“If you take abortion off the table then a lot of these other issues get oxygen they aren’t getting now, such as the environment and social justice and racial reconciliation, all of which Evangelicals care about…”
—- Richard Land, former Southern Baptist president, in a recent Time magazine article
A close friend of mine recently got married to a wonderful woman. So perhaps it was participating in his wedding that got me thinking, or perhaps it was just a bad slice of pizza, but I recently started wondering about why abortion has been the deciding factor in so many votes that I have cast. I was never fond of Bush (or his dad), yet I voted for him twice. I also voted Republican in the 1996 election. Why did I vote 3 times for candidates that I did not like. Why did I cast ballots for 2 men that I wished were not on the ballot. The answer is simple. I gave in to the pressures of evangelicalism which stated that simply having a Republican candidate was better because then the pro-life position would be enhanced. This one issue among many more issues dominated the vote. The other night while sitting in the laundrymat pondering this issue among others (like how long the little kid beside had to scream at the top of his lings before his mom would actually tell him to pipe down and behave), I reached a understanding of sorts. Let me describe this eureka moment in terms of a story:Imagine you are a husband and father that has just learned that his wife has been cheating on him (OK so the cheap trashy talk show on the screen may also have influenced me). What do you do? Imagine also that you have several children with this women who is, despite fidelity issues, a considerably superb mom. So you do the moral calculus in your head and weigh the welfare of your children against that of your marriage. You come to the conclusion that in the long run your moral vows to this women paired to the advantage to your children’s psyche outweigh any problems that need to be addressed with your spouse. Over time you and your spouse try to do better, open up the communication barriers, and are living if not an entirely fulfilling life, at least, one to is better for all involved. Then one day you wake up and realize that your wife is still sleeping around on you, and what is worse she no longer seems to care about the children. What do you so now? When the rug has been completely pulled out from under you, how do you get back up?
Maybe this is a reach, but I feel as if this is my relationship with the Republican party. Sure we were never in lock-step with many of the issues that I cared about (war, immigration, social justice to name a few). Sure I winced every time they talked about issues other than so the so-called “values votes.” Sure they had a myriad faults, but they were good with the pro-life platform and other “values” issues such as stem cell research. They cared about the religious side of my person, and seemed to understand the importance of the scripture and its rightful place in public life. Yet here I am waking up one morning, looking at the list of nominees for the 2008 election and having that dreadfully awful moment like the husband of my story. Here are your front-runners: a “moderate” northeasterner who seems morally ambigious at best, a flamboyantly absurd little man who stands against every issue that has kept me loyal, and a straight shooter that seems hell-bent on self destruction and has never really valued “my kind” of Republican anyway. And for those keeping score at home, don’t count on the actor saving the day. I lived in a state in which he was senator and I cannot remember anything he did for any of “my issues.” In short the Republican party which has always cheated me in the past (and is continuing to cheat on me now) just advised me that my kids don’t matter either.
In the meantime, the “bad guys” with whom I have always considered myself more closely akin (although never enough to vote for) are putting up candidates that at least seem to want to get me. One is still a nightmare, but the other 2 actually care about many of the same issues which I have always cared, and while considering themselves “pro-choice” are openly stating that you are willing to find some middle ground on the abortion debate (legal but rare). So what is a boy to do? Stay tuned to find out. Or tell me what you think…..