Reclaiming Political Language

I am a rhetorician – one who applies, studies and teaches language skills.

On March 20, I wrote a column for the Columbia Missourian concerning Missouri’s legislators rejecting the officer of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Extension that would add “24,000 jobs and add almost $10 billion to the state’s economy. Not to mention providing 300,000 more Missouri residents access to the health care they need.”

I wrote something that many missed – I called supporting the Medicaid extension a Pro-Life position.  I have been thinking about that for a while now.

I am not an anti-abortionist. I am Pro-Choice. I am not, nor do I believe anyone else is actually pro-abortion. I have no right to tell a woman how she should deal with her pregnancy. As a Secular Humanist, I have no right. I believe that the decision is between her, her partner and her beliefs. Just as I have no right to tell someone who they may marry or how or when they may die.

Though I have and will continue to argue that the Declaration of Independence is not a governing document, the sentiment of our “unalienable Rights… [of] Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” appears to make the document Pro-Life in nature. Using my definition, of course.

The GOP has been using their propagandists quite well as of late. The right-wing right-wingers have been defining the language of the political front. Progressives, liberals and Democrats need to take the language back, redefine the terms and lead the charge.

President Obama started, but it faded into the dark corners of liberal politics. In August, Mr. Obama speaking at the University of Denver was asked about the term “Obamacare.” His reply; “I actually like the name. Because I do care — that’s why we fought so hard to make it happen.”

During the first 2012 presidential debate, Gov. Mitt Romney referred to the Affordable Care Act as “Obamacare.” He then turned to the President and said, “I apologize Mr. President, I use that term with all respect,” to which the President replied, “I like it.”  

But the Democrats and left-wingers did not take up the torch and run with the new definition. It got lost in the fight for the White House.

So when I redefined “Pro-Life” I wondered why the left-wing could not revise its own vision, change the battle field and regain the winning edge?

The answer: There is nothing stopping these changes from happening.

Pro-life is generally defined as a political position that wishes to prevent abortions in all forms, with the exception of the mother’s health, rape and incest. There are individuals who claim even these pregnancies are “God’s will” and need to go to full term.

For a reason yet to be explained, why does Pro-Life politics seem to stop when the child is born?

Shouldn’t Obamacare be part of the “Pro-Life” definition? 

The President’s statements concerning Obamacare were right on the mark. The ACA cares about children and women’s issues, and men’s health. It will eventually provide care for hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of American citizens who are under- or uninsured.

I am not here to argue the position that Obamacare is “forcing the purchase of insurance” on all Americans. The courts have ruled on that.

Nor am I arguing when life begins. That is a medical, philosophical and, for some, sectarian issue, and of one’s own conscience.

However, Pro-Life needs to be all inclusive, from birth to death and all points in between, including the health and welfare of those who are not afforded healthcare for whatever reason.

Based on this, for me, Obamacare is Pro-Life and needs to be expressed that way.

Shouldn’t  Marriage-Equality a Pro-Life?

This week marks a historic moment for the Supreme Court, dealing with two Marriage Equality issues. And here is another term that must be embraced. This is not about “Gay Marriage,” all marriages should be happy. This is about equality regardless of sexual orientation. It is about the secular and the legal side of marriage, not the religious side.

Couching the discussions as “Gay Marriage” somehow removes the human element from the discussion. Being pro-marriage regardless of gender relationships is, in fact, a Pro-Life  position. It is a position about love and happiness of the couple and their children.

There are many men and women within the LGBT community who were at one time involved in a heterosexual relation and parented a child or children with their opposite sex spouse.  Many, once they accepted their sexual orientation and accepted a same sex partner are raising their children very successfully. Some are not, but this is no different from any heterosexual couple. Arguments that happy couples are to be defined by sexuality are not relevant or valid except to those of faith within their faith.

Allow me to take this one step further. The newest of the arguments against Marriage Equality is that without a mother and father, one female and one male, a family unit will suffer. Does the same hold to single parent households where the “other” parent is MIA?

If today’s “Pro-Lifers” hold so strongly to the Declaration’s “Happiness,” wouldn’t it include a single parent and children and how is that any different than having a two-parent household with the parents being of the same gender? Or a household where the parents are not married or one parent lives in another home… Isn’t Happiness defined by the individuals involved?

Does state defined happiness really represent Liberty?

Shouldn’t Death with Dignity be a Pro-Life issue?

Robert Ingersoll asked, “Why should we fear that which will come to all that is?” Why prolong the suffering of a patient and the family by artificially and selfishly extending life when there is no longer hope for being? Or when a disease is causing pain beyond the ability of medication to ease? Are we that afraid of death?

I am not talking assisted suicide, a right-wing term used to dehumanize the taking on one’s own life with the assistance of a physician to provide the needed medication. Oregon’s “Death with Dignity” law decriminalized the prescribing of lethal drugs once an individual has met a very stringent criterion. In 2012, 115 people were prescribed end-of-life drugs of only 77 individuals died, and even then as many as 48 died from causes other than ingesting the drugs. That also means that 38 individuals are still alive. The medication is their Linus Blanket  their security.

Ingersoll continued in his Eulogy to a Small Child;

If those who press and strain against our hearts could never die, perhaps that love would wither from the earth. Maybe a common faith treads from out the paths between our hearts the weeds of selfishness, and I should rather live and love where death is king than have eternal life where love is not.

Shouldn’t Pro-Life mean all life, not just for the unborn? Shouldn’t Pro-Life be liberty for all men and women, regardless of sexual orientation, gender, race, or any other difference recognized without undue government interference? Shouldn’t Pro-Life mean life and death with dignity?

Shouldn’t Pro-Life be reclaimed as the Democratic, Liberal and Progressive standard?

You can purchase David’s book, “A Christian Nation?: An examination of Christian nation theories and proofs” through Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

David is booking speaking and interviews for 2013. Contact him at


About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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