Saturday, June 20, 2015

Managing the Electoral Politics of Fetal Rights

Photo Credit

I recently blogged about this article by Rick McGinnis, and I'm going to do it again, because he brings up a number of salient points.

For a start, we need to examine why we insist on throwing our default political support behind a political party whose leader has explicitly said that no challenge to the status quo on abortion will be made by his government. The relationship between Stephen Harper’s Conservatives and the pro-life movement is one where we get nothing while they blithely assume that they’ll still get our votes, as they’re the only major party that will allow an MP to be personally pro-life and remain in the caucus, even if they can never rely on their party to support any attempt at changing legislation. As pandering goes, it’s nakedly cynical, and to our shame it works.

There's some truth to that.

When it comes to pro-life activism, I think pro-lifers need to understand one thing.

In order to advance, we need to exercise contradictory strategies.

So, we need pro-lifers inside the Conservative party. When you are inside the party, you support the party, period. That's how party politics goes.

There also needs to be pro-lifers outside the party. Their job is to keep the Conservative party honest.

There also needs to be pro-lifers who are in electoral politics, who are not in the Conservatives, so pro-lifers can vote for something else.

If you do only one part of the strategy, it doesn't work.

So if pro-lifers support the Conservatives no matter what, that doesn't work.

If we don't work inside the party, that doesn't work.

If we don't have alternatives, that doesn't work.

We need to do all three, even though they are mutually contradictory.

Right now, pro-lifers do seem to be pro-Conservative. I think to some degree, this is because pro-lifers want other issues to advance, and since a lot of Conservatives are pro-life, that's very convenient: as long as they're voting Conservative, they're "voting pro-life" by default.

These pro-lifers -- so-called-- are basically conservatives first, pro-life second.

If you want politicians to listen to you, you have to be ready to punish.

Now we don't want to punish good pro-life MP's who actually do something for fetal rights. So whoever lives in their ridings can continue voting for them.

But whoever does nothing for the pro-life cause: doesn't vote pro-life, doesn't speak up, etc, they have to be voted out.

Thus, the importance of having a pro-life alternative, like the CHP.

Now you might argue: but the alternative to having a lukewarm pro-life MP is having a hardcore pro-abortion MP.

That is true. But the alternative to never punishing is that nothing ever advances. We're not here to keep the status quo. We're here to move things forward. Nothing moves forward if politicians are not punished for their neglect of fetal rights.

Now of course, this political strategy can't operate in a cultural vacuum. If pro-life ideas aren't winners in the political sphere, it's because they don't have enough clout in the cultural sphere.

But that's the subject of a whole other blogpost. That doesn't mean we stop making effort on the electoral front. We have to build the foundation to be ready for when the pro-life vote does come. But it means that we can't just laser-focus on elections.