Beyond Politics

It's election time--and that means we can pretty much forget about any real issues being debated in Congress. With a presidential election in full swing, it's pure politicking on Capitol Hill. That means we won't be hearing anything about the budget deficit, the situation in Iraq, the educational crisis. In fact, we won't be hearing about any legislation being proposed on the basis of its merits. Instead, legislative maneuvering will be expressly designed to inflict political damage. For example, House Republicans recently attached an 11th-hour line-item veto amendment to a bill they knew Democrats opposed. And they got what they wanted: a rift in the Democratic Party. Most House Democrats voted against a line-item veto, which Democratic candidate Bill Clinton backs. But Democrats are up to the same tricks. They're trying to paint President Bush into a corner by loading bills with provisions they know he opposes. The idea is to force him to veto politically sensitive measures that can be used to embarrass him in the campaign. Now, I used to be in politics, and I know these political games. I started out in politics in the 1950s in Massachusetts, where people voted tombstones and the game was played rough. But there is a line, I believe, one must not cross. For example, in the 1988 campaign the Willie Horton ads crossed the line, and I said so at the time. And in this campaign, we're in danger of crossing the line again, in an even more unconscionable way. I'm talking about the Freedom of Choice Act. It's an attempt to grant abortion on demand in every state of the Union. In legal terms, the Act is outrageous. It flies in the face of the 10th amendment to the Constitution, which reserves to the states all powers not specifically assigned to the federal government. Not only that, it also flies in the face of recent Supreme Court decisions that grant the states the right to place some regulations on abortion. Nevertheless, Democratic leaders in Congress are boasting that they will be able to rush the Freedom of Choice Act through Congress before the election, forcing the president to veto it. They hope the nation is leaning far enough in favor of abortion that the president's veto would become a political liability, and can be used against him in the fall campaign. Now, I have nothing against honest debates over abortion. But using abortion as a political football is the crassest of cynicism. What we're talking about, after all, is killing. Even those who want to leave the abortion decision to women still admit that it is a sober, serious decision--that abortion does take a human life. Every decent person ought to shudder at the very thought of using an abortion bill just for political gain. No wonder Americans are cynical about politics. If Congress moves ahead with the Freedom of Choice Act, it will surrender whatever moral authority it still retains. And rightly so. Exploiting abortion means playing political games over the corpses of unborn children.


Chuck Colson


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