One of the many benefits of residing in Texas is that its citizens are spared most of the presidential campaign ads. We likely know what our electorate will do this November. But I have seen ads from two Democrat candidates who apparently have money to throw away in Texas. They are the only billionaires in the group: Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer.
The one I have seen the most is an ad touting Bloomberg’s health-care proposals. The ad is striking, for many reasons. With no indication of whose ad this is, it begins with a video clip of Donald Trump asserting, “Obamacare is a complete and total disaster.” Since that is arguably true, it looks like a Trump ad at first.
But then it proceeds to enumerate the high points of Bloomberg’s health-care record. The irony in what follows made me do a double take. As New York City mayor, Bloomberg “helped expand health coverage to 200,000 more kids.” The images are of a small child on a sick bed and then a tiny infant in a hospital.
Then, he “upgraded pediatric care.” Picture a cute, healthy baby surrounded by a parent and a physician. Then, “infant mortality rates dropped to record lows.” The image here is of Bloomberg smiling and holding a very small baby.
All of this sounds very good. Then, immediately following all these heart-warming photos and claims, the voiceover boasts, Bloomberg “always championed reproductive health for women.” The image? I thought it might show those babies who were treated for “reproductive health.” But no. It was women holding up pink Bloomberg signs.
In case the irony is not evident, I’ll spell it out. I’m not here to fact check, but let’s assume that Bloomberg worked hard and presumably deserves credit for expanding health coverage to all these children. Note well: I don’t know if any adults got new health care; the ad emphasizes children.
He upgraded pediatric care. He somehow lowered infant mortality rates. It sounds like Bloomberg really cares for the most innocent and vulnerable human lives under his watch. And, wait for it: he also not just allowed or even supported, but championed the termination of the most innocent and vulnerable human lives under his watch.
What is the difference? Why should we be so pleased and moved that infant mortality decreased—that is, fewer babies died after birth—at the same time that we were free to kill as many of these same babies just before birth?
What has suddenly changed about that baby’s physical makeup or integrity that would permit us to make her the victim of “reproductive health” one moment but oblige us to extend actual, life-saving health care to her the next? What makes the cute baby in the diaper different from the one who was aborted? Biologically speaking, they are both babies.
The difference is simple: some offspring are wanted; others are not. We expand health coverage and pediatric care to those children we want. We dispatch those we don’t want. It is a dangerous thing to base a human life’s worth and right to live on whether it is convenient to those charged with its care.
For Bloomberg, it is not a matter of moral debate, but of political expediency. Life-saving health care for some babies, and life-ending “health care” for others. His constituents want these contradictory things, so he will happily comply.
Do the producers of this ad not see the irony? Did no one think that at least a talking point or two should separate “we save babies” from “we kill them, too”?
The implication that lives are valuable only when the voters say so reminds me of Bloomberg’s apology tour back in November for so-called “stop and frisk,” a policy he oversaw as mayor and was eventually ruled unconstitutional. Until recently, Bloomberg defended the policy because it was effective. But now he says, “I was totally focused on saving lives.… I was wrong, and I’m sorry.”
Did the policy actually save lives? The New York Police Department thinks so. Actually, everyone thinks so, and Bloomberg’s own apology admits it. As The New York Times reported, many in the policed neighborhoods, including some innocent people who had been stopped and frisked, supported the practice, because the lives saved were overwhelmingly in those same Black and Latino communities.
Of course, our government has decided, in other contexts, that it is necessary to stop and frisk perfectly innocent people for the purpose of saving lives. Every time you go through an airport, the Transportation Security Administration treats everyone as potential terrorists, including your grandma or your teenage children who forgot to put their face cream in the checked luggage. In the former mayor’s New York City, as in your local airport, innocent people have been inconvenienced, and privacy is traded for security.
In Bloomberg’s case, perhaps there is a debate to be had about the tension between safety and privacy. Perhaps he would concede that the policy could have been executed more effectively and that everyone should be treated with dignity. But no; he simply apologized for being too “focused on saving lives.”
At the expense of what, exactly? He didn’t say. Does he or no one in his campaign find it odd to apologize for saving lives? It is incredible that a politician would regret a policy that clearly saved innocent lives. Are the Black and Latino lives in New York City no more valuable than the potential victims of terrorism in the air? The point is that, like the unwanted babies, saving those lives has now become politically inconvenient, so Bloomberg distanced himself from the life-saving policy.
In these cases of “reproductive health” and the only effective form of gun control, it’s not that there’s an overlooked group that is being oppressed and, if only brought to the public’s attention, the injustice would be rectified. No, these are actual policies that, in the name of some higher principle, destroy innocent human lives that apparently the majority doesn’t value enough.
Bloomberg seems to consider it political disaster to be caught trying to save lives that voters don’t value. Bloomberg’s moral relativism is, of course, not unique in his party or in politics in general. The frightening thing, though, is that some lives are valued, but others apparently aren’t. We may wake up one day and find ourselves among the latter.