The Pro-Life Case for Bernie Sanders or, The One in Which I Anger Everyone

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 07:  U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) holds a news conference to announce their proposed legislation to strengthen Social Security March 7, 2013 in Washington, DC. Sanders and U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) are sponsoring the "Keepping Our Social Security Promises Act," which they say will increase payroll taxes on the wealthest and bolster Social Security without raising the retirement age or lowering benefits.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement for Bernie Sanders. It is merely an attempt to show there are multiple ways to approach a pro-life stance without banning abortion.

The American tradition of trying to pick our next president well over a year before the election is in full swing. Still months away from a primary candidates are already coming out of the woodwork and, true to form, appealing to the most extreme in their respective groups (or in the case of Donald Trump, the most extreme are running for president).

Still, the one candidate who has my attention is Bernie Sanders. No other candidate really grabs my attention, makes me think, or – dare I say it – excites me and gives me hope. While I’m not a Democratic Socialist (as I think Socialism is only slightly better than Capitalism), I do think what he offers is vastly closer to my own economic beliefs than any other candidate. His stance on war and diplomacy is a breath of fresh air. While he’s not middle class, he’s also not a millionaire or billionaire, meaning he’s closer to the struggles of the middle class than anyone out there. Essentially, for all intents and purposes, Sanders is kind of my dream candidate, except for one thing:

He’s very pro-choice while I’m very pro-life.

And when it comes to matters of life it’s not exactly a small issue. While I’m not a one-issue voter, voting on life is more important than taxes or even income inequality. And we can’t hide behind the excuse that since Roe v. Wade will most likely never be overturned, it doesn’t matter who we elect; the president can hand out executive orders concerning abortion. A pro-life president can make abortion restrictive while a pro-choice president can loosen restrictions. So it does matter.

How, then, can someone who is pro-life such as myself (rabidly so I might add), support Bernie Sanders without any sense of cognitive dissonance?

Not so long ago I wrote about how because I’m pro-life, I can’t be a conservative. Before that, about three years ago, I even said that Republicans aren’t actually pro-life. The reason I’ve made such arguments is that I find it absolutely absurd to make the claim to be “pro-life,” but then do nothing to support life outside of the womb. After all, overturning Roe v. Wade is a pipe dream and even if it occurred, even if we could wave a magic wand and overturn that case and make abortion illegal, abortions would continue. The reason they would continue is because the conditions that make abortion so prevalent in the US would still exist.

Hence my support for Bernie Sanders: I see his policies as a way to actually reduce the number of abortions. While the abortion rate in the US has declined on and off since 2000, it’s actually increased for poor women. According to the same study, nearly 69% of abortions in the US come from economically disadvantaged women. This means women who can’t afford to take time off work, typically have substandard healthcare, have little to no paid vacation, work 40+ hours a week, and live paycheck to paycheck (or overdraft to overdraft) just to pay for themselves. Adding a child to the mix is a near impossibility. In terms of actual poverty, another study shows that 42% of women who obtain abortions live at or below the poverty line (economically disadvantaged doesn’t always meet the federal definition of poverty). According to the same study, 33% of women who had abortions lacked health insurance with another 31% using Medicaid. Only 30% of the women who had an abortion had health insurance (though the quality isn’t measured).

Compare such statistics to Western Europe, who has one of the lowest abortion rates in the world. Of course, Western Europe is known for its “socialist” approach to healthcare, namely that anyone gets it for free. That means a pregnant woman, even one in poverty, gets paid time off work, typically gets discounted or free daycare, gets free pre and post-natal healthcare, gets family leave, and the list goes on. Many of the issues in the United States that prevent a woman from having a child are eradicated in Western Europe. While one could argue that Western Europe also has restrictive abortion laws, most (88%) allow for abortions in economic circumstances, making such a point moot. Rather, what we can look at is that the infant mortality rate is drastically better than the United States (we’re ranked 27th among “rich” nations, 55th overall). In keeping with a very common theme, the study shows that wealthy mothers in the US have an infant mortality that matches and is, in some cases, better than any other nation. But economically disadvantaged mothers have an infant mortality rate on par with Qatar and Russia.  Continue reading

Why Liberty Matters or, the Pursuit of an Ideal is Better than the Pursuit of Nothing

DSC01965One of the more famous quotes from early in the American Revolution was Patrick Henry saying “Give me liberty or give me death!” The less quoted part of his conclusion in his speech, attempting to sway the Virginia house to commit to war against the Empire, was this:

Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

“Give me liberty or give me death” seemed to be the rallying cry for the Virginia militia and eventually Continental Regulars. They were willing to die before having their liberty officially taken away from them. For them, the pursuit of the ideal of liberty was so important that it was worth giving one’s life in that pursuit.

Of course, as is true of anything, in pursuing any ideal there are imperfections. The most glaring imperfections in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War was the prohibition of voting to women, slavery, and the eventual genocide of the Native American people. In pursuing an ideal, that ideal is not always acted out perfectly, but in pursuing the ideal the hope exists that we will move closer and closer to liberty. Our nation has never achieved its mantra of “Liberty and Justice for all,” but it has worked toward that direction. In many instances, that direction came with the threat of life. The slaves who did all they could to escape north before the Civil War, to risk their lives for liberty. The men – both black and white – who fought against slavery in the Civil War thought that liberty was more important than living. And after this all, our nation still inhibited the liberty of our black brothers and sisters by segregating them away from the rest of the population, but even in this there were movers who put their own safety on the line (and gave up their lives) to reach equality in all things, including liberty.

Liberty is important because it goes to who we are as people. A dog is happy on a leash, he is happy in a fenced-in backyard, he is happy when an owner feeds him. A dog only becomes unhappy when abused. A dog, however, is a beast, and men are not dogs, but in many ways are far worse. A man who is kept on a leash, forced to live within a fence, supplied food and water, is a slave. Even if he is treated well, then he is only a well-treated slave. He is treated as lesser than the one who owns him and has no real freedom. Human beings, being rational, need the freedom to think and then act on these thoughts, this requires true liberty. When liberty is taken away, even for seemingly benevolent reasons, it opens the door for oppression to occur. Putting a whip in the master’s hand will allow him to protect you from any wolves that come after you, but it will also allow him to whip you for not obeying him. Liberty is important because it provides a check against human rights abuses by those in authority.

Even today, we struggle with liberty, but the difference between today and previous generations is that today we no longer pursue the ideal of liberty. We pursue the ideals of safety and tolerance, and those two couldn’t be further from liberty. In pursuing safety we happily give up our rights. Consider the latest NSA fiasco and how the NSA has now admitted that they actually do listen in on phone calls without warrants. This is done in the name of “national security” and “fighting terrorism” and so the public remains at ease. Our pursuit of tolerance has ruined liberty because we’ve somehow made “free from being offended” and “tolerance” synonymous. Thus, if a business owner refuses to participate in an activity he doesn’t agree with, that owner is sued and we try to make the government force him to act against his conscience. Why? Because it’s offensive to us that he would have a conscience different from our own.

On the issue of safety, one cannot pursue liberty, but then give precedence to safety. There is no compromise between the two, even if our President thinks one can be found. Either you pursue liberty and allow for safety within the pursuit of liberty (meaning that we can still listen in on phones and the like, but only with a warrant, only with just cause) or we allow for liberty within the pursuit of safety. The former is how strong nations develop, the latter is how tyrants form.

On the issue of tolerance, one cannot pursue liberty, but then give precedence to tolerance. I cannot say I support freedom of speech (which includes conscience) and then sue with any speech I disagree with. While it is true that we must protect citizens from the tyranny of other citizens, we must do so within reason. Forcing people to act against their religious beliefs does not protect liberty. The whole irony in the pursuit of tolerance is that it actually leads us to be quite intolerant of those we disagree with. “Tolerance” becomes a code word for, “Those who agree with me.” Traditionally, tolerance was saying, “I disagree with your position, but I’ll fight for your right to believe what you believe.” Now it means, “I disagree with your position and I’ll fight for the government to force you to act against that position.”

Tolerance has become a way for us to say, “It’s okay if you believe this way, but you better not act according to that belief.” That’s not liberty, that’s tyranny. If a Muslim wants to bow to Mecca five times a day and there are those who want to stop him, those who want the government to intervene, then a true lover of liberty would stand guard over the Muslim as he bows so as to protect him, even if he disagrees with Islam. If a Christian man doesn’t want to use his business to support a homosexual union, then a true lover of liberty would respect his decision and either boycott his business or start a competing business that catered to everyone, regardless of sexual orientation. Either way, he wouldn’t ask for government intervention to change how someone thinks and acts; again, that’s tyranny (just look at 1984). We used to believe that, “I disagree with you, but I’ll fight for your right to say it.” Now we want to silence our opponents, and this happens between both conservatives and liberals (think of how many people attempted to stop a mosque from being built near Ground Zero, even though the First Amendment protects all religions).

In giving up the ideal of liberty for the ideals of safety and tolerance we have put a time limit on this experiment called America. The America that once was, the one that was highly imperfect, but still pursuing liberty, will simply cease to exist. It only has a few more generations and, in truth, we may already be on the precipice of generations that are more willing to embrace tyranny. How long before the definition of “terrorist” is loosened and other people are included? The pursuit of safety and tolerance leaves open the door to persecution of those we disagree with, or who are labeled “intolerant.”

“But that would never happen here! We have laws that protect citizens from being persecuted by their government!” Yes, a government agency would never become corrupted to the point that it would target those who disagree with the policies of an administration so as to make their lives difficult. That would never happen in the United States, correct? I need not point to the Soviet Union or Hitler’s Germany for examples of what happens when safety and tolerance (eradicating those who disagree with you) are put into place above liberty, I can point to our own history. I can point to the FBI targeting civil rights groups in the 1950s and 60s, or Congress targeting suspecting Communists in the 1950s, or the Executive branch forcing Japanese-Americans into internment camps during WWII, or Nixon wiretapping his political opponents, or the IRS targeting conservative non-profits. There are many other examples within our own history of our government abusing any power it receives  of the examples I listed, only one was actually illegal under the law (the IRS issue is still being investigated).

When you give your master a whip to protect you from those you fear, you inevitably allow the master to whip you. When you allow the oppression of those you disagree with, it doesn’t take long before you disagree with the establishment on something else and you find yourself oppressed. This is not fear speaking, this is a voice from history. We were always told that those who didn’t study history were doomed to repeat it; but the study of history is not enough, we must understand it. We must realize that when liberty is no longer the ideal for a people group, the citizens become slaves, they face oppression, and it eventually results in the collapse of that society. That is the direction for America as it stands, but it is not too late to change our pursuit.

Sowing what we reap or, This isn’t the Government we need right now, but it is the Government we deserve

DSC02086Forty years ago to the week, May 17, 1973, the nation was engulfed in a scandal when it was revealed that President Richard Nixon’s administration had broken into the Watergate Hotel in order to gain an advantage of his Democratic contenders. This week has seen scandal after scandal from our present administration that rival – and in some cases surpasses – the crimes of Nixon. For those looking for a post that bashes President Obama, however, please stop reading now. This post will point out his flaws and how his administration has been complicit in some troubling matters, but ultimately the blame is on us, whether conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat; the society of America (or lack thereof) is to blame for what has occurred.

There are too many scandals to really mention. The two biggest that have broken lately would be the IRS targeting conservative groups and individuals who spoke out against the government and the Department of Justice tapping the phones of the Associated Press in order to find out who their sources were. The IRS not only targeted conservative groups, but they leaked confidential information about those groups to the media. What is sad is that there is still more to this scandal that we haven’t seen. The man in charge of investigating the actions of the IRS in its targeting, however, may not be the most trustworthy investigator. Eric Holder is embroiled in his own scandal of wire tapping the AP’s phone lines. When asked for documents explaining why the phones were tapped, the AP was provided with 100% redacted documents. Thus, the man in charge of investigating government overreach and corruption is accused of overreaching the limits of the Constitution by tapping the phones of a news agency. It’s like sending a lion to investigate the death of a zebra by another lion. All the while, other major scandals that have cost humans their lives have gone relatively unnoticed.

Perhaps you heard of Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy. What you probably didn’t hear about was Kermit Gosnell, a trial that has flown relatively under the radar considering the subject material. One reporter did ask President Obama for his thoughts on Gosnell – considering that Obama supports the “right” of abortionists to kill babies born alive after an abortion – but he declined to answer because it was an “ongoing trial” (I think that’s the first time Obama let that impede a response, especially considering his comments about the Crowley/Gates scandal as well as Trayvon Martin’s death). But now? Perhaps someone should ask him again how he feels.

Not to pick solely on President Obama, consider the absolutely unreported scandal that thousands of Christians have died in the Middle East ever since we decided to invade Iraq in 2003. In fact, the most likely scenario is that Christians will become extinct in the Middle East – where Christianity began and has survived for 2,000 years – quicker than polar bears in the Arctic. US foreign policy, starting with George W. Bush, is responsible for the deaths and displacement of thousands of Christians. Bush gave the Iraqi government money, the same government that turned around and persecuted Christians. We simply looked the other way. Obama is giving guns to the Syrian rebels, who in turn have killed and kidnapped Christians. We cannot say, “Well that’s how Islam works,” because Christians have lived under Islamic rule there since the 7th century. Yet, today is the greatest persecution Christians in the Middle East have ever faced, and that’s even if we include the Roman Empire. Even at home, our corruption seems to ruin our freedom.

A Saudi student can’t even walk across campus with rice in a pressure cooker without being investigated by the FBI. When found innocent rather than issue an apology, the FBI tells him to be more careful. No, “Sorry that we’re racist,” rather they justify their bias and blame him. What is more sad is that most people would probably rationalize such an action, they would rationalize the eradication of freedom in the name of security. Of course, the irony is lost on most people; the price to live in a free society is that we must give up our freedom. That is to say, we’re no longer concerned about freedom, but more about security.

Our government is corrupt. While all governments are corrupt to a certain degree – that’s simply the nature of power, since all humans are corrupt to a certain degree – some governments excel at corruption. The US government has always had corruption, but typically it was the type invented in order to make money for a few individuals. The politicians knew that if they threatened individual freedoms that their ruse would collapse and all would be lost. Thus, the corruption was kept to money exchanging hands. Modern corruption, however, is more about seizing power than anything else.

The “corruption” is really a philosophical point of view, one that it is better to control society than let society grow on its own. It is better to control society because through control we can obtain better security; it’s better to give up freedom for the greater good. How did our government get to this place?

We can point to the Democrats or we can point to the Republicans, but we’d be mostly wrong. While each party has contributed in its own way, the fact is that they’ve been allowed to get away with it. A government is only an extension of the society it comes from, thus, the more corrupt the society is, the more corrupt the government will be. For too long, Americans have wallowed in egoism, hedonism, and relativism. We’ve lived by the mantra, “Do what feels right so long as it doesn’t harm anyone else.” But now we feel we can complain when our leaders live by the same mantra we’ve been chanting? We’re all moral relativists when it suits us, but become the most ardent ethical absolutist when we feel threatened. In short, the current government we have is the government we deserve.

We don’t deserve a good government, one that cares for us, one that knows its role and operates within that role appropriately. In order to deserve that kind of government, we would have to be people that had a strong moral foundation. As it is, America lacks a strong moral foundation, or any moral foundation. We are a society without morals; if our society were an individual, that individual would be a sociopath. The government we have is the result of our society chucking morality to the side and living for whatever whim came its way. We’ve made our bed and now we must lay in it.

Why the Republican Platform isn’t Pro-Life

Understand that when I write this, I am not writing this as an endorsement for Obama or encouraging anyone to vote for either candidate. I am simply pointing out the realities of the situation; that the Republican platform is no more pro-life than the Democratic platform. While the Democrats explicitly support abortion on demand and lately have almost celebrated it, Republicans have an implicit support for abortion. I am not talking about their perpetual backing down when faced with the opportunity to limit abortion, nor am I speaking of how passive they really are when it comes to the issue in practice. Instead, I’m referring to their political policies that undermine the poor and disadvantaged, the stigma they create for anyone who has to go on government assistance.

When Mitt Romney mentioned that 47% of the nation is simply taking from everyone else, he was speaking to a Republican crowd who didn’t even bat an eye at what was said. The reason they saw nothing wrong with his statement is within the conservative mindset the only reason you should ever take aid from the government is if you were too lazy to conjure up your own money; and even then your aid should be limited. While there is no doubt in my mind that social programs geared to help the poor are in a serious need for restructuring (Democrats want to increase money to them, Republicans want to take the money away, neither wants to fix the problem), the Republican solution of just cutting the funding doesn’t fix it. The idea is that the majority of people on welfare, food stamps, or other forms of government aid are simply leeching off the rest of society so they don’t have to work. Such a view is ignorant of the fact that in order to qualify for many of these things, people actually have to hold down jobs (which, of course, tend to be low-paying and offer little room for advancement, creating a lack of hope and thus perpetuating poverty).

Because of this stigma, many women who have an unintentional pregnancy fear that by being pregnant, they’re not going to have any support throughout the pregnancy and the child’s life. Consider that nearly 42% of abortions come from women below the poverty line, it’s easy to see that the personal well-being of the mother comes into play. And who can blame her really? She’s facing a pregnancy and most often already has other children to care for. Food stamps only cover so much (and by “so much” I mean not nearly enough) and if she’s like most women at the poverty line, she’s working in a job where she can’t really afford to take time off work to have a baby. In short, there’s little to no social structure available for her to use. Even if she takes the brave step of having the child she still has 18 years of providing for the child, sending her to school, and so on. At best, by having the child she’s perpetuating a life of poverty, at worst she feels she has no choice but to kill her own child.

From a moral standpoint obviously we should never intentionally kill the innocent. At the same time, how is it moral to claim to be pro-life, but then undercut any social programs that would help to actually promote life? How is it moral to slap the pro-life idea onto a political platform alongside other items that stigmatize anyone who has to use government aid? The Republican Party platform, which teaches across-the-board cutting rather than reforming, is no more pro-life than the Democratic platform; neither emphasize the value of human life. The Democrats lower the value of life in the womb and even at birth while the Republicans lower the value of life post-birth. They want to protect a child inside a woman, but God forbid tax payers pay for that child once he’s born.

Certainly we should support charities that help these women throughout their pregnancies and well into the development of the child. But charities are not enough, we need the government to get involved as well. Those of us who are pro-life have no problem stating that we’re supporting a moral issue and trying to get the government to decide on a moral issue. All major legislation comes down to being moral and not political – segregation was legislated out of existence, as was slavery, but no one would dare say this was purely political and not moral. The moral issue gave rise to the necessity of political intervention; any moral issue of grave importance will necessarily rely on the government to involve itself. Abortion is no exception to this as it involves the taking of an innocent human life.

But if we’re willing to concede that abortion is a moral issue first and a political issue second, wouldn’t this mean that many issues that impact innocent humans are moral issues first and political issues second? If I have an obligation to protect the innocent within the womb, what about the innocent outside the womb? That is, if I’m truly pro-life, won’t I want my government to help pay for pre-natal care, for doctor’s visits, for the education of the child, and so on? Or, on a better note, would it be so bad to suppor the government paying for daycare and even paying for a woman’s education (or partially paying) should she choose to advance her life? After all, if we have to shell out 4-5 years worth of aid so she can find herself in a well-paying job, one that pays so well she doesn’t need government assistance, doesn’t that make sense? And if we’re truly pro-life, aren’t we going to want to help to advance both the woman who kept the child and the child himself?

In short, to be pro-life means you support the whole of life.  You support not only the right to exist, but also support any program that helps advance a child out of poverty. If we’re going to force women to carry their children to term, the least we could do is provide them with an infrastructure that helps them both during the pregnancy and after. If we seek to undercut such an infrastructure, or are simply anti-abortion and not actually pro-life, then we might as well be pro-choice.

Christianity and Wealth, or An Unoccupied Conscience Begets an Occupied Street

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Whoever oppresses a poor man insults [lit. blasphemes, taunts, defies] his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors Him. – Proverbs 14:31 (ESV with my own clarification added)

What is extremely interesting about the above passage is that in the King James Bible, the order of the last part is reversed: “…but he that honoureth Him [God] hath mercy upon the poor.” The same thing happens if we turn to the Septuagint translation (verse 32 instead of 31); “He who oppresses the poor provokes his Maker, but he who honors Him [God] has mercy upon a poor man.”

What are we to make of the discrepancy between the ESV and the KJV? Do we prefer the idea that God is honored when we aid the poor, or that if we honor God we will naturally aid in the poor? The truth is, both translations are not only correct, but in harmony with each other. Later in the Bible we read that we are to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength” as the greatest commandment. But then Jesus says, “And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-38, emphasis added). In other words, if we honor and love God then we will honor and love our neighbors, and in honoring and loving our neighbors we will inevitably be honoring and loving God. We cannot act in isolation on the two commandments; to perform one is to perform the other.

Thus, if we truly love and honor God then we will aid the poor and in aiding the poor we will be loving God and honoring God. One could say that the KJV translation points to a disposition that we should have towards God, one that loves Him and honors Him as a condition of our soul (the greatest commandment). The ESV then would take this disposition and put it into action (the second greatest commandment). From this perspective if we are to help the poor we must love God, but in helping the poor our love for God will also grow.

Among Christians, then, we are without an excuse when it comes to corporate greed. If we follow Christ and make millions, while we are not called to give up everything, we are called to aid the poor and not to oppress them. This transcends the “Occupy Wall Street” protests, which are seemingly more and more occupied by disenchanted students who want bigger TVs and don’t care one bit about true social justice. For Christian business owners, they must make sure they are engaging in ethical business practices, from how they treat their own employees to how they are supplied.

Consider you’re a Christian and the owner (or a powerful executive) of a chocolate company. Would you make up excuses for your company purchasing chocolate from farms that use child slaves? Or would you find an ethical source of chocolate, even if it meant cutting into your own income to do so? Or would you take it a step further to shed light on the fact that numerous farms around the world that allow us to cheaply satisfy a sweet tooth comes at an ethical cost of using slave labor? Would you cut even more into your millions of dollars in bonuses to help end the plight of the poor? Or would you argue that, “This is simply how business must be conducted” and move about your day, convincing yourself that the ends (using your vast sums of wealth for your church) justify the means (child slaves in brutish conditions)?

How does a Christian CEO display his love of God if he knowingly uses slave labor (or mistreated workers) to gain his product cheaply? Greed, simply put, has no place in any business where a Christian makes high-level decisions. While salaries must sometimes be cut, workers laid off, and overhead reduced, there are ways to accomplish all of this without selling one’s soul. As a Christian, one is simply without an excuse when it comes to oppressing the poor.

But what about non-Christians? When I bring the above issues up to conservative Christians, I’m often met with, “Yes, but that’s a Christian mandate, not one to companies. We shouldn’t expect corporations to act like Christians because it’s a secular world.” Mind you, this argument often comes from those who would seek to see abortion ended, homosexual marriages forbidden, and the Ten Commandments on every single government building in existence. In short, it creates a contradictory and conflicted message. Why is it okay to speak out against abortion or homosexual marriage on religious grounds, but we must adopt a secular attitude towards aiding the poor (the opposite is true for progressive Christians). While I’m not asking for Christians to take up the hammer and sickle (because Communism, according to the late Francis Schaeffer, is simply a Christian heresy) nor am I asking for a theocracy, I am asking them to take up their cross and follow Christ, which includes helping the poor and oppressed.

This means that Christians ought to seek out legislation that helps the oppressed, such as those trapped in slavery. We should support legislation that punishes corporations that use or willfully ignore where their products come from (such as Hershey’s Chocolate or Godiva). We shouldn’t do this because we’re Democrats or Republicans, or because we’re Conservatives or Liberals, but because we’re Christians. If we wish to honor God then we will seek to end the oppression of the poor. That’s not politics, it’s Scripture.

What Happens in the Bedroom Matters in Public Office

Jokes about Weiner aside – because, let’s be honest, how often does a guy with the last name of Weiner get caught up in a sex scandal? – there is something serious to be said about the recent scandals in the political sphere. NPR brought up the point that many people attempt to criminalize such actions, though there’s no real law on the books against sexual misdeeds in congress. But there’s a bigger issue here that, for whatever reason has escaped public discussion, namely that if such people are willing to cheat on their wives (or husbands), then aren’t they even more willing to cheat the people they represent?

During the Clinton scandal the big meme was, “What happens in the bedroom doesn’t impact what happens in the Oval Office.” But wouldn’t a man of infidelity of a personal oath be unfaithful to a public oath? What makes us think that a man can forgo his children and wife with multiple women, but turn around and be a faithful servant? The simple truth is that what happens in the bedroom, or better said, what happens behind closed doors matters in public office. The honor of a man isn’t found in front of a camera lens or at a press conference, rather the honor of a man is found when no one is looking. Consider John Edwards, a man who cheated on his wife when she had terminal cancer, impregnated his mistress, and then used one of his staff members to take the blame for the pregnancy. And you think he won’t try to cheat his constituents if it ultimately benefits him in the end? And he’s not alone.

While Democrats have suffered lately at the hands of sex scandals, Republicans have had their fair share as well. Some simply choose to laugh it off and say, “Well what do you expect?” but then in the same breath complain about how corrupt our government is. “They don’t listen to their constituents, they listen to their lobbyist!” They also have sex with women (or men) they are not married to, hurting their families in the process. Do you not see the connection? A man who is immoral in private will be immoral in public as well; a dishonorable man doesn’t become honorable in the spotlight (though he will act honorable).

Now, certainly we don’t expect our politicians to be perfect, after all, they’re human. At the same time, they are representing certain populations of the United States, so they should be held to a higher ethical standard, both in the legislation they support and how they live their lives in private. So the next time you go to vote, consider this: If a man thinks he can violate the most sacred vow he’s taken (one of matrimony) behind closed doors, what prevents him from thinking he can violate his public vow just as much behind closed doors as well? We should seek out politicians who are virtuous, not because of what they say, but because of how they live.

Spending isn’t our government’s biggest problem

All the predictions are that the Republicans will win a majority in the House and Senate this coming November or at least will get very close to a majority. The biggest reason is that government spending is simply out of control and has been for over a decade now. With government spending comes government intrusion – more government programs means more accountability to the Federal Government required from the average citizen, while less accountability from the government to the people. Thus, multiple people are starting to feel “conservative” and are deciding to vote for people they believe will cut spending.

But is spending the biggest problem facing our nation right now? Should we “guard the change” as our President has asked, or should we change the guard? The problem is, no matter who you elect into office, while the problem of spending might subside, the problems of our government will only continue perpetually.

The reason is our government would lack a moral base for their claims. Right now, the call against spending is that it leads to debt, which cripples the nation’s economy. In other words, we’re against spending because we’re pragmatic; we want to protect our self-interest and care nothing for others. But the failure on the right to recognize that spending is a moral problem and that poverty is a symptom of the moral problem indicates that the right doesn’t truly understand the biggest problem facing our nation; we are a society without morals.

In the recent health care debate the left wanted to place everyone under healthcare, whether they could afford it or not, so everyone would be equal in their treatment. Of course, as other nations have shown us, while such a system makes us equal, that equality is generally a lowered version of what is available. At the same time, the people on the right showed little to no regard to those who worked 50 hours a week, but still couldn’t afford healthcare. “Get a better job” was the battle-cry of conservatives. Morally, neither side made sense. On the left, it is unethical to take away a person’s freedom to earn income or his ability to gain better healthcare. In our society, capital is a way to experience your freedom, so when capital is limited due to excess taxes you are in essence limiting a person’s freedom. On the right, it is unethical to simply cast the poor aside and let the best rise to the top. While the conservative movement is composed of many Christians, many of them have adopted a Darwinian view of society, claiming that only the fittest (the richest) get the best healthcare. From a moralist perspective, it would have made far more sense to reform healthcare to make private healthcare cheaper and also offered a public grant fund for those who could not afford healthcare; a person would pay what he could afford and public funds would cover the rest (which would also encourage a reduction in the cost of medical equipment, one would hope).

Notice how the rallying cry of conservatives isn’t rally all that conservative. Few of them want to deal with abortion. Few of them want to correct the social problems plaguing the US. Rather, they fall in step along party lines and unfortunately the same can be said for liberals. On the immigration issue conservatives want to put up a wall while liberals want open borders; neither side can reach a compromise because there’s a distinct lack of thinking in our government today. But the lack of thinking stems from a lack of morals; we do what is pragmatic and what helps us achieve our goals, but we never check to see if our ends and means to those ends are moral. Mostly because we don’t care.

We may elect people who can curb the spending of the federal government, but this won’t solve much in American society or in our government. Until our society and government align their ends and goals with virtue, there will be little to no positive change. Until we ask, “Is this the right thing to do?” rather than, “Will this help in my election/re-election,” our government will remain corrupt and bankrupt. They might turn the economy around, but they still still be bankrupt in morals, which only bankrupts a society and leads to its destruction.