With the coming election and campaign to vote life, there will undoubtedly be the usual criticisms levied against our single issue voting. Criticisms like those published in an editorial entitles “Taste and Ethics” in the Catholic weekly, The Prairie Messenger.
That 1982 editorial contended: But it is not sound reasoning to base one’s ballot decision on any single issue…Surely no one is going to vote for or against a party or candidate on the basis of a single issue. Rather, they will look at the overall platform and record and put their ‘X’ where it can lead to the best overall results.”
While such criticisms of our ‘single issue voting’ are unfounded, at least part of the statement is true: no one is going to vote for a candidate just because he is pro-life. And Campaign Life doesn’t advocate voting for any candidate just because he is pro-life.
We do encourage voters to cross party lines if necessary to support a pro-life candidate when the differences with candidate or party are minor. We encourage pro-life voters to put life support above party loyalty and lifestyle concerns. If, however, differences are irreconcilable, we ask pro-life voters to register their vote and reject their ballot rather than support a candidate who is not pro-life. Such consideration is hardly voting for a candidate, merely because he is pro-life.
Now let’s examine the second part of that criticism: voting against a candidate or party on the issue of abortion. Voting against a candidate or a party could mean voting for a competitor, regardless of the competitor’s qualifications, merely to spite the undesirable candidate. In that sense, voting against a candidate or party is unreasonable. But Campaign Life does not advocate this type of voting either, and, never has.
Campaign Life voting strategy is very reasonable. We supply pro-life voters with a list of candidates who have qualified as pro-life. Pro-life voters then decide for themselves who to vote for, that is, who among those candidates has the best ‘overall platform for the best overall results.’ In other words, although candidates can be qualified with respect to their position on abortion, it is recognized that this is not the sole qualification for voter support. This strategy is based upon the fact that some candidates disqualify themselves from holding public office.
Notice, it is not written that Campaign Life disqualifies some candidates, rather, that some candidates disqualify themselves. Surely it would be unreasonable to vote for a candidate who advocates decriminalization of rape, no matter what other qualifications that candidate carried. The pro-rape candidate has disqualified himself from holding public office.
Similarly, if a candidate rationalized child abuse as justifiable disciplinary action and the right of the parent, he would automatically disqualify himself from holding public office no matter what ‘overall record’ was held.
Abortion is no less hideous a crime than rape and is the ultimate in child abuse. Surely the candidate who refuses to take action to put an end to 182 abortions killing children every day in Canada, disqualifies himself from holding public office.
No one would argue that positive platforms in other areas, or the possibility of accomplishing advancement in other areas, could possibly ‘balance’ a decriminalized rape position or a position that child abuse is a parent’s prerogative. How then can it be argued that the candidate or party for that matter, can take a position supporting either the law as it stands or abortion on demand and balance this position with other platforms on accomplishments to become the overall best? What ‘good’ makes 182 deaths per day acceptable?
Yes, we are a single-issue movement. We recognize that, while a single issue cannot qualify, it can disqualify one from holing public office. This approach is not unreasonable at all; it is responsible. To refuse to recognize the fact that a position on a single, grave issue can disqualify a candidate is irresponsible rationalization.
When the newly formed abolitionist movement in the United States initiated the first candidate survey on slavery, they were accused of being a one-issue group. They were guilty as charged; slavery did take precedence over other issues in 1840. The fact of the matter is that a candidate can disqualify him or herself on a single issue. In 1840, slavery was that issue. In 1987, abortion, which has already killed more than one million Canadian babies, is that issue.
Donna Darbelly is a past president of Campaign Life Saskatchewan. This article is reprinted from the September 1984 Interim.