Monday, March 15, 2010

Thank God for Bart Stupak

People who follow politics can become cynical. We joke that lawmaking is the proverbial sausage factory, but we joke because that’s preferable to screaming and cursing. The frustration is real.

Rasumussen says 71% of the public disapprove of the job they are doing. If you are one of those who disapprove, you’ll be encouraged by this fact because misery loves company. But it may not matter.

While all the evidence suggests that Americans have no interest in the current health insurance reform legislation that is being considered, those we pay to represent us are working very hard to pass it. And the individuals who are part of the sausage factory are feeling the squeeze.

Much was made of the Louisiana Purchase and the “Cornhusker Kickback” in which Sen. Mary Landrieu and Sen. Ben Nelson received hundreds of millions of dollars for their states in exchange for their willingness to vote in favor of health care reform. This bothered us because it appears that they are willing to support something they think is bad simply because they received a personal benefit from doing so. No one respects people who can be bought.

That’s why Bart Stupak is such a breath of fresh air. Bart Stupak is a Congressman from Michigan who has emerged as the leader of the pro-life Democrats in the House of Representatives. He was responsible for an amendment in the House bill that prohibited the use of federal funds for elective abortions. That language was not included in the Senate version and that is the reason he and other pro-life Democrats stand in the way of final passage of this historic legislation.

Because of his principled opposition he is receiving tremendous pressure to change his position. Since Washington DC is so accustomed to changing people’s minds, it must be confounding when they find someone who won’t play ball. He and the other pro-life Democrats are currently being pressured by their leadership to abandon their principles to vote for something they know to be wrong.

"According to Stupak, that group of twelve pro-life House Democrats — the “Stupak dozen” — has privately agreed for months to vote ‘no’ on the Senate’s health-care bill if federal funding for abortion is included in the final legislative language. Now, in the debate’s final hours, Stupak says the other eleven are coming under “enormous” political pressure from both the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.). “I am a definite ‘no’ vote,” he says. “I didn’t cave. The others are having both of their arms twisted, and we’re all getting pounded by our traditional Democratic supporters, like unions.”

I’m sure there are many things Rep. Stupak and I disagree on. But that’s the case for most people on the planet. What is refreshing, and what gives me hope, is that on this issue he will not be moved. He understands that this issue is not a disagreement in which one person prefers to spend more and one prefers to spend less. Nor is it like deciding on the best way to reform education. This is a decision about whether our federal taxpayer dollars should be used to exterminate the lives of our youngest citizens.

Thank you, Bart Stupak, for having guts. Thank you for standing for the defenseless. Thank you for not being for sale. Thank you for giving me a reason to be a little less cynical.

You can express your gratitude by emailing Bart Stupak here or by calling (202) 225-4735.


Joseph Backholm
Executive Director
Family Policy Institute of Washington

No comments:

Post a Comment