The much lesser of two evils

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On Evangelical Outpost, Joe Carter looks at seven votes in the U. S. House of special concern to social conservatives, then compares the voting records of the current Republican House committee chairmen with those who would replace them if the Democrats win a majority of seats in November. While not all the Republican chairmen have stellar records on this set of votes, all but two are over 50% (Jim Leach of Iowa and Howard Coble of N. C. only voted the right way on 3 of 7), and 8 of the 13 chairmen voted the right way on at least six of the seven votes. Meanwhile, most of their Democratic counterparts scored a big fat zero. (Three exceptions: One chairman voted the right way once, another voted the right way twice, and Ike Skelton of Missouri, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, who scored a 71.)

I've heard politically-active evangelicals around here say that "the lesser of two evils is still evil." Carter leads off with a quote from Thomas à Kempis book The Imitation of Christ: "Of two evils, the less is always to be chosen." To choose otherwise is to let the greater evil prevail. Refusing to choose, waiting instead for some ideal to fall from the heavens, is to make a choice for the greater evil.

Overall, under Republican leadership in the House, the desired result for social conservatives was attained in five of these seven measures. (A sixth, regarding embryonic stem cell research, was stopped by President Bush's veto.) Looking at the scores of these current and potential committee chairmen, I have no doubt that under Democratic leadership, legislation that protects the sanctity of human life and the traditional definition of marriage would never make it out of committee.

We've seen exactly that situation here in Oklahoma, where, despite a professed pro-life majority in both houses, a Democratic Senate committee chairman, supported by the Democratic Senate majority leadership, blocked pro-life bills from being debated on the Senate floor. The lead story October 2006 issue of the Oklahomans for Life newsletter (PDF) tells how this year's landmark pro-life legislation nearly didn't make it to the Governor's desk:

Senate Democrats were determined to prevent any pro-life legislation from being enacted this year. Senate Democrats facilitated the killing of seven (7) prolife bills that had passed the House this session. The bills were killed by a Democrat committee chairman, serving at the pleasure of the Democrat Senate Leader, who, in turn, serves at the pleasure of the Senate’s Democrat members.

When the Republican House of Representatives reinserted five of those bills in another piece of legislation which had already passed the Senate (and, therefore, did not have to go through committee in the Senate again), the Senate Democrats resisted as forcefully and as long as they possibly could. They were fully prepared to ignore the rules of the Senate by refusing to allow the Republican author of SB 1742 to present the bill for a Senate vote.

The Democrat Leader of the Senate told the bill’s author as late as May 17, the day before the bill ultimately passed, that the bill would not be granted a vote on the Senate floor. It was only when Republicans made it clear that they would attempt to force the issue through a procedural
motion (which would have been voted on in public) that the Democrats relented and agreed to let the vote occur.

With great reluctance, the Democrat Leadership of the Senate allowed the bill to be voted on when the political pressure had built to such an extent that they could no longer contain it.

Once the bill was allowed to come to a vote, SB 1742 passed the Oklahoma Senate 38-8.

At the state level and at the federal level, which party will have control of the chamber is as important as which individual will represent your district.

Here's the conclusion Joe Carter draws:

Social conservatives have reason to be disappointed in the Republicans in Congress. As these scores indicate, though, we will be even more disappointed should the Democrats gain majority control. The GOP doesn't deserve to win; but if the Democrats regain power, it will be society that loses.

RELATED: Paul Weyrich points to the Bush Administration's solid record on judicial appointments and says you can expect strict-constructionist nominees like Samuel Alito never to get a hearing in a Democrat-controlled Senate. "I understand, and am sympathetic to, the reasons not to retain the current crowd in office. But there are two very big reasons why they should be re-elected. If they do not improve their performance in the 110th Congress, recruit primary candidates and replace them."

AND THIS: Are social conservative voters budding theocrats? Bill Rusher hits the nail on the head:

What has happened is that, in the past thirty years, a large number of Americans whose deepest beliefs and concerns are not political but religious have concluded that they have no choice but to gird themselves for participation in the nation's political wars. There are quite enough such people to influence the election returns, and they have been doing so.

But -- and this distinction is crucial -- their posture is essentially defensive. They are not seeking to turn America into a theocracy. They are simply trying to preserve, and where necessary restore, the politico-religious balance that has been traditional in this country. It is the intellectuals, with the critical support of the courts, and above all the Supreme Court, that have successfully eroded that balance, seeking to marginalize religion and convert the entire civic framework of the nation into a purely secular arena, on the pretense that this is required by the First Amendment's supposed erection of a high "wall" between church and state.

Those who imagine that it is religion's defenders who are the aggressors here are simply not paying attention to the increasingly sharp attacks on religious faith that can be found today in such influential places as The New York Times.

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4 Comments

W. Author Profile Page said:

The so-called "pro-life" Republican Party signed off on a war against a country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, yet it has caused the deaths of 600,000 Iraqis and 2,900 Americans.

So when does the Republican Party get evil enough for you to abandon it?

MichaelBates said:

I'm not sure where you get your numbers for Iraqi deaths. I've seen an estimate of 50,000 Iraqi civilians killed as a result of military action. In World War II, 1.8 million German civilians were killed in the process of defeating Hitler. Any is too many, but unavoidable in war.

Not that it will do any good, but I'll remind you that Democrats in Congress voted to authorize military action against Saddam Hussein, and there was a bipartisan consensus, predating Bush's election and 9/11, that Saddam posed a threat to the region and the world.

The purpose of action against Saddam Hussein was to eliminate him as a threat in the region and throughout the world, to eliminate him as a source for the proliferation of WMDs and the financial support of terrorism, to restore Iraq as the relatively liberal Arab state it once was, as a pattern for the region, and to gain a strategic foothold in the region to deal with threats from Iran and other terror-sponsoring states. You can criticize it as a misguided policy, you can criticize the administration for being half-hearted in execution (although wholeheartedness probably would have meant more civilian casualties), but the intention behind the war was not and is not evil.

Here's evil: "Pro-choice" politicians, overwhelmingly Democrats since 1980 when the Republican Party officially embraced the pro-life cause, have aided and abetted the deaths of more than 40 million innocent unborn children in America since Roe v. Wade. Democrats in the Senate have blocked judicial nominations for fear that a nominee would rule according to the text of the Constitution, reverse Roe and allow the states once again to legislate on the matter. Democrats in Congress and in state capitols across the country have blocked even mild restrictions on abortion, informed consent laws, and parental notification laws, despite widespread popular support for these measures. They have tried to compel federal funding for abortion.

While there are many registered voters and even elected officials who are pro-life and Democrat, I am not aware of a single Democratic legislative caucus or party organization that takes a pro-life position in its platform or legislative agenda or would tolerate pro-lifers in positions of leadership. The Democratic Party has been the party of abortion at least since 1984, when Jesse Jackson felt compelled to abandon his vocal pro-life views in order to raise money and run for president. Of the eight candidates appearing at a 1984 New Hampshire primary debate, only one, also-ran Reuben Askew, former Florida governor, was pro-life.

W. Author Profile Page said:

The figure of 600,000 deaths came from The Lancet, a medical journal. No credible rebuttal has occurred since the study has been released.

Here's a report about it:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116052896787288831.html?emailf=yes

Just because the Democrats voted for the war doesn't mean I let them off the hook, either. But it's been well-established at this point that many lawmakers were misled by fudged intelligence. Plenty of your fellow Republicans, including Kay Bailey Hutchison, wouldn't vote for war had they known what would have occurred.

Saddam was not a threat, and containment had worked well for 10 years. Also, Saddam was not a source of WMDs.

It was not just bad policy, but a disastrous one. Iraq is descending into anarchy, the country is turning from a secular nation into a hard-line Islamic republic, the Middle East is more unstable, the number of terrorist attacks across the world has increased. It's one of the most disastrous policies in American history.

You and I can argue about the merits (or lack of) of abortion until you're blue in the face. I personally do not support abortion, but I'm not going to be the one making the decision for someone else. That's Big Brother policy. So much for Republicans not wanting big government and staying out of people's lives.

But here's the deal. I did not support the Iraqi war, because the case wasn't strong enough to wage it, nor was there a 9/11 link to Iraq.

You supported the war in Iraq. Because of that, you now hold some responsibility for it. I could argue that you have the blood of thousands of people on your hands. Are suddenly the lives of fetuses more important to you than the lives of living, breathing civilians? Are you now espousing the situational ethics that you so despise?

Either way, I have a clear conscience. Do you?

Yes, my conscience is clear. Action against Saddam Hussein was justified, and it was right for us to stay engaged in Iraq and to try to help establish a stable and free civil order, rather than withdrawing as soon as Saddam had been deposed.

The lives of fetuses are the lives of living humans (admittedly, they aren't breathing yet). You support legal abortion and presumably vote for candidates who carry out that agenda. I could argue that you have the blood of millions of people on your hands.

For what it's worth, that Johns Hopkins survey, which used cluster sampling to come up with that number, has a serious methodological flaw -- using too few cluster points for its sample, only 47 for the whole country. A cluster-sampled survey by the UN Development Program used 2200 cluster points, with 10 samples at each point, providing a more random distribution of samples around the country, and they came up with a number considerably lower than a contemporaneous, earlier Johns Hopkins survey using 33 cluster points.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 26, 2006 6:20 PM.

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