Life and Liberty, in that order

 

memory.loc.gov, printed by Mary Katharine Goddard c. 1777
Declaration of Independence, memory.loc.gov, printed by Mary Katharine Goddard c. 1777

Karen Testerman’s recent Facebook post, in reply to supporters who are reluctant to follow her into Bob Smith’s camp, includes this: “Friends, it is about life, liberty and property and adherence to the Constitution. Without life, we cannot have liberty or property. Neither of the other two candidates will promote a culture of life. Life is not an issue. It is a fundamental principle that is foundational to America.”

That’s a good point that becomes more important as self-identified libertarians or liberty Republicans step up to run for office. There will be primaries this year in New Hampshire, several of them against Republican state senate incumbents who cast ill-advised votes on taxation, education and Medicaid expansion. Fair enough. I love primaries. They tend to discourage complacency.

But for the sake of all I hold dear, I don’t assume that every challenger is pro-life, particularly at the state representative and state senate level where so many important decisions are made. I want to ask the candidates some questions, read their literature, and look at how they’ve voted in other offices. What would they do if there were an attempt to repeal parental notification? Ask what they’ll do about the state’s buffer zone law. If the Supreme Court OKs the 35-foot zone in Massachusetts, will they support extending New Hampshire’s “up to 25 feet” provision? Are they favorably disposed to regulating the abortion industry, even in the limited manner currently acceptable to the Supreme Court? Do they know who Kermit Gosnell is?

Beware of candidates who put liberty ahead of life. As the campaign season goes forward, we’ll learn if such candidates are out there.

More on primaries: 

Senator David Boutin is on the hot seat for his Medicaid expansion vote. He’s being primaried by an impeccably pro-life state rep, Jane Cormier. Good – but it would be grossly unfair to forget that Boutin was the one and only Manchester senator who stood fast against the buffer zone. Voters in District 16, including the ones who will vote for Cormier, ought to thank him face-to-face for that. He was under a lot of pressure to cave in, and he did the right thing. He and Cormier were on the same side in that battle. He voted for effective language in Griffin’s Law, too, before voting to table the bill. You don’t hear much about that nowadays, as his district is being flooded with mailers pointing out his more egregious votes.

Two other state senators who opposed the buffer zone (although one of them took his time about it) and supported Griffin’s Law are being primaried as well. Where do the challengers stand on the right to life? I’ll be asking them, and until I hear their answers, I won’t be leading any cheers for change.

 

 

SoCons & libertarians: Can we all just (sort of) get along?

There were two lively panels at CPAC today, meaning two panels that actually featured people with opposing views who aired their differences (in a civil manner, I might add). One involved the tension between national security and privacy. The other, much more relevant to the life issues, was about whether social conservatives and libertarians can ever get along. The discussion among the four men on that panel included reaction to the suggestion that lightening up on the social issues is the only way to make the GOP appeal to the rising generation. (The young people in the audience were by no means united in their responses to that.)

This topic interests me, because some of my closest political allies on the state level as far as life and marriage issues are concerned identify themselves as libertarians or “liberty Republicans.” We get along fine. Then again, a few fierce opponents of policies I favor are libertarian. Experience tells me that the answer to the can-we-get-along question is “sometimes.”

Michael Medved, author and political commentator, was the panelist whose ideas leaned most toward a natural synthesis of SoCon/libertarian. “Easing up on social issues is not an issue, because we both have a bigger problem: Big Government. What works, what we’ve seen work, is libertarian means and conservative goals.”

The example Medved cited was the right to life. In the past few years, many state-level laws regulating abortion have passed, and there has been a corresponding drop in the abortion rate, which is something prolife Americans have been working towards. The changes came at the state level, not federal. They came by legislative action – the branch closest to the people – not by judicial fiat, which has been seen far too often in state decisions on marriage. The changes in laws, Medved believes, reflect the gradual shift in public opinion that has come from local-level example and persuasion over the long term. Libertarian means, conservative goals.

I think he’s on to something. It’s not a complete treatment of the SoCon/libertarian tension, and it doesn’t address the fact that viewing the right to life as a local option makes it not a “right” at all. There’s no denying, though, that persuasion and state-level action have brought progress towards recognition of the right to life, while undermining the ’70s-era philosophy that pitted mothers against their preborn children.

And since neither SoCons nor libertarians are going away, insights like Medved’s are valuable.