There's a nasty term that many on the left hand side of the political tracks like to toss around during an election year, a dismissive label that can be tacked on to a string of other charming f-words like fanatic and fundamentalist and fear monger, designed to identify ignorance in the opposition. The term? Single issue voter. As in, "Clearly, you are so entrenched in the archaic, legalistic mindset to which you've become accustomed over years of indoctrination at the hands of religious hierarchy and your family of origin, you could not possibly see any "truth" other than your own."
This legalistic myopia descends as a sort of voluntary blindness on those it afflicts, coloring every decision they make, infiltrating every aspect of their lives. Forget talking about social justice issues; these cretins can't get past the ridiculous notion than an unborn fetus has some claim to constitutional rights. So you see, until they're able or willing to concede on this point, further discussion with them will largely prove fruitless.
At least this is what I imagine one Obama supporter saying to another when, back at campaign headquarters after a long day of pavement pounding, they are debriefing one another and swapping "glory stories." I had the unique opportunity to dialogue with a bright, charming woman on my front porch yesterday afternoon, and it was clear from the expression on her face and the incredulity in her tone, however masked by politeness, that she thought I was a nut job.
Granted, I was flanked by one of my guy friends whom I had entreated to follow me to the door out of fear and curiosity, effectively trapping him in an awkward spectator role for the first 3 minutes of our interaction, and I held in my arms an angry cat who struggled mightily to free himself throughout the duration of our verbal exchange. So in the clipboard-toting stranger's defense, perhaps I did come off a little, well, eccentric.
But the conversation started out so well. She asked for my support of her candidate, and I answered that my pro-life stance was inconsistent with his worldview, thereby disqualifying him from my consideration. She nodded in sympathy and answered that she, too, was pro-life, pointing out the millions (millions?) of deaths in Iraq that the current administration had authorized/caused/underwritten, (it was unclear exactly what her belief was on this point) vowing that Obama would be an agent for change and reform that would improve the quality of life for all people.
All people, we wondered aloud? I asked her about the 42 million American citizens lost during the past 3 and a half decades, and she smiled in understanding and thanked me for being so passionate about my beliefs, acknowledging that abortion was always "a difficult, personal decision on the part of a woman."
At last, some common ground! Abortion is indeed a difficult, personal decision. Ending human life generally is, unless the killer is a sociopath, at which point the difficulty of the decision is somewhat mediated by psychosis.
Throughout the conversation she demonstrated admirable patience and respect for our "divergent world views," but it was the kind of patience one might exhibit towards a dumb animal or a small child. I could almost read her mind: poor, misguided religious zealots. What a shame their black and white morality blinds them to the possibility of utilitarian compromise? Don't they see the greater good that might be achieved for humanity?
Indeed, there are gaping wounds in this broken world of ours, hideous indecencies being committed every day. Children starving, marriages crumbling, rivers and streams being choked by pollution, animals being cruelly tormented.... we live in a continual state of privation. Always there is a good lacking; always there is more to be done.
But where to begin? Here is where our arguments became radically divergent. Because as we encouraged her to consider, unless there is a starting point, an objective moral order governing reality, all else that is good and true is simply a matter of opinion. Reality is not a democracy. It is not within our power to declare that recycling and abortion are simply two of many "issues" on a checklist of causes one might pledge allegiance to.
Until and unless we set the bar for common decency, the ideological battle will continue to rage, and yes, there will continue to be "one-issue voters," incapable of compromise. Real good and real evil are exactly that: real. Nothing that is truly good can come of an origin of evil; it is metaphysical folly and the oldest mistake in the Book.
When will we be able to compromise on the "abortion issue?" Not ever. As long as we live and others do not, based solely upon the calculated or desperate decision of another fallible, created human being, there can be no compromise. Because some compromises are really concessions, and concession to evil is what got us here in the first place.