28 October 2008

Entre la peste et le cholera

Up until about, oh, two days ago, I was going to vote third party--not, as some fellow Republicans have claimed, because I am selfish or because I want to be "cool" (easy accusations to make, by the way, when one thinks McCain the best thing to happen since hot running water; others with moral qualms, however, understand the difficulty), but rather because my conscience was not altogether clear voting for a man with some troubling policy positions. On the one hand, you've got Obama, whom I wouldn't vote for even were I tied to a rack, made to wear crocs, and forcefed Whitecastle burgers while Enrique Iglesias played in the background; on the other hand, you've got a war hawk whose refusal to admit Iraq may have been a mistake is part of his overaching philosopohy that America's manifest destiny extends to being a benevolent global hegemon (by whatever means necessary, starting with the Middle East). And then in the middle, you've got the truly pro-life candidate, who does not support the killing of embryos for research, nor a hyper-interventionist foreign policy that results in the deaths of more Americans. As a purist, the choice would be easy as pecan pie. But as someone who also lives in the real world, I recognize that the real-life consequences of voting third party would mean placing a man in power who has promised to sign FOCA into law a.s.a.p.--and with the Democrats poised to win many more seats in the House and Senate, there would be little in the way of passage of that bill, "an alarming single piece of legislation that would nullify virtually every state and federal law that regulates or places limits on abortion."

Not only would abortion be elevated to a fundamental right, FOCA would nullify parental consent laws, waiting periods, bans on partial-birth abortion, and health regulations for abortion clinics, among other things. "Thus, under FOCA (as introduced and supported by Senator Obama and other pro-abortion members of Congress), a 12-year old girl could have a late-term abortion performed on her by an under-qualified non-physician without her parents’ knowledge. The parents would have no opportunity to speak with the abortion provider about their daughter’s medical history, and they would have no opportunity to make arrangements for her follow-up care."

This is why the argument that Obama's social policies would help reduce the number of abortions (made, for instance, by Kmiec et al) is laughable. (Professor Kmiec, by the way, whom I've met and hosted for a lecture at my old law school, has shown his true colors in a recent op-ed; on abortion, he writes:
Sometimes the law must simply leave space for the exercise of individual judgment, because our religious or scientific differences of opinion are for the moment too profound to be bridged collectively. When these differences are great and persistent, as they unfortunately have been on abortion, the common political ideal may consist only of that space.
I see. The mass murder of millions of innocents is now to be left to some vague, unbridgeable space, meaning, of course, the current pro-choice regime. If the issue were slavery, would he speak so passively?)

In any case, once the floodgates are opened, who knows if we can ever quell the flow? (Zmirak makes the point well here, by recalling the choice one had in February 1917 between the imperfect Tsar Nicholas II and the ghastly mob.) Those are the real-life consequences my conscience must take into account, even if I have to hold my nose at the ballot box.

That still won't keep me from griping about the party, though... Daniel Larison sums up some of its problems well:
Part of what has been wrong with the GOP is that its rank-and-file members take their political advice and insights from radio entertainers who seem to understand little about political reality and even less about policy, and who substitute bluster for understanding....The Limbaugh approach recommended to his audience (which hasn’t been 20 million-strong in years) is that Republicans and conservatives have made no mistakes and need to learn nothing, except that they were not hard-core and true-believing enough according to whatever caricature of conservatism Limbaugh claims to represent, which actually might not be so very conservative after all.
...
On the verge of one of the more impressive electoral defeats in the last thirty years, members of the Bush administration have the gall to threaten other people on the right with exclusion from the ever-shrinking numbers of the GOP for the crime of having come to the conclusion that Palin is not the answer to what ails the right. Even though she is an embodiment of exactly the sort of Republican self-congratulation that will not win elections, she has somehow become the symbol of the future. How you respond to Palin has become a litmus test to determine whether you are worthy and have a future on the right, which is another way of saying that the right won’t have much of a future if it makes Palin loyalty tests mandatory.
For the record, I've failed that test.
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