Public opinion surveys reveal that economic issues are foremost on most Americans' minds, and rightly so, as unemployment rates remain above eight percent and five million jobs have disappeared since Barack Obama became president. Not incidentally, the national debt has exceeded $14 trillion, fed by unprecedented annual federal spending of more than $2 trillion and deficits of more than $1 trillion. But moral issues will be on the table, too.
The American Left will have it so, as recent actions by the Obama administration and part of its electoral base have made emphatically clear. First, the administration announced that the massive health care law will require that all institutions, regardless of their religious and moral convictions, will be required to include contraceptives and morning-after pills in their medical insurance coverage. Thousands of Roman Catholic hospitals, clinics and "non-religious" facilities are in Obama's crosshairs, and millions of outraged citizens who will be required to finance it with their "mandate."
Second, at the annual Prayer Breakfast, the president invoked the name of Jesus Christ to support his wealth redistribution agenda, holding that when the Lord said, "To whom much is given, much is expected," He meant that the wealthiest should be forced to share their bounty. He thereby shredded the no-longer needed leftist shibboleth that religion should not intrude into politics — a useful weapon against the opposition but one abandoned without qualms by the Left.
Third, Planned Parenthood, after facing the end of its support from the Komen Foundation, managed to pressure the organization, whose primary focus is on breast cancer, to reverse its decision. Why Komen should subsidize an organization that refers women elsewhere for mammograms and, at $500-$750 each, makes one and a half to two million dollars a year to execute 320,000 abortions, is not obvious — unless one assumes that Planned Parenthood is entitled to that money.
In a way, we should be grateful to the Left for reminding us that economic issues and moral issues are but two sides of the same coin, which is the way of life of American citizens. We ought to be free to make our own decisions, for we are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights." But we are not free to escape the consequences of bad decisions, nor forbidden to exercise self control in our spending and associations.
All our actions have a moral foundation, whether those with a vested interest in profligacy or licentiousness admit it or not. It is not just unwise to spend money that you haven't got; it is unethical. It is not just misguided to force people to spend their money on what they rightly condemn; it is immoral.
Everyone, not just Roman Catholics, has their rights at stake when the Obama Administration makes an inroad on religious liberty. For when one combines the decision to defy religious concerns for human life with the claim that redistributing wealth for this purpose is supported by Jesus Christ Himself, one has the very "religious establishment" which the First Amendment explicitly forbids. Who in God's name (or in Hell for that matter), authorized the federal government to be the ultimate authority on religious questions?
And given the fury and zeal with which a key segment of Obama's constituency reacted to the perfect right of an organization to cease its contributions, it is clear that the same "establishment" thinking is at work. Suppose, dear reader, that you had been giving a significant amount to Planned Parenthood, and decided to stop after learning that it was being investigated by the Congress of the United States for accepting federal money while counseling minor victims of statutory rape to have abortions; and suddenly your telephone began ringing off the hook from calls by Planned Parenthood employees outraged that you had changed your mind. Would you not be appalled at their unmitigated gall?
One conservative blogger wryly remarked that the incident reminded him of the Brezhnev doctrine, according to which any nation conquered by the Soviet Union is obliged to remain in its orbit. Similarly, once you give money to Planned Parenthood, you are obliged to do so forever.
Outside of the Communist world, never have pernicious assaults on the fruits of our labor been so righteously and viciously made, and upheld, than in our country now. Whether it is the government or one of its beneficiaries that makes the demand, you had better pony up and your moral convictions be damned.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Richard Reeb taught political science, philosophy and journalism at Barstow College from 1970 to 2003. He is the author of " Taking Journalism Seriously: 'Objectivity' as a Partisan Cause" (University Press of America, 1999). He can be contacted at email@example.com.