The abortion debate has inflamed a lot of hate, and murder, which is sad because most Americans would be okay with some kind of compromise. The Arkansas legislature has recently introduced a bill which would limit a woman’s access to abortion after 12 weeks of pregnancy. It includes an exception in case of rape, incest, or danger to the mother’s life. This is pretty much the normative position of the anti-abortion camp, except for extremists who believe life begins at conception.
The Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, ruled that a developing fetus does not have civil rights until it is ready to survive outside the womb – roughly 24 weeks. As long as it depends on the mother for survival, it’s her decision. Read the complete ruling here. This is pretty much the normative position of the pro-abortion camp, except for “partial birth” abortion, which we can’t imagine unless it’s really a medical necessity.
So here is an opportunity for compromise. A developing fetus becomes a new baby citizen sometime between 12 and 24 weeks. As a practical matter, this is plenty of time for a woman to schedule the procedure. You pretty much want to get it done before 15 weeks, using local anesthetic.
State by state, lawmakers should be able to find a number that suits their constituents. This is a prime example where a one size fits all, federal, approach won’t do.
This week’s National Review has an article applauding Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) for his efforts to rid the Party of moderates like Arlen Specter. He has even started a conservative PAC for the purpose. This is the same hidebound ideology that cost the Republicans a seat in New York. At the time, Jeremiah warned that Olympia Snowe (R-ME) would be targeted next. Indeed, Senator Snowe recently wrote that “being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like … you’re no longer welcome in the tribe.” It’s worth reading her editorial, entire.
“The only litmus test of what constitutes a Republican [is] our belief in restraining government spending, pro-growth policies, tax reduction, sound national defense, and maximum individual liberty.” – Ronald Reagan
Right-wingers like Sen. DeMint present voters with a Hobson’s Choice. With the Democrats, we have runaway government spending, and with the Republicans we have reactionary “social conservatism.” Unbelievably, the National Review cites the recent victory of Scott Brown in Massachusetts – conveniently forgetting that Sen. Brown, a moderate, is exactly the kind of Republican Sen. DeMint opposes.
Readers will recall New York’s special election, which Republicans chose to lose rather than soften their position on abortion. This year, the GOP seems to have evolved. The new senator from Massachusetts, Scott Brown, supports Roe v. Wade. He also has a moderate view of gay marriage.
The party seems to have learned a lesson from NY-23. This time, they are embracing their man. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell invoked the “big tent” notion, which hasn’t been heard since Newt Gingrich.
Republicans from the northeast are not exactly like Republicans from the south or the west, we understand that. We have a big tent party.
Brown describes himself as a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. This is exactly what the party needs in November. If your platform is out of touch with the voters, then it’s time to change your platform. That’s right, Republicans, the time for change is now.
Take this simple quiz. If you agree with eight (8) or more of the following statements, then you qualify as a righteous Republican.
- I want smaller government, smaller national debt, and lower taxes.
- I want market-based health care reform, not a government program.
- I want market-based energy reforms, not the “cap and trade” tax.
- I want workers to unionize only by secret ballot.
- I oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants.
- I support the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- I want strong action against nuclear weapons in Iran and North Korea.
- I oppose gay marriage.
- I oppose abortion.
- I support the right to bear arms.
As silly as the “purity pledge” sounds, these are exactly the issues the Republican Party needs to answer. Following the Scozzafava debacle, the party must decide if abortion and gay rights are really its defining issues.
The Republicans should romp in 2010, given the other side’s dismal performance on economic and defence issues – but not if the GOP remains shackled to the religious right. The Democrats will not miss an opportunity to paint them as the party of bible-thumping rednecks.
A Republican candidate might be electable with seven of these items, maximum – and only in conjunction with a positive message and some constructive proposals. When they named the pledge after Ronald Reagan, it seems they forgot the part about getting elected.
See also: A GOP Purity Test?
Both sides have their litmus tests. Republicans, and even centrist Democrats, support the right to bear arms. They feel that guns are only the proximate cause of homicides, suicides and tragic mistakes. These outcomes can be addressed with training and regulation, while the root problems are sought elsewhere.
It is surprising that such open-mindedness does not extend to, say, abortion. Abortion is murder, says the right, while the left – with equal lack of imagination – decries handgun terror from Virginia Tech to Columbine. Each side feels that their rights are sacred, and the other’s are anathema. Especially poignant was the use of a constitutionally protected handgun to murder an abortion doctor – in church.
The only sensible position is the libertarian one, which says that all rights are granted unless they are demonstrably damaging to society. Gay rights, gun rights and abortion are all equal. The left-right divide is, as usual, an affront to logic.
Dede Scozzafava might have beaten Bill Owens in the NY-23 election. She was seven points ahead on October 1. But rightist Republicans, led by Sarah Palin, defected for Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman. This split the Republican vote, handing victory to the Democrat. Here is how the Washington Post described Scozzafava:
Like some other northeastern Republicans, she is generally conservative on fiscal issues but favors abortion rights and gay rights. She is, her supporters say, the kind of Republican who can win a race in a district like New York’s 23rd.
Clearly, not a “true” Republican by national-party standards. On the other hand, Mr. Hoffman turned out to be uninformed on key local issues, like road and water projects. He lost. You have to hand it to the Palinistas. They would rather lose an election than give up their litmus test.
The Republican Party used to stand for things like small government, low taxes, and fiscal conservatism. Now, it is just anti-gay and anti-abortion. Next to be sabotaged: Olympia Snowe.