[Today, I welcome the guest commentary of my roommate Jerry Nora. He finished his baccalaureate work this week with three degrees: physics, philosophy, and molecular biology. He is highly devoted to the study of bioethics, which he will pursue as a MD/PhD student next year. He is former president of the University of Pittsburgh's Students for Life group and has participated in efforts to bring a chapter of Do No Harm to Pitt. – Funky]
This is a reply to "Too Close to Call?" posted Wednesday, April 17
The chief objections to Casey's gubernatorial race that Funky Dung raised are that (1) he's not as experienced as Rendell or would be as effective in getting the commonwealth's economy moving, and that (2) even though Rendell is pro-choice, a governor has little sway in bioethics. I'll take on these two objections in turn.
The first objection is that Rendell is more effective. Turning Philadelphia around is a much greater feat than pulling two terms as Auditor General of the state. Okay. Let us pretend that Rendell has not been out of public office for a while, and the fact that Casey has a statewide office right now does not matter.
The matter is that efficiency and morality are two things, and morality necessarily should trump efficiency as a priority. Why? Simple. When we ridicule people for justifying Fascism by saying "well, at least the trains run on time", we attack people selling their morals for conveniences. So what if the trains run on time? Where are the trains going? To Dachau, Auschwitz? If that's the case, then God send that the trains run into delays! Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, is a good case in point. He marched into office with staffers from his corporate holdings and a ton of computers and flat-screen monitors "donated" by his companies. He was efficient, and he efficiently forced all City teaching hospitals to have abortion training programs. Well, that makes me want to go get an efficient governor!
Rendell reminds me of Bloomberg in that they are both real go-getters for the New Democrats (Bloomberg is technically a Republican, but became one only to oppose Green), and both scare me as they have an anything-goes moral attitude along with the efficiency and resources I usually attribute to Republicans, an ugly mix.
But if governors cannot do anything on the abortion issue, why bother? Think again! We look to political leaders as cultural leaders: when an issue on public policy comes up, even if a governor does not have a role in it, people are naturally curious as to what he says. If people only see pro-choice, pro-embryonic research types, the weight of numbers will squelch dialog. For that matter, Pennsylvania forbids human embryonic research-even though the NIH will fund it, it cannot be done in Pennsylvania. Any bets on how long that will last with Rendell in charge? What about funding for Planned Parenthood, over which the governor has control? What about funding for abortion alternatives like Project Women In Need, which some House Representatives are trying to turn into federal program for helping pregnant mothers in need of help? A governor can do much to railroad such things. What about abortion training in Penn State University, or the other state medical schools and training hospitals? We saw what Bloomberg did, and given Rendell's supporters, I can see them pushing for similar action across Pennsylvania.
Governors, therefore, have a lot of swing, even if you do not think about how governors can support other pro-life candidates, or may use their position as a stepping-stone to get an office as Senator or Cabinet member.
I will end this by reminding people about the ideals of this web log, specifically about freedom. Funky Dung quoted Jefferson by saying that "those who wish to exchange their freedom for security deserve neither." I agree with that, but if we did want to exchange freedom for security, I bet we might snag some terrorists we could not have otherwise nailed. If nothing else, more extensive police powers could disrupt terrorist cells by making them look over their shoulders more often rather than setting up attacks. However, living in a police state is worse than living as free citizens under a terrorist threat. Likewise, I say that voting against a candidate who (may) help the economy is likewise giving up some immediate gratification for something more important. Getting a bigger paycheck cannot compensate for watching the elderly and the young attacked by eugenics, or watching the biotech companies dehumanize us in the name of medicine (and increased stock values for shareholders). On-time trains did not justify fascism and eugenics in the 1930s and 1940s for Europe, and an economy does not justify similar crimes today in America.
If you are really worried about the economy in Pennsylvania, worry more about local policies and see how you can help develop the economy. The United States became strong with personal initiative more than waiting for the right politician to do something. At any rate, only the living can enjoy jobs and good pay-don't sell our lives and children's lives down the river for something of lower priority!