Thursday, March 16, 2006
How the Democrats can use abortion to win elections
I've had a lot of interesting reactions to my views on how the Democrats should use abortion in the upcoming midterm elections. Those who follow my blog posts know I prefer bold moves over timid avoidance of major issues. For a candidate seeking office, though, I can understand why abortion seems like a risky issue. After all, the debate on abortion divides communities and creates a lot of emotion. Most candidates prefer risk-free wins, especially on the local level where candidates spend a lot of their own money on campaigns. However, I think bringing up abortion is a winning maneuver. First, Digby on the failure of the national Democrats to back up Sen. Feingold’s resolution to censor the president:
I said this yesterday and I'll repeat it. This image of "powerlessness" at a time when the Republicans are on the ropes is the biggest problem we face for the fall elections. If Democratic pols don't understand that they are flirting with terrible grassroots defeatism, then they are going to lose. They must take action (and I don't mean boring press conferences and 10 point plans) or it won't matter a damn if the Republicans are on the ropes --- demoralized Democrats are not going to bother with them. Come on. Speak for us. If not now, when?This is the danger the Democrats face by ignoring abortion. They will lose their base. Does this mean I advocate “rabid” or “extreme” pro-choice statements – abortion on demand, strong language about body politics, etc – from my candidates? Even though I might personally agree with an “extreme” pro-choice philosophy (although I call my position “common sense”), I recognize that abortion is a difficult subject and that voters are spread out over the spectrum on the issue. Here’s what I would recommend: Propose that, when elected, you will enact legislation (and promote a state constitutional amendment) that guarantees a woman’s right to abortion in the case of incest or rape. Think about it for a moment. First, it wouldn’t exclude those that favor choice. You could remind them that abortion is still legal in Montana and according to the SCOTUS. You could say that this constitutional amendment is the first step towards a comprehensive amendment guaranteeing choice. Second, it wouldn’t exclude moderate pro-lifers. The language of the proposition still leaves room for a general abortion ban should Roe v Wade be overturned by the SCOTUS when considering South Dakota’s abortion ban. Third, it puts the GOP in a helluva bind. If the Republicans go against the bill, they can easily be depicted as cruel uncaring moralists and religious extremists and lose mainstream votes. If they support the bill, they’ll lose their religious extremist anti-abortion base. It could split the party. This is the kind of action I’m talking about when I say be bold. Take the initiative. Strike when the opportunity arises. Be merciless.
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