In this election season, one thing becomes more evident every day. If you value human life, you have no choice but to vote for Donald Trump.
“How can you say that,” you shout. “How can anyone claim that only one man or one party stands for human life and the dignity of the human being?
There is a one-word answer: Abortion.
Oh, I can hear the chorus of malcontents. “You conservatives are so myopic. You need to move beyond your fixation on this single issue. Yes, abortion is often a difficult decision, and the fewer, the better, but what about the millions of people who will suffer at the hands of climate change, global warming, cultural appropriation, economic inequality, and social injustice?”
If you’re among these critics, let me ask a couple of questions. Sometimes this is a more effective way of resolving deep-seated differences than dozens of well-worn arguments.
The way you present your objection seems to presuppose certain things are unjust and wrong. On what basis do you make this claim? Isn’t it because you assume human life has value? If this is the case, then aren’t you admitting that the definition of “humanness” is an objective reality that should never be compromised by someone else’s “unjust” choice?
You see, this is a matter of ontology and epistemology as much as anything. Does human life exist, and if so, how do we “know” it, and how do we define it? If we believe in the objective reality and value of the human being, then we must never presume to wrestle its “definition” away from God and unto ourselves.
Consider the trajectory of your thinking. If you can define the beginning and end of an infant’s life, then why can’t you do, likewise, with all others? If a child isn’t human 30 seconds before it exits the birth canal, then why do you care about it suffering the injustice of climate change 30 seconds, or even 30 years after? If it wasn’t a human being before, what, all of a sudden, changed and made it human now?
Can’t you see where the momentum of your ideas takes you? If you implicitly diminish the value of human beings through one means such as abortion, you at the same time minimize the very standards you use to condemn human injustices perpetrated by other means, such as economic inequality or global warming. You are sawing off the branch upon which you must sit to make your case in the first place.
You say you agree that terminating a pregnancy is a complicated issue and that “the fewer abortions, the better.” Good. But in doing so, aren’t you at least, by inference, admitting that the victims of abortion were human in the first place? If so, then your entire argument of “choice” must now be abandoned as vacuous because at no time in the legal or ethical history of humanity has one person’s choice ever been rightly elevated above another person’s right to live!
Before I close, I do have to ask a final question about your concern for “social justice.” Have you ever considered that those of us on the right might actually treasure justice as much as all of you on the left? In other words, is it possible this is not a matter of debating values as much as it is a debate about methods or how we can best achieve our shared goals?
Shocking as it may sound to you, conservatives might cherish justice as much as our liberal brothers and sisters. We just might have a different perspective on how to obtain it.
Now a personal note: I was once much more “progressive” than I appear to be now. I was pro-choice, and I used to be a leading voice for the “you can’t legislate morality” crowd. But I don’t hold that position anymore, for several reasons.
First and foremost, I have concluded that it doesn’t make any sense. I mean this literally. There is no sense, no logic, no intellectual integrity, or moral consistency in this argument. Legislation, if it is nothing else, is always based on morality. Otherwise, there is nothing to legislate, and the entire process becomes meaningless.
William Wilberforce, John Wesley and a host of others recognized this. At times these great leaders were indeed dangerously close to being “single-issue voters.” Wesley famously declared, “you must be singular or be damned!” And Wilberforce, in like manner, spent decades with near tunnel vision arguing to abolish the British slave trade. Both of these men agreed that the definition of personhood was not theirs to make but was, rather, only God’s to give.
Oh, and by the way, Wilberforce also felt it was his responsibility to vote for the “restoration of manners.” In the vernacular of his day, this was a clear call to return to the morality and civility that only comes from honoring all human life and all human beings as having value and dignity regardless of age, ability, convenience, or political disagreement.
Maybe, “single-issue voting” isn’t that bad after all.
• Everett Piper, former president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is a columnist for The Washington Times and author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery 2017).