It is perhaps an inevitable fact of life that truth has little place in the great game of politics. In the noisy marketplace of ideas that is democracy in the information age, activists and statesmen alike must crush their ideas and the ideas of their rivals into sellable little phrases like “clean energy” or “jobs” like so many vendors hawking their goods on street corners. Inescapably, these phrases give us very little actual information and are occasionally outright dishonest. Perhaps the most dangerously deceptive among them is the label “pro-choice” which now seems to be inseparable from the Democratic Party and the liberal movement as a whole.
This insidious, lying phrase came to prominence in our collective minds this year as women all over this great country took to the streets to fight the oppressive system which requires them to pay for their own birth control. Regardless of the merits or flaws in their arguments, it seems odd that a nominally pro-choice movement would be so heavily in favor of denying religious organizations the right to choose what kind of health care coverage to provide their employees.
The obvious implication of calling oneself pro-choice is that everyone else is anti-choice. This goes quite well with the popular conception of rebellious leftists burning draft cards, experimenting with narcotics and living as “free spirits” in defiance of theocrats like Rick Santorum and the prudish, judgmental Christian Right. It is a testament to the effectiveness of this strategy that many moderates seem more concerned that a Republican president might ban pornography (something that would realistically never happen) than the potential candidate might attempt to deregulate industry or reform entitlement spending.
It is impossible to deny that Republicans generally do not favor a great deal of choice when it comes to lives of unborn children. A great many of these Republicans, however, would not consider themselves “anti-choice.” Many of them might ask what choice the unborn child would make if it could speak. What could be more anti-choice than the act of denying a human being a life in which to make his or her own choices?
The real dishonesty of calling liberals pro-choice is all the more disquieting when their own actions are taken into account. The women who demanded the right to make their own health care decisions were oddly silent when President Obama passed his landmark healthcare legislation requiring Americans to purchase health insurance. Those who cried that the government must not be allowed into the bedroom seemed perfectly content to allow it into the kitchen, the laundry room and even the debatably more private bathroom with its mandate that Americans use only energy efficient appliances. I am hardly the first to notice this disturbing fact, as Rand Paul brilliantly demonstrated last year.
It is difficult to find examples of the Left actually behaving in a pro-choice manner in any area outside of abortion. Everywhere one looks, the story of American liberalism is filled with words like “mandate” and “ban.” The liberal attitude is that if something is beneficial, it should be mandatory, and if it has negative implications, it should be banned. Consider the words of the Obama Administration’s energy secretary, Steven Chu, who defended the ban on incandescent light bulbs saying, “We are taking away a choice that continues to let people waste their own money.” Of course light bulbs are vastly more trivial than abortion, but this does not deem it insignificant. If it is intrusive for the government to take away one’s right to make the choice that is morally sound, it should be inexcusable for the government to take away one’s right to make the choice that is financially sound.
Even outside the coercive business of energy efficiency mandates one can only marvel at the forcefulness of Democrat solutions to perceived problems. Take, for example, the recent HHS Contraceptive Mandate debate. The problem was that birth control was considered to be too expensive and that its cost placed an unfair burden on women working for religious organizations whose insurance health insurance plans did not cover birth control. It might be dangerously reasonable to suggest that the government could have attempted to solve the problem by less coercive means, perhaps offering the makers of birth control a tax break in exchange for reduced prices. Instead, Democrats opted for the solution which was more natural to them– using the federal bureaucracy to place a mandate on all organizations (religious or otherwise) requiring them to pay for the cost of birth control.
There are exceptions to every rule. It would certainly be unreasonable to assume that all Democrats refer to themselves as pro-choice. It is nevertheless hard to deny that, as a whole, the Democratic Party and liberals in general welcome the title and receive a great deal of undue credit for it. Before we let our minds lapse into pleasant imagery of a “live and let live” left, let us always remember the more sinister anti-choice nature of this movement.