Nancy Pelosi said something I agree with. Yes, you read that right. And that something was one sentence uttered recently and it hit me for these reasons: That she understands her role as a U.S. Representative but oversteps it anyway; that she unwittingly(?) admitted the abortion issue constitutionally rests with the states; and that what she said goes to the core of the mess we are in at both state and federal levels.
Here are Pelosi’s words during an interview on abortion: “Whatever I agree with the Pope on is not necessarily what public policy should be in the United States as people make their own decisions.” Let’s draw a line through “…the Pope on…” and we now have “Whatever I agree with is not necessarily what public policy should be in the United States as people make their own decisions”. Now, her sentiment is properly applicable across the board, for every issue.
Her comment was intended as a perfectly designed “out” for her squabble with the Pope, but it was also an admission that she remembers her role as a U.S. Representative is to advance the interests of the nation and its people within the framework of the U.S. Constitution, not around personal opinions, preferences, and visions. This perspective applies equally to State Representatives.
It also applies to me. I, too, am guilty of cheering for “wins” with policies and legislation, both Federal and State, that I agree with, whether they align with U.S. Constitution or my State Constitution or not. Chalk it up to human nature. And retraining myself hasn’t been easy. First, I must try to really understand the U.S. Constitution and my State Constitution. Second, I must look at policies and legislation through those lenses. If they can be defended within the parameters of State and Federal Constitutions, I can more readily accept them, even if begrudgingly (because it is natural for us to want things to align with our personal worldviews).
Now let’s examine her phrase “…as people make their own decisions”. The only people she can be referencing, unwittingly or not, are We the People in the States. It was the people in sovereign states, via their representatives, who created the Federal Government and who enumerated its responsibilities and limits in Article 1; Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. It was also the people in sovereign states who made it clear via the 9th and 10th Amendments that rights and responsibilities not enumerated in the Constitution belonged exclusively to the States (the people). This is the reason the Supreme Court decided to return the abortion issue to the States. And that brings us back full circle to a key question: will State Representatives create abortion policy based on their state’s Constitution or on personal beliefs?
Ms. Pelosi’s comment struck a chord with me because she admitted so much in so few words. She may not have meant them the way I took them, but she should have, as should all Representatives. We have a mess on our hands because too many State and U.S. Representatives create policy and enact legislation based only on their personal beliefs and visions, and advancement of their party. Just as we must change our own mindsets and view everything through the prism of our State and U.S. Constitutions, we must demand that our elected representatives do the same.