speech at GraniteGrok.

On Party Unity: a Tale of Two Bills

The New Hampshire House voted a few minutes ago to kill a “right-to-work” bill. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are noisy with the cries of RTW advocates who are upset that SB 11 failed on the Republicans’ watch. Right-to-work is in the state GOP platform. Republican leadership in legislative and executive branches promoted the bill.  It failed anyway, by 23 votes.


No one who has seen pro-life bills fail in the New Hampshire House under Republican majorities can be shocked when “party unity” fails.

Many of today’s House members were in office last year when the House voted 167-116 to kill a bill (HB 1627) to protect children born alive after attempted abortion. There was a Republican majority in place then, too, under the same Speaker who holds the position today.

One difference between today’s vote and last year’s: protecting children born alive after attempted abortion was not a leadership priority. Unlike with RTW, there was no press conference by the state GOP calling on reps to pass HB 1627. Unlike with RTW, the Speaker didn’t hand over the gavel to another rep so he could go on record supporting HB 1627.

I happen to think RTW legislation is a good idea, and I’m sorry today’s bill lost. But surprised? Shocked?

Please. Without party unity on the fundamental right to life, party unity on anything else seems irrelevant.

I’m hanging on to what the state of New Hampshire insists on calling my “undeclared” voter registration. Any candidate who wants my vote knows how to earn it.

Don’t get mad, get even: give pro-life today

illustration: Office.com
illustration: Office.com

I’ll put the last line first: make a donation today, even if it’s only $5, to your local agency that provides pregnancy support or another life-affirming ministry without performing or referring for abortions. If New Hampshire Catholic Charities got donations in response to the brouhaha I describe here, for example, then the St. Charles Home and Our Place would benefit and might even be able to expand their services to more New Hampshire neighbors.

Why the pitch? Because the Planned Parenthood Action Fund recently had a fundraiser here in New Hampshire. Once it became public (most notably in the Boston Globe) that the New Hampshire Republican Party’s national committeeman Steve Duprey had attended, a social media fuss ensued.

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Just a reminder: the national Republican party has a pro-life plank in its platform. So does the New Hampshire GOP. As one friend of mine said, “this is bad optics.” Yes, for starters.

For the record, Mr. Duprey says he didn’t realize the event was for the Action Fund. He is a longtime donor to PP’s “health”-related efforts (and of course, PP considers abortion part of health care). He didn’t realize he was attending an event that raised money for things like unseating Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte. He acknowledged via Twitter (@SecretaryofFun) that it was “error” not to know in advance that it was an Action Fund event. My favorite social media summary via Granite Grok shows the Twitter exchange that elicited Mr. Duprey’s clarification.

My first thought when I heard about all this was something I can’t post on a family blog. My second thought was “so what else is new?” My third thought – which should have come first – is “don’t get mad, get even.” One gets even for such things by supporting life-affirming work, whether or not there’s a tax deduction involved.

My resources are limited. My “getting even” for today consisted of sending a small donation to a pregnancy care center, via a runner who participated in a 5k race for the center’s benefit. Does it match the recent donation by the NHGOP national committeeman to PP? Not by a long shot, but it sure beats wringing my hands over Republican leadership.

Sign up for next weekend’s CareNet walk. Deliver some baby-care supplies along with a check to a New Hampshire pregnancy care center. If you’re a member of a faith community, now’s the time for a special campaign to support women in crisis. My own church participates in an annual campaign (which kicks off this month) for New Hampshire Catholic Charities, the largest and most effective private human-services organization in the state. You may already be an adoptive parent or someone whose home is a haven for a pregnant woman with nowhere else to go.

As a recovering Republican, I humbly suggest this as well: if you’re a NHGOP donor, make your next donation to a pro-life organization, and give your reasons to the crew at party headquarters. After all, support for pro-life work is actually in line with the party platform. The party will still be there when you’re ready to send it your money again.

(I have held forth at some length about pro-lifers and the GOP. I am fond of campaigning, and I know there are campaigns yet to come in which I’ll support pro-life candidates with an R next to their names. The “pro-life” part will come first.)

As for Mr. Duprey, he can do what he wants with his money. He has his moments; I applaud his work with Casino-Free NH, which just achieved an unexpectedly decisive victory in defeating yet another casino bill. Imagine if he were to put that kind of savvy and experience into backing something like repeal of the buffer zone.

But never mind. I have no control over Mr. Duprey or his party, and I frankly don’t want it. What I do want is for his “error” to inspire a flood of financial support to New Hampshire’s pro-life agencies.

So, I’m back where I started: make a donation today, even if it’s only $5.


An aside for some of my NH friends: there’s life outside the GOP

I address this to my New Hampshire friends, pro-life and politically active, who are seething over recent and not-so-recent NHGOP festivities, and are on the edge of leaving the party. Readers from other areas, stay with me here. Perhaps you’re in a similar spot.

Don’t threaten to leave the party. Just leave. Register “Undeclared.” The weather’s fine over here. Really. This is a recovering Republican talking. (See Biting the Hand that Fed Me and What I Saw at the Party.) And you know what? In this state, with its open primary, you can pick up a Republican ballot anytime. Political activism and “undeclared” status go together just fine.

Afraid you’ll be dismissed as irrelevant? Tell me: aren’t you feeling that way already, as a pro-life voter? Just go. Some Republicans will genuinely be dismayed at your departure. Some won’t notice or care. Others will want to throw a party to celebrate, and I’m sure some Democrats would chip in. You won’t get invited to some dinners and briefings and meetings. Get over it.

Worried about the platform? If you want to be part of that process of party platform development, I say go for it. I had enough of that process myself twenty years ago. When you get to that point, throw your money and volunteer efforts to candidates who back your values – and to organizations that know how to collect voter data and use it appropriately.

You can always back any candidate without being a party member yourself. The candidates will welcome you.

“But…but…we won’t have a seat at the table!!!” Excuse me – what table are you talking about? The one where putting the right to life ahead of jobsandtheeconomy (it’s all one word; trust me on this) is considered bad form or counterproductive or antithetical to the Big Tent? Please.

If you want to build the Big Tent, build it. Some fine people are doing that. To other fine people, who are musing over whether the GOP is worth the effort: every minute you spend worrying about your party registration is a minute you’re not spending building a pro-life community.

You think I’m stating the obvious? I only wish it were obvious. Every time I hear someone agonizing over a party, the “obvious” is on vacation. Ask yourself this: is your involvement with the party – meetings and donations and so forth – advancing your pro-life work, hindering it, or not affecting it one way or the other? When I got to the point that I could no longer say “advancing,” going independent was – you’ll excuse the phrase – the obvious choice.

And remember, party affiliation can be situational and tactical, therefore temporary. I’ve never known a candidate or a party to turn away voters just because they’re registered as Undeclared. I’ve always disliked New Hampshire’s description of a voter’s status as “Undeclared.” Choosing not to affiliate with one of the major parties is certainly a declaration. “Independent” is more accurate, even if such a voter leans hard towards a party.

I know plenty of people who remain lifelong Republicans solely out of habit. If that’s what works for them, fine. It’s not my party, so I won’t snipe too much. Besides, it’s no crime to use a party label to get ahead. Elected officials know this. I can think of some House members who really like being addressed as “Honorable” and who run as R or D only because a majority of their town’s voters are emotionally attached to one label or the other. That’s shrewd. That also demonstrates the folly of depending on a party label to tell me what a candidate believes.

To my friends who are struggling with a party, I say be a pro-life indie or a pro-life Republican or even a pro-life Democrat (rare as albino moose, but there are still a few out there). Just don’t agonize over your party affiliation or how some inside-baseball political shenanigans left you reeling. Don’t even worry about some of your pro-life Republican friends calling you a quitter. It’s survivable. Those Republicans will come after you with open arms as soon as they need your vote on something. Pro-life first. If the party is driving you crazy, leave it in peace and get on with your work.

Guest Post: Thoughts on policy and party by Steve MacDonald

[My thanks go to Steve MacDonald, blogger/editor at GraniteGrok.com, for this guest post.  I put a question to him: does he see any connection between pro-lifers and libertarians who are disenchanted with the Republican party, where so many such individuals once felt at home? Here’s his reply.]

The Republican 80-20 rule doesn’t apply to New Hampshire Libertarians, Conservatives, or anyone that has ever considered themselves aligned with the TEA Party.  You are with the Republican establishment or against them.  “Against them” means failing or refusing to toe any line laid before you by the NH-GOP or the folks with the money and power that yank their pull-strings.

Objecting to the musings of party-mouthpieces is met with varying degrees of outrage.   If you offend enough of the right people you can expect to get a phone call or to be ushered aside at the earliest opportunity for a trip to the proverbial woodshed.

Now to put this in proper perspective, the left is no different, but socialism is a compliance-based world-view that relies on cookie-cutter obedience.  Falling out of formation is not permitted, but almost everything else is.  So as long as you are throwing bricks—real or rhetorical—for the benefit of leviathan-centrally-planned-government it is difficult to go wrong.   But the left always defines the terms, the ruling class always gets better terms, and everyone else is a foot soldier for that cause or its enemy.

On the right the idea of conformance is not to orders and government but to ideals and principles.  The State exists to keep everyone else’s hands off you so that you are free to interpret those principles and ideals within a limited framework of laws that are meant to apply equally to everyone.   We are not foot soldiers of the party but principled idealists who would rather embrace the risks of freedom and liberty than risk the known dangers of an overprotective state.  That a Party existed to represent those ideas at all is more of a testament to the ideas than to the party, but the party has been around long enough and “men” are not angels.

So the so-called party of local control, of limited and efficient government, even right here in New Hampshire,  has turned against its own principles, and we know this to be true.  We know this because the people who are still more devoted to those principles than the party that once existed to defend them are under attack by Legacy Republicans.

Conservatives, Libertarians, even undecided and independent voters who answer the call of the TEA Party are bad-mouthed in public and private for defending the principles the Republican party used to defend for them; and questioning the logic of abandoning them in the nation’s hour of need.

That need connects New Hampshire’s Conservative Republicans and Libertarians, regardless of their individual position on specific social or fiscal issues.

In New Hampshire, the NH-GOP appeared briefly to be a place for them to advance their shared principles.  But as establishment Republicans display an increased willingness to abandon those principles (in pursuit of what I can only assume is the view that there are more votes to be had by doing so) every one of us has to wonder how long it will be before they chase that same chimera on life, guns, speech, local control, or taxes; and who will be remain to stand with us to defend it from them?

And this is not a phase.  In recent years Republican State senators have proposed speech limiting legislation.  They supported an initiative that open the door to federal intrusion through regional planning. Most recently they put low taxes and local control on notice as the State Senate looks for a way to accept some $2.4 billion in Federal money for Medicaid expansion.

This effort to tie us to D.C. is an assault on low taxes, local control, and personal responsibility.  Expansion will remove decision making and chase it down the strings to the nation’s capital.  It will increase taxes to meet rising costs, extracting wealth from an economy that might otherwise evolve to create jobs that allow people to care for themselves and their own.  That will relieve many of the opportunity to strive and climb another rung of the ladder but who will instead drop back into the state’s hammock.

Each act appears self-serving.  It suggests that Republicans are happier carrying the water for the left, even if it is only in tiny buckets at first, than standing up for their own platform.  They have become…

“The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot (who) will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; 

The balance of the quote is, of course…

but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”

We who stand..?  Mocked by the establishment, often with the rhetoric of those who were once our shared ideological opposites.   We are mocked for defending the Republican Party platform.  Calls for reconciliation look not-surprisingly like the “reach across the aisle rhetoric of the left.”  No one ever reaches over to the right do they?

So we are at an impasse.  The NHGOP and the GOP have a platform.  A menu of social and political dishes, advertised outside the door.   But they are selling something else inside.  In the free marketplace of ideas, people who hunger for limited government, local control, and personal responsibility, will find someplace else for their ideological custom, and they will take their money and their votes with them.

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