Recently, a prominent elected official, in an effort to appear to promote national unity, blessed us with a blanket denunciation of half of her fellow citizens and coreligionists.
Catholics who voted for Donald Trump, according to Nancy Pelosi, “were willing to sell the whole democracy down the river for that one issue.”
That “one issue” is, of course, abortion.
By now, anyone opposed to the violent termination of a million or so Americans each year, whose nascent lives are deemed unworthy of life for reasons neither they nor we are allowed to dispute, is used to being accused of exhibiting an irrational fixation on a “single” political issue.
One response is to question who is in fact guilty of unreasonable emphasis in this matter. So-called progressive politicians have long exploited “reproductive rights” to cement their hold on certain segments of the electorate, whose fear of babies (or other bugbears conjured by experts in the art of psychological manipulation) appears to outweigh any scruples they may have about subscribing to a policy that, objectively speaking, constitutes serial murder.
As for members of the chattering classes who help to promote this propaganda, I have long found it rich to be ridiculed for my “pelvic politics” by solemn-faced hippies still stoked on the fantasy that “free love” will magically usher in an age of social and political harmony.
Turning from hallucinations to reality, however, it is worth asking where the “issue” of abortion does fit into the bigger picture of modern politics and society.
Here I am struck by Alexis de Tocqueville’s amazingly prescient description (from Democracy in America) of the “administrative despotism” he expects to threaten our freedom and our very humanity in the modern age:
The sovereign power extends its arms over the entire society; it covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated, minute, and uniform rules; . . . it does not break wills, but it softens them, bends them and directs them; it rarely forces action, but it constantly opposes your acting; it does not destroy, it prevents birth.
In choosing these last words, Tocqueville is not of course thinking about abortion, but he does show us where that “issue” fits into the central question of contemporary politics.
To those who would create a perfect world, nature is an enemy to be conquered, and human nature is her most troublesome feature.
By nature, St. Thomas reminds us, human beings desire to procreate, and to raise their children to succeed in a human world whose highest goals are truth and justice.
As long as we are free to pursue what is true and right, there will be differences of opinion, and politics will require the moderation of our desires and demands.
For those who flatter themselves that the only obstacle to the perfection of things is the freedom of others to question their dictates, human nature itself is something to be suppressed. Education must be replaced with indoctrination, truth with censorship, and justice with social control.
But most of all, the birth of beings possessed of souls enabling them to see and oppose this lifeless and tyrannical disorder must be prevented, or kept to a manageable minimum.
The next time we are accused of being single-issue voters, perhaps we can explain why being pro-life is a “single” but vital part of sustaining our “whole democracy.”
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