Once again we are supposed to believe that Michael Steele had a slip of the tongue. This time in an Interview with GQ magazine which included the following exchange:
"The choice issue cuts two ways. You can choose life, or you can choose abortion," he said. "My mother chose life. So I think the power of the argument of choice boils down to stating a case for one or the other."
Interviewer Lisa DePaulo asked: "Are you saying you think women have the right to choose abortion?"
Steele replied: "Yeah. I mean, again, I think that's an individual choice."
DePaulo: "You do?"
Steele: "Yeah. Absolutely."
DePaulo: "Are you saying you don't want to overturn Roe v. Wade?"
Steele: "I think Roe v. Wade — as a legal matter, Roe v. Wade was a wrongly decided matter."
DePaulo: "Okay, but if you overturn Roe v. Wade, how do women have the choice you just said they should have?"
Steele: "The states should make that choice. That's what the choice is. The individual choice rests in the states. Let them decide."
Twice before on this site (look under the topic GOP failure) I have discussed Steele's departure from the pro-life stance. Yet in a way not clearly in evidence before, this interview reveals the insidious character of the argument Steele represents. According to this argument, individual choices are not subject to interference by the Federal government. Rather you state the case for one side or the other, and let the individual decide. The problem is, of course, that matters of justice, of right and wrong, always involve individual choices. The choice to rob, lie, cheat and murder are all individual choices. The choice to rape, kidnap and enslave another is an individual choice. The choice to serve or not to serve someone in a restaurant, on account of their race, is an individual choice. Obviously the real issue is not whether individuals are free to choose between right and wrong. That's been clear since Eve made her fateful decision to eat the forbidden fruit. The issue is when and whether they have the right to choose as they do.
American liberty is founded on the premise that we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. This premise is not a statement about human aspirations. It's a statement about right and wrong. An unalienable right can be transgressed by individuals and governments, but the premise of liberty forbids the assertion that those who transgress they have the right to do so. Right is not on the side of government when it commits or tolerates murder, theft and terror against the innocent. Individuals and laws that do so are inherently unjust, and powers used in this way are not lawful powers.
Steele consistently maintains that issues, like abortion, that involve respect for unalienable rights, are properly decided at the state rather than the Federal level. But the premise of liberty makes no such distinction. Respect for unalienable rights is required of human governments at any and all levels, because the just powers of all such governments are derived from the people's exercise of those rights. As the Federal government only has the powers delegated to it by the states, so the state governments only have the powers delegated to them by the people. But the "unalienable" aspect of each person's rights means that such rights cannot be given away, not under any circumstances. What the people cannot rightly give, the states cannot rightly claim.
But the premise of liberty includes the notion that "to secure these rights governments are instituted among men." Though government cannot claim the power to transgress against unalienable rights, the foundational purpose of government entails the obligation to preserve and respect them. No government powers are just except those derived from the only source consistent with this obligation, which is the consent of the people. Clearly however, the idea of consent based on respect for unalienable rights does not mean that the people have the right to do whatever they please, since they cannot rightly do anything that alienates (contradicts or surrenders) their unalienable rights. In this sense, government of by and for the people, is limited government: not only limited by the terms of its constitution, but by the purpose and terms of its institution or establishment. Liberty therefore is not identical with a simply unlimited freedom to choose. Individuals are free to choose actions that violate unalienable right, but they cannot claim the right to do so.
When, in their individual or collective capacity, people choose to violate unalienable rights they transgress liberty. Since liberty is its essential characteristic, this transgression effectively abandons the republican form of government. When an individual commits this transgression, it is a criminal act. When a government commits this transgression, it is an unlawful government. Under our constitution the supervision of this transgression when committed by individuals, has been left to the states. But if and when a state or states neglect this supervision, the U.S. Constitution (Article IV, section 4) explicitly requires that the government of the United States guarantee a republican form of government in each of the states. Like the guarantor of a loan, it must intervene to make good any deficiency in the states' respect for its requirements. Michael Steele's assertion that the states have the exclusive right to decide the issue of abortion is therefore incorrect. They should have the opportunity to decide it (which is one of the reasons the Roe v. Wade decision was prudentially wrong) but if they decide, by action or neglect, in favor of committing or allowing the violation of unalienable right, the Federal government has the Constitutional obligation to intervene. On abortion it may be sensible, after so many years of misplaced respect for the unlawful Roe v. Wade decision, to make this obligation clear to all the states by Federal legislation in some form. This could help to avoid miscalculations that might disrupt our civil peace. For this reason I think that such legislation, including a Constitutional amendment may be prudent. However, our reasoning here makes clear that it is not legally or Constitutionally necessary.
Finally, I think it's time we all stopped pretending that Steele's persistent advocacy of the "pro-choice" position is an accident, or a slip of the tongue. I believe these episodes are purposeful. His actions are meant to assert the fallacy that it is pro-life to be pro-choice. But this means accepting the position that at some level the choice to murder an innocent human being is consistent with respect for the unalienable right to life. Except we embrace the noxious position that right and wrong choices are equally just, this is not and can never be a pro-life view. Except we abandon the whole idea of unalienable right, this is not and can never be a view consistent with American liberty.
I think that Steele and the people he represents have gotten away with this disingenuous effort to warp, distract and mislead the pro-life movement for long enough. This issue is vital to the survival of America's free institutions. People of conscience deserve a frank and purposeful debate about it, not a sly attempt at argument by inadvertence. To that end I challenge Michael Steele to face me in such a debate, in a venue open to scrutiny by the general public. Though the courage to debate is not the test of truth, it may be a test of true conviction. I claim to be pro-life because I have stood that test, against Barack Obama, Alan Dershowitz and others. Why should pro-life people accept Steele's protestations of pro-life conviction if he refuses to do so?Worth considering? Then don't forget to DIGG IT!!!!