Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Have Social Conservatives Been Duped?

Christopher Blosser writes a detailed post taking on the meme that pro-life voters have been "duped" by the Republican party.

I've never really understood this claim -- perhaps in part because it's usually made by people with a vastly different set of political preferences from my own. Certainly, one can agree that Republicans have not achieved as much as one might have wished in regards to the pro-life agenda. However, to suggest that social conservatives are wasting their votes by supporting candidates who mostly support their agenda, in preference to candidates who militantly oppose their agenda, seems rather contradictory.

The claim also suggests to me a certain historical forgetfullness. It's worth remembering that when abortion first became a national political issue in the US, the pro-life movement did not have a clear home in either party. Indeed, early indications would have suggested a home with the Democrats, which had traditionally had a massive following among Catholic immigrants and other blue collar workers. Under Nixon, it was by no means clear that the pro-life movement was welcome in the GOP, and although Carter was somewhat pro-choice, he was sufficiently quiet about it not to chase off pro-life Democrats. It was not until 1980 with Reagan's election that it became clear that it was the GOP that would permanently take on social conservatives, and many socially conservative Democrats began to stream over to the GOP at that time.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

But the opinions of national politicians regarding abortion are completely irrelevant. Completely. If politicians support abortion then they will nominate or confirm (depending what seats they occupy) pro-abortion judges who will uphold Roe v Wade. If politians oppose abortion then they will give us judges who may, someday, overturn Roe.

And then what? After Roe falls, the legislatures of 47 or 48 states will move with lightning speed to legalize abortion in their own jurisdictions. The only states that have any chance of banning abortion are Mississippi and Alabama and, maybe, Utah. Abortion will be legal everywhere else, and while a few states will ban 3rd-trimester abortions or require parental consent for minors, the fact is that abortion will still be legal and easily obtainable any women who want them (particularly given the ease of crossing state lines). And some states will actually provide funding for abortions, something the federal gov't doesn't do, so abortion will actually become easier in some cases than it is now.


Of course, this means that we should pay attention to what state and local pols think about abortion. And at the federal level, a candidate's opinion about abortion can still serve as a clue regarding his fundamental beliefs. But the idea that abortion might someday be banned in America is fantasy. Sorry, but there it is.

Joel

Darwin said...

At a pragmatic level, I don't see a time anywhere in the near future where abortion is fully banned in the US. However, I think that forcing the electorate to decide what the laws should be would be a very, very healthy excercise for everyone.

Given that Europe (which is generally far more secular than the US) has more restrictive laws than we do, I also suspect that the laws would be very much tightened in most places -- which I would see as a good thing, though not reaching the ideal.

Anonymous said...

I participated in Operation Rescue for a while in the late 80's, so I am intimately familiar with the noise and fury of the abortion wars from that era and later. Thus I was taken aback to see you describe public discussion of abortion as "a very, very healthy excercise for everyone."

But things have calmed down a bit nowadays. I've recently read a few pro-abortion types confessing moral qualms about abortion, and also a few anti-abortion types admitting that the public will never agree that 1st-trimester abortions should be banned - both theses that would never, never have been aired in the era when I was activist. So you may actually have a solid point there.


Joel

Darwin said...

My familiarity with the movement dates from the late nineties on, and is perhaps also shaded differently in that most people I know would agree that Operation Rescue was often a rather counter-productive force due to its tactics and general tenor.

That said, just because a discussion is healthy doesn't necessarily mean it would be un-contentious or fun.

As for whether first trimester abortions will ever be banned... I don't pretend to have any knowledge as to what the political possibilities of the future will be.

CMinor said...

Good history review for one whose "familiarity with the movement dates from the late 90's!" It's unfortunate it has to be constantly restated.

I'm not certain OR was as big a liability to the movement as one might think, BTW. A longtime prolife activist from the left end of the spectrum (I think it was Mary Meehan but don't quote me on that) once remarked that if there was one thing old '60's radicals could respect, it was a willingness to put one's body on the line for a cause. And technology is increasingly reinforcing the legitimacy of that cause for many people.

I've been offline awhile and just saw the 22nd's post. Don't lump all feminists into one group; some of us are prolife!

Oh, and congrats & blessings upon the new sprout!

Tony said...

Social conservatives have been treated by the GOP like a faithful wife who day after day cleans the house, cooks the meals, washes the GOP's dirty underwear, generally without complaint. All they ask is that the GOP do a little fixing around the house (such as actually pushing... hard... to end abortion in this country, or have a federal Constitutional marriage amendment).

What they get is a husband who lies on the couch all the time, sometimes flirting with other women, and is all talk. Sometimes this wife threatens to leave (as many have in this election) if the husband doesn't clean up his act. The husband, of course, buys her a flower, offers to change his ways, and makes her all kinds of promises. These are promises he knows he's going to break, because he's just making them to shut her up, and he knows that she really doesn't have the guts to leave because she's thinking about how she's going to make ends meet on her own (allowing a Democrat, like Hillary, to be elected).

The only way he'll take her seriously is if the actually "moves out of the house" (says "screw it", stays home for the election, and allows the Democrat to take over for a short time).

Maybe it's time we social conservatives stop settling for second best from the party we've been faithful to. Maybe it's time to "move out" if they don't give us a candidate that's at least presentable. Maybe we ought to let them live with Hillary for 4 (or maybe 8) years if they don't learn their lesson.

Now that Guiliani has tanked, I've put my negligible weight behind Mitt. I like Mitt, but I think that I could vote for McCain if need be. (Heh, McCain... I wonder who's McAbel).

Rob F. said...

Add Pennsylvania and Louisiana to your list of states that would not legalize abortion.

Anonymous said...

The pro-choicers like to point out that something like 87% of US counties don't have an abortion provider, if Roe v. Wade went to the states maybe this number would jump up to like 95%.

I think in our lifetimes we will see abortion clincis in the US essentially limited to a few large cities and even if the procedure is not completly banned outside of a few states (Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oaklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama) come to mind, I think it will be de-facto non existant throughout most of the west, mid-west, and south.

Also don't forget, many states, even blue ones, still have their Pro-Roe anti-abortion laws on the books, and in some places they will no doubt be repealled but in others they might just stand.

With the exception of CA and a few New England States, every state will probably at some point ATLEAST put in tougher laws on par with those that exist in say Germany, waiting periods, counciling, etc.

Unless ofcourse a Dem Congress and Presidency give us some sort of "Right too chose" ammendment," at which point our country will have offically jumped the shark and I am moving to Poland.

Barring that though, the net effect of Roe going will be that overtime the numbers of abortion will go down, as will the numbers of med. students who become abortion doctors, if for no other reason, a desire not to have to deal with the patchwork hodge-podge of state laws. Also, state legislature reps will have to actually take a stand on this issue, and the rhetoric surrounding the pro-choice cause is pretty weak. Once the line "a woman's right," has been used there isn't much to fall back on, and talking about about abortion at the very least lacks the appeal on the stump of talking about a "culture of life."

One big draw back will be that in response to abortion becoming more and more scarce, dems will probably be able to push birth-control really hard on public school students (at taxpayer dime) as a "comprimise" so be ready to get elected to school board, homeschool, or pay for Catholic schooling when the day comes.

-FD