Monday, November 03, 2008

I didn't end up voting for McCain, but I did vote against Obama.

It is not always and everywhere immoral to vote for a candidate who supports evil policies, as long as we do so in spite of those policies, and if we honestly judge that the other goods he is likely to accomplish outweighs the evils he is likely to accomplish. The only way you can be sure you're not voting for someone you don't 100% agree with is never to vote, and that can be an opportunity for shirking your civic duty (even when abstaining on a particular Tuesday in November is the best apparent choice).

The first thing we have to do is remember that in weighing the hazards and consolations between two unpalatable candidates is that we shouldn't just be trying to rationalize a decision that we want to make but is still bad, the way we justify a sin we like. If you're misinformed, scared and confused, and are being pressured, it can mitigate some of the guilt of having an abortion, but it doesn't allow you to say things like "My abortion wasn't bad; it's a good [and] thing I didn't know what I was doing."

As for me, the reason I will not be voting Democrat at the higher levels of government for the forseeable future is that a big part of the DNC's platform is abortion. The reason I didn't vote Republican this time is that their counteroffer to "more abortion means less grief, and stop complaining about the grief" leaves something to be desired. The GOP has more of a tendency to talk a pretty good game and then make some small pro-life gesture. When Republicans controlled both the Executive and the Legislative, they could have done something more timely to end abortion, but for the most part what we've gotten is some individual candidates with hit-or-miss personal opinions and a few Supreme Court justices who haven't done a lot yet. I'm hopeful that the composition of SCOTUS will tilt in our favor around the time the nationwide opinion on the slaughter of innocents becomes a groundswell, but that won't be anywhere as soon as I'd really like.

Meanwhile, the current rate of abortion is around 3000 per day. I can think of few things--certainly not enough considered aggregately--that counterbalance a loss of innocent life on the scale of 9/11 every day. When people are talking about other social policies that Obama (or McCain, really, but one thing at a time) would promote, ask if whatever social welfare or entrepreneur-supporting program he wants to institute would be better than reducing the abortion rate, or better than not increasing it. If it's not clear, ask if it would be worth paying the price of having another 9/11 every day.

Most people who support him, nominally in spite of his pro-abortion attitude, claim that his work will ultimately end the need for abortion, and that will be better in the long run. That's laudable by itself, but I haven't been convinced that abortion was ever needed. If women think they should have an abortion, then we need to change their minds and hearts as well as the circumstances that lead them to that conclusion, but meanwhile children are dying by the thousands.

But let's say it's possible. Let's say abortion can be ended solely by eliminating the demand for it. It's a reasonable hypothesis--people will stop selling if nobody's buying. What's not reasonable, in my mind, is assuming that someone who would libertinize abortion and expand social services could drive abortion to obsolescence in four years. If not in four, then in eight.

In the one or two terms he would have the opportunity--we shouldn't count on candidates espousing "benign infanticide" indefinitely, because as the Democrats said in 1992 and 2008, sometimes a change is needed--would he at least be able to make enough progress that the abortion rate will be lower when he leaves than when he started?

I'm profoundly skeptical. The first thing Obama has said he wants to do is sign FOCA. That will make abortions cheap and easy to obtain, and will have the immediate effect of increasing the abortion rate. Maybe FOCA won't cross his desk immediately after his inauguration, but if the Democrats control Congress, it would be reasonable to expect it to be sooner rather than later, and it's easier to roll back restrictions on abortion than it is to root out the social ills that lead to it. Bottom line, abortion will increase before it decreases. In the time Obama will have, I doubt that he would be able to make enough of a change to make up the difference.

Let's say abortion, right after FOCA, goes up to its peak 1980s levels, around 5000 a day. Let's assume further that it's come down a thousand a day each decade since then because of better social programs, and that the Republicans aren't doing anything because they want that carrot to dangle in front of us. This assumption implies that the decrease in abortion rate, after the FOCA balloon, will continue more or less consistently as long as Obama and his philosophical peers keep doing what they're doing. At that rate, abortion would be obsolete by 2060. Without FOCA, abortion would drop at its current rate to zero around 2040. Let's note the ridiculousness of assuming that "abortion is a sacrament we shouldn't have to need to receive except when we want to" types will maintain power for another thirty or fifty years and move on.

Restarting at 5000 a day and decreasing at the same rate, by the time we got back down to current levels, an additional 33 million abortions will have taken place. Abortion would have to remain at today's rates, preserved by Republicans for political leverage against Democrats who ostensibly see it as a tragic necessity, for an additional thirty years to make up the difference.

Let's not play the "If the GOP didn't fight what led to abortion, we wouldn't have it" game. We're bound to have some candidates who are going to get elected or not based in part on other issues that people on both sides of the aisle are motivated by. Let's also not pretend that the status quo will only be maintained by the GOP. Pro-lifers are wising up, and whether Palin was a stunt or not, she was also the best sign of hope we've had in some time, that someday we might have someone who will really work to end abortion absolutely and abruptly, not just discourage it.

So ask yourself: Does Obama really have the political capital to change society in the limited time he will have? Do Obama and his successors?

I wouldn't plan that far ahead.

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