This week hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children will once again gather to protest. No, this isn’t another “woman’s march” or another march against our new President, and you probably won’t see much news coverage of this nationwide event. Every year, around the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision people of different religions, races, beliefs, and social status partake in The March for Life as a public protest against abortion and every year people that are for legalized abortion call out these people as hypocrites. Truth be told, as someone that is pro-life, I semi-agree with the people that say Republicans, Conservatives, and other people that are anti-abortion are somewhat hypocritical. A common statement is that, many that support the Pro-life movement are pro-life, but only until the baby is born. While I disagree that these people don’t care about people after they are born, or that this statement includes everyone that is anti-abortion, I do believe that many on, what is generally the right end of the political spectrum, do fight for babies to be born, but then fail to support politicians, legislation, and programs that support what it should truly mean to be pro-life. This is obviously a touchy subject for many; it is not a black and white issue and has a whole lot more than fifty shades of grey involved. But, I think that it is important for us, me being one of you on the Right to take a more holistic, compassionate, and yes fiscally based approach to truly be pro-life.
As Conservatives and Republicans, with our cold black hearts we often times lose sight of the facts that surround the hardships that people endure throughout their lives. In the 80s and 90s we fought back against the “welfare queens” that were perceived to be milking the welfare system. Today we fight some of the same battles of decades past, but also new ones, such as the nuanced issue of illegal immigration and more specifically the children that were brought here by no fault of their own. We tend to be supportive of things like capital punishment, a very tough judicial system, and the war on drugs. We too frequently view these issues in a vacuum, sans the understanding of the causes and effects. We view things as right or wrong…black or white. However, we don’t live in a black and white world. And right and wrong are often times not as clear cut as we would like them to be. We can alter our perspective on many of these issues without losing sight of our ideals and foundational beliefs. In fact, I would argue that altering how we seek to “remedy” many of these issues would better support the conservative ideals and for many, religious beliefs. Yes, we live in a country where anyone can pull themselves up from their bootstraps and, through hard work become successful, but we can still believe that while, at the same time realizing the many people need a little help along the way. We need to realize that we can support measures that help people that are built upon conservative ideals and that are fiscally sound.
Life sucks sometimes. Sometimes it sucks because we make bad decisions. Sometimes it sucks because, by no fault of our own, we are borne in to a bad situation. Sometimes it sucks because we fall ill or for a myriad of other reasons. That is life. We can’t fix that, but we as conservatives, as Republicans can support measures that mitigate the ramifications of those situation and foster an environment that allows for people to better and more easily pull themselves out of bad situations.
Let’s start with welfare programs. Is there fraud, waste, and abuse? Absolutely, yes. But is it necessary? Absolutely, yes. If we are truly pro-life, we cannot sit by and let children go hungry and homeless. Welfare should be a temporary safety net that enables able bodied adults to get back on their feet. It should be a means to help provide food and shelter for the disabled, elderly, and children. This is both a moral and a fiscal issue. Morally it is wrong, and definitely not pro-life to let a child go hungry. From a fiscal perspective, if we don’t provide a means for that child to grow and learn, we will more than likely, foot the bill to take care of someone that is unhealthy, addicted to drugs, incarcerated, or all of the above later in life. Welfare programs are wildly mismanaged, fraud is rampant, and there are many able bodied people of working age that should not be permanently on these programs, but doing away with all of them is not the answer. Pulling the rug out with out establishing the infrastructure to set people up for success via education and jobs, isn’t the answer. Fixing them is the answer.
On the right we quite often vehemently support law and order. We believe that if you do the crime, you should do the time. We must still support punishment for wrong doing, however the current system is broken and perpetuates a cycle of children being born in to poverty, then they don’t get an education, then they turn to crime or drugs, then they end up in prison, and then they have their own children that follow the same path. If we truly care about the sanctity of life we must do what we can to push and pass legislation that helps end this cycle. We must also work with communities and people to help end this cycle by taking an active, face to face role in the people and communities around us. I remember finding out that prisoners were getting “perks” like free educations and being outraged when I was in college. “Why are they getting a free education while I have to pay for mine?”, I thought. The fact is that we need to stop putting the emphasis on punishment and instead focus on rehabilitation. From a moral perspective, locking people away and throwing away the key is wrong and does neither society or that person any good. It tears up families and fosters an environment that has only negative results. Fiscally, the recidivism rates alone are reason enough to push for both justice reform and an alternative approach to rehabilitating people. In North Carolina alone, if even a small percentage of released inmates did not return, but instead moved on to be productive members of society, the savings would be tens of millions of dollars per year. Yes, people should be punished for doing wrong, but the way we are approaching justice only perpetuates this vicious cycle that is neither morally or fiscally sound.
“Oh you’re pro-life? I bet you support the death penalty!” Many on the left love to state some variation of this to expose their perceived hypocrisy of pro-lifers. The reality is they do have somewhat of a point. When you see someone like Dylan Roof it is difficult not to say “let him fry!.” Hell, he deserves it. But the fact is that we as humans are flawed, therefore our justice system is flawed, and as a result the decisions cast down are sometimes flawed. Without even arguing the religious aspect of this topic, even if the verdict is right 99 times out of 100, is that one innocent man/woman that was put to death worth it to end the life of the 99 others? I have toiled with this issue for a very long time. My belief now is threefold. From a religious perspective I no longer believe that taking the life of someone that no longer poses any threat to society is right. From a moral perspective I don’t belief that wrongly putting to death one person out of a hundred or a thousand in order to punish others, that no longer pose a threat to society is right. From a fiscal perspective, it is ridiculously more expensive to put someone to death than to put them away for life. I am not judging anyone that supports the death penalty. I get it. I really do. But I believe that if we are truly going to be pro-life, we must stop utilizing capital punishment.
One of the main topics of this last election was illegal immigration. I fully support securing our borders and requiring people to follow the legal path to gain entry in to this country. I do not support rewarding those that are here illegally with a “get out of jail free” card. However, as with every other issue, this issue does not have a cut and dry, one size fits all solution. There are hundreds of thousands of children that live in this country that were brought here by their parents. The reasons their parents came to this country generally involve wanting to provide a better life for their children. Can you blame them? Can you blame the Syrian refugee that wants to escape war and bloodshed? I struggle between whether or not it is our job to take care of them, whether it is fiscally right, whether it is safe for us, whether I could look one of those kids in the face and say…Nope go home!, and many other questions. The internal debate between emotion, logic, facts, and right vs wrong is natural and healthy. Cognitive dissonance is not a sign of weakness, but rather it is a sign of strength. If we are truly pro-life, I believe we must find a solution that balances all of the concerns with what is right. I don’t think it would be right to send a 17 year old kid, that was brought here when he was six months old back to a land that he has never known. I don’t think it is morally sound to rip apart that family. From a fiscal perspective I think we would see certain industries take a huge hit if we rounded up 13 million people and sent them from whence they came.
My personal belief is that if we are truly going to be pro-life we must work to protect people throughout their lives. We must address health care, unemployment, education, income, and a whole, seemingly never ending list of other issues. I believe we can do that in a holistic manner that is founded in conservative ideals that are fiscally sound, morally right, and compassionate (which is not an evil leftist word, for the record). The point of this piece is not to demonize pro-lifers, in fact I believe that most of you should be celebrated. I just think we can be better. I think that we as a group, as a political party, and as a people need to reassess our perspectives and the means in which we are currently addressing some of these issues. You don’t even have to agree with me, but we at least need to talk about it.
Also, do not take this as stating that the detractors of pro-lifers aren’t hypocritical. Democrats and progressives castigate pro-lifers as hypocrites, then they actively push legislation and champion programs and regulations that are anything but conducive to helping people. At every level of government onerous regulations are put in place by supposed progressive elected officials that create significant barriers for entry that impede the ability of, specifically minorities and women from creating their own success. Instead of utilizing resources and tax payer dollars to fund things that would actually produce tangible and positive results, they fund feel good measures that in turn do nothing productive besides getting them re-elected. Many Democrats complain about the status of education but then refuse to give parents options as to where they can send their children to learn. When parents in the progressive, skinny jean clad mecca of Brooklyn were faced with having their children, from gentrified areas bussed to “poor” schools (pretty much the only thing that has shown to elevate poorly performing schools), they fought tooth and nail. Why? Because it became real. It wasn’t some abstract support of helping the poor and minorities anymore; it was no longer just words on a sign, it became tangible and it actually impacted them. Many of these same people cry for gay and women’s rights, but then ignore or actively defend people that beat women and stone gays in other countries. Those people are hypocrites.
We live in a cultural and political landscape that has so very many divides, land mines, and mountains between us. We often times push back on ideas and statements, if for no other reason because the perceived “other team” is pushing/saying them. If we as a movement, as a party, as a people, and as a country are to move forward; if we are to better ourselves and truly embody the beliefs that we espouse to stand for, we must support all life, from the cradle to the grave, and do it in a manner that still holds true to our ideology and beliefs. I think we can do it. It will be hard and it will be painful, but I think at the end of the day it will be worth it, because, if for no other reason it is the right thing to do.
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