In Defense of One-Issue Voters
A friend of mine who blogs recently wrote a post in which he asked if being “pro-life” entailed more than a simple opposition to abortion (he implied that it does); I suggested in my response that to add a lot of other issues (environment, military buildup, gun control, etc.) to the meaning of “pro-life” is a mistake in that it morphs the definition beyond either recognition or use. He then responded that his intent wasn’t necessarily to do that, but to argue that, as evangelicals, we ought not simply be “one-issue voters”. To which I responded that I am–and am not–a one-issue (actually, two-issue) voter. Allow me to explain, and then defend, my position.
I am a two-issue voter in this sense: I will not support a candidate who is not, at the very least, “largely” pro-life. I don’t believe that an exception ought to be made in cases of incest or rape, though I do in the case of the life of the mother. I can vote–have voted–for people who would include rape and incest in their exceptions. Further, I will not support a candidate who believes in redefining marriage in any way beyond one-man/one-woman. Now, holding these positions becomes potentially more difficult if one is wedded to the notion–and I am not–that one may only pull the lever for a candidate with an “R” or a “D” after his/her name.
Now, if more than one candidate passes those two tests, we can look at other things; sadly, today it seems as though we only have such choices in primaries, as the Democrat Party has by and large (save for a few dwindling Blue Dogs) adopted pro-choice and, increasingly, pro-gay-marriage positions. That’s the America in which we live today.
I feel pretty certain that my friend disagrees with my position, and he seems to be in the vanguard of a generation of young evangelicals who feel the same way. And I must wholeheartedly object, and so herewith I offer a defense of the concept of the “one- (or two-) issue voter”. To do so, I shall build, as I am wont to do, a hypothetical case.
Candidate J is a winsome politician who happens to believe in most of the things I do. I thrill at his economic prowess and plans to fix the economy. He is a family man with several kids. He holds all the right social positions…well, all the right social positions save one. He believes that the solution to illegal immigration is to shoot all illegals on sight. Nah, let’s make it stronger: he believes that a whole class of people are second-rate citizens and ought to be exterminated. But his environmental policy is tops! And he has a plan to deal with health care that is foolproof! And he is committed to appointing justices to the Supreme Court who…
Get my point? Would I vote for Candidate J, a person with everything right…except the fact that he condones genocide? Ummmm…duh. Would this make me a “one-issue voter”? I suppose it would. And I would be entirely justified in being a “one-issue voter” if that one issue were of the nature of genocide, would my readers not agree?
And so we go back to the future and the question at hand: is it right to be a “one-issue voter” when it comes to abortion? Well, doesn’t the answer to that hinge on one’s perception of the seriousness of that one issue? Further, do we really believe that the person in the womb is just that, a person? And if people in the womb, having been denied equal protection under the law, are being systematically eliminated in a modern-day American holocaust to the tune of well over 1 million abortions being committed each year, then are we well-justified in saying that we cannot in good conscience ever be party to that epidemic of genocide?
And so with those understandings in place, can I be a “one-issue voter”? A better question for evangelicals, to me, is “how can you not?”