The Irony of Election Night

I have mixed feelings about Barack Obama’s election as President.  On the one hand, I cannot help but find the historic nature of the occasion truly thrilling.  Very soon, the short list of men who have served in this distinguished office will grow to the number 44, and the last face in that distinguished line will be of a different color from all the faces that preceded it.  Four years ago I never would have expected this kind of cultural watershed to happen by the year 2008, but amazingly, it has happened.  The dream of Dr. King has reached a major milestone, and that is an achievement that all Americans share together. 

But on the other hand, I still did not want Senator Obama to win.  I did not vote for him.  Some on the fringe of the left may accuse me of being a racist, but I see my actions as the exact opposite.  I chose to look beyond race and evaluate Senator Obama the same way I would have evaluated a white candidate who had the same views, record, and experience.  And I think most of those who opposed him did the same thing.  They treated him as a true equal, with all that entails.  And once I had made that evaluation, I chose to oppose him, even vehemently at times, because I judged him not by the color of his skin but by the content of his character.

And so I am left with the mixed feelings that, while we as a nation have made history, we have done so with the wrong person.  And the deep irony of it is that, even as President-elect Obama represents the antithesis of a bygone era when one class of people judged another class to be less than human, he does so as one poised to reinforce and advance the same kind of moral judgment of one class of human beings over another.  Only in this case, the classes are not differentiated by their skin color but by their level of physical development.  A historic achievement for one civil rights battle becomes, simultaneously, a crushing defeat for another.

But I will not give up in the fight to protect the unborn.  I expect other voices, particularly among the so-called “younger evangelicals,” to say that our one-issue politics has run its course and that we must either (a) abandon the political process altogether or (b) stop fighting our losing battles and jump on board with a kind of social agenda that gets real results, namely, a liberal one.  William Wilberforce, a giant who, in his own way, laid the foundation for last night’s historic achievement, faced the same kinds of setbacks in his day, and he heard similar calls to give up in his fight against slavery in Britain.  But, like Wilberforce, we cannot abandon the innocent victims of injustice.  We cannot turn a deaf ear to the silent screams of the oppressed in this country, especially when half of all African-American children never see the light of day because of the injustice that we have sanctioned. 

On January 20th, we will witness an amazing event when, for the first time, a black hand will rest on the Bible, and a black man will take the oath of office as President of the United States.  But when we do, we should think about 15 million black children, many of whom might have grown up to be historic firsts themselves, who were never given that chance because our society values abstractions like “choice” and “privacy” over real, flesh-and-blood people.  And we should think about millions more who are likely to suffer the same fate because of the man taking that oath.


2 Responses to “The Irony of Election Night”

  1. Cory Glover Says:

    Okay, I have to clarify. I don’t think this is what you are saying, but I’m just checking. By saying that you and most who voted for McCain looked beyond race to issues, are you suggesting that those who voted FOR Obama did so on the basis of race?

    Another question, is there a middle way on abortion? Theoretically, other than overturning Roe v. Wade, making it black or white, is there anything that Obama could do that would give conservatives like you a sense of progress? Perhaps banning all abortions after the first trimester or making legal concessions in the rare cases of rape, incest, or health of the mother? What could be done, bipartisan-ly, to substantially lower the number of abortions?

  2. fenderpooh Says:

    (1) No, I’m not suggesting that those who voted for Obama did so because of his race. Some certainly did (just as some did the opposite). But my point was that showing him the same kind of vehement opposition that I showed to John Kerry in 2004 indicates that I consider him to be an equal. I, and many other conservatives, were not afraid to criticize the black man. The late night comedians haven’t come around to this yet; they appear to be too afraid of being accused of racism if they joke about Obama the same way they have joked about every other President that has preceded him. I hope they will come around soon, and I think they probably will. And when jokes about Barack Obama can be made on late night television the same way they were made about George Bush and Bill Clinton, Dr. King’s dream will have advanced even farther.

    (2) I would refer you to my post from way back in the primaries when it looked like Rudy Giuliani might get the Republican nomination:

    The bottom line is that I would be thrilled with incremental progress on the abortion issue. I would be thrilled with a ban on all abortions after the first trimester. But here’s the key: it would have to be a real ban. Roe v. Wade gives the states the right to restrict abortions after the first trimester, except in cases that put the health of the mother at risk. Doe v. Bolton defines “health” so broadly that states really can’t do anything to stop an abortion. All a woman has to do is claim that her pregnancy poses a threat to her “health” in the sense of her emotional and financial well-being. Well, what pregnancy is not a major imposition on one’s life? What pregnancy is not a major emotional and financial impact? “Health” has been defined to mean “convenience,” so there really is no ban at all.

    If Obama wants to pass a real ban on late-term abortions, one that has real teeth and would really work to ban convenience abortions in the second and third trimesters, then I would retract everything I have said about him on this issue. But here’s the deal: he will not do that. He told NARAL that the first thing he will do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act, a federal bill that is even more radical than the current federal policy we have, one that will sweep away all existing state laws that restrict abortion in any way. It would also sweep away the Hyde Amendment, a federal law that prevents federal tax dollars from being used to fund abortions. A similar measure to FOCA has been in place in Maryland since the early 1990’s. Abortions have gone up in Maryland since then, in spite of the fact that they have gone down in most other places. That is the trend we will see if President Obama does what he said he would do.

    I have said I will be happy with compromises on this. Obama is the one who wants to take us farther to the left.

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