This past Saturday, February 10, 2007, I was very pleased to have pro-life Democrats as my guests on Kicking the Anthill with Drexel Kleber. Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America joined me to give the background of DFLA and the current agenda. Afterwards, Congressman Lincoln Davis from Tennessee was my guest to discuss why he is a Democrat when pro-life issues are so important to him and his experiences within the party.
Before I address my discussion with the congressman, I’d like to say how impressed I was with Ms. Day. I asked her, “Why be a Democrat, when it would be so much easier to be pro-life within the Republican Party?” She said she felt it was important to stay and fight for pro-life values within the party as opposed to running away from the bigger fight in order to pursue her values easily. I have great respect for that attitude and I wish it were shared by more Americans
Now, I was thoroughly excited by my conversation with Congressmann Davis. As a bible believing Christian myself, one of my primary motivations in talking to Congressman Davis was to discern the motivations behind his choice to be pro-life. Is he pro-life in order to appease religious conservatives and to attract voters? Or, is he pro-life because of deeply held values of his own? And in the latter case, are they values of faith? I couldn’t have been happier with his answers.
As a Christian, I have frequently found that there are many writings in the New Testament which appear more consistent with the politics of Democrats today than with Republicans–taking care of widows and orphans, providing for the needs of the indigent. I frequently find myself struggling with how I should view these topics. I am pulled also by my own greed and my American-ness. My greed needs no real elaboration. In general, Republican fiscal policy is most likely to provide me with the most amount of money in my bank account. But I also hold as important the ideals of self-sufficiency, self reliance, internal drive and discipline. However, in most cases, I view the Democratic policies of welfare and social programs as handouts which cause all of my closely held American values to be diminished. People come to expect handouts and welfare and never learn themselves the values that lead to success in America. Those values have worked well for me and for many others over the years. This is the land of opportunity but seldom is opportunity delivered to one’s doorstep through a social program. Rather, opportunity lies in waiting, begging to be found.
Consequently, it is easy for me to casually cast aside Democratic social policy. However, if someone were to tell me that he favors such policies in order to fulfill Jesus’ mandate to His followers to look after the oppressed, then I am hard pressed to disparage these motives. In some ways, I wish I held them more closely myself.
In the end I believe this mandate from Jesus is better carried out by the church and by individuals living out their faith than by the government. I believe that government intervention not only diminishes the American values I’ve mentioned, but it also removes the responsibility of citizens to act upon their charitable instincts. But, when Congressman Davis tells me that he feels these social policies are consistent with his faith and his upbringing, then I must tip my hat. In fact, this is exactly what he said. His pro-life stance is a function of his Christian faith. And his social policies are as well.
The Bible tells us that we each, as Christians, are the body of Christ. And it takes all of us together to manifest Him fully to the world. I believe, likewise, that we Americans are, taken together, the body of America.
I am thankful every day for the Marines and others in the armed forces. My freedom depends on their service. However, I don’t want to be one. My calling is not to arms. Likewise, I am thankful for environmentalists. My world is more beautiful for their work. And, yet, I don’t want to be one. My calling is not to wrap my arms around trees. America requires a balance of these two in order to function. It is the balance that allows us to stay upright as we move into the future.
We need Republicans who seek to empower people to be their very best for their own sake. We need Democrats who seek to provide support for the downtrodden. Together, with any luck, we have the right balance of self-reliance and support.
What is most important to me as I look at the people who lead our country is that they have values and stick to them. I would sooner vote for a Democrat like Congressman Davis to one day be our President, knowing that he is operating from a value system of Christian faith in action, than I would for a Republican like John McCain, for example, who seems so easily swayed to compromise.
The “good life” we all seek isn’t found in collecting possessions for ourselves, but in the active pursuit of a life that displays our values to the world. Congressman Davis is indeed living the good life.