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Home/Rod Dreher/Abortion And Our Liberal Democracy

Abortion And Our Liberal Democracy

Partial-birth abortion: just one of the many abortion procedures the Democratic-controlled House voted to legalize today (Students For Life)

The Democrat-controlled House today passed a radical pro-abortion bill:

The bill passed the House mainly along party lines, 218-211, with one Democrat voting with Republicans. The vote was largely symbolic as the bill is unlikely to advance in the Senate, where 10 Republicans and all Democrats would need to back the bill in order to meet the 60-vote threshold.

The Senate version of the bill, sponsored by Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal, has 47 co-sponsors, although it’s unlikely to to garner the support of Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey, who has previously voted for abortion restrictions, and West Virginia moderate Joe Manchin.

The Women’s Health Protection Act would protect a person’s ability to decide to continue or end a pregnancy and would enshrine into law health care providers’ ability to offer abortion services “prior to fetal viability” without restrictions imposed by individual states, like requiring special admitting privileges for providers or imposing waiting periods.

It also prohibits restrictions on abortion after fetal viability “when, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health.”

So, if this were to become law, there would be no restrictions on abortion, anywhere. Partial-birth abortion (see above) would presumably once again be legal, though now abortion providers stay on the right side of the law by injecting poison into the heart of the unborn child to kill her before she is delivered in the abortion procedure.

As NPR reports, this is largely symbolic, but it’s a sign of how ghoulish the pro-choicers are. Check out the abortion laws in European countries — they’re almost all more restrictive than this new bill. Oh, and by the way: the Woke Capitalists are at it again, using corporate policy to attempt to punish states for enacting socially conservative legislation that they don’t like. If a major corporation offered to help its employees move out of a state that had recently passed pro-choice or pro-LGBT legislation, we would never hear the end of it. What corporations and the media are doing is creating a world in which anybody who disagrees with progressive social and cultural values are treated like lepers.

This is why I have mostly given up on liberal democracy — not as an ideal, but as something possible for us. Liberal democracy has been hollowed out from within. How are you going to have a functioning liberal democracy when major stakeholders in society — like corporations, who are democratically unaccountable — consider citizens who disagree with them on certain issues to be untouchables?

Yesterday I gave an interview to Matt K. Lewis, who talked mostly about Hungary. I told him that I had mostly given up on liberal democracy, not because I don’t like it — I would prefer to live in a liberal democracy — but because I no longer believed that we had a real liberal democracy. Why not? Because the forms exist, but the progressive left — including Woke Capitalists — has hollowed them out. I told him that I thought the future was going to be a struggle between left-wing illiberal democracy (such as is coming into being here in the US), and right-wing illiberal democracy (like Viktor Orban is trying to establish in Hungary). That being the case, I know whose side I’m on.

Not everybody likes to hear that:

It is neither, but I’ll let that pass. I would just point out that the people on the center-right (like my friend Tom) and those on the center-left, both of whom see no problems with liberal democracy as we have today, are almost never social or religious conservatives. They have already accepted the social liberalization of the country, and don’t seem to have big qualms about the American laïcité coming into being.

I told Matt K. Lewis, and I’ll repeat it here, that I am definitely not a Trump supporter. Furthermore, I think the January 6 business was a total disgrace — and that Donald Trump became anathema to me after the way he behaved on that day. But I do not share the views of Tom et alia that Donald Trump is the only mortal threat to liberal democracy (if he’s a threat at all). I hope Trump does not run in 2024, and believe that a second Trump presidency would be on balance bad for the country. But I worry far, far more about what continued governance by the woke ruling class is going to do to our country, and its democracy. Oligarchs like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates concern me much more than Trump does. I am far more afraid of the denizens of Silicon Valley than of those who live in an Appalachian holler. I’m not kidding.

Was talking earlier today to a conservative Catholic friend about all this, and he says that our side keeps losing to the woke because we are terrible in opposition. We have either a GOP establishment that is totally comfortable with baizuo ideology as long as it protects tax cuts and national security hawkishness, or we have the Trump cult. My friend says that the organized Right behaves like a “controlled opposition,” because even if they win elections they won’t be able to change the system, and don’t even have a plan to.

If the Right could come up with a genuinely intelligent person who can operate outside of the strictures of the Trump cult, but who also understands the weaknesses of the GOP establishment, and then you have a real threat to the system. This is what Viktor Orban has been trying to do within a European context. Orban is far ahead of the American Right on how to confront the actual threat to the things we supposedly value. He understands — as does Ryszard Legutko — that the globalists and establishmentarians use the language, concepts, and institutions of liberal democracy to mean something else.

Here in America, though, our Right can’t seem to figure out what legitimate causes are worth supporting, and what’s just grift and conspiracy theory. Until we can, the only thing the Right is good for is serving as a temporary check on the left’s excess and incompetence.

Going back to the abortion bill: the Democrats and their corporate allies are bound and determined not to let states make their own laws when those laws conflict with what woke activists want. How is this a workable liberal democracy? The choice we social and religious conservatives are given is to do whatever the oligarchs and the baizuocracy tell us to do — and we will get little to no support at all from establishment conservatives. Look, I get it. Some of the things the Trump extremists say and do make me crazy. But they are not the worst problem, not by a long shot.

I’ll leave you with this link to the infamous 1996 First Things symposium on abortion and the legitimacy of our liberal democracy. I seem to recall that it upset some of the magazine’s inner circle so much that they quit writing for it, because the position the magazine staked out seemed illiberal and unpatriotic. The point of the symposium was to discuss the claim that the judiciary had removed the ability of the American people to decide how it wants abortion to be treated in law. Has this gone so far that Americans are justified in withdrawing support for the regime? The introduction says:

Americans are not accustomed to speaking of a regime. Regimes are what other nations have. The American tradition abhors the notion of the rulers and the ruled. We do not live under a government, never mind under a regime; we are the government. The traditions of democratic self-governance are powerful in our civics textbooks and in popular consciousness. This symposium asks whether we may be deceiving ourselves and, if we are, what are the implications of that self-deception. By the word “regime” we mean the actual, existing system of government. The question that is the title of this symposium is in no way hyperbolic. The subject before us is the end of democracy.

Since the defeat of communism, some have spoken of the end of history. By that they mean, inter alia, that the great controversies about the best form of governance are over: there is no alternative to democracy. Perhaps that, too, is wishful thinking and self-deception. Perhaps the United States, for so long the primary bearer of the democratic idea, has itself betrayed that idea and become something else. If so, the chief evidence of that betrayal is the judicial usurpation of politics.

Politics, Aristotle teaches, is free persons deliberating the question, How ought we to order our life together? Democratic politics means that “the people” deliberate and decide that question. In the American constitutional order the people do that through debate, elections, and representative political institutions. But is that true today? Has it been true for, say, the last fifty years? Is it not in fact the judiciary that deliberates and answers the really important questions entailed in the question, How ought we to order our life together? Again and again, questions that are properly political are legalized, and even speciously constitutionalized. This symposium is an urgent call for the repoliticizing of the American regime. Some of the authors fear the call may come too late.

I would love to read a similar symposium now, 25 years later, not about abortion per se but about the way the baizuocracy (rule by the woke) and its corporate allies has diminished America’s liberal democracy. I understand — really, I do! — why a figure like Trump is such a threat to the system. But many of those within the system and its institutions are so focuses on Trump that they miss the fact that the real threat is calling from inside the house.

UPDATE: Look what else is in that same bill:

(8) The terms ‘‘woman’’ and ‘‘women’’ are used in this bill to reflect the identity of the majority of people targeted and affected by restrictions on abortion services, and to address squarely the targeted restrictions on abortion, which are rooted in misogyny. However, access to abortion services is critical to the health of every person capable of becoming pregnant. This Act is intended to protect all people with the capacity for pregnancy—cisgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals, those who identify with a different gender, and others—who are unjustly harmed by restrictions on abortion services.

These people are not only at war with their countrymen; they are at war with reality.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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