March 12, 2006


Democrats ditch pro-choice agenda (Caitriona Palmer, 3/12/06, Sunday Herald)

Voters who in the past would have automatically supported the left-of-centre Democrats see abortion as an overriding issue that trumps any other consideration. Abortion helped Bush carry Catholic voters, a group that once solidly backed the Democrats, by five points in 2004, Sabato said.

Republican candidates, including Bush in his re-election campaign, have successfully persuaded voters in rural communities from West Virginia to Wyoming that their values are under siege by liberals who are out to promote abortion and gay marriage and take away their handguns.

In liberal bastions on the east and west coasts, more moderate Republicans tend to cater to “pro-choice” voters and avoid talk of banning all abortions. But elsewhere, especially in the South, Democrats have found themselves at a disadvantage as their support for “reproductive rights” offends religious and even class sensibilities.

Lumped together with other issues such as gun control, gay marriage, prayer in public schools and now the “war on terror”, abortion has been used by the Republicans to portray their rivals as elite, effete, “latte-drinking” leftists, allegedly out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans.

A best-selling book published during the last presidential campaign, What’s The Matter With Kansas?, argues that Democrats have failed to connect with working-class whites due to the Republicans’ skilful management of the “culture wars”.

The author, Thomas Frank, argues Republican party policies have damaged the economic interests of blue-collar voters, but that these voters continue to be drawn to right-wing candidates because of issues such as abortion. It is a “working-class movement that has done incalculable, historic harm to working-class people,” Frank writes.

Some strategists on the left have begun to demand that the Democrats wake up to the perspective of the American heartland and adjust their stance on abortion.

The liberal think-tank Third Way has reportedly issued a memo advising Democratic politicians to rephrase their wording on abortion. Instead of talking about a woman’s right to choose, the memo suggests that Democrat candidates should tell voters that they support “personal liberty” but accept a “moral responsibility” to reduce the number of abortions.

Senator Hillary Clinton, apparently grooming herself for a presidential bid in 2008, has dropped her strident pro-choice rhetoric for a more nuanced approach. At a rally in 2005, Clinton spoke of the need for both sides on the issue to work to prevent unwanted pregnancies because abortion represented “a sad, even tragic, choice.”

All they have to do to compete is become a conservative party.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 12, 2006 10:27 AM

No real comment. I just want to savor the phrase "liberal think-tank Third Way."

Posted by: David Cohen at March 12, 2006 10:54 AM

Part of their much-publicized quest to imitate the conservative movement.

Posted by: oj at March 12, 2006 10:59 AM

Geez, you mean "Third Way" is just a mask that liberals use to disguise themselves as conservatives? Astonishing.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 12, 2006 11:08 AM

Of course, what else were they supposed to do after the Second Way failed? Similarly, it's the mask conservatives use to pretend they care about economic security. But what else were they supposed to do after the First Way failed?

Posted by: oj at March 12, 2006 11:20 AM

This should be easy for conservatives to understand, if it is not so for the other side.

Remember all that, "What's the matter with Kansas," line? Value-oriented voters hold guns and live babies more highly than mere money. Why would we not shake the money tree to buy the political power to turn the Supreme Court around?

Let me give out a clue to the clueless: Hoover lost his election to Roosevely; Goldwater to Johnson.

We are not going to win elections by proposing to shut off the water of one-third of the populace. Pragmatic conservatism recognizes that we cannot politically undo at one stroke the economic transformation of the last 74 years, even if it were practically possible, which it is not.

By all means, dismantel their machine. Replace it with one of our own, raising up a system of those dependent of our way of doing things. Call this "Third Way," or "Solidarity" or anything else you please, but don't cast off power to suit ideology.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 12, 2006 1:34 PM

"but don't cast off power to suit ideology."
Quote of the week Lou.

Posted by: Genecis at March 12, 2006 3:02 PM

That's been the Democratic mantra for twenty-five years.

Posted by: David Cohen at March 12, 2006 7:10 PM