… but not quietly.
A few weeks back, Parade magazine, which comes packaged in my Sunday paper, had a nice, sympathetic piece on Congressman Bart Stupak deciding not to run for re-election this year. It was quaintly titled, “Mr. Smith Flees Washington.”
Huh. Now, it’s been quite some time since I saw Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, but I seem to remember something rather significant, plot-wise, about Mr. Smith actually trying to keep his ideals while in Washington, in spite of heavy pressure from the older, *wiser* Congressmen who rolled their eyes and advised him to do backroom deals like everyone else. Mr. Smith refused to back down and was criticized heavily. When he continued to be obstinate about his ideals, he fought on alone to block a bill he thought wrong, while trying to let people back home know what was really going on in Congress.
Aside from the “criticized heavily” part, I don’t really see the connection with Mr. Stupak.
Bart Stupak, considered a leader of the pro-life Democrats, fought the Obamacare bill originally, on the grounds that it would allow federal funding of abortion. He offered an amendment to specifically prohibit tax money funding abortion in any way. However, after some backroom politicking, arm twisting, and a fat piece of pork for his constituents, Stupak caved in. He insisted that President Obama’s promise to sign an executive order was good enough for him to trust that the bill wouldn’t fund abortions. Stupak and most of the “pro-life” Democrats smiled for the cameras and voted for the bill. They then proceeded to call the non-believing pro-lifers nasty names.
Pro-lifers were stunned.
For years, many pro-lifers have defended pro-life Democrats, insisting that they were the ones with the best chance of ever even hoping to change the Democrats away from their pro-abortion stance.
Others of us seriously doubted if such a pro-abortion party, with such strong ties to both Planned Parenthood and the environmentalist movement, could ever be rescued and turned into a pro-child party ever again. Frankly, it seemed like the pro-life Democrats weren’t so much influencing the Democratic party as being used as human shields to cover up the depth of the pro-abortion push within the party.
And then Bart Stupak proved the doubters right: there really is (almost) no such thing as a pro-life Democrat. Maybe one or two, but certainly not an organized caucus of truly, firmly, pro-life Democrats. After the performances of Stupak and the others who caved in for a not-very-binding executive order, I doubt anyone will believe any Democrat really means it when he insists he’s pro-life. Since Stupak won re-election, in part, because he could wave his pro-life credentials and voting record, it really wouldn’t make sense to bother to run this time: now, everyone knows exactly how far that alleged conviction does, or does not, go, and nothing he could say on the campaign trail would make any serious pro-lifer vote for him again.
In the Parade article, Stupak bemoaned the “loss of civility” in Washington. One of his colleagues even shouted, “Baby killer!” at him during a speech.
If that colleague had worked with Stupak on pro-life issues, had defended him to other pro-life colleagues who looked askance at all Democrats, had believed that Stupak really cared and would stand firm… well, I have to say, I can’t blame him.
I would’ve probably said, “Traitor!” but quibbling over the exact wording of the disgust, disappointment, and deep sense of betrayal is just splitting hairs.
I am reminded of something that struck me from listening to Prof. Joseph Pearce talking about Shakespeare recently (I stocked up on CD’s at the homeschooling conference last fall). Prof. Pearce lamented that his birth country (Britain) no longer has the Ten Commandments, but only one: Thou shalt not be impolite.
Publicly calling Stupak to task for his betrayal was certainly impolite, and Stupak and others are *shocked* and rather noisily offended.
However, in the sense that we have to call all sinners to repentance (and that usually has to start with pointing out to them that, their personal guess aside, yes, their behavior was sinful), I would have to say that yelling the accusation was probably charitable.
The pre-Roe v. Wade laws that banned abortion in almost all states were partly the result of the early feminsts’ campaigns. The broke many laws of civility: they called it “child murder”, they called it “abortion”, they spoke and wrote about things that proper women weren’t really supposed to be talking about at all, much less publicly. And they pointed fingers at the guilty parties: the mother who was talked into it, even more so the father who encouraged or insisted on it and paid for it, and the doctors who profited by breaking their oaths to do it.
The pro-life feminists were not always civil. They were not polite, as their society defined the word.
But they succeeded because they were, ultimately, charitable, in that they called evil by its proper name and made no excuses for it.
To modify the saying, the only thing necessary for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing… or only do “polite” things.
(Which leads into the new study of why young people are leaving religion in record numbers, but more on that the next time I get my act together and blog.)