In his re-election speech, President Obama, amidst enthusiastic cheers, made the following declaration to his audience and to all America:
I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you’re willing to work hard, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you’re willing to try.
As he built to a crescendo, so did the excitement of the crowd. It was a euphoric moment. Unnoticed, however, was an egregious omission: “born or unborn.” The President’s embracing liberality stopped short at a critical point. The unborn, of course, cannot vote. They are not within the President’s political purview. Those who will be aborted will never have a chance either to vote or “to make it in America.”
G. K. Chesterton famously spoke of the “democracy of the dead,” an expanded notion of democracy that honors the legacy of ideas and institutions that today’s generation has inherited. The now dead were once alive, and, like America’s Founding Fathers, contributed mightily to posterity.
The unborn, given a chance, can also contribute to posterity. Without realizing it, Obama’s audience was cheering for “exclusive inclusivism.” Would it be “extremist” to honor the unborn? Many think so, and this illiberal attitude is one way of understanding the root of America’s deep division.
The history of democracy is interwoven with the history of exclusion, and we do not need to recapitulate the lengthy list of those groups that were systematically and unjustly excluded. Excluding the unborn, however, is the largest of all exclusions since it excludes everyone, at least for the first nine months of their existence. ...
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