Speaking Jan. 5 in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, President Joe Biden said that the 2024 election is about whether “democracy” is “still America’s sacred cause.”
But is democracy “sacred”?
Is the process by which we make choices “sacred,” or is what we choose “sacred”?
This is the time of year we think about the sanctity of life. Although Roe v. Wade is no longer law of the land, the abortion issue is still very much before us as the Congress and states across the nation work to crystallize what the next chapter will look like regarding abortion policy in our country.
March for Life events will take place across the nation, as every year, noting the Supreme Court’s decision Jan. 22, 1973, in Roe v. Wade that opened the door for more than 63 million unborn children destroyed decisionin the womb.
The abortion policy debate is defined by those who call themselves “pro-choice” and those who define their view as “pro-life.”
“Pro-choice” basically says that what is most important is the process—that women are free to choose whether to abort. What is most important, in this view, is not what is chosen, but that there is choice.
Those who are “pro-life” focus on what is chosen as the key. The issue is sanctity of life. Life is what is sacred.
I often note the parallel to slavery.
Sen. Stephen Douglas of Illinois, in the 1850s, championed democracy as the answer to how the nation would deal with the issue of slavery for new states entering the union. New states would decide whether slavery would be permitted in their state by voting.
Again, the importance was given to process—how the choice is made—and not to what is chosen.
Abraham Lincoln’s response to Douglas’ proposition was this: “God did not place good and evil before man, telling him to make his choice. On the contrary, he did tell him there was one tree, of the fruit of which he should not eat, upon pain of certain death. I should scarcely wish so strong a prohibition against slavery in Nebraska.”
For Lincoln, the focus of importance was on what is chosen—that good be chosen over evil. And, for Lincoln, slavery was clearly evil.
Democracy was not the answer. Making the correct moral choice was the answer.
In Biden’s remarks Jan. 5, he cited Gen. George Washington’s leadership during the American War of Independence, and Washington’s calling the values for which they were struggling “sacred.”
Was Washington talking about a struggle for a political process or a struggle for sacred truths?
We can answer this by noting Washington’s famous remarks in his farewell address to the nation in 1796:
It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.
The latest Gallup polling says 28% are satisfied with the way democracy is working in our country—an all-time low. Only 22% are satisfied with the direction of the country.
I think what is really bothering Americans is not the state of our political processes but that we have lost touch with the core principles and truths that define our country.
Slow economic growth, inflation, breakdown of the American family, massive government spending, and debt all point to a breakdown of sacred truths, not political processes.
It’s not about how we choose but what we choose.
And to return to the abortion issue, I don’t see how a nation can see itself as free, with control over its destiny, without appreciation for the sanctity of life.
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