Ultimatum to the GOP
by Holly Vicente Robaina
Liberty University boots Democratic club; inspires Holly to take a stand.
June 3, 2009 | Today's Christian Woman
I’m publically issuing this ultimatum to the Republican Party: Take a pro-life stand in a big, visible way, or I’m leaving.
TCW readers will recall that just two months ago, I suggested Christians reserve discussion on abortion for the right time and place. I’m seizing the opportunity presented by a Gallup poll conducted this May, which found 51 percent of surveyed Americans identify as “pro-life,” while 42 percent identify as pro-choice. Get this: It’s the first time there’s been a pro-life majority since Gallup began conducting the poll in 1995.
Additionally, I’ve been inspired by a bit of controversy at Liberty University, the private university in Lynchburg, Va., that was founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell. In May, Liberty officials notified the student Democratic club that their status as a University-sponsored organization was being revoked. The reason: the club’s charter stated that members would support the Democratic Party’s platform and candidates.
“To blindly support any candidate solely because of party affiliation irrespective of their moral views is wrong,” Jerry Falwell, Jr., the chancellor and president of Liberty University, wrote in a statement. He explains: “The 2008 Democratic platform has taken an extreme turn to the left on social issues. For the first time it supports federal funding of abortion and repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, a law passed overwhelmingly by a bi-partisan Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton.”
Basically, Liberty officials don’t want to give students money and use of the school’s name to support political candidates who push a pro-choice agenda. While much of the media is crying foul, Falwell’s reasoning makes sense to me, and it seems the university is under no legal obligation to support a College Democrats club. (Still, my advice to Liberty would be to either: (1) get rid of all political party organizations, as Brigham Young University-Idaho did last month, and encourage students to start a pro-life political action club, or (2) recognize that your pro-life, Democratic students are engaged in an uphill battle with their party and should be supported.)
I’d pose this question to Liberty’s College Democrats: Why dedicate your support to candidates just because of their party affiliation? Similarly, I’m asking pro-life, Republican voters: Why support a party just because of its platform? Every voter should be supporting the candidates and party whose actions align with the issues that are most important to us. Why support mere rhetoric?
And I’m wondering, has the “Pro-life Party” been active enough on this major component of its platform? Here’s what I’m thinking: The Republican Party has benefited from its platform position on abortion by drawing in Christians who might not otherwise agree with Republican political positions. Some folks have gritted their teeth and voted for Republican candidates they never would have picked, save for their pro-life stance. It’s time for the Republicans to make good on those promises that George W. Bush made as the Party’s top representative.
But why am I spouting about this now, when the presidency and Congress are both controlled by the Democratic Party? What can the Republicans do?
For starters, Republican leaders have nothing to lose if they push pro-life legislation now—the presidency isn’t up for grabs any time soon. And they have everything to lose if they don’t. A number of my Christian friends are disillusioned with both parties: The Democratic Party doesn’t recognize its pro-life voices, and the Republican Party seems more focused on holding on to the Christian vote than moving on pro-life issues. Some Christians who are Republicans have voiced that they feel used. Some of my friends have even re-registered with no party affiliation.
Gallup’s poll last month also found that 70 percent of Republicans identify as pro-life—an increase of 10 percent in the past year. On the Democratic side, there’s been no change. To the Democratic Party, I’d like to say, “You can’t afford to lose your pro-life voters— perhaps you should throw more recognition to pro-life voices.” But I suppose they’re not interested in the rants of a life-long Republican like me. So I’ll say to my own party, “The Republican Party has all it needs to make headway on the abortion issue: a majority in the American public, and a voter base that unites when it’s happy. Get to it, or you’re gonna lose more of your party faithful.”
If registered Republican voters are focused on making abortion illegal, or at least less accessible, then they need to push—hard—on their representatives to make this a priority. And then, if nothing happens, they need to recognize that their party can’t or won’t do it for them.
I’m giving the GOP a deadline of December 31, 2009. If I don’t see major headlines about a pro-life push from the Republican Party, it pains me to say I’ll be registering as partyless on January 1, 2010. In light of the Republican Party’s current opportunity to act, if they don’t make a concerted effort to do so soon, then there really isn’t a political party that has a true pro-life position.