An election is a beginning, not an ending

As I write this, Election Day is here. I’m preparing to spend the afternoon serving as an election volunteer along with some neighbors. First, I’ll vote.

And then what?

Do you know what you’ll be doing when the election is over, no matter who wins?

Among my personal crusades is to eliminate catastrophic thinking among pro-life voters. I’ve fallen prey to it now and then myself, and I know what a time-waster it is. Here’s what I mean: So-and-so has to win or it’ll be a disaster. Life as we know it will end if this-or-that candidate wins. There’s no turning back if these people get re-elected.

Sound familiar?

Yes, election results can be awful. Life as we know it can change. There’s no going back to yesterday. Accept all that, and then keep going: and then what?

Continue reading “An election is a beginning, not an ending”

Down-ballot: where the action is

Maybe you plan to vote by absentee ballot. Maybe you’re holding out for the big national election day on November 3. Either way, this one’s for you: pay attention to down-ballot races. Four hundred state representative seats and 24 Senate seats need to be filled. Don’t let anyone else make your choices for you.

I carry no brief for anyone at the top of a party’s ticket. I care deeply, though, about what our state legislature is going to look like. To that end, I offer some thoughts.

How to vote

There are two and only two authoritative sources for information on ballots and voting procedure: your town or city clerk, and the elections division of The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office.

That’s it. Never mind what else someone tells you on Facebook.

Absentee balloting is allowed for COVID concerns. The people who say “if you can go to the grocery store, you can show up to vote” are not the ones who made the law. If they have a problem, they can take it up with the Secretary of State.

Your town or city clerk has the most up-to-date information from the Secretary of State about all election law. The clerk will have a sample ballot, an absentee ballot application and the ballot itself, and information about hours and location for polling on Election Day.

If you have not voted yet, whether you’re planning to vote in person or absentee, the number one thing on your to-do list needs to be get a sample ballot. (Ask your town clerk, or download one from the Secretary of State’s website.) That’s the only way you’ll know who’s on the ballot for all those races below President and Governor.

Know the candidates

We’re getting down to the wire here. There’s not much time to meet your candidates if you don’t know them already. Make the effort, by looking up their information online if not by speaking to them directly. Social media pages and candidates’ own websites can provide useful information.

Are there pro-life candidates?

Some candidates will tell you they’re pro-life, which is always nice to hear, and they’d better be able to back it up. There are incumbent representatives and senators who have already put their beliefs on display.

For the 2019-20 session, state legislators voted on legislation to protect children who survive attempted abortion. (Majority vote: no.) They voted on abortion statistics and on removing the unenforceable buffer zone statute. (Majority vote: no.) They decided whether or not to support Governor Sununu’s veto of a measure to mandate abortion coverage in some health insurance policies. (Yes, because an override needed a two-thirds majority.)

Down-ballot races put each of those people in office.

Hold them accountable.

“All Democrats are alike,” you might sniff. Democrats for Life sees it differently. They found one Democrat to endorse in New Hampshire, Cam Iannalfo, running for state rep in Salem, Rockingham district 8.

“All Republicans are alike,” you might think hopefully. Get over it. Look up their votes.

These earlier posts contain links to the relevant votes.

Where your reps stand: votes 2019-20

Veto sustained on abortion insurance mandate

Primary election: September 8

Welcome to September of an even-numbered year – which means there’s a primary election coming in New Hampshire. On Tuesday, September 8, New Hampshire voters from both major parties will make the choices that we’ll see reflected on the general election ballot in November.

Don’t just rely on the clusters of signs at every intersection in town. Do some homework and head to the polls with a purpose.

What voters need to know

Your town or city clerk’s office will be able to point you to everything you need to know about the election: a sample ballot, where to vote, the hours the polls are open, absentee ballot procedure, same-day registration procedure. Even if your town hall has limited public hours due to COVID restrictions, you can learn a lot through a phone call or a visit to your town’s website.

The New Hampshire Secretary of State website is another good source for information. Look for the “elections” drop-down menu at Printable sample ballots for each town are available there, too, for Democrats and for Republicans.

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Proof that showing up matters

Postscript about the bill repealing New Hampshire’s death penalty: the Governor’s veto was overridden. The margin in the House: one vote. Margin in the Senate: one vote.

At some point, another life issue bill will come up in Concord. Maybe it’ll call for care for children who survive attempted abortion. Maybe it’ll be a stats bill. Maybe it will be something promoting or preventing assisted suicide.

Whenever such legislation comes up, remember: every vote matters. With 400 House members, a legislator – or a constituent, for that matter – might figure that one absence more or less won’t make a difference.

Wrong. Showing up matters.

Maybe we need to be reminded of that now and then.

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)