Dignity as a Litmus Test:
Why I’m a Single Issue Voter

General Bioethics — By on February 1, 2007 at 12:35 am

The primaries are still months away, yet conservative Congressman Jim Nussle of Iowa is already coming out in support of Rudy Giuliani. In a note to Rich Lowry at National Review, Nussle wrote:

”Perfect” has become the enemy of the “good”, and we saw that borne out during this past November’s elections. I am hopeful that our Party will avoid needless debates over a non-existent perfect candidate.
It is true that Mayor Giuliani and I don’t agree on every issue. My support for a person who doesn’t see eye to eye with me on all issues doesn’t mean that I am turning my back on those beliefs. But our country is at a crossroads and we cannot forsake progress for perfection.

In examining the letter, Rick Moore makes the connection that Nussle leaves unstated:

Nussle does make the argument that there will never be a “perfect” candidate, and I fear that too many conservatives have become such single-issue voters (abortion) that they will eagerly back a weaker candidate just because of his views on that one issue alone. In doing so, they not only risk helping elect a Democrat who’s not only pro-abortion, but pro-a lot of other stuff that conservatives find abhorrent.
Yes abortion is important, but the president really doesn’t have that much control over an issue that has been decided by the courts. President Bush is anti-abortion, but has abortion stopped because he’s president? No, and it probably won’t until there’s a change in the hearts of the people, and while the president may have some effect on that, in reality the president has little to no ability to change abortion in terms of its legal standing.

I am sympathetic to the pragmatism expressed both by Rep. Nussle and my friend Rick. In fact, I agree that the President has little or no control over the issue of abortion. Giuliani, if elected, might even appoint a judge that would help overturn Roe. Even so, I could not endorse him for Giuliani still fails on this key “litmus test.” Why would I hold him responsible for an issue that isn’t under his control? Because I am an unabashed single-issue voter — and that issue is justice.


The justice I’m referring to is that which recognizes human dignity as the foundational principle of freedom and human flourishing. Although the terms are not interchangeable, I believe that the term “sanctity of life”, as defined by philosopher David Gushee, could serve as the standard definition for human dignity within liberal democracies:

The concept of the sanctity of life is the belief that all human beings, at any and every stage of life, in any and every state of consciousness or self-awareness, of any and every race, color, ethnicity, level of intelligence, religion, language, gender, character, behavior, physical ability/disability, potential, class, social status, etc., of any and every particular quality of relationship to the viewing subject, are to be perceived as persons of equal and immeasurable worth and of inviolable dignity and therefore must be treated in a manner commensurate with this moral status.

Gushee notes that this is first and foremost a moral conviction that carries implications for how human beings are to be perceived and treated. This moral conviction is, I believe, a part of what Christians refer to as common grace and is therefore accessible by natural reason (even though it can be illuminated by supernatural revelation). While we may disagree on how these perceptions shape out moral obligations, I believe we can and should agree to accept this as a standard moral conviction and agree that the best way to recognize their dignity is by being just.
Because the State plays such a significant role in meting justice, we have a duty to elect politicians who have both a robust view of human dignity and the temerity to govern accordingly. Recognizing such characteristics in a politician is certainly an inexact science, which is why we often rely on heuristics like “litmus tests.” Such tests, of course, are not without problems. Indeed, when applied singularly, the tests may produce “false positives.” For example, a candidate may oppose abortion and embryo destructive research yet may fail to fully appreciate human dignity in later stages of development. Before we can consider her to be “solidly pro-life” we would need to know how she would treat children in poverty and our neighbors in the Sudan.
On the other hand, failing on a particular litmus test can signal that the candidate has an inadequate view of human dignity, and would therefore be less than just as a President. For instance, knowing that Giuliani favors partial-birth abortion can be a clue to how he would act on foreign policy issues. If he has no qualms with infanticide in America, why should I believe he cares about the plight of infants in Darfur?
As Nussle writes, the “’Perfect’ has become the enemy of the ‘good.’” Indeed this has often been all too true. Politics is the art of the possible, which sometimes requires the sacrifice of the ideal. But we must not compromise too easily or too willingly, lest we forget that the “good” can become the enemy of the “just.”



  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Excellent.
    Now if we can just accompany this principle with incrementalism, we may actually be able to actually accomplish some of our goals.

  • Rob Ryan

    I hope your attitude prevails among conservatives.

  • George

    I respect the single-issue position, especially on abortion. And I’m glad lots of people feel that way, because abortion is evil. It’s premeditated murder sanctioned by the state to support the lunatics that are willing to sacrifice babies because it’s an imposition to shop for mayonnaise at Costco.
    However, there’s a larger issue at stake here. The Constitution provides us with a set of rules. A pretty good set, actually, but like all else made by the hand of man, imperfect. However, if you don’t like the rules, it also provides a set of rules about how you change the rules.
    It’s the rules about how you change the rules that is inconvenient to the self-anointed (usually, but not always, of the left). Given the role and powers of the SCOTUS, one easy end run around the rules is to appoint Justices with Solomonic delusions. The COTUS can then be changed at the whim of the anointed.
    As the rules about changing the rules originally stood, any change of rules was impossible without a corresponding cultural and social assent. Now, we see the rules being changed in a way that tears the country apart politically. One would have thought that the stupidity of the Dred Scott case might have fostered some caution in such cases, but empirically it has not.
    I have no doubt that Guliani would appoint lawyers to the court that he respects. To find out the sort of lawyer he might respect, one need simply look at his record as a prosecutor.
    I like Guliani, and I respect his management of the WTC massacre, but I would never vote for him for President.

  • jd

    Mr. Joe Carter and George:
    I heard C Everett Koop speak about this issue a few years back. He and Francis Schaeffer were at the forefront of the prolife movement, so I think his credentials on this issue are impeccable. He said that shortly after Roe v. Wade, the tide of abortions in this country could easily have been turned if the prolife forces hadn’t been so insistent on making ALL abortions illegal. I don’t recall exactly which types of abortions he would have allowed, but I have little doubt that he meant that all abortions of convenience would have been stopped–which probably means about 99% of them.
    If the election of Guiliani meant that about 99% of abortions were stopped would you vote for him?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    On the other hand, failing on a particular litmus test can signal that the candidate has an inadequate view of human dignity, and would therefore be less than just as a President. For instance, knowing that Giuliani favors partial-birth abortion can be a clue to how he would act on foreign policy issues. If he has no qualms with infanticide in America, why should I believe he cares about the plight of infants in Darfur?
    Hmmmm, well the current President’s opposition to partial-birth abortion does not seem to have helped infants in Darfur all that much.
    I believe we can and should agree to accept this as a standard moral conviction and agree that the best way to recognize their dignity is by being just.
    Then before I look through the archives am I to expect to find that you opposed Bush both as the Republican nominee and as President for the last 6 years? Mr. Bush, after all, not only supports the IVF industry but has even given it great praise. Yet you know from the embryo stem cell debate that the IVF industry creates thousands of embryos that are flushed down the drain because they are ‘surplus’.

  • JohnW

    If your value of “dignity” includes opposition to torture of detainees, occupation of Iraq, and the so-called “war on terror”-I am on board. Otherwise, you guys are simply ingnoring the elephant in the room.

  • http://www.marinerfan.net pizzaman

    All other things being equal, I would vote for a pro life athiest before I would vote for a pro choice Christian.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    jd,
    I recall the “all” matter covering two things.
    The first was the problem of classifying that small percentage of life-saving terminations alongside the elective terminations.
    The second was the unwillingness to be incremental, to demand “all now”. While it is what we’d like, it is not practical. By trying to save “all now”, we effectively save none now, in stead of some now and more later. And that’s a really tough decision — is not being willing to save all now some sort of ethical compromise? I don’t think so, but many do.
    Enjoy. Go Badgers!
    Collin
    http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    I heard C Everett Koop speak about this issue a few years back. He and Francis Schaeffer were at the forefront of the prolife movement, so I think his credentials on this issue are impeccable. He said that shortly after Roe v. Wade, the tide of abortions in this country could easily have been turned if the prolife forces hadn’t been so insistent on making ALL abortions illegal.
    I’ve believe many abortions would have been avoided if pro-lifers had not taken the easy route of arguing the legal issue and becoming a pet of the Republican Party and instead concentrated on reducing actual abortions. This would have allowed them to made alliances with many in the left who would support many programs that addressed the reasons why women choose abortion. No it wouldn’t have eliminated 99% of them but then again pro-lifers have eliminated 0% of abortions for the last 30+ years.
    It also could have made a pro-life community that actually has good relations with women. Instead you have fools like this:
    It’s premeditated murder sanctioned by the state to support the lunatics that are willing to sacrifice babies because it’s an imposition to shop for mayonnaise at Costco.
    The reason the pro-life movement has very little credibility with women is the simple fact that too many of their members hold women in absolute contempt. Statements like the above communicate very clearly that pro-lifers consider women in difficult situations to be mostly trashy sluts who are just looking for an easy way out. That’s a nice way of patting yourself on the back, telling yourself that you’re a better person and the whole “I’m opposing murder” thing gives yourself a nice dose of self-rightousness, which is a pretty potent but legal drug. After 30+ years, though, it is getting tired and lame and one would think you’d be tired of such abject failure by now.

  • Bernie

    Historically, I have been a republican and a single issue voter, with that issue being abortion. However, I find myself questioning that stance, and here’s why.
    There are outrages against “moral dignity” that can be perceived as going beyond abortion.
    – Our “war on terror” has netted thousands of innocent deaths
    – Corporate rule of America turns our very world view toward constant greed, lust, and envy
    – The homeless and poor, the very people Jesus commanded us to love and care for, are spat upon by the majority of our society
    – We are destroying the earth that God gave us rule over, we are not being good stewards of it
    This is an important part of the argument…
    President Bush is anti-abortion, but has abortion stopped because he’s president? No, and it probably won’t until there’s a change in the hearts of the people…
    Specifically, “… until there’s a change in the hearts of people…” The “war on abortion” like the “war on drugs” will not be won until we can help the people not want to get an abortion. That is where I believe the battleground should be… but that involves a lot more work than pulling the lever for a pro-life candidate doesn’t it?
    I think the weight of social issues other than abortion that could be addressed by a candidate who is pro-choice may be greater than that of abortion. Is it narrow minded of us to ignore the rest of the potential good for this one issue?

  • The Raven

    OK, how about this story from the LA Times – but it was AP, and posted all over the place yesterday:
    ——————————————
    Woman reports rape, then is jailed
    From Times Wire Reports
    January 31, 2007
    A 21-year-old woman who told Tampa police she had been raped was jailed for two days after officers found an old warrant accusing her of failing to pay restitution for a 2003 theft arrest.
    While she was behind bars, according to the college student’s attorney, a jail worker refused to give her a second dose of the morning-after contraceptive pill because of the worker’s religious convictions.
    ——————————————
    Now, the main outrage this sparked was that the woman was essentially terrorized by an ignorant yahoo jail worker, who denied the victim access to a legal drug intended to prevent conception. That’s because in militant anti-choice circles, Plan B is termed a “abortifacient.” Which it isn’t, but that’s not the issue I want to raise here.
    No, my question is, let’s say the jailed victim did conceive. Would she be allowed an abortion in the Wonder World you’re trying to impose on the rest of us?

  • ucfengr

    the so-called “war on terror”
    Just out of curosity, John, what do you think it should be called?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Just out of curosity, John, what do you think it should be called?
    How about the “War of Confusion”?

  • JohnW

    Ucfengr,
    I would not use the phrase “war on terror” or any alternative phrases conveying the same meaning such as the “the long war against Islamo Fascism” or the “global struggle against extremists”.
    The phrase “war on terror” is used for fearmongering as is used to drum up support for a policiy of never-ending war. It doesn’t really mean anything. When does a “war on terror” end-logically, never. You can’t really have a war against a tactic. Could you have a war against “liberal propaganda”? How about a “war against secular progressivism”?
    “The War on Terror” is great phrase for people like Sean Hannity and all the other right-wing authoritarian stooges to use. For instance, they can bring on guests who oppose Bush’s policies and paint them as being unpatriotic by saying “we’re at war, shouldn’t you support the commander in chief….”.

  • ucfengr

    I would not use the phrase “war on terror” or any alternative phrases conveying the same meaning such as the “the long war against Islamo Fascism” or the “global struggle against extremists”….
    Thanks for the long diatribe on what you wouldn’t call it, but what I really wanted to know was what you would call it.
    How about the “War of Confusion”?
    Too general, it could apply to any war.

  • ucfengr

    I would not use the phrase “war on terror” or any alternative phrases conveying the same meaning such as the “the long war against Islamo Fascism” or the “global struggle against extremists”….
    While I really appreciate the long diatribe on what you wouldn’t call it, what I really wanted to know was what you would call it.

  • ucfengr

    How about the “War of Confusion”?
    Probably a bit too general, it could be applied to just about any war.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    How about the “Long War of George Bush’s suboptimal Learning Curve”

  • ucfengr

    Dang, post 15 got busted by the filter so I broke it up into 2 posts to get it through, hence the double (triple?) post. What’s up with the filter Joe?

  • ucfengr

    “Long War of George Bush’s suboptimal Learning Curve”
    I know folks on the Left don’t want to acknowledge this, but the war between Islamic terrorists and the West has been going on for decades, Bush is just the first guy who decided to get serious about fighting it. I would argue that Bush’s learning curve has been superoptimal.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Hmmm, so how about the “War on Islamic Facism excluding Syria, Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia but Including Iraqi Groups that are more Tribal than Terrorists”
    WIFESYIPSA IIGTT for short.

  • ex-preacher

    I’m curious as to how far your commitment to voting for a pure pro-lifer extends. Let’s say that neither of the major party candidates is 100% pro-life. What do you do? Abandon your principle and vote for the lesser of two evils or vote for a third party candidate?

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Seriously ucfengr, how much of the Iraq war is really about terrorism and how much at this point is about managing a simmering civil war and unleashing of ethnic hatreds at are mostly intra-Muslim rather than directed outside the Muslim world? I’d say the breakdown is maybe 15% versus 85% and terrorisms % was never above 20% in this mess.

  • ucfengr

    I find it kind of depressing that every discussion here seems to end in Iraq.

  • Joe M

    This is not meant to be mean or nasty, but if some of you hard-line conservatives keep holding Giuliani’s feet to the fire EVEN IF HE IS THE BEST CANDIDATE OF ANY PARTY you are going to find yourself with none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton in office. NOBODY can beat her expect Giuliani. So I ask you, who is being selfish here???

  • ucfengr

    you are going to find yourself with none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton in office. NOBODY can beat her expect Giuliani.
    Aren’t we being a bit dramatic? The election is nearly 2 years away; an awful lot can happen between now and then. Heck, it’s not even a sure bet that Hillary will be the Democrat nominee.

  • ex-preacher

    Just for what it’s worth:
    “Would you like to see the Supreme Court overturn its 1973 Roe versus Wade decision concerning abortion, or not?”
    Would . . . . . 29%
    Would Not . . 62%
    Unsure . . . . . 9%
    CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. Jan. 19-21, 2007. N=1,008 adults nationwide. MoE ± 3.

  • JohnW

    ucfengr,
    In response to your Post No. 15. I clearly state I would not use the term “war on terror” or a similiar phrase, so the answer is I would not call “it” anything. By the way, what exactly do you mean by “it”?
    I know terrorist attacks occurr-these can be handled by intelligence agencies and law enforcement. If we fostered better relationships with other countries they could be useful in preventing terrorism. I am sure your right-wing radar just went off when you read the words “law enforcement” in connection with terrorism, so I am ready for right-wing talking points about the liberal left just not getting it, etc. etc., so go ahead and as George Bush would say “…bring it on….”.

  • MunDane

    The problem with the idea of single-issue voting and conservatism is the idea of which single issue defines it. The argument can, and has been, made that the Second Amendment more adequately tells you if a person is conservative. That is, is the politician willing to treat the populace as a group of adults responsible for their own choices or a group of children that need a nanny.
    Now, if a politician can convince me that they trust me to make right decisions, without the government interfering, would that be a better than a new government interference?
    Besides, there will never be an outright ban on the abortion procedure. It is a medical treatment. Like the Birth Control pill, when it was first being proscribed, sometimes it was done for non-BC reasons in areas with high percentages of people who objected to its use(controlling acne, regulating menstruation, even stabilizing mood swings). So, shall the abortion continue to happen even if “outlawed”.

  • charles

    so you’re pro-life when it comes to american embryos but pro-war when Iraqi or Iranian children might get hurt? That’s hypocricy at its greatest extent.

  • ucfengr

    I know terrorist attacks occurr-these can be handled by intelligence agencies and law enforcement. If we fostered better relationships with other countries they could be useful in preventing terrorism.
    I will never understand this mindset that seeks to put the onus on the US to accomodate nations that harbor and support terrorists or thinks these nations have any desire to cooporate with us. I just have a hard time accepting that any citizen of the US would seriously entertain the thought that it is the US that is the main problem in the world.

  • ucfengr

    so you’re pro-life when it comes to american embryos but pro-war when Iraqi or Iranian children might get hurt?
    It’s not the US that puts these children in danger, it is the rogue regimes and the terrorists they support. When Hezbollah, Al Queda, et.al. shoot at our (or British, or Austailian, or Israeli) soldiers from behind children, whose fault is it if the children get killed?

  • kwbr

    Boonton,
    Not only do pro-lifers have good realtionships with women, about half of them are women.
    Raven:
    The jail worker in question vehemently denies the allegations and claims she never mentioned religion to the jailed rape victim. She was not permitted to dispense medications other than what was on an approved list and the morning after pill was not on the list. But facts are such inconvenient things when outrage works so well in their absence.

  • The Raven

    kwbr: My question was a hypothetical, regarding a medical abortion for the victim in question. I noted the refusal to provide services because it has a tangential bearing, in case anyone wanted to discuss the matter.
    Of course the jail working is clamming up, lying and lawyering up. That woman is in huge trouble. And the victim is suing. My citation was of the original report, not the following coverup.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Abortion:
    I don’t want anyone telling me that I can’t have any abortions, so I’m pro-choice, up to a point.
    On the other hand, I don’t want to be aborted (or to have been aborted), so I’m certainly pro-life as well.
    So I don’t know what the answer is in the abortion debate.
    Iraq war:
    We’re not in Iraq to fight a civil war. We’re in Iraq to stifle a low-level civil war and mid-wife a democracy. The insurgents and the terrorists are trying to induce a miscarriage, but the mother (Iraq) and father (U.S. coalition) are hanging in there.
    And the Democrats are trying to push everyone into having a partial-birth abortion. Shame on them!

  • Rob Ryan

    “And the Democrats are trying to push everyone into having a partial-birth abortion. Shame on them!”
    To carry the analogy (rather a silly one, I think) further, one could argue that the pregnancy is the result of rape, and the child has been carried to term against the mother’s wishes.

  • George

    As usual, ex-preach can be relied upon to make one of the more risible comments of the day by citing an opinion poll about a SCOTUS decision. Geez, one wonders why we don’t just get rid of those silly lawyers in robes and contract with Gallup… and save everybody a lot of time and money. In fact, I hear they’ve already done that for the 9th Circuit and the FL Supreme Court and we all know how well that worked out.

  • http://evangelicalperspective.blogspot.com Collin Brendemuehl

    Let’s see how this works …
    The Libs don’t mind the millions of deaths and decry the hundreds
    but … the Evangelicals are wrong because
    we decry the Millions of deaths but might justify the hundreds.
    Seems self-contradictory.

  • Ludwig

    “We’re not in Iraq to fight a civil war. We’re in Iraq to stifle a low-level civil war and mid-wife a democracy. The insurgents and the terrorists are trying to induce a miscarriage, but the mother (Iraq) and father (U.S. coalition) are hanging in there.
    And the Democrats are trying to push everyone into having a partial-birth abortion. Shame on them!”
    keep on drinking that coolaid Matt,you silly bin…i hear its low carb.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Boonton,
    Not only do pro-lifers have good realtionships with women, about half of them are women.

    So what’s the estimate of how many women have had abortions over their lifetimes? 1 in 3? Imagine if pro-lifers had bad relationships with women!

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    For instance, knowing that Giuliani favors partial-birth abortion can be a clue to how he would act on foreign policy issues. If he has no qualms with infanticide in America, why should I believe he cares about the plight of infants in Darfur?
    I hate to pull this one out again on poor Joe but what exactly has opposing partial birth abortion as a blogger done for the infants of Darfur? Googling I can’t find a single post where Joe has addressed their plight in any manner at all.

  • ucfengr

    So what’s the estimate of how many women have had abortions over their lifetimes? 1 in 3?
    You need to be real careful with guesses (statistics?) like these. Lots of women who have had abortions had them because of a miscarriage, not a desire to not have a baby. My wife had an abortion after our first child died in utero. She is also a recovery room nurse and deals with a lot of cases like ours. That 1 in 3 figure is very misleading.

  • ucfengr

    I hate to pull this one out again on poor Joe but what exactly has opposing partial birth abortion as a blogger done for the infants of Darfur?
    Gee Boon, what has your support of partial birth abortion done for the infants of Darfur? What has you opposition to the War in Iraq done for the infants of Darfur? Really, if Joe posted a long, sincere, deeply touching entry about the infants of Darfur, would it change a damn thing in Darfur? I think not. So what was the point of your question? Maybe to take a cheap shot at Joe. Hmm, I’d like to be able to say I thought better of you, but…

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    ucfengr,
    What has ‘my support’ for partial-birth abortion done for infants in Darfur. Nothing! Show me where I claimed my position on partial-birth abortion makes me a better person to address Darfur? Joe has claimed opposing partial-birth abortion does, however. That is an example of why Giuliani should be opposed.
    Well if this is the case show me how the infants of Darfur have been rewarded by the opposition by President Bush to partial-birth abortion or even Joe’s opposition to it as a blogger? I can’t see any plausible scenero where the infants of Darfur would have been worse off if Giuliani had been president for these last 6 years. So far it seems they haven’t even merited a single blog post but they get the honor of being props for yet another round of the pro-lifers patting themselves on the back telling us they are so much more moral than the rest of us.
    Now maybe a single sincere post about Darfur might now have done anything for them there. Then again opposing Roe.v.Wade for 30+ years hasn’t stopped abortion but no one in the pro-life movement seems to think that’s important. At least a post, though, would have been evidence that this claim that being pro-life makes you a better, more caring person who respects all life regardless of its circumstances is true.
    You may think I was taking a cheap shot at Joe but the fact it Joe was taking a cheap shot at Rudy. What justifies his claim that Rudy would not bee good for the infants in Darfur when it is clear Joe barely thinks about them? Somewhere there are people who really do care. I’m not saying you have to share their concern but if you are not going to care then you should at least respect those that do enough not to be acting like you do.

  • ucfengr

    Well if this is the case show me how the infants of Darfur have been rewarded by the opposition by President Bush to partial-birth abortion or even Joe’s opposition to it as a blogger? I can’t see any plausible scenero where the infants of Darfur would have been worse off if Giuliani had been president for these last 6 years.
    After re-reading Joe’s post, I have to come to the conclusion that I am less than impressed with his conclusions. I just don’t see the connection between support or opposition to abortion as being related to how we as a nation should handle the disaster in Darfur. The situation is Darfur is essentially a civil war in a region where we have very little national interest. I really don’t think our response to Darfur would be all that different if Kerry or Gore were President instead of Bush. There are any number of places around the world where one group of people want to kill some other group. We just don’t have the capacity or the desire to get involved in all of them.
    Sorry for jumping in your sh**, Boonton. It was unwarranted.

  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    No problem, now if we can just figure out what’s the deal with the ‘comment held for moderator’ bug!

  • iagree

    boonton nailed it in post 9. You all have wasted collosal amounts of money and time by your approach. You will never acheive your goal by legislative fiat. YOU CANNOT LEGISLATE MORALITY. The war on drugs is your analogy.
    How about this instead; work to eliminate poverty, work to elevate the unemployed, work to feed the starving and home the homeless. AND FOR CHRIST’S SAKE START BY EMPTYING THE FOSTER HOMES!
    And I know they are full, my wife works to place children and she wonders when all of you single issue voters will start lining up to take these kids home with you.

  • ucfengr

    YOU CANNOT LEGISLATE MORALITY.
    You are right that you can’t pass a law to make people moral (just like you can’t pass a law to make people skinny), but you can legislate against immoral behavior, which is what most laws try to do. What are laws criminalizing murder, theft, prostitution, drunk driving, etc. other than laws that attempt to reduce immoral behavior?
    The war on drugs is your analogy.
    I’m not crazy about the War on Drugs, but I am even less crazy about the Wars on Tobacco and Obesity, wars that those on the left seem exceptionally eager to fight.

  • ex-preacher

    In response to George in post #37:
    My point in sharing the poll results was to show how difficult it would be to elect a candidate who was fully committed to Joe’s non-negotiable single issue. I’m assuming that Joe would support someone like Sam Brownback or Mike Huckabee or possibly Mitt Romney. While one of those could conceivably win at the primary stage, they would have an incredibly difficult time in the general election. Slightly better odds could be given to someone who talks the pro-life talk, but would do only a minimal amount to actually overturn Roe v. Wade (such as Reagan, Bush I and Bush II).
    In our electoral winner-takes-all system with only two major candidates in most elections, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to elect a candidate based on a single issue. In order to win, each of the major-party candidates must bend toward the middle. If the single-issue voters turn to an idealogically pure third-party candidate, they are likely to drain votes from the leading candidate closest to their position and end up actually helping the candidate who is farthest from them idealogically.
    Single-issue politics seem to be more effective in countries with parliamentary systems, especially when representation is not tied to geographical boundaries (I believe Israel has this type system). The U.S. Constitution was framed, in part, to frustrate single-issue blocs.

  • The Raven

    “but you can legislate against immoral behavior”
    We see that in rural areas, especially, with such Blue Laws as prohibitions on Sunday alcohol sales. Murder, rape, theft, etc., are – while notionally immoral activities – not illegal because they are immoral, but illegal because they are criminal. That is, victims exist as a result of them.
    Legislating morality nearly always is seen to be a mistake. With tobacco, I’d prefer the government stay out of the matter. Same with drugs. Obesity is a slightly different matter. Trans fats are not naturally occurring substances. They are manufactured in order to extend product shelf-life, or serve as inexpensive ingredients in industrial-scale food preparation. The problem is that the human body has not (yet) evolved to efficiently consume trans fats, and the extra binding sites their molecules possess cause them to remain in the body, stored as fat.
    Because trans fats cannot be seen, or even tasted, the consumer, especially those in restaurants, has no defense against these substances. Not so with tobacco – if you smoke, you know it, and if someone else is, you know it. I think in this case, regulation of trans fats is in order. Preferably, people selling things with trans fats in them would advertise the matter and allow patrons to decide whether to consume them or not. Others could proudly advertise “no trans fats!” and draw customers.
    However, research has shown that many chefs have no idea what components of their menus contain trans fats and thus a general prohibition on their manufacture is the right response.

  • iagree

    ex preacher speaks the voting truth. single issue voters are a blessing to democratic candidates. Your polarization so limits and narrows your voting bloc that it reduces you to a nullification vote. Reading this blog keeps conservatives up at night wondering if it is even worth it to run. vote on!

  • RB

    It’s easy for me to see how one single abortion produces several victims. But following the idea here that Roe v. Wade isn’t going away anytime soon, I throw out a question. What can one single person do to help abortion become a rare occurrance? It seems voting is one of the ways individuals help shape society; but I’m certainly open to other ideas, short of passing out condoms at the junior high..goodness knows my kid is seems mortified enough by me already. That could put him right over the edge..
    Having said that, I hereby declare a War on Super Bowl Hype, and any and all airings of the Super Bowl Shuffle…

  • http://mysticchords.blogspot.com/ John Salmon

    A well-written, conservative case for Rudy Guiliani-
    http://baseballcrank.com/archives2/2007/01/politics_why_im_1.php
    The author argues (assumes?) that though Guiliani is pro-choice, he’d pick conservative, pro-life judges. “A pro-choicer who appoints good judges is as functionally pro-life as Harry Reid is functionally pro-choice.”
    Guiliani has spoken highly of Alito and Roberts, but will need to demonstrate that he’ll in fact pick similar judges to close the deal. Plus, he’s in a bind on guns, which may be an even stickier problem.
    I’m for McCain msyself, since he has proven his seriousness about the GWOT and is solidly pro-life, as well as determined to cut federal spending.
    Still, Guiliani can’t be ruled out. He has many of McCain’s strengths-an equal seriousness about the GWOT, and an ability to draw moderate Dem voters…plus he’s younger than McCain and has executive experience nobody running for President (in either party) cam match.

  • http://thebronxblogger.blogspot.com Matthew Goggins

    Ludwig,
    keep on drinking that coolaid Matt,you silly bin…i hear its low carb.
    No sir, only the mega-power kool-aid for me, chock full o’ carbs and essential amino acids. ;)
    You should try it sometime!
    Cheers,
    Matthew

  • ucfengr

    Murder, rape, theft, etc., are – while notionally immoral activities – not illegal because they are immoral, but illegal because they are criminal. That is, victims exist as a result of them.
    How do laws against consensual sex between minors and adults, prostitution, and simulated child pornography (no actual children used) fit within this framework? There are no victims, but they are still criminal acts. What about minimum wage laws or laws that target Walmart? Aren’t they an attempt by one group to force their morality on another?
    Obesity is a slightly different matter. Trans fats are not naturally occurring substances.
    This might be a valid point (I would still disagree with it) if the laws against obesity were restricted to banning trans-fats, but they aren’t

  • http://aperfectcontradiction.blogspot.com/ Fabulinus

    The point being made, which you attempt to bypass, is that a vote for a candidate 1) who shares your view on your biggest issue but 2) cannot win the general election is potentially both 1) a wasted vote and 2) possibly the greater of two evils.
    A person who votes on one issue can be stuck with an unpopular candidate. Your intentions may be good in voting for an unpopular candidate who shares your view, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Voting for a candidate who cannot win, and putting a far worse candidate in a better position to win can bring about far graver consequences than voting for a candidate who does not share your view, but will prevent the worst candidate from reaching the white house.
    Regardless, I am not sure you will have to choose between evils. The primaries are still a long ways off.
    That said, Giuliani is not my favorite candidate, either, but I don’t see a Regan like candidate emerging from the right… I can think of one, but I don’t think he has any intention of running.

  • Rob Ryan

    “I can think of one…”
    Did you type that with a straight face? I certainly hope the Republicans would nominate a Rumsfield, but I think most of them, Joe notwithstanding, want to win.

  • The Raven

    “This might be a valid point (I would still disagree with it)”
    So… ucf, you’re saying that you are of a mind to disagree with “valid points”? Well, shoot, that kind of takes the meaning out of this exercise then, doesn’t it?
    You ask an excellent question here – my compliments:
    “How do laws against consensual sex between minors and adults, prostitution, and simulated child pornography (no actual children used) fit within this framework?”
    With respect to the first, the law as currently conceived states that minors are not able to give consent. Hence, the notion as you’ve expressed it is an oxymoron. It’s assault and punishable as such. But the states don’t agree on the definition of “minor” in a uniform way. This is a huge gray area, but I think we all agree that when somebody over the age of 21 has non-forced sexual relations with someone under the age of 15, that there is a victim and that a crime has been committed. It’s a case-by-case issue, however, in that should such a matter come before the authorities, it’s probably a bad idea for a judge to look up the maximum penalty in a sentencing book and apply it. Discretion in punishment is warranted here.
    Prostitution is another gray area. It’s a cliche to call it the “oldest profession,” but it’s likely a truism as well. In one sense, Anna Nicole Smith is as much of a prostitute as the gal in hot pants down by the freeway overpass in your town. The difference is that one of them was able to engage in the bartering without creating a public spectacle or through the use of a professional panderer. If you visit Las Vegas, for instance, you can flip open the phone book and find page after page of “escort service” ads. In this case, one assumes that a company is organizing the “service providers,” attending to their medical health, and so forth, and that the activity is fairly well controlled. At some point, then, on this scale you’ll find prostitution conducted with sufficient safety and organization as to be socially tolerable, and at the other end, it’s a component of urban blight and associated petty crimes of drug use and gangster activity. Our police agencies are charged with finding an appropriate spot on that scale and enforcing the law from that point.
    Now, we all know it was a work of fiction, but the movie Pretty Woman did, I think, address your question fairly. As the film opens, clearly the heroine is a victim of some sort, what with being a street person and everything, but once the wealthy patron takes an interest in her circumstances, the entire notion of a “crime” happening is laughable. There was movement along the scale I’ve described above.
    You delve into even more difficult territory by bringing up simulacra of child pornography. I assert that the law should not define possession or production of such as crimes. By the same token, I am firmly opposed to police “sting” busts of online predators who’ve been lured to meetings by officers posing as children on the Internet. In both cases, the crime in question is only in the mind and no victim exists. The person who is prosecuted by such laws is effectively being sentenced to punishment for a crime he or she might only potentially commit.
    Minimum wage law is beyond the scope of this comment, but it isn’t criminal law, rather, it falls under the rubric of business regulation (you can’t hire slaves or serfs). Walmart is the target of such laws because it attempts to hire slaves and serfs, and is of sufficient size that it can – and does – inflict massive economic damage and disruption to our economy. In this case, we are the victims in question.
    I was reading earlier today that our political system isn’t really split along conservative/liberal or republican/democratic lines, but rather between money and people. Some politicians are owned by corporations and work to protect large moneyed interests. Every single congressman and senator who voted to support the Bankruptcy bill, for instance, was a Money Party person. Those who voted against it represented the interests of the the People.
    So in this light, we could say that Americans who believe that Walmart is our shining brilliant success and that it is good and should be protected and defended against any criticism are, ineluctably, members of the Money Party. Those who oppose it represent the People.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Raven,
    I think some of these examples illustrate law is often not used for anything directly connected to morality. There’s a zoning law in my area against multi-family houses. Is that morality or simply a preference by many people in the community?

  • http://aperfectcontradiction.blogspot.com/ Fabulinus

    Yeah, I wrote that with a straight face.
    The majority of American’s WOULD vote for a Rumsfeld. Listen to a few of his speeches, not press coverage of his speeches, but his actual speeches and you will understand better what I mean.
    Regan’s policies were very controversial, and hated both on the left and in the press. Regan was demonized as being against the homeless, not caring for the poor or any minorities, caring only for the rich, etc. His legacy, in contrast, is the “shining city on a hill.”
    Rumsfeld talks about America like it is a shining city on a hill: he is a patriot through and through. He is highly competent, extraordinarily intelligent, and has survived a whole lifetime in the D.C. limelight. He is more articulate than any politician I’ve heard in my lifetime.
    Let you heart not be troubled, if you don’t like him, because he isn’t going to run. I wish he would, but it isn’t going to happen.

  • http://www.name11706378103897.net/ Brennan

    How old are you?

  • ucfengr

    So… ucf, you’re saying that you are of a mind to disagree with “valid points”?
    No, I would disagree with your argument WRT transfats. Even a weak argument can have a valid point or two.
    WRT the rest of your argument, I wasn’t asking your opinion on the various laws I mentioned, I was pointing out several instances of “legislating morality”.
    Minimum wage law is beyond the scope of this comment, but it isn’t criminal law, rather, it falls under the rubric of business regulation (you can’t hire slaves or serfs).
    A bit of goalpost moving I think. Regardless of whether it is a law or a “regulation”, it is still one group of people using the power of the state to enforce their morality on a 2 groups of people (owners and employees) involutarily.
    Walmart is the target of such laws because it attempts to hire slaves and serfs
    You don’t hire slaves, you capture them and force them to do work they would not voluntarily do. Clearly this is not the case; if we are to believe the press new WalMarts usually have far more people seeking jobs than they have available.
    is of sufficient size that it can – and does – inflict massive economic damage and disruption to our economy. In this case, we are the victims in question.
    Again, an example of someone wanting to use the power of the state to force their morality on another group. The people that work at WalMart, sell to WalMart, and buy from WalMart all do so voluntarily. There are no armed guards keeping employees from leaving or forcing people to shop there. I am not a big fan of WalMart, but then again I have the luxury of having a large enough income that I can choose to pay more to do business at stores I find more aesthetically pleasing.
    So in this light, we could say that Americans who believe that Walmart is our shining brilliant success and that it is good and should be protected and defended against any criticism are, ineluctably, members of the Money Party. Those who oppose it represent the People.
    People with last names like Rockefeller and Kennedy can afford to be critical of WalMart, they don’t have to worry about price when they shop. People without the luxury of multi-million dollar trustfunds have to be a bit more price conscious, and appreciate being able to save money when they shop.

  • ex-preacher

    Rumsfeld for president? I love it! He can run on his success in prosecuting the Iraq War.
    The only problem would be finding a VP candidate, since it wouldn’t look good for the VP to be more popular than the prez. After searching through the names of possible candidates and their approval ratings, I think I’ve found the perfect running mate: Pat Robertson!
    Other possibles with disapproval numbers higher than Rumsfeld’s: Dick Cheney, Tom Delay, Jack Abramoff, Dennis Hastert, Patrick Buchanan, George “Macaca” Allen, George W. Bush.

  • http://beartotheright.blogspot.com Gary Aminoff

    You say that you know that Giuliani favors partial-birth abortion. That is not correct. I know that he doesn’t. I don’t know where you got your information. If you want to hear Giuliani’s position on partial-birth abortion listen to his comments on various issues on the Hannity & Colmes show. The link is: http://beartotheright.blogspot.com/2007/02/rudy-publicly-states-positions-on.html

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