The heck with both of them

(Note: In this entry, Brandon F. takes issue with me for not reacting more strongly against Obama’s extreme pro-abortion stand and saying that this definitely makes Obama worse than McCain, and I reply.)

Paul Nachman writes:

You wrote:

This election is between two of the most despicable people ever seen in American politics. It is simply not in me to care about which one of them is outsmarting the other, or what McCain should say in reply to Obama. Whichever one of these contemptible candidates gets elected president, then that will be the time to oppose him. Right now, I just don’t care.

I haven’t been in many political discussions this year, but I’ve been anticipating telling people what I know (and they mostly don’t) about Obama, but concluding that McCain is equally terrible. But if I remember what you said here, I’ll just tell people that I don’t care, that they’re both beyond despicable, and that I’ll actively oppose whichever of these things straggles into office.

Another point: We pay way too much attention to the presidency in comparison to Congress. I consider Congress the first among three “equals.” Or that’s the way it should be.

- end of initial entry -

Brandon F. writes:

According to this, while in the Illinois Senate Obama voted against a bill that required health care professionals to give care to babies born alive when a partial birth abortion went “wrong”. So if mommy wants the baby dead, the baby dies no matter what. That is beyond despicable, it’s pure evil. McCain might be an irascible gremlin but I don’t think he has ever exhibited such moral depravity in his legislative career.

LA replies:

For 35 years, abortion opponents have reduced the systemic catastrophe of moral liberationism in modern society to the single, hot-button issue of abortion, and thus have failed to oppose the ever-increasing nihilism of our culture as a whole, of which abortion is an extreme, but inevitable expression. And therefore the anti-abortion causes has achieved essentially nothing, for all its sound and fury. We’re surrounded by depravity, but all the abortion opponents see is abortion. Yes, the abortion issue gave the conservative movement a certain strength, because abortion is so bad and the badness of it is easy to understand, and the anti-abortion cause helped elect Ronald Reagan as president (who by the way immediately betrayed the cause by nominating Sandra Day O’Connor to the Supreme Court), but it also made conservatism stupid by making all-too-many conservatives think that opposition to abortion constituted conservatism. Abortion is very important, but I oppose making abortion the transcendent issue, superseding all others. We need to oppose liberalism as a whole. Which means that we must stand for the opposite of liberalism. Which, other than opposing abortion, the abortion opponents have never done. Which is why abortion opponents, and conservatives in general, are losing on every front.

Brandon F. replies:
I agree that the fringe anti-abortion crowd lost sight of what an overarching idea of conservatism is and may have failed to articulate a wider worldview but I also feel that the embarrassment of many conservatives at the behavior of some of the those same activists has pushed this very important issue to the periphery. The evidence is in your reply where you fail to acknowledge directly the over the top sickness of Obama casting such a vote.

The abortion issue perfectly embodies the conflicting worldviews of liberals and conservatives. The nothingness, the existentialism, of modern liberals versus the conservative belief that essence precedes existence. If this contrast were illustrated more by articulate people like you then maybe the real, tangible horror of abortion could become an intellectual movement instead of being dominated by kooks. Maybe then real conservatives won’t feel the need to blow off the issue because of the fear of being associated with some overalls wearing protester.

If people could be persuaded by well thought out arguments like the ones you make on your blog on other issues abortion could become a mainstream focus once again.

LA replies:

Actually I wasn’t thinking of kooks, and I wasn’t seeking to dissociate myself from anti-abortion people over their supposed kookiness. I was thinking of the mainstream anti-abortion movement, which, of course, does include more extreme people at the margins.

As for Obama’s vote, how many thousands of Democrats in state legislatures, how many Democrats in the U.S. Congress, have taken similar stands? So again, this is much bigger than Obama. It’s part of a society-wide moral problem. My failure to leap on Obama over that vote did not have to do with my not wanting to be associated with anti-abortion kooks, but rather with my perhaps personal sense of tiredness at that issue being made over and over into THE issue.

I’m sorry if that makes me sound insensitive or morally obtuse on the abortion issue. But I regard even an extreme pro-abortion position such as Obama’s as an inevitable and logical outcome of the belief in unlimited personal freedom which is the ruling idea of modern society. Therefore I regard opposition to the more extreme types of abortion as nothing more than an unprincipled exception to that general liberal belief. What the unprincipled exception means is that we go along with liberalism generally, but then some forms of liberalism simply go “too far” for us (meaning they upset us instinctively and intolerably) and so we oppose them. Personally I can’t get that excited by a conservatism that consists of nothing but unprincipled exceptions to liberalism.

Which, I add, doesn’t mean I’m putting down the unprincipled exception. As I’ve said before, in liberal society, the unprincipled exception is the only permitted form of opposition to liberalism, meaning that liberalism will not allow any principled opposition to itself, it will allow only unprincipled opposition. So the unprincipled exception is of great value. But personally I’m not interested in a conservatism that plays by the liberal rules and only reacts against the extreme forms of liberalism. I want a conservatism that gets in liberalism’s face.

Brandon writes:

Your point is well stated and understood. You do understand that, beyond abortion being a natural by-product of the nothingness of liberalism, that babies die? That mothers are scarred emotionally for a lifetime?

Not to be too emotionally silly here but abortion is a reality and there are people on the ground who dedicate their lives to lobbying for sensible restrictions and who also provide crisis pregnancy resources for alternatives. We should offer them our support.

While I understand your non-focus on abortion is correct with regard to your approach to communicating your message, I think it would be better to simply acknowledge the horrible reality than blow it off as an aside.

LA replies:

First, I don’t think it’s correct or fair to say that I was blowing it off as an aside.

Second, granting everything you’re saying about the destruction of life and the emotional and spiritual damage caused by abortion, the reality is that this destruction of life and this emotional and spiritual damage have been a routine thing in America for 35 years. No matter how wrong and immoral and harmful it may be, it just keeps happening, doesn’t it? All the moral righteousness in the world about the horror of abortion has not resulted in abortion being stopped, has it? The essence of modern liberalism is that it takes things that are depraved and makes them seem “normal” and “mainstream.” So in that sense abortion is no different from any other—and less immediately humanly destructive—aspect of modern liberalism.

So my point remains. I think people who are especially motivated to do so should continue to bring the immorality of abortion forward. I think Roe v. Wade is horrible and (as I’ve said before), it should have sparked a revolution in this country, demands that justices be impeached and so on. Roe v. Wade was a revolutionary attack on the Constitution and should have been treated as such, not just as another very bad liberal act that people didn’t like. I think a country that accepts large-scale abortion as ours does is deeply depraved and is committing suicide. It think It’s good that America has played a role in international forums in pushing for abstinence rather than abortion. I think it’s completely wrong to make abortion the solution for overpopulation.

At the same time, I don’t think that abortion is going to be stopped so long as its real basis, which is the broad-based belief in complete sexual freedom, is in place. As long as people believe in sexual freedom, they are not going to go along with anti-abortion arguments. The anti-abortion movement thought it could short-circuit the debate on unlimited sexual freedom and liberalism generally by going after abortion, which is an inevitable result of unlimited sexual freedom. That hasn’t worked.

It’s like the unsuccessful efforts to stop immigration in the late 19th and early 20th century. Reformers then (just like reformers today) didn’t want to go after immigration itself, so they proposed laws saying that immigrants had to be literate or had to have other such qualifications. These efforts came to nothing. The mass immigration continued. In the end, the only thing that worked was radically cutting immigration itself, via the national quota acts of 1921 and 1924. In the same way, trying to defeat the modern belief in sexual-freedom by going after abortion, which is a symptom of the belief in sexual freedom, has not worked. You have to go after the belief system itself. (In this connection, see Emily B.’s comment in the entry about the song “Over There.”)

And I just want to add, nothing could be more absurd to me than the American Catholic Church which never has a word to say against the “normalized” decadent and depraved cultural environment in which we are immersed, but then says, “But abortion, that’s terrible.”

Stephen R. writes:

You wrote:

“As for Obama’s vote, how many thousands of Democrats in state legislatures, how many Democrats in the U.S. Congress, have taken similar stands?”

I would like to know the answer to that question, but it must be publicized that it was only because of Barack Obama that a bill to save born alive babies did not make it out of committee in Illinois.

In 2003 a committee member sponsored an amendment that would adopt the exact same language in Illinois’s proposed BAIPA (Born Alive) bill that U.S. Sen. Boxer was satisfied did not curtail any abortion rights in the federal BAIPA. But as chairman, Obama unilaterally killed the bill by never allowing a committee vote, thereby preventing it from being voted on by the full Senate and becoming law. And in 2001 Obama was the only senator to speak against a bill, arguing that extending life protection to any ‘preterm babies’ could jeopardize abortion rights.

I much appreciate your insights about how this issue relates to the unprincipled exception, but Obama should not get away with being an order of magnitude more malevolent than the average pro-abortion rights person.

LA replies:

Stephen has made a strong point.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 27, 2008 08:29 PM | Send

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