By this time tomorrow, the selection process for the 44th president of the United States will be well underway. By the time most of the country calls it a night and shuts off the newscast to crawl into bed, we'll know the outcome, or at least the likely direction (though 2004 offers a cautious reminder against premature celebration). By the end of the day on Tuesday, November 4th, another 3,700 American citizens will have perished in the dark silence of their mother's wombs, voices silenced and votes uncounted.
I know this election is about multiple "issues," but I keep coming back to the one that matters most. I can't help but wonder, would the race be this tight thus far, had we not willfully destroyed 20-30 million would-be voters, eligible for participation in the electoral process this year?
I know that abortion isn't the only thing on people's minds as they enter the voting booth. I know that gas prices and the cost of health care and the war in Iraq all weigh heavy on the American heart. But I have seen and heard in recent radio interviews and editorials and opinion pieces another side to the American heart, a side that betrays a deep goodness, a sense of justice hidden within the soul of this nation, of her people.
There is much selfishness in our civilization. There is waste and greed, corruption to be sure. But there is also a sense of justice, a sense of right and wrong that the creeping secularism of our times has yet to snuff out entirely. Americans are perhaps uniquely aware of the plight of the downtrodden and vulnerable. With a few garish exceptions in the form of slavery and second-class citizenship based on creed or sex, our nation was founded on and continues to cherish the notion of freedom for every person. Unmerited, indisputable, and irrevocable freedom. Here there are no ruling classes. We have no caste system. We understand that to be fully human means to be free to embrace that particular destiny for which one was created.
We cherish our own personal freedom, as is natural and innate to the human person. But we take it perhaps a supernatural step further in our championing of the freedom of others. We have a sense of personal injustice as well as a sense of corporate injustice. Americans don't take kindly to the repression of anyone's freedoms. Not those of our neighbors, or our friends, or even our enemies.
This is why tomorrow seems to me such a turning point, pivotal to the great democratic experiment in which we all operate. Will we continue to champion that freedom for all, even for strangers, for those we disagree with? Or will we fall prey to the selfishness which tempts us with promises of personal fulfillment and security?
Would that there were 30 million more voices to chime in with their mighty pens tomorrow, able to exercises the responsibility of their freedom guaranteed by birthright...
But these miniature victims of selfishness fall silent without uttering a word in their own defense. And so it remains our duty to take up their fallen standard and enter into the fray, discharging our duty to fight in defense of the weak, to act with honor in the face of shameful neglect and cowardice.
And I believe that this can happen. Because we are, after all, still Americans, however divided our loyalties may appear at this critical juncture. And we know our duty.
What remains to be seen is whether or not we'll show up for battle.