Obama 2.0: Where Do We Go From Here?
Whether it relates to a big game or a big election, I've heard of journalists roughing out dual versions of a story ahead of time–so they'll have one for each of the possible outcomes. Then when the results are in, they need only plug in a few details and go to press. Though electronic publishing mitigates some of the need for such time-saving tactics, it did come to mind yesterday as I thought about the pending election results. No, I didn't write competing versions of this week's blog post, but I did give some pre-outcome thought to how my remarks would be affected by either outcome.
What will I say if Mitt Romney wins?
What will I say if Barrack Obama wins?
By waiting, I only have to deal with the latter question, but truth be told, my basic message would have been the same either way. And here it is:
In the context of abortion, the results of yesterday's election mean very little.
Though it's tempting for abortion opponents to make all sorts of dire predictions about the next four years, this "sky is falling" mentality is both unhelpful and misleading. Yesterday was my fourth presidential election as a professional, pro-life advocate. I've seen a "pro-life" president elected (twice), and I've seen a "pro-choice" president elected (twice), much as we have for the last thirty years. It goes back and forth. You'd think we'd have figured it out by now. Turning the tide against abortion has almost nothing to do with electing a pro-life president. It hasn't worked in the past. Why should it work now?
If Mitt Romney had come out on top last night, I would have urged us to not read too much into his victory. This is a nation divided. That's true with Barrack Obama as president. It would have been just as true with Mitt Romney as president. He may have been able to squeeze through some pro-life legislation on the fringes, but what would prevent those minimal gains from being thrown out with the next administration, just as we've seen in the past? Until we fundamentally alter the way America thinks about abortion, public abortion policy will remain an ongoing power struggle marked by temporary, flip-flopping gains. There is no longterm security for any pro-life legislation until oppostion to abortion is embraced by a solid majority of Americans. Somehow, the abortion issue has become entrenched in partisan politics, and until we can remove it from such a narrow, polarizing construct, we'll never make any progress.
So long as opposition to abortion is a Republican position instead of a human rights position, it will be impossible to form the kind of broad consensus necessary to finally vanquish this monster. Just imagine if opposition to slavery was still a narrowly Republican position. Imagine if those in the Democratic party had never come to see the intrinsic injustice of slavery. If that were the case, slavery would still be in the same boat as abortion, and the rights of African-Americans would be in flux every four years.
There was a time when slavery was every bit as politically contentious as abortion. But eventually something changed, and changed in a profound way. There are still racists in America, but public racism is politically untenable. It doesn't matter who you are, it doesn't matter what else you've done, the abolitionist victory was so complete that nobody in either party is left to defend the "merits" of slavery or segregation. It's as settled as an issue can possibly be.
That's where we need to get with abortion. But it's a far more complicated road, and we're not going to get there by simply electing an anti-abortion president. It will require a cultural shift even more dramatic than the one in our past. Unlike slavery or segregation, there can be no advocates from within the victim class itself. There are no Dr. Martin Luther King's to carry the torch. Even those remarkable few who survived an abortion are no longer in the victim class. They can't speak as an abortion-vulnerable embryo or fetus. So it is up to the rest of us to plead their case.
To remove abortion from the confines of partisan politics requires a broad and relentless ground game–an ongoing, apolitical effort to show an entire populace who the unborn child is and what abortion does. But how do we do that? Without the cooperation of schools? Without the cooperation of the press? Without even the cooperation of most churches? What can I do to change the way America thinks about abortion? Almost ten years ago, I answered that question by deciding to put together a website that compiles the best evidence against abortion into a single, compelling website. It's called Abort73.com, and while I'm not suggesting that this is the only way to combat abortion, it is a good way.
So before you throw up your arms and count the herculean task before us as hopeless, give some thought to how you can provide those around you with a more holistic understanding of abortion. And if you have no idea how to do that, I've got a few suggestions. With enough people and enough perseverance, we may yet see the day when it is just as unimaginable for a candidate to publicly support abortion as it would be for a candidate to publicly support slavery.
Michael Spielman is the founder and director of Abort73.com. His book, Love the Least (A Lot), is available as a free download. Abort73 is part of Loxafamosity Ministries, a 501c3, Christian education corporation. If you have been helped by the information available at Abort73.com, please consider making a donation.