We celebrated Independence Day last weekend. I love that holiday. Fireworks and flags and patriotic music. I love my country and all it represents, to us here at home and to those around the world who still see us as a “shining city upon a hill.”
And, of course, being a good pro-lifer, I love our country’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence. We all know those famous words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This nation was founded by brilliant, dedicated men– Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and many more, but even at that time, the man everyone loved and trusted, the founding father who stood above all, the man they were willing to put in as first president, was George Washington. He was the first among equals. In fact, author Joseph Ellis referred to him as the “Foundingest Father of them all.”
We are proud of our rights in America. The Declaration of Independence lists the “right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution are collectively called the “Bill of Rights.”
We have fought for two-and-a-half centuries to protect those rights. It’s almost a cliché to say that without the right to Life, you can’t liberty or pursue happiness, but it’s also the truth. The right to Life for human beings must be paramount.
If George Washington was the Foundingest Father of them all, the right to Life is the “Rightest Right of them all.”
The Bill of Rights, those first 10 amendments, says that Congress shall not infringe on our right to free speech, or to peaceably assemble. We have the right to keep and bear arms; the right to not be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; and the right to a speedy and fair trial. We cherish these freedoms, these rights. But these are rights that, with enough power in the hands of the wrong people, can be taken away.
The right to Life, as unequivocally stated in the Declaration of Independence, is an unalienable right endowed by our Creator, not by the government. George Washington was first among equals. But the right to Life is not the first among “equals” because no other right can be considered equal. It is the preeminent right. It surpasses all others.
The life of an unborn child is ended by abortion for many reasons, but none of them should preempt the child’s right to life. That’s why the pro-life movement does so much to help mothers find life-affirming solutions to the problems surrounding pregnancy: to protect that right and help her mother in her time of need.
That’s also why I know that you are going to do everything you can to elect a pro-life president next year. A president who understands the importance of life; a president who knows that a country which kills its children is a country that loses its soul.
In 1630, as a little ship was crossing the ocean to this new land, John Winthrop, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, told his fellow passengers, “For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. Soe that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world.”
Several presidents have referenced that quote, referring to America as a city upon a hill. Ronald Reagan effectively spoke of the shining city on a hill.
Shortly before taking office, President John F. Kennedy said, in an address to the Massachusetts Legislature, “During the last 60 days I have been engaged in the task of constructing an administration…. I have been guided by the standard John Winthrop set before his shipmates on the flagship Arabella [sic] 331 years ago, as they, too, faced the task of building a government on a new and perilous frontier. ‘We must always consider,’ he said, ‘that we shall be as a city upon a hill—the eyes of all people are upon us.’ Today the eyes of all people are truly upon us—and our governments, in every branch, at every level, national, State, and local, must be as a city upon a hill—constructed and inhabited by men aware of their grave trust and their great responsibilities.”
I want America to be that shining city on a hill, a place where unborn children are protected, but after 43 years of abortion on demand and 57 million dead children, this shining city has lost some of its radiance.
We need to elect men and women to office, as JFK described them, who are aware of their grave trust and their great responsibilities.
Jump forward from 1630 to 1787. The Continental Congress is meeting in Philadelphia, drafting the United States Constitution. As Benjamin Franklin leaves one of the meetings, he is asked what sort of government the delegates had created. Franklin replied, “A republic– if you can keep it.”
As the years roll on, there is some dispute as to whether America is a democracy or a republic. Some would say we are a democratic republic. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a democracy as “government by the people; especially: rule of the majority”
It defines a Republic as “a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.”
They both sound pretty similar. The main difference is that in a democracy, the majority rules. That’s it. The minority has no rights.
In a republic, you have rights that cannot be taken by anyone. Everyone around can surround you like sharks but you, as an individual, have rights that cannot be taken away, even by a majority. This country was built as a republic, with certain rights, unalienable rights, for all.
Except– the right to life, the first right– is being denied to a million unborn children every year. Ben Franklin challenged us. We have a republic– if we can keep it.
Our job, for the next 16 months, is to work hard, even harder than we already are, using the democratic process, to elect those who will defend the republic and the rights guaranteed by it. The presidential election, as my husband describes it, is a Super Bowl with real consequences. Consequences that can affect many generations to come.
We have heard before, and will continue to hear, that all politicians are corrupt, or lazy, or greedy, or …, fill in the blank. That’s why they are involved in politics. The word Politician comes, of course, from the word Politics. And you know what politics means in Greek, right? Poli– meaning many, and ticks– meaning blood sucking insects.
So yes, the jokes will flow and the insults will continue. I’ve known a few politicians I don’t particularly like or wouldn’t trust, because of things I’ve seen them do, experiences I’ve had. But I assure you, I have met many, many more who are honest and hard-working and sincere. Men and women who truly want to do what is best for their state and their country.
These candidates, whether new to the office to which they are running, or long-time incumbents, need and deserve our support.
There is so much pessimism and negativity in our country, especially as it relates to the political process. Don’t get caught up in the mentality that all candidates, all politicians are crooks. Don’t think that every incumbent is a bum who should be thrown out of office.
We need to be wise in our efforts, looking at each candidate individually, to see which ones are deserving of our support. And those candidates must be ones who will protect unborn children from abortion; ones who will protect the elderly and those with disabilities from assisted suicide and euthanasia.
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Over the course of history, great leaders stand out. We wonder– where are the Washingtons, the Jeffersons, the Lincolns? Do we have them? Do they exist? Many of our current elected officials may not have that same recognition or prominence in our society, but we have them. They are working in our nation’s capitol and in our state capitols, to put our nation back on the right track.
We need to elect a pro-life president, and keep the Senate and House in the hands of pro-life leaders. Let us work to elect men and women who will re-establish the unalienable right to Life as the first right, the unequaled, paramount right our founding fathers intended. And let us do our election activities in the same manner we do all our other pro-life work– with smiles on our faces, and joy in our hearts– knowing that we are voices for the voiceless and that we are making a difference.
LifeNews Note: Carol Tobias is the president of the National Right to Life Committee. Tobias delivered the above comments during the National Right to Life convention last week.