Why I Am A Single Issue Voter
“You’re a single issue voter.”
A couple of weeks ago, a somewhat heated debate on, of all places, my Facebook wall. The topic was about the upcoming Presidential Election. In a thread that went back and forth about different politicians as well as different issues, at one point I said, “Well I could never even consider voting for President Obama. He is steadfastly in support of keeping abortion legal. He has nominated Supreme Court justices that will uphold this evil law as legal. His health care legislation – which was narrowly passed by Congress, narrowly upheld in the Supreme Court, and set to be enacted after this election – would force Catholic hospitals and institutions to violate our religious beliefs and teachings by paying for sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and devices as well as contraceptives. He’s made his pro-abortion view point pretty absolute.”
My friend posted back to me, “Well then there’s no point in arguing with you because you’re a single issue voter.” At first I argued against that label and was kind of offended by it. I’m concerned about a lot of things. I think about a lot of issues:
The message of Jesus Christ from the Gospel clearly and emphatically calls me to dedicate my life to service in care of the poor, the immigrant, the sick, the prisoner. From the first pages of the Old Testament, I’m reminded how humanity has been made in the image and likeness of God. That reality means as His creatures we must be good stewards and care for His creation - so environmental issues are important to me as well. As a priest living a mere 15 miles from where the Twin Towers stood until September 11, 2001, I know the horrific effect of what terrorism does (and did to some of my own parishioners families), and it challenges me to think about how do we protect ourselves? Where is the line between “justice” and “vengeance” in our response to such a horrific event? Eleven years later, what are our responsibilities, our failures with those responses? And with unemployment still at a rate that’s been unprecedented in my lifetime, with a lack of financial responsibility in terms of borrowing, spending, debt, taxes, which seems so complicated and so seemingly hopeless, there’s a great amount of finger pointing and fear all around us.
So I read, think, listen and pray over these different issues. I find myself admiring, agreeing, and looking at issues in different ways as I listen to the different politicians and political parties. Things that I thought could sway my vote from one candidate to another. But that’s when the reality truly hit me. I am a single-issue voter. And I’m not embarrassed about it. Nor will I allow myself to be bullied or derided by that “label” by those who affix it with a level of intellectualism that attempts to portray me as somewhat ignorant for proudly admitting this.
The Church,which has existed over nine times longer than our nation has, keeps proclaiming: this issue is the issue. Quite simply, if we can’t get on the same page on abortion - then what hope do we have to get together on any other issue?
We know from science that the fetus in the womb is a human being - no woman has ever given birth to a plant, fish or other “life form.” Thanks to advancements in technology we can peer in and see the amazing, undeniable growth that occurs from the moment of conception minute by minute. How can we not just step back and have awe, wonder? How have we lost reverence for this miracle, this mystery that is life itself?
Thankfully, more and more people seem to be regaining that awe and wonder. Polls indicate that a growing majority of Americans identify themselves as Pro-Life (including among college-age students). This shift of “opinion” over the last 38 years has not come easily. It’s happened because of the prayers of many for a conversion of hearts for a deeper reverence for life. It’s happened because of the courageous witness and testimony of women who tell the world how they “regret their abortions” (and share there anguish over their decision). It’s happened because of all those advances in science and technology where people see their children growing in the womb earlier and earlier. In my lifetime, I’ve seen how all these things have powerfully shifted peoples’ opinions and perspectives to becoming more “pro-life.”
But that claim has yet to be pronounced at the ballot box. And as I talk to people, there are some who are afraid, as I was, to be labeled a single-issue voter, so they’re considering voting for a Pro-Choice candidate.
Why is this one issue so central? Well if you ask yourself, “why are you Pro-Life?” The simplest answer is you are against killing an innocent human life in the womb.
Those who are Pro-Choice fall into a variety of other categories.
The point is, no matter what the root reason for their support for abortion on this issue, it is diametrically opposite of what a Pro-Lifer thinks. But the thing is, it’s not something we can just “agree to disagree” about. If we can’t recognize the importance of life at all its stages, but most especially at its most vulnerable and innocent stage in the womb of the child’s mother, what hope do we have in addressing other important issues? If I don’t recognize a baby’s basic right to life, why would I care about any other rights of my fellow human beings? If the innocent life in the womb can be so easily discarded by society, then what’s to stop society from discarding the poor and ignoring questions over healthcare or welfare? If life has so little value that its dignity cannot be seen in the unborn child, what’s to stop an escalation in violence in addressing all sorts of issues whether locally to globally from vigilantism, war, capital punishment?
When you think about it, with many issues, you and I can argue, and think, and persuade, and argue with each other some more about what’s right, what’s best for our nation. But with abortion, quite simply, millions upon millions of our brothers and sisters have legally been killed in the one place that should be the safest place for them to be in – their mother’s womb.
So yes, I am saddened that all of the other issues that are important to me, that I have heard interesting and compelling arguments from a variety of perspectives will continue to remain at large. That is yet one more evil consequence to a nation that has allowed the slaughter of the most innocent to continue. Until that ends, yeah, I’m a single-issue voter. And I look forward to the day when I don’t have to be.
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