Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama Rocks

Here is just one small way in which Obama is proving himself to be an excellent president: his stance and actions regarding abortion. His stance, from a 2006 speech (and reiterated in similar words throughout the campaign and now his presidency):

“Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but I seek to pass law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all. Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. It involves the compromise, the art of what’s possible. At some fundamental level, religion does not allow for compromise. Its the art of the impossible. If God has spoken, then followers are expected to live up to God’s edicts, regardless of the consequences. To base one’s life on such uncompromising commitments may be sublime, but to base our policy making on such commitments would be a dangerous thing.”

What does this paragraph mean? Obama is a negotiator, probing both sides of an issue for their core needs and striving to find a solution that is acceptable to all. Sometimes the two sides of an issue don’t even know their core needs, or they put up extra barriers (intentionally or not) in front of these needs, believing that giving any ground to the other side starts you down the “slippery slope” against your side of the issue. Obama actually wants to resolve the issue.

In April, he convened a conference on abortion where he invited leaders from both the pro-choice and pro-life sides. The reason, to present to them his vision for common ground and to ask them for ideas on how to reduce the number of abortions. He’s not looking for the easy answers (abstinence-only programs), but the hard ones that address the root cause of the need for abortions (women in dire economic or relational situations). There is a demonstrable correlation between the poverty rate and the abortion rate in a region, and reducing abortions means also addressing many other societal issues that we like to pretend don’t exist. This conference very well could lead to real money going into new programs in the 2011 budget.

He actually cares about social justice. Just one small way that Obama rocks.

(Thank you Sojourners Magazine for the quote and background for this post.)

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