Last week, people fetching their copy of The Daily Mississippian were greeted on page 10 by the following headline: “Life is the most important issue on the ballot.” We couldn’t agree more. The lives of people at the border, the lives of people with pre-existing conditions, the lives of more than 20,000 Americans predicted to die of coronavirus by the end of November and the lives of people of color threatened by police and white supremacist vigilantes are all at stake in this election. Oddly enough, Lauren Moses’s article didn’t seem to advocate for these lives.
In the debate around abortion, the value of life — which is only considered prior to birth — is described by single-issue voters as more important than issues such as race relations, policing powers and healthcare. However, this argument reduces life to a singular idea which is divorced from these other issues, thereby failing to recognize its deep-seated relevancy within all of them.
The crux of the pro-life argument as presented by Republicans is that the Democratic Party is generally more lenient toward abortion than the Republican Party, therefore making Democratic candidates immoral and unworthy of your vote.
Barring the realization that John Bel Edwards — the Louisiana governor who signed off on one of the most stringent abortion laws in the country — is a Democrat, the most noteworthy problem with this argument is its failure to recognize Republicans’ consistent failures to value life themselves. How are we, as voters, supposed to believe that Republicans value life when many of them refuse to say Black lives matter? Members of the GOP haven’t acknowledged their blatant disregard for life on these matters, and it’s unlikely that they will.
The idea that voting Republican will directly translate to the protection of unborn “life” by the courts is one which is often stated assertively, but ultimately, it has no grounding in reality. Even if we disregard the fact that a conservative court decided Roe v. Wade, this assertion still falls short when considering that the abortion question is the key piece of political bait used by Republicans to hold onto the votes of single-issue white Evangelicals. Without fear-mongering about Roe v. Wade, what does the Republican party have left other than decades of failed policies underscored by bigotry and senselessness? Without the neon sign of the abortion debate flashing brightly to get the attention of single-issue voters, how will the Republican Party redirect the conversation when its disregard for life is rightfully called out?
When you cast your ballot, consider life not as an abstract concept unique to the unborn, but as a value that must be continually protected after birth, especially for the most marginalized. Consider how normal people might be affected by underfunded public healthcare systems. Unlike Donald Trump, not everyone has the means to receive cutting-edge treatment at Walter Reed Hospital — made possible by research on cells derived from an aborted fetus, by the way — if they contract the coronavirus. Consider how the next president might respond to the rampant police brutality exercised onto Black and brown individuals, and unlike the current office-holder, recall that being a target of violence does not make one a “thug.” Consider the lives that the Republican Party will not. If you still believe that the Republican Party values life, we have one parting statement for you. It says gullible on the ceiling.
Spencer Heitman is a sophomore public policy leadership, English and philosophy major from Baton Rouge, La. Mitchell Palmertree is a senior public policy leadership and economics major from Winona.