I voted in my first election when I was 18. George W. Bush was running for president. I really only cared about one issue: the pro-life candidate. In subsequent years, that didn’t change. I would happily accept the pro-life literature paid for by Kansans for Life that was being passed out at the edge of the parking lot after church. That literature would become my voter’s guide. If a candidate’s name was on the list, they got my vote. If not, thanks for playing, better luck next time.
I am sad to say Kansans for Life has failed me. Here was a political organization that I had assumed had my back. I assumed they would give me the facts straight, without the political spin. I should have listened to what my dad always said about assuming. It pains me to say, but this election cycle Kansans for Life has lost my trust.
Glen knew he had a very slim chance of getting an endorsement from Kansans for Life, not because of his views, but because of his opponent and his party affiliation. He tried to warn his very pro-life wife ahead of time, but when the endorsements were published, I couldn’t understand how my Rosary-praying, pro-life marching, 4th Degree Knight of Columbus, Catholic husband didn’t get the endorsement. From my research, I discovered two things: KFL stands by incumbent legislators they have endorsed in the past and they will never endorse a Democrat. Now when I was 18 and stupid, I would have been on board with that. As I’ve matured, I realize nothing is black and white. You can’t just say the Republican Party is the Pro-Life party and the Democratic Party is the pro-choice party, even if that’s how their party platforms read. I know plenty of pro-life Democrats and a few pro-choice Republicans. That type of one-sided thinking will not foster change in my opinion, and isn’t that the role of Kansans for Life? To promote the pro-life agenda? Wouldn’t it be amazing if both parties were the Pro-Life Party? I realize that may never happen in my lifetime, but wouldn’t you think that an organization that claims to stand for life would want to help out those Democrats who have the balls to stand up to their own political party and try to change the platform from within? If I was running the show, those would be the type of people I would search out! I presented this viewpoint to Kansans for Life via a comment on one of their blog posts. They basically told me I was naive; I prefer to view myself as hopeful. I get there have been Democrats in the past (cough Kathleen cough Sebelius) who have tried to use their Catholic faith to mislead voters into assuming they were pro-life. Personally, I would say those politicians really weren’t all that Catholic, but Pope Francis is trying to teach me to be more merciful so I will just pray that God will lead me and them to the fullness of our faith instead. And I know history is a very good teacher, but I expect a pro-life organization to do the extra research to find out if that Catholic Democrat really is pro-life (cough Glen Shafer cough).
Here is my problem with the Kansans for Life endorsement process: it is exclusionary. It lets not-so-honorable Republicans make statements such as, “My opponent is not endorsed by Kansans for Life; therefore, my opponent is NOT pro-life.” Imagine my surprise when I was presented a mailer paid for by my husband’s opponent that informed me the father of my four children isn’t pro-life! I will never intentionally vote for someone who is pro-choice, and on Tuesday, I will be voting for my husband (shhh, don’t tell him). And trust me, if I wouldn’t vote for a non-prolifer, I definitely wouldn’t marry one.
Now as I’ve grown from a voting teenager to a voting “grown-up,” I’ve become interested in more than just the pro-life issue. Don’t misunderstand, the pro-life issue is my first and last deciding factor on a candidate, but as a public school teacher, I care a lot about education too. I refuse to think that the pro-life candidate and the education candidate are mutually exclusive. And I find Kansans for Life’s endorsement process to be detrimental to choosing candidates beyond just the pro-life issue. I think a grading process might be a better way to inform voters of candidates prolifeness (yes, I just made up a word). Pro-life incumbents and Republicans could still get the endorsement, but a grade would let voters know if other non-endorsed candidates might also be pro-life.
So, my fellow prolifers, this election, I beg you to do more than just vote for the candidates listed on the Kansans for Life literature. Their brochure is a great starting place. Learn about those candidates and if you agree with all their policies, then by all means, vote for them! But if there is a candidate that interests you who is not on the card, do a little digging. You might just find out they are pro-life too! Praise be to God.