Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Guiliani vs. Clinton: What Should Pro-Lifers Do If It Comes Down to Two Pro-Choice Candidates?

Denny Burk explains why he will not vote for Rudy Giuliani if Giuliani receives the Republican nomination.

And while John Piper hasn't specifically addressed the Giuliani issue, it's clear from this article that Piper is a one-issue voter (abortion) who would never vote for a pro-choice candidate.

Also advocating the single-issue voter model and specifically applying it to Giuliani is Joe Carter. Joe is "an unabashed single-issue voter -- and that issue is justice." In response to the notion that the "perfect can become the enemy of the good," Carter responds: "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.'"

On the other hand, John Podhoretz (a Jewish conservative commentator) has recently written, "A third-party candidacy on the Right undertaken by even a minimally serious person will, it is true, almost certainly doom any GOP chances in November 2008." Podhoretz goes on:
The purifiers really do face a very stark reality going forward — if they pull the trigger against the GOP and the Democrats win by not much, they will bear the responsibility for the election of someone who will be worse for their issues.Therefore, it should stand to reason at this point that conservatives fearful of a Giuliani candidacy should be rallying behind Thompson. And yet James Dobson has spoken insultingly of Fred and others don't seem particularly excited by him either.The conduct of Religious Right leaders has been entirely baffling. They've have several candidates they could have rallied around as a matter of principle — Huckabee and Brownback in particular. But they haven't done so. It's almost as though they're paralyzed.
As someone who is passionate about the cause of justice for the unborn, I frankly admit that I am conflicted on the issue of what to do if it comes down to two pro-choice candidates in the general election. I think there are compelling arguments on both sides.

I'm inclined toward Melinda Penner's football analogy:
A pro-life candidate gives us the touchdown option. But given the possible scenario of the two main parties having pro-choice nominees, the touchdown is off the table. Pro-lifers can only choose between tying with a field goal or losing the game. A third party candidate doesn't offer the chance for a touchdown . . . .

It would be much better if one of the main candidates is pro-life and offers the winning option. Go for the touchdown, of course. But if our alternatives are lose or draw, I'd prefer to go for the field goal and stay in the game. Stay on the field rather than stand on the sidelines and watch a pro-choicer nominate the next Supreme Court justice.

Here are a few thoughts I have in trying to work through the issues:

  1. I do not want Giuliani to be nominated for the Republican ticket. For those who are convictionally pro-life and want to see justice for the unborn prevail and Roe v. Wade overturned, it seems difficult to support Giuliani's candidacy at this stage when there are other viable pro-life candidates.
  2. The ballgame changes if the race comes down to a pro-choice Republican vs. a pro-choice Democrat.
  3. One has to ask whether or not it can be reasonably ascertained if one pro-choice candidate would be better than the other in terms of the cause of life. The key word, I think, is reasonable. We're not talking infallibility here.
  4. The next president will undoubtedly get to nominate justices to the Supreme Court. No one doubts that Hillary Clinton will nominate judges with a judicial philosophy at odds with constructionalism and originalism.
  5. I think there are good reasons to believe that Giuliani would appoint constructionalists and originalists, as he has promised to do--in part because I think he will want to placate the Republican base. (Even if he does this for only one term in order to win reelection, which I think is doubtful, then the next point still stands.)
  6. One must recognize that if it comes down to Guiliani vs. Clinton, a vote for a third-party candidate will undoubtedly guarantee a Clinton presidency (likely for the next eight years). Read that sentence again. Now read it one more time. I think it's incontrovertible, and I'm not sure some pro-lifers have sufficiently recognized this.
  7. The irony, then, is that being a single-issue voter on the cause of justice for the unborn can actually lead to increased injustice for the unborn.
  8. At the end of the day, perhaps we can categorize the two positions as (1) principled pro-life purity and (2) principled pro-life pragmatism.
  9. It seems that the Religious Right (by which I mean the James Dobson Republicans--the elite evangelical political influencers of soccer moms and the like) are in a pickle: Mitt Romney is a Mormon, Fred Thompson doesn't seem like a Christian, and Mike Huckabee doesn't seem electable. From my seat in the bleachers, it seems like they should pick one and stick with him.
  10. It is a valid, legitimate point that if the Republicans nominate a pro-choice candidate, then this precedence opens the door for the nomination of pro-choice Republican candidates in the future.
What do you think?