Politics in America is polarized and infantile; governing in America is even worse. Governing should be about the whole country; it should prioritize the well-being of all citizens now and in the future. It does neither. Short of a revolution, there doesn’t seem to be a way to change this dynamic. Or is there?
What if we put the most fracturing issue of our time on the table? If both sides can find common ground on this, their most polarizing issue, might that open the door to further compromise?
If the first presidential debate did anything, it showed that one event (in a campaign that began more than 18 months ago) + the right conversation + the right audience + the right visibility can markedly alter the election dynamic.
Maybe a similar approach can be used to alter the governing dynamic.
Abortion - more than taxes or socialism, abortion is the litmus test in American politics. It is the pivotal question when choosing Supreme Court Justices; it plays a role in our choice of political candidates; and it is an enormous sink of effort, money, passion, and divisiveness in America. This despite clear laws for almost forty (40) years.
- Over 80% of Americans belong to a religion that proscribes sex outside wedlock.
- 70% of boys and girls in America have had intercourse by their 19th birthday.
- By age 44, 95% of Americans have had premarital sex.
- 80% of young evangelical Christians have had premarital sex; 1/3 of their unplanned pregnancies ended in abortion.
- Abortions have shrunk from 1.61 million in 1990 to 1.21 million in 2007.
- 49% of pregnancies in 2006 were unintended; 43% of these ended in abortion.
With this undisputed data as context, what if we were able to bring the five most ardent and visible advocates/politicians on either side to a televised panel, where a moderator asked each of the ten people these questions:
- Do you agree that in a perfect world, no fetus is destroyed; that every child is wanted and lives a healthy and fulfilling life?
- Do you agree that every abortion is a tragedy; and that we should do everything possible to prevent it?
- Do you agree that the best way to prevent an abortion is to prevent unwanted pregnancy?
- Do you agree that the data above shows that we are failing to prevent abortion more than one million times a year?
- Is creating a national goal to dramatically reduce unwanted pregnancies and the resulting abortions something you would support wholeheartedly?
- Do you agree that reducing unwanted pregnancies and thus the more than one million abortions would by far be your highest priority?
I think so; and I would too.
How could they not? How could you not??
What then have we accomplished? We’ve bypassed the questions of a woman’s right to choose, and when life begins; and gotten agreement that preventing unwanted pregnancy is paramount. We have recognized that while there may be areas where we disagree, it is possible to find common ground, and more critically to act based on that common ground to serve the greater good.
During 9-11, Congress united with the White House to pass laws aimed at protecting America. We acted as one in response to the killing of nearly 3,000 Americans. The issue before us was without party affiliation; and we were able to rise together and as one to make progress.
Can we now act as one to dramatically reduce the more than one million abortions that happen in our country every year? Surely that is an even greater calamity?
Might this act of cooperation lead to new avenues of accord between the Left and the Right?
Is that not after all the essence of governing?