S 2578 is the bill that would overturn the Hobby Lobby decision by basically repealing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yesterday I called people I know who have been working to kill S 2578. I wanted the names of the senators who had fought against the bill inside the Senate; the behind-closed-doors champions who had actually expended a bit of political capital in the fight for religious freedom.
I assumed they would be Republicans, and I was all set to write a post praising them. I even had the idea of calling the post “The Heroes of the S 2578 Fight” or something similar. It was going to be a fun post to write, praising our pro life heroes.
But I can’t write that post for the simple reason that we didn’t have any heroes. We had votes. We got a couple of speeches on the floor and some press thingys. But nobody, not one senator, worked against S 2578 among the other senators. We had no one — nada, zip, zilch — who cared enough to actually try to reach out other to other senators and turn them around on the issue. There was no bargaining, no horse-trading, not even any discussion in an attempt to work against the bill from the pro life side.
What we had were votes, like a blinking roll call.
What the other side had was passion, commitment and real warriors who were wiling to do the deal to get the deal done for “choice.”
I’ve been in these fights close up and personal for years. I can guess a lot of what went on in the Senate Democratic Caucus before the vote. These things get ugly. And votes change. That’s why it was a straight line-up of Ds on this thing. The people who oppose religious freedom, the pro aborts who have, in Senator Cruz’ words, declared war on the Catholic Church, did the legislative work to line up that vote.
There is also another consideration here. Both parties wanted a monolithic party-line vote, for political reasons. What would have been the effect if Republican senators had actually reached across the partisan divide to their pro life brethren in the Democratic side of the argument? I think they might have changed a couple of votes by doing that.
The trouble is, Ds and Rs don’t even talk to one another anymore. This hate-off is a real deal among them, and it transcends every single thing they tell the voters they believe when they run for office.
I have seen this work against pro life here in Oklahoma when it was the Republican caucus that was being arm-twisted into obedience. I have seen the “pro life” Republicans in the Oklahoma House line up monolithically against the number one pro life bill of the year because caucus loyalty dictated they do that.
I did, as a pro life Democrat, cross that party divide. There were a couple of Republicans, notably Representative Mike Reynolds, who did the same. We pushed the issue to the point that the leadership had to use strong arm tactics out on the floor to kill the bill.
We called them on their lies and made them regret the whole thing. The cost in political capital was a lesson learned. They learned that killing pro life bills, even if you’re Republicans, has a payback. This didn’t happen in the Oklahoma House again.
The Oklahoma Senate hasn’t learned this lesson. The reason is that the pro life people in the Oklahoma Senate line up and vote, but they don’t and won’t fight their own party for the sanctity of human life.
We need people who are willing to put life ahead of party and we need pro life people of both parties to work together. When that happens, life wins. When it doesn’t happen, politics wins.
Pro life people who will fight for life in the back rooms and across the aisle — genuine pro life heroes — can turn vote totals around. That’s what the pro aborts have.
We’ve got to have genuine pro life heroes in office. I don’t mean votes in a roll call. Votes are good, don’t get me wrong. But roll-calling our votes ends up with what we have now: Pro life being used as a political football by both parties.
The sad part is that there are pro life heroes aplenty, but they’re not in office. I’ve been told by people who know, that Senator Rick Santorum actually worked behind the scenes for pro life legislation, including within his own caucus. From what they told me, he was pretty much unique in this.
I also know that before passage of the Affordable Health Care Act, a number of pro life Democrats in the House worked very hard to keep it from paying for abortions and to make sure it guaranteed religious freedom. In case you don’t remember, these pro life Democrats almost nailed the deal to the wall, but they scuttled their own efforts by falling down the rabbit hole of believing President Obama’s promises.
I’m not trying to ameliorate the degree of their fail. I was sick when they folded. In addition to allowing the evil genie out of the bottle, they destroyed the nascent movement of pro life Democrats.
But the point here is that a few pro life Democrats were able to pin the whole thing to the mat. If they had stuck to their guns, they would either have won or killed the bill. I think it was that killing the bill part that got to be too much for them. This was their first time at the defying your own party rodeo. They were weak. And they latched onto believing our president’s lies as a way out of the barrel.
But the bottom line to the story is the same one I saw in Oklahoma. Pro life people in both parties who are willing to stand up to their party for life can change things. We’ve got to have them if we want to win this fight. We need people inside both parties who are willing to stand up to their respective caucuses and fight for life just as hard as the pro aborts fight for “choice.”
We also need them to walk across that aisle and work with their pro life brothers and sisters in the other party, even if it means working against their own caucus. We need people who put pro life first.
The point I’m making has nothing to do with parties and everything to do with why we keep getting whipped by these people. The pro aborts have people in elective office all over this country who will lie down on a railroad track in front of an oncoming train for “choice.”
They have heroes. We’ve got a roll call.