from Catholic Online
I've had time to recover from what happened Sunday night, but I still feel sick to my stomach. I always knew there was a chance that Bart Stupak would change his vote for some reason other than securing his amendment, but I honestly thought he would hold his ground and not waver in his defense of unborn children. Senator Nelson's betrayal last year was very upsetting, but this... this is just so painful.
The trouble is, we citizens have no choice but to believe in our politicians. We must risk trusting them to be true to their word, to their principles, to the promises they've made. You and I cannot walk down to the front of that Chamber and cast a vote, so we must rally behind our Reps and Senators and ask everyone who shares our values to do the same. “Stand with Stupak!” we cried. “Let him know we're with him and we appreciate all he's doing!” He's the only thing left standing between life and federally-funded death right now! And so, it seemed, he was.
Does this make us fools now? Well, it sure makes me feel a little foolish, but I realize this morning that I did what I had to do, and what I will do again when there's a candidate who says he will stand up for the unborn. We have no choice but to take the chance, knowing there's always the possibility that we will be betrayed. Again, you and I cannot cast a legislative vote. Our votes come later.
What happened last night sure felt like betrayal. Not with a kiss, but with a slap across the face and a knife to the heart. I never expected Stupak to do what he did, especially not at the very.last.minute. It makes absolutely no sense to me that he would put his faith in an order that everyone else agrees isn't worth the paper it's printed on (particularly given the man who's signing it.) Executive Orders cannot trump statutory law. Surely Stupak knows this. Surely he understands how easily the order can be rescinded and challenged in court. He must understand all that because every one of his colleagues does.
So, what gives? I wondered if it went something like this: Stupak began to realize that Pelosi would have the votes she needed without him and his group and the bill would pass for sure. He scrambled to find some way of mitigating the damage, lessening the power of the Senate language, putting up some kind of sandbag against the tide. An Executive Order requiring Hyde be upheld... it was the last-ditch effort and he went for it. A somewhat noble scenario, I suppose, but I still would rather have had him just stick to voting NO.
Then I watched as the vote happened, and I saw that the final count was only 219. Stupak and his group made a difference, alright. In the wrong direction! The noble scenario I imagined went right out the window. The final blow came when I watched him on CSPAN as the Republicans put forth the Motion to Recommit. Stupak stood up and turned on his pro-life Republican colleagues in a way that left my jaw in my lap. He called the motion an attempt to politicize unborn life rather than protect it. He said it was Democrats who have stood up for the protection of unborn children, Democrats who have stood up for the principle of life, and he slammed his friends on the other side for attempting to derail the health care bill yet again.
He looked and sounded like a true party-line Democrat; no longer a champion of the voiceless and powerless and innocent. Just a politician who had made a deal. It was crushing to watch. Gone was the smiling, steady, principled man I've been watching all these months, and there instead was a man who seemed very defensive, angry, and defiant.
Once again, someone we trusted has let us down. And once again, cynicism and resentment grows where optimism and hope once lived. I wonder if there really is anyone left in Washington who has honor and will not relinquish it for the right deal. Is there anyone who will simply stand for LIFE, period, no matter the cost, no matter the fallout, no matter the sweet deal they're offered? When it's not politically expedient to do so, is there anyone who will not compromise?
It's good to remember that the only man who ever lived that way was our Savior. In Him, there is honor without compromise; in Him there is no risk of betrayal; in Him there is steadfast hope; in Him, there is LIFE.
In each of us, is the possibility of Judas. I know for certain I have betrayed Him over and over. I know for certain I have broken the trust of people who love me and believed in me. I know I have caused others to regret having supported me in some way.
It just seems like Judas is alive and well everywhere in Washington. It seems he shows himself every day, with every deal that's made. Sunday night, however, was a truly heartbreaking appearance, with devastating consequences. And we, the electorate have very significant choices to make in the future. When next we have the opportunity to vote, we must start voting more carefully and more bravely.
But we also must risk trusting again. We have to believe, again and again, that those we send to that awesome Chamber will find the courage to be true. We will surely be let down again. But cynicism will be a greater threat to our cause than Judas. We can be sorrowful and even rightfully angry, but we will have to take a chance again on someone who says, “I'll stand and fight with you.” We'll have to rally ourselves again, lend our support again, then watch with guarded hope to see what happens.
And when our hopes are dashed once more, we have to simply start all over again. Dust off the cynicism and resentment, and remember that He who sits on the throne is still in control. “We trust in the name of the Lord our God.” “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.”
I'm not sorry I stood with Stupak. I'm sorry he didn't stand for Life.