A Genteel Rant on Party Unity

Having let this simmer on the back burner for a few weeks, I find it’s still apt, even with the election so close. Therefore, for your consideration:

Remember, I’m not a political action committee, nor do I plan to turn this blog into a mouthpiece for one. It’s election season, though, so forgive me the occasional rant. There’s a campaign phenomenon that drives me nuts: people who campaign for (insert party name here) candidates for the sole reason that they belong to (insert party name here), because “party unity” or some such thing.

I’ve been a campaign staffer on two statewide Republican campaigns, both of which hired me knowing I’m an independent. A generation ago, back when I was a registered Republican, I was involved in platform debates. There’s pressure to support the entire party slate of candidates, top to bottom. That’s true of every party. I get that.

But I don’t think it’s too much to expect for pro-lifers to be pro-life first and (insert party name here) second. When elected officials of a party with a pro-life platform are not united in supporting that plank, and when the right to life is fundamental, then it’s kind of silly to vote a straight (insert party here) ticket.

This rant is prompted by an unconfirmed report to me that a strong pro-life state representative in a large southern New Hampshire town is campaigning for one of his fellow incumbents. The fellow incumbent in question has cancelled out the pro-life rep’s votes on abortion statistics and the viability bill this year, which is to say the two reps voted on opposite sides. (They did manage to find common ground on fetal homicide last year.)

Two bills, you might say. Get a grip, lady.

Yes, only two bills. Still, we’re not talking about biomass subsidies or tax policy or whether five-year-olds should be in school all day. In the case of the viability bill, we’re talking about whether those five-year-olds had any right to protection and medical care five years and two months ago, when they were preborn but viable.

Vote for whomever you want. Just remember that the viability bill was tabled – that is, discussion was terminated- on a vote of 170-163.  That’s a small margin. How many of those 170 votes were cast by people who benefited from the campaign support of pro-lifers, and the support of a “pro-life” (insert party name here) party?

Ask questions of your candidates. They’re probably going to be standing right outside the polling place on Election Day. Abortion’s legal throughout pregnancy in New Hampshire; are you OK with that? Do you know where your nearest pro-life pregnancy care center is, and have you asked for a tour to learn about their work with women and families? For the sake of women’s safety, do you think abortion providers should have medical credentials? (In New Hampshire, anyone – with or without training – may provide abortions.) Do you think children who survive abortion should receive medical care? Do you think New Hampshire should join the forty-some-odd other states who provide the Centers for Disease Control with aggregate statistical public health data on abortion? Do you think abortion facilities ought to meet the same patient-safety standards as ambulatory surgical facilities? What do you think of efforts to legalize physician-assisted suicide?

There are plenty of nice people running for office. There are plenty of people you know from the school parking lot and the neighborhood playground and the grocery store. The ballot might be filled with people you’ve known for years. Hooray for all that. But be careful. Plenty of the 170 people who voted to terminate consideration of the viability bill are nice neighbors. Being nice neighbors didn’t prevent them voting to keep abortion unregulated throughout pregnancy.

Who’s getting EMILY’s List support: 2018 NH edition

I just posted over at GraniteGrok about the list of New Hampshire candidates being promoted by the pro-abortion PAC EMILY’s List in the November 6, 2018 election. Please head over and read the post to find out the names of a few of the people committed to keeping New Hampshire Gosnell-friendly.

For Primary Day: Notes on Jane Cormier

Jane Cormier is on the GOP ballot for Executive Council district 4 (Manchester and 18 towns) on Tuesday, September 12. I recall interviewing her for another race four years ago. Here are some excerpts.

Jane Cormier’s neighbors elected her to the state legislature in 2012. She earned the Republican nomination for the seat the hard way, defeating an incumbent. She did it as a political newcomer, in a year when many GOP candidates were clobbered. Not a conventional candidate, by any measure. Proudly pro-life, too.

This was no “stealth” candidate. Jane Cormier was (and is) right up front about who she is and what she believes. “Being outspoken, telling the truth, has no ‘R’ or ‘D’ attached.”

…In her first year in office, she sponsored a bill to strengthen informed consent requirements for women seeking abortion [and] she was among the most committed legislative opponents of the buffer zone bill.

…Jane Cormier doesn’t mince words, and some of her fellow Republicans aren’t sure what to make of that. “If you are assertive, you are branded as a bomb-thrower. I’ve been called that more than a few times. I am someone who’s trying to get back to the Founding documents.”

“A fellow Republican told me I was [annoying people]. And I said to him, when do we push back? If we have a situation where it’s plain and simple, what is being said is wrong, is untruthful, we are not supposed to address it? And if it’s not me, who? And on the life issue, when do we push back? You shouldn’t be afraid to address it. It’s part of the platform.”

…I asked her what she’s proudest of from her term in the House. “That I would stand in my principles, no matter how much somebody pushed back. My principles do not move. Reaching across the aisle does not mean giving up the farm.

“My job is to fight for the race and let God do the rest.”

Executive Council district 4 is currently represented by Chris Pappas (D-Manchester), who is leaving the Council to run for Congress. District 4 includes Manchester and the towns of Allenstown, Auburn, Barrington, Bedford, Bow, Candia, Chichester, Deerfield, Epsom, Goffstown, Hooksett, Lee, Londonderry, Loudon, Northwood, Nottingham, Pembroke, and Pittsfield.

Bearing fruit, making progress: latest 40 Days for Life campaign concludes

A portion of this post is adapted from remarks I delivered at the closing rally for 40 Days for Life in Manchester, New Hampshire.

This has been one of those 40 Days for Life campaigns that I refuse to call a “Spring” campaign. Too darn cold and snowy. So what did we have for the closing rally? Temps in the mid-forties, and a forecast of rain. Spring rain! How good that sounded.

40 Days for Life participants in prayer
The winter/spring 2018 40 Days for Life campaign in Manchester, NH draws to a close with prayer. All photos in this post by Ellen Kolb.

I was blessed during this campaign to be able to participate in campaigns in Concord and Greenland as well as Manchester. Manchester’s sort of home base, and I’m grateful to campaign coordinator Sheila and her team. Traveling was good, though. I saw 40 Days for Life through fresh eyes as I visited different towns.

Leader of Manchester NH 40 Days for Life campaign
Sheila D. led the Manchester, NH campaign. She’s a volunteer, as are her colleagues on the leadership team.

One of the things I love about 40 Days for Life is its presence in so many cities at the same time. If I was praying at 7 a.m. in Manchester, even with just one other person, I knew we were praying and witnessing in solidarity with many other people.

We have good days – a conversation with a woman considering abortion, a “save,” maybe just a smile from a passerby – and bad days when we feel “what’s the point?” When that happens, remember that peaceful, consistent pro-life witness during 40 Days for Life is touching people not involved with the facility outside which we stand. The neighbors see us. So do the driver of the school bus rumbling down Pennacook Street, and the woman walking to the Rite-Aid on the corner, and the guy sweeping the streets. There’s no telling when or where or how peaceful witness will bear fruit.

We all know that it’s not bearing fruit at the State House at the moment. March was a discouraging month, legislatively. It would be easy for me to focus on that. Culture is about more than politics, though.

This was brought home to me at a recent hearing in Concord, where I met someone just getting started in pro-life work. At the same hearing was an old friend who’s been in the vineyard with me, so to speak, for about 30 years. The three of us got to talking. My new friend asked us if New Hampshire had made any pro-life progress over the years.

I felt like a know-it-all fifth grader. Ooh! Ooh! I know this one! I got ready to launch into a sixty-second rant about how terrible our laws are relative to the right to life. As I drew breath to start, though, my old friend said, “oh yes, definitely.” Knocked me right off my soapbox. New friend and I exclaimed at the same time, “what do you mean?”

My old friend then laid down a bit of truth that put politics in its place. “Thirty years ago, there were seven crisis pregnancy centers in the state. Now, there are 30 places, pro-life places, where women can go.”

Think about that. Thirty places. And they’re not just about crisis pregnancies, either. For example, what does every center publish on its wish list for donations? Toddler-size diapers and training pants. So much for only caring about babies until they’re born. And for moms and dads, many centers offer parenting classes and assistance with job-hunting. Some places offer housing for pregnant and parenting women who would otherwise be homeless.

Each of the 30 places began with one person seeing a need. It takes a team to open and sustain a pro-life project, but each one starts with a single person with compassion and vision. Think of that next time you’re in prayer, alone, wondering if you can make a difference. Yes, you can.

We begin laying the groundwork for the Fall campaign today. Let’s spread the news. If you have pro-life friends, if you’re in a service group or prayer circle, if you have a podcast, if you are part of any pro-life organization that needs a speaker, invite someone on the 40 Days for Life leadership team. I’m saying this without consulting any of them, but I feel safe in saying that they would welcome the chance to tell more people about what 40 Days for Life is about.

I want those team leaders to get so many speaking engagements that they can’t keep up. Let them get mad at me for putting them in that predicament. It’ll be worth it.

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Gallery: New Hampshire March for Life 2018

A cloudy January thaw gave way to a freezing but brilliantly-sunny day for the 2018 March for Life in Concord, New Hampshire. New Hampshire Right to Life’s annual event  drew more than 300 marchers for the procession down Main Street beginning at the State House.

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The featured speaker at the post-march gathering was Jennifer Christie of Save the 1. She is a rape survivor and mother of a son of whom she says, “We are infinitely richer for this child being in the world.”  (Read Jennifer’s story at the Save the 1 blog.)

Jennifer Christie speaks at N.H. March for Life.
Jennifer Christie of Save the 1 speaks at NH’s March for Life.

The march route goes past the Equality Center, an abortion facility on Main Street. The city of Concord has developed over the years a way of handling the March for Life and the counter-demonstration that accompanies it: every other year, the March for Life may walk in front of the Center. Other years, the marchers must detour a block around the Center. 2018 was a Main Street year. The counter-demonstrators concealed from view  the sign near the Center’s front steps declaring “Respectful, Open, Affirming.”

I spotted a few state representatives: Reps. Glenn Cordelli, Linda Gould, Steve Negron, and Jeanine Notter.  Rep. Notter spoke to marchers about her bill on informed consent for abortion (HB 1707), which will have its committee hearing in Concord on Wednesday, January 17.  Rep. Negron spoke briefly about his campaign for the Congressional seat currently held by Ann McLane Kuster.

More from the day: