By Scott Tibbs, October 20, 2009
U.S. Senate candidate Don Bates spoke to the IU College Republicans in Bloomington last night about his hope to defeat Evan Bayh and replace him in the U.S. Senate. Bates, who calls himself a Reagan Republican, argued that Evan Bayh's vote is all that stands between us and socialism and the only way to ensure that 60th vote goes the right way is to replace Bayh. He basically said all the right things about fiscal conservatism and national defense.
I asked Bates about his position on abortion. The content of his response was acceptable, but the tone was not. Bates said if we can get a solid enough Republican majority, we could do something about abortion. He is not encouraged that we can do much about restricting abortion right now.
Therein lies the problem. You cannot consistently argue that abortion is the worst blight on this country since slavery (as Gates did) and then embrace a strategery that an abolitionist would never have endorsed in 1850. People fighting against slavery, like the people who marched for civil rights with Martin Luther King, did not wait for enough politicians to get elected who shared their views to try to accomplish something. Had they done that, we would still have segregation today. Instead, the abolitionists and the civil rights movement knew they had to change the culture, providing the leadership necessary to accomplish their goals.
Bates made a point of emphasizing his Christian faith last night. Proverbs 24:11-12 does not tell Christians to "rescue those being led away to death" as soon as we have enough of a legislative majority to do so. If Bates is going to beat Evan Bayh, he needs to energize the Christian conservative base of the Republican Party. In order to win any election, you need to shore up your base, and then go after independents and moderate or conservative Democrats. The base is especially important against a powerhouse like Bayh. Noncommittal answers on issues important to the base are not going to excite the base and in the short term may push GOP activists toward his primary opponents.
The anti-abortion movement will not be successful by waiting for a big enough majority in the House and Senate. Republicans had that between 2002 and 2006 but failed to take much action toward abolishing the barbaric act of abortion. Politicians follow the crowd and do not take too many risks that will cause them to lose elections. Statesmen, meanwhile, provide leadership and point the people to where we need to be as a society. George Washington, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan were statesmen. On Monday night, Bates sounded a lot like a politician.