Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Politics for the Great Good: The Case for Prudence in the Public Square

If you care about working for justice (especially for the unborn) in our society and being effective in the public square--and I hope you do!--then I'd highly recommend picking up the new IVP book by Clarke Forsythe, Politics for the Great Good: The Case for Prudence in the Public Square. (At the IVP site you can read the Preface, Introduction: Is it Immoral to Be Prudent? and Table of Contents.)

His argument is that it is both moral and effective to achieve a partial good in politics and public policy when the ideal is not possible. In other words, there's no moral compromise in aiming for the greatest possible good when the perfect good is not available. The historical examples of the American founders, William Wilberforce, and Abraham Lincoln are used as example of what it looks like to employ effective, virtuous prudence to fence in social evils when outright prohibition is not possible.

The chapter on "Overturning Roe v. Wade Successfully" is alone worth the price of the book.

Here are a couple of blurbs:
Prudence, especially in the context of politics and the struggle for social reform, is a poorly understood, largely neglected and desperately needed virtue. We have long needed an intellectually coherent and compelling treatment of the subject. Happily, Clarke Forsythe has met the need. Drawing on the wisdom of Aristotle, Wilberforce, Lincoln, and other theorists and practitioners of political prudence, Forsythe has written a book that will both instruct and inspire all who work to protect the weak and vulnerable and to advance the cause of justice."

—Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, and director of theJames Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Princeton University

"Clarke Forsythe's Politics for the Greatest Good is an invaluable contribution to reflection within the pro-life movement on the best strategy to adopt in vindicating the right to life. He grounds his analysis on important historical materials, both from early American political thought and from the career of William Wilberforce, in making his case for an incremental strategy to reverse Roe v. Wade. He also provides effective critical analysis of the misguided argument that political morality requires never voting for laws that expand protection of the unborn but do not prohibit all abortions (for the time being), due to the lack of the necessary political support for broader protection. As a longtime leader in the pro-life movement who has done so much to craft and defend legal and legislative strategies to protect the right to life, he is intimately familiar with the often difficult circumstances facing those who would reestablish an American commitment to protecting all innocent human life from conception to natural death. Christians involved in pro-life work should be thankful for, and attentive to, his astute analysis and advice."

—Christopher Wolfe, codirector, Ralph McInerny Center, and Emeritus Professor, Marquette University