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Conservatives' Perennial Mistake

Why They Will Always Lose—And Ought To

Ayn Rand once wrote: "In any conflict between two men (or two groups) who hold the same basic principles, it is the more consistent one who wins." In fact, however, even when two groups hold opposite principles, it is the more consistent that will win, because the inconsistent have surrendered some principles to the other side.

The reason why the "liberal" left will always win, ultimately (this does not mean every election, only the ultimate direction of politics and policy) is because they are consistent (in their principles, not rhetoric), and the "conservative" right is always inconsistent, compromising their principles to gain what they think is "political advantage" or "practical necessity." There is no better example than the so-called "abortion issue."

The abortion issue is not about principles, it is entirely political and emotional.

From the site of Rand Paul

I am 100% pro life. I believe abortion is taking the life of an innocent human being.
I believe life begins at conception and it is the duty of our government to protect this life.
I will always vote for any and all legislation that would end abortion or lead us in the direction of ending abortion.
I believe in a Human Life Amendment and a Life at Conception Act as federal solutions to the abortion issue. I also believe that while we are working toward this goal, there are many other things we can accomplish in the near term.

It is unconscionable that government would facilitate the taking of innocent life. I strongly oppose any federal funding for abortion and will stop the flow of tax dollars to groups like Planned Parenthood, who perform or advocate abortions.

In addition, I believe we may be able to save millions of lives in the near future by allowing states to pass their own anti-abortion laws. If states were able to do so, I sincerely believe many ? including Kentucky ? would do so tomorrow, saving hundreds of thousands of lives.
Before 1973, abortion was illegal in most states. Since Roe v. Wade, over 50 million children have died in abortion procedures.

I would strongly support legislation restricting federal courts from hearing cases like Roe v. Wade. Such legislation would only require a majority vote, making it more likely to pass than a pro-life constitutional amendment.

I would support legislation, a Sanctity of Life Amendment, establishing the principle that life begins at conception. This legislation would define life at conception in law, as a scientific statement.

As your Senator, there are many ways I can help end abortion. I will fight for each and every one of them.

I am not directing this at Rand Paul, whom I rather appreciate. I am delighted he recognizes, "there are many ways I can help end abortion. I will fight for each and every one of them," so long as one of them does not include using government force, because that is a compromise of true conservative principles, if by conservative principles is meant, those embraced by the founding fathers (which, I'm afraid, all to often they are not).

Rand Paul just happens to be a good example of the side of the abortion "issue" embraced by most conservatives. If you agree with that side, you are going to find some of this, if not offensive, at least disagreeable, at first. If you read to the end, and are critically honest, you many not come to agree with the position presented here, but I think you will see it is not so offensive after all.

The Issue is Not Abortion, It's Politics

If the issue of "abortion" were a matter of principle, it would be presented in the clearest and least ambiguous language possible. But it almost never is. Consider some of what Mr. Paul has written on his site, such as, "I believe life begins at conception."

First, "life" does not begin at conception. To say so, is either gross ignorance, or very sloppy rhetoric. A sperm is alive. An egg is alive.

What happens at conception is a change in life, that might be the beginning of a new organism&mdah;or it might not. A fertilized egg is not viable until it is implanted. At conception it is only a potential, and at that point it cannot be known what it is a potential of. It cannot be said to be "a single new organism," because it could actually become something else, if, for example, it splits and becomes twins. At conception, nothing certain is begun at all.

But conservatives couch all their arguments in language meant to incite emotion, not to reach understanding through clear reason. For example, "It is unconscionable that government would facilitate the taking of innocent life."

Why the expression, "innocent life?" What is "innocent life?" Every animal that is killed for any reason is an "innocent life." Is Rand Paul opposed to eating meat? How can we eat meat without killing, "innocent life?"

It is just political rhetoric. What he means, we suppose, is the killing of, "human life." That view is an acceptable religious one, and I'll get back to that. The real issue is the matter of principles, which conservatives are completely willing to abandon for their pet political issues, which means, ones that will get them votes, which they promote entirely by means of appeal to feelings, not reason.

Most conservatives know that government has no business interfering in medicine and medical practices in any way. There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution that gives the Federal Government the power to regulate any aspect of medicine.

"But the government has the power prevent murder" doesn't it?

The Federal government? As far as I know, there is not one place in the constitution granting the federal government the power to make any laws regarding individual crime. Those powers are left entirely to the states and municipalities.

But, even if the federal government could make laws against things like murder, and theft, and assault, could those abridge other Constitutionally guaranteed rights (which the religious regard as God given)?

If you want to call abortion "murder," claiming that it takes a "human" life, then treat it like murder. But assume you are living in a free country, where the government does not intrude in and regulate the medical professions, nor abridge any other guaranteed rights, such as the right to be secure in one's person and papers, not subject to unreasonable search and seizure, and not required to testify against one's self, for example.

How would you ever know whether there were any abortions or not? You certainly could not require a murderer to report his murders to the government. Unless some busy-body disgruntled nurse reported an abortion, the government should never know about it, in a free society. Call it what you like, but whatever you call it, that does not automatically cancel real rights.

But of course, that is exactly the principle so-called conservatives willingly abandon. "We're against government health care, because government intrusion into the medical field is wrong" ah... unless it's required for something very important, like "murder." The problem with that is, there are other people making the very same arguments, only what they consider "very important" is "the welfare of older people who will die without medical care they cannot afford," or the same for the "poor," the "handicapped," the "indigent," for example. "If you let them die, isn't that the same as murder?" So where does the setting aside of principles end?

Once you abandon your principles, all the arguments become nothing but an argument about degrees. Once you've decided the government has a right to intrude into medicine or the private lives of its citizens, all the arguments will be reduced to how much oppression is "acceptable" to the majority. If that oppression is unacceptable to you, and you happen to be the oppressed, it won't matter, because you, as a good conservative, were willing to abandon principles for your pet issue, and you have no complaint now that somebody else's pet issue is being acted on, and you happen to be the victim.

But It's Not Murder

What, exactly, is the Constitutional guarantee of a "right to life?" What is true of all rights, including the right to life is, that they only pertain to doing something, NEVER to receiving something or having something done for you. No right is a guarantee that what you have a right to do, you will do, or that you will be successful in doing it.

You have a right to pursue happiness, but that is not a guarantee you will pursue it, or, that if you do, you will be happy. A right to pursue happiness is not a right to have happiness, or a claim on anyone else to provide it. A right to life is the right to do whatever is necessary to live, it is not a right to have anyone else provide you with what your life requires. That kind of right is the equivalent of the right to enslave, the right to enslave anyone forced to provide you with what you will not or cannot provide yourself.

Murder is wrong because it deprives another of the "right" to pursue their life, by one's own effort, because it interferes in that effort by ending it. Refusing to be another person's slave is not "depriving them" of any rights. No one has a right to any part of anyone else's life.

The right to life is only a right to do what one chooses to do and is capable of doing. It is not some kind of guarantee one will do it, or be able to, and it certainly is not a right to force someone else to do it for them. There can be no such right.

A fetus cannot live outside the mother's womb. If the fetus is a human being, its constitutional right to life can only mean, it has a right to choose to do whatever it must do to live, and do it. It is not a guarantee it can or will do it (and of course it cannot). A Constitutional right to life does not grant anyone a claim to any part of anyone else's life. The Constitution does not and cannot morally define a right to enslave.

I personally think it is wrong to call an organism incapable of supporting its own life a human being. Just because that organism has cells with human genetic material, does not make it a human being. An amputated arm or leg (or any other organ removed in an operation) has the same. "But those are only parts of a human being." Yes, but a fetus in that case, especially before the full development of all the organs is only, "part of a human being," as well. "But all those organs will develop." They will, if everything goes well, but that is never absolutely certain. What is certain is that it is still only part of a human being which has the potential to become a complete one.

A potential is not an accomplishment. It is only a "might be," even if the "might be," is very likely. Whatever your views on abortion itself, no government, certainly not one based on individual liberty and every individual's protected rights has any business regulating in any way that which is only a potential, or basing any of its policies on what, "might be," especially if such regulations or policies result in using force against already-born individuals.

Why The Government?

Christians may not like this, but truth is not concerned with what people like. I'm addressing this to Christians, here, because they are, for the most part, the ones who clamor loudest to make abortion a political issue.

I do not mean this to be offensive in any way, but it is necessary, because the question is one Christians refuse to consider. Could not your God prevent abortions? If the number of abortions in this country really are the horror you believe them to be, why does not God prevent them? Please do not tell me He has given man free will and God's intervention would cancel that free will. You are not campaigning for individuals to use their free will to make the right choice concerning abortion. (That, anyone could applaud.) You are campaigning for the government to use force to prevent people using their God-given free will to make choices you do not like. You say it would be wrong for God to interfere to prevent abortion, but it's perfectly alright for a human government to use force to prevent them. This is so big a contradiction, any child could understand it.

Essentially what Christians are doing is clamoring for the government to do what their God will not, and it looks for all the world like your real concerns are temporal, worldly, and more with the kingdoms of this world than the kingdom of heaven.

Since when are people made better by force? Since when are Christians supposed to use the government to get other people to behave in a way they would like? Wouldn't it, in your terms, be more effective to get people converted and given a new heart?

Here is a question. If Christians are not supposed to go to the law, that is, not supposed to use human government to settle disputes between themselves (I Cor. 6:1), why should they use that same government to force those who are not even Christians to behave in a way they would like? I will tell you why. Because Christians do not believe their God can really do anything. The government has replaced God in the hearts and minds of Christians. Everyone else can see it, except the Christians.

Hypocrites and Hype

If something is wrong to do, it may not be a simple matter to explain, but that is what must be done in a civil society of rational men. Whether from laziness or ignorance, to substitute rational discourse with emotional propaganda is truly, "unconscionable." But that is exactly what those who are trying to force abortion down the throats of the American people, as a political issue, are doing.

Such propaganda is tantamount to a lie. It is an attempt to sway people, by appeal to their feelings, to take a side in an issue that reason alone might or might not be able to convince them to take. That is plainly dishonest. Quite frankly, if I were not already certain about my views on abortion, the tactics of the conservatives would convince me there must be something very wrong with what they are promoting, if those are the methods they must use to do it.

Here is an example: "Since Roe v. Wade, over 50 million children have died in abortion procedures." Should this not have been followed by, "in Ramah was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." Do you know what that is in reference to? It refers to Herod's slaughter of all the Children in Bethlehem under the age of 2 years—already born. (Mat. 2:16-18).

There is everything wrong about this. It is totally dishonest. What does the word "children" evoke in one's mind. Isn't it everything from babies to young boys and girls playing, going to school, and doing all those delightful, and some not so delightful, things children do that we all love and enjoy seeing, especially when they are our own. Was it 50 million of them, of children born and being enjoyed by their parents, that "died in abortion procedures?" Of course it wasn't but that's the intended impression, else the correct word, fetuses, would have been used. But the correct word would not have produced the emotional affect "children" does.

The other lie is that America has been deprived of 50 million children. No one can know that, and it is not an issue at all, and every honest person knows that. Is it really just children, any children at all, that are a "blessing?" It is odd, that most of the same conservatives pressing the abortion issue are also vehemently opposed to the influx of illegal aliens into this country. Someone needs to explain to them, that many, maybe most, of these illegal aliens come to this country just to have their babies here (2.7 million in 2003, 4 million in 2008). If these conservatives have their way about illegal aliens, it may deprive America of more than 50 million children, already-born children we could actually go out and count. The lie these politician are trying to put over, that they are concerned America has been deprived of any children, is obvious.

The Real Issue

You may have noticed I have not dealt with abortion itself. My entire concern in this article is with abortion "as a political issue." I will presently discuss abortion itself, but want to point out in the clearest terms I can why abortion must not be a political issue.

Those who oppose abortion, politically, like Rand Paul, "... strongly oppose any federal funding for abortion and will stop the flow of tax dollars to groups like Planned Parenthood, who perform or advocate abortions."

So long as it is accepted that government has the legitimate power to make laws and policy of any kind with regard to the field of medicine, there can be no argument, on principle, against government funding of any medical practice or program. Those who want government power to be used to prevent abortion are on the same side as those who believe government does have a legitimate power to intrude into medical issues, including funding abortions. So long as that "principle" is accepted, what medical procedures government will or will not support and finance is reduced to arguments about personal ideologies and preferences, not principles. [Please see my final note.]

Abortion and History

A hundred years ago, abortion, as a medical procedure akin to many other kinds of minor operations, was unknown. Only 6O years ago, even if such procedures were possible, their use would have been rare, because the general view of most people in American society was very different. Abortion was seldom considered. When a woman was "going to have a baby" (the term 'pregnant' was correctly considered crude in those days—it still is), an abortion would never even have occur to her. The idea of having a baby was mostly a wonderful thing. A spontaneous abortion or miscarriage was considered, by most, a great loss and a tragedy. Most of those women were married, of course, but even for those women who became pregnant outside of marriage, if abortion was considered as an option at all, it was never an easy or satisfactory decision—almost always it was desperate and as a last resort.

It isn't that there were no abortions, or that there were not some women who could carelessly and callously rid themselves of what they considered an imposition and burden, but they were the exception, and they were not regarded as typical of the kind of people of which American society was comprised—because they weren't.

I have to say something here that will appall today's conservatives. If, in those days, there had been no abortion laws, there would have been no more abortions than there were, but those there were might not have killed or maimed quite so many poor mistaken women. The reason there were so few abortions in those days is because they were not wanted.

The real difference between the society of those days and the society of today is not because of the laws of those days (there were in fact much fewer of them, and people were free to do then, many things that today are considered "crimes"), but the kind of people that made up American society.

I have described the society of those days in a much earlier article, "Characteristics of Civilized People," which I hope you will read, though you will probably neither believe or understand it, if you were born after 1960. Here I want to say something about those days that I did not mention there, and that is about families and religion.

In the previous article I described society in terms of five words which are rarely used today: courtesy, decency, respect, reverence, and dignity, because they are descriptive of those people. Those characteristics were common, but not accidentally—they were consciously and intentionally taught, not in public schools (where they were mostly assumed), but by people's religions and by their families in their homes.

Most people were born and brought up in two parent families, and in many cases there would be three or more generations living in the same home or building, or at least nearby. The importance of "family" was not an issue in those days, it was simply taken for granted as the perfectly natural and normal way for people to live, develop, and enjoy their lives. How else would one live?

It was a very romantic age, both in the classical sense—a spirit of unmitigated optimism and adventure—but also in that pulp literature "true romance" sense as well. Finding that women or man of one's dreams, "falling in love," marrying and making a life and family together was a fulfillment of romance in both its meanings.

The values that made that romance both desirable and possible were the values one learned from their religion. The dominant religions in those days were Christianity (in all its flavors), followed by the Jewish religion. The values taught by both were similar—and mostly they were the values that, broadly speaking, are those that dominate any truly civilized society.

It was those values that made abortion so rare. A child, to those with such values, was a treasure, a "gift of God," a source of purpose and meaning, a part of one's own future, even that future itself. A child was the opportunity to love and nourish the most important thing in the world, an individual human being, to be trained and developed into the best human being possible. A child was an adventure—what greater adventure could there be than to watch and be part of the growth and development of another human being. Why would anyone deprive themselves of that treasure?

What Have We Lost?

If American society was comprised today of the kind of people that dominated that society in the 40s and 50s, no one could make a political issue out of abortion. Abortion is a terrible thing, perhaps most terrible because of what a woman's view of herself, as a woman, must be, if she can even consider destroying that which is the realization of her most distinctive ability as a human being, the ability to create and nourish another human life. That is not a mere physical attribute because it takes all of what one is, mentally and physically, to do it right.

In this country, the meaning of, "what is mine" is well understood. It is used about all that we have earned and produced by our own effort, and we usually call it "property." Nothing is more uniquely, "mine," however, than, "my child," because it is the product of "all I am—my love, my life, my body." I am a man, but I am writing, obviously, from a woman's perspective, because while this is also true for men, as well, it is more poignantly and obviously true for a woman.

This was the view of most men and women in the 40s and 50s. It was not the law that was the source of that view, nor was it the demands of their religions, it was their own sense of who and what they were. They understood what was really important in life, they knew the difference between the short term and the long term, and they knew what really made one's life happy and what was really worth living for.

It is that radiant view of life and all its possibilities that is lost today. Most people today live solely for the latest 'excitement," entertainment, or "escape," from what they see, but will not admit, is a life of meaningless jumping from one empty pleasure to another. That sense of purpose and meaning that required planning, work, and patience to secure future values has been exchanged for a view of life that has nothing in it but what can be enjoyed right now, and whatever the consequences of that life are, well, it is up to someone else, the government, the doctors, or the police to take care of.

It Will Not Work

I said earlier that it was not laws, or even religion, that was the reason abortions were rare, when they were, but the kind of people society was comprised of. Abortions are common today, because America's society is no longer dominated by those kinds of people.

Attempting to eliminate abortion by means of laws will not work. This is not an argument against such laws, of course, because the opposite argument would then be legitimate. "A law ought to be implemented because it will work." Truth be known, almost no laws work when "work" means preventing some social activity to which some people are opposed.

Consider the laws regulating drug use. The United States has the largest, most expensive, most powerful agencies in the world dedicated to preventing the use of drugs. The cost of the DEA's operation extends far beyond the budgets, in terms of its affect on perfectly innocent individuals. Yet, all those laws, and all that force have not reduced the number of "drug users" by a single individual. All these laws have done is create a huge underworld of the lowest types which prosper only because of the absurd "war on drugs."

A huge, "war on abortion," will produce the same result. Not one less abortion will be performed even if it is outlawed, by the federal government, every state government, and every municipality in the nation. The only thing it will do is create a huge underworld abortion industry, as evil and dangerous as any such government created underworld always is.

Conservatives, of all people, and Christians as well, ought to understand that laws are not the way to solve social problems and the attempt to engineer society by means of laws is always disastrous.

The reason there is so much abortion today has nothing to do with law, it has to do entirely with the character of those who comprise American society. If you could pass a law that would somehow magically induce people to love and long for their children, I would be all for it. But no law can change people. No law will make people behave in the way you would like them to. It is insanity to think so.

The Real Motive

Why would abortion be a political issue? Why is "global warming" a political issue?

As the political rhetoric of those who want to use government force to make people behave the way they believe their constituency would like becomes more shrill and outrageous, it becomes more difficult to believe in their sincerity. For people like me, who find abortion an appalling practice, the politician's interference in the issue, and all their rhetoric is doing more harm than good.

It becomes harder and harder to believe Christian conservatives are truly concerned with the welfare of the unborn? What are their plans for those children they think their laws are going to save from abortion? When they do fail, which they are sure to, do they not believe their God knows that is going to happen? Doesn't their God have plans for those children that will be aborted? Do these conservatives think their plans for those children are better than their God's would be?

What will happen to those children who are born to women who do not want them and consider them a burden if their laws could prevent them from being aborted? Does it not bother them that such children are almost always terribly abused, undernourished, uncared for, sick, and suffering? Those that live, will almost surely become the very same kind of people that are the reason for so many abortions today?

So, what is their real motive for insisting abortion is a political issue, an issue that must be dealt with by government force? It is certainly not concern for the children that will be born. Isn't it exactly like those who push the environmental terror schemes, nothing but a means to gain political power? Isn't it all an attempt to work up the emotions of those who are on the side of decency, of those who hate abortion for what it is, to excite them with the words "murder" and "children" to be terrified of it?

Are you truly opposed to abortion, as I am? I know no laws can prevent it, and so long as more and more oppressive laws are enacted, people will feel more and more hopeless, and life will seem more and more pointless. Your laws will only increase that attitude, and such people are not going to embrace the kind of values required to hate all that abortion represents. For some, getting elected is much more important than principles, I'm afraid.

[Note: For those who still do not understand why the compromise of principles must never be allowed, the principle here may be stated this way: "The government has the power to decide the fate of fetuses." Either it does, or it doesn't. All the rhetoric in the world does not change the fact, this is the principle in question. If the government has the power to use force to prevent the abortion of fetuses, it has the power, if it chooses, to demand the abortion of fetuses (such as was done in China). This is the compromise, and the risk, the "conservatives" are willing to make in order to win elections, in spite of an obviously growing collectivist totalitarian government.]

—(02/11/10)