Words don’t have the same import once you have changed their meaning. Given the position he has taken on the government’s responsibility to secure the unalienable right to life, Herman Cain has been trying to achieve the “de facto” redefinition of what it means to be “pro-life.” He said repeatedly that abortion is not the government’s decision, but a decision for families and individuals to make. In practically the same breath, he emphatically declared that he is strongly pro-life. This leads to the misperception that someone who believes that it is not the government’s responsibility to protect and defend the unalienable right to life can nonetheless be accepted not just as “pro-life” but as strongly and emphatically so. (Of course, don’t most pro-lifers know that this view contradicts what the authors of the Declaration of Independence rightly say about the purpose of all government, to wit: “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men …”?) The clincher is, of course, that the situation created by the Roe v. Wade decision corresponds exactly to the stance Cain has taken. The Supreme Court’s fabrication of an individual constitutional right to abortion perforce leaves the decision to individuals and precludes legislation by government to coerce their will.
Did Cain (or those whose direction or counsel he follows) think people in the pro-life community so thoughtless or cowardly that they would not perceive and speak out against this transmutation of meaning? Did they assume that the “dumbing down” of American education has now produced such pervasive results that few would understand much less react against this mockery of the pro-life cause? Did they believe that none would reject the radical excision of purpose involved in accepting Cain’s bid to become the political leader who represents and epitomizes pro-life Americans?
Predictably, the intensely negative reaction to Cain’s statements from within the pro-life community has now led him to try dancing nimbly away from them. I have no doubt that some susceptible pro-life leaders will now accept Cain’s transparently reactive efforts to walk away from his repeatedly articulated conflation of the pro-life and so-called “pro-choice” positions.
They will point to his sudden podium pounding promise to appoint pro-life judges. But if Cain really thinks that the “pro-choice pro-life” position he has been articulating is sensible, this is a promise to appoint judges who will leave in place the results of the Roe jurisprudence (abortion by individual decision with no legal protection for the unalienable right to life). Susceptible pro-life leaders will also point to his hasty declaration that he is now willing to support actions by law to prohibit abortion as if a) such a promise, made under political duress, will survive when changing circumstances change the calculus of political costs; and b) Cain will be able effectively to articulate the sound reason for supporting such actions when his only reason for doing so is political expediency. Neither assumption makes sense. (Nor is Obama so inept that we should count on him to neglect this vulnerability in debate. He will argue plausibly that Cain really agrees with the “pro-choice” position, but lacks the courage to defend it against the GOP’s “anti-choice extremists.”)
These susceptible “pro-life” leaders may also point to Cain’s money backing of this or that pro-life effort, as if people should simply forget that demonstrably false “pro-life” politicians like Mitt Romney (whom Cain backed in 2008) and others have not been averse to buying favor from susceptible “pro-life” leaders and organizations in this way. These susceptible leaders apparently forget the proverb that counsels care when dining at the table of a political leader, saying, “Do not desire his delicacies, for it is deceptive food” (Proverbs 23:3). I wonder, though, whether more disinterested grass-roots pro-lifers will be moved to follow their example. It may be that here the proverb applies which says that “the rich man is wise in his own eyes, but the poor man who has understanding sees through him” (Proverbs 28:11).
I think many people are now seeing through Herman Cain’s maneuverings. But do they yet fully understand that what they see are not just the maneuverings of an individual candidate, but the deliberate stratagems of the elitist forces currently in control of the GOP, whom he represents? These forces have no sincere interest in restoring America’s allegiance to the vision of God-endowed rights acted on by America’s founders. Their priorities lie elsewhere. They have been selling the “I’m personally against abortion, but support ‘abortion rights'” poison for years, as have many of the Democrats. They are pleased to see Herman Cain push a fatally transformative formulation of the pro-life position to see whether it is tolerated, while quickly backing off when it encounters firm opposition. Like the famous communist Vladimir Lenin, they see the gains that can be achieved by those who are cunning enough to “probe with bayonets.”
I pray that pro-life adherents of the Declaration’s principles will not be taken in by this. I pray that they will not let themselves be conned again. I pray that these good-hearted and well-intentioned people will stop looking for hope where there is none, “for promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge. …” (Psalm 75)
The present twin-party sham is an ill wind; a bad tree. As Christ said, a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. America needs a better alternative. Do conscientious Americans still have the know-how, faith and courage needed to build one? I pray they do, for America’s better future depends on it.