Since writing my post last week about Dr. Dobson’s third party threats, I have heard from many, representing what could be boiled down to a handful of choices. But none, seemed to be a true representation nor realistic of the decision-making of a leader like Dr. Dobson. In order to avoid such controversy, I wrote my post strictly in the context of the NY Times op-ed which assumed a Rudy vs Hillary race. Of course, it’s way too early to tell, but Dr. Dobson made the right decision to deal with this now, rather than a year from now.
Last Friday, Gary Schneeberger, Focus Action’s vice president of media relations, released a statement that will hopefully clarify some of the confusion emanating from Dr. Dobson’s op-ed piece and appearance on H & C.
1. There have been many stories in the past couple of weeks about Dr. Dobson’s opinions and plans about the presidential election. We’ve heard everything from, “He’s going to start a third party” to “Why won’t he tell us who he does support?” What’s the real story?
Well, before I say anything else, let me make clear one important point: Whatever Dr. Dobson has said, or says in the future, about presidential candidates, he says as a private citizen.
Dr. Dobson never has said he will personally start a third party or even support efforts to create a new party. All he has said, and you can look it up in his editorial that ran in The New York Times last week, is, “If neither of the two major political parties nominates an individual who pledges himself or herself to the sanctity of human life, we will join others in voting for a minor-party candidate.” That’s not the same as saying, “I’m going to build my own party from the ground up.” It merely is saying, “I’ll look for a candidate who is consistent with my values, who is already running in the primary, and I’ll cast my vote for him.”
2. We’ve received e-mails from CitizenLink readers who are — to put it bluntly — angry at the position Dr. Dobson is staking out here. They are saying, essentially, that he will guarantee the next president will be someone who stands for everything values voters fight against if he sticks to his current plan.
Dr. Dobson’s key point is simple: I have devoted my life to defending the family — especially those preborn babies who can’t defend themselves. How can I now vote for anybody, of any party, who doesn’t think preborn life has value or doesn’t think marriage, the building block of all civilized societies, must be protected? I can’t do it, he is saying. I can’t vote against what I’ve always stood for.
5. Will Dr. Dobson eventually endorse a candidate during this primary season? Will he eventually, as some readers have asked, tell us who he is for?
I’m not really sure. Again, if he were to do so, he would do it as a private citizen, not as a representative of Focus on the Family or Focus Action, so I’ll probably be the last to know. Also remember that the election is more than a year away — we’ll have two new World Series champions before we have a new president. There is ample time to evaluate the candidates and make a decision; election cycles come with ups and downs and surprises for every candidate, and this one will be no different.
But I will say that anyone who’s listened carefully to the comments Dr. Dobson has made to the media over the last several weeks knows there are candidates out there he is still looking at and listening to.
This raises two issues. One, specifically who, could Dr. Dobson be looking at beyond the candidates already in the race? And secondly, is a third party candidate, a sure lock to lose the election, an automatic vote for Hillary? Some say no, others yes, including Dobson, who admits third-party plan supported by pro-family leaders might unintentionally help elect Democrat presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
That’s where the social conservatives come in. If Giuliani is the Republican nominee–and he’s the frontrunner at the moment–a pro-life candidate is bound to run on a third party ticket. Richard Land, a prominent Southern Baptist leader, says the pro-life presidential effort would be “significant.” The question is how significant.
In 2000, Ralph Nader won only 2.74 percent of the vote nationally, but he got enough votes in Florida to keep Al Gore from taking the state and becoming president. Of course this assumes most Nader voters would have voted for Gore over George W. Bush had Nader not been on the ballot. It’s a fair assumption. Land believes a pro-life candidate in 2008 would be more
formidable than Nader was in 2000.
Social conservatives are a major constituency in the Republican party and for them abortion is a paramount issue. Were a few million to bolt in 2008, either by voting for a right-to-life candidate or not voting for any presidential candidate, Giuliani probably could not win in the general election. A recent Rasmussen poll echoes this point. It found that 27 percent of Republicans would vote for a third party candidate backed by social conservative leaders if Giuliani is the Republican nominee.
Captain Ed doesn’t see a way for Rudy to sway pro-lifers:
Barnes wants to find a way to harness Rudy’s potential electability with pro-life organizational strength, but I think it’s a lost cause. If Rudy has any chance to win in a general election, he’ll have to reach for centrists and independents who want nothing of another Clinton presidency. If the pro-life people who seem so dissatisfied with Rudy want to avoid pushing the GOP in that direction, they’d be better served looking for a primary candidate who suits their needs now rather than an independent down the road.
If there was an independent with a viable chance at winning the election, he would already be in the race. The fact that there is not an acceptable contender already in the race means that 2008’s election would probably see an independent get slightly more than Nader’s 2.74% in 2004.
Some see voting for a pro-choice “Republican” as a value they cannot compromise on while others see it as an automatic vote for Hillary. Social conservatives disagreement is rooted in their perspective of politics as it relates to the Christian worldview.
I value life as much as Dr. Dobson. But I also think there is more at stake for the next president than preborn life. In other words, preborn life cannot be the sole factor we use to make our decision. There is more “life” to contemplate. We must consider Hillary’s politically correct flip flopping on the war, which puts all Americans’ lives at stake, instantly, the moment she is sworn in. Then there is her universal health care to the tune of $440 smackers. After it wastes the taxpayer dollars, it will jeopardize the lives of millions with an inundated medical industry. And there is the appointment of breathingist judges, which could endanger many conservative issues for at least a generation, no matter who is elected president in 2012 and beyond.
Politics is a game. Social conservatives are not on offense right now. We had our offense on the field from 2000 to 2006. And we blew it by not demanding more from our elected officials. President Bush, as strong as he is on preborn life, only succeeded in one area: the partial birth ban. Which, by the way, Rudy also supports. Abortion will not be overturned overnight. As I said in my previous post, abortion must be quelled in the hearts of people before presidents. And we can begin that process no matter who is president. We must play defense while preparing to go on offense again. That is what liberals have been doing since 2000. And we have God on our side. What an advantage!
To dismiss these other life issues and, either voting for a third party candidate or not voting at all, is indeed a vote for Hillary. It’s like sending our defense on the field with 6 players to take on their 11. This does not do the scoring for the offense, but it certainly gives them an undeniable advantage.
Again, I must echo social conservative, Gary Bauer, who will be a key speaker at this weekend’s Values Voter Summit:
“It would break my heart if we ended up with two pro-abortion candidates. Nonetheless, I urged extreme caution to those attending this meeting. We should not forget that the Clinton presidency came about because a third-party effort divided conservative votes in 1992. The Clinton years were a disaster. The one thing the pro-family movement would be very hard pressed to recover from is another Clinton presidency in 2009.”
Bauer understands that pro-lifer’s are on defense right now. And we have much work to do, regardless of who wins the White House. It is my desire to see pro-family voters get behind a candidate currently in the race that does represent our views and see him elected. This would seem to achieve the goal without isolating us from other conservatives.