Is the Country Moving Left? St. Thomas style….

Tuesday, November 25, AD 2008

Thanks to commenter Tim for the question, and my sincere apologies to St. Thomas Aquinas:

Objection 1: It seems that the country is moving to the left. In the recent election, the Democratic party picked up seats in both houses of Congress and won the Presidency.

Objection 2: A disproportionate number of younger voters voted for the Democratic party in the recent election.

Objection 3: The polling on social issues such as same-sex marriage has moved dramatically leftward over the past thirty years.

Objection 4: The recent bailouts will result in expanded government intervention in the economy.

On the contrary,

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5 Responses to Is the Country Moving Left? St. Thomas style….

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  • Some “progressives” are already telling other “progressives” to shut up and stop whining as to how Obama, as a result of his appointments, seems quite a bit more “moderate” than he did during the campaign.

    Rather than a move to the Left, with Cook County Illinois Democrats now running the nation, I anticipate a move to the trough. The main characteristics of most elected officials in Cook County have been a strong interest in political patronage and an insatiable desire to get rich through “public service”. Obama and his forty plus thieves are now in charge of the treasury and the results should be hilarious and completely predicatable.

  • “predicatable.” should be predictable.

  • 1. Reply to reply to objection 1- the nation swings back and forth between the left and the right. It will do same for forseeable future. Check 2010 midterms for progress report.
    2. Young voters selected a hip cool candidate who actually uses an ipod rather than- as Jonah Goldberg suggested- the one who resembles the angry old man who regularly shouts, “you kids get off my lawn!” But they still didn’t turn out proportionate to their size. If you rely on them to get elected, you’re nutz.
    3. Two words- Prop 8. Still law unless the 4 libs on the Supremes pull Anthony Kennedy in their direction.
    4. Notice how the Congressional brethren went home for Turkey Day without goodies for GM, Ford, Chrysler. Stories of AIG execs on wild spending sprees do not make Joe and Jane Taxpayer very happy. Then the issue of cause and effect. If they were to make a difference, Secretary Paulson, why can’t we get mortgages any easier? Don’t ask Hank. Still can’t get his shoe out of his mouth.

  • I am not really using the wins and losses of the blue team or the red team as my benchmark as to where this country is headed. I get confused too easily when talking about republicans and democrats and what they are about or not about etc.

    My point is, with respect to social issues, what is the consensus today as compared to where it stood 20, 50, 100, 200 years ago? What is “socially acceptable” now compared to then? I don’t have a lot of hard data to back up my beliefs, really. True, I didn’t live 50, 100, or 200 years ago, so I have to rely on my understanding of history and my understanding of human nature–so I guess you could sort of say I just “feel it in my bones” but I see a liberalizing, a “loosening-up” if you will of social mores. And I have a really hard time seeing social mores “tightening up” within our existing political framework, polling data notwithstanding.

    With respect to economic policy, as long as there is a sizable middle class then you will see a pendulum. But when the day comes–and it is coming–that the lower classes significantly outnumber the middle and upper classes, you won’t see quite so much of a pendulum anymore. This doesn’t mean that the blue team and the red team won’t still fight it out, but the fight between the blue team and the red team will be carried out over issues that were previously fought over only within the blue team. For instance, don’t you think that ultimately the issue isn’t going to be about WHETHER there should be universal healthcare, but over the various details? I doubt anything too dramatic will happen in our lifetime, however, so please don’t regard me as some kind of alarmist or crazy doomsday type guy.

    Isn’t that already happening? Yes, there is still substantial resistance to abortion and gay marriage etc., but how long will the battle really be about WHETHER these things should be allowed, and for the mainstream won’t ultimately become a question of the details? Again, I am not saying I approve or not of either practice.

    So to say that the country moves to the left is not to say that the red team is not going to beat the blue team at some point in the future. I would suggest that the country is *ultimately* moving to the left, and that it is inevitable. But I can’t prove it, since I won’t live long enough. I can only read Polybius and see if I can find a pattern as he thought he did.

Is Religion the GOP's Downfall?

Tuesday, November 25, AD 2008

Everyone seems to have their own idea of what it is that the GOP lacks these days. Kathleen Parker seems to think that the big problem is its lack of a columnist with the prose style, intellectual rigor and cultural sensibilities of a Maureen Dowd — and in her most recent Washington Post column she tries to fill that void. [HT: Cranky Conservative]

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I’m bathing in holy water as I type.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth — as long as we’re setting ourselves free — is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

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17 Responses to Is Religion the GOP's Downfall?

  • I love your blog. I’ve been searching for the perfect combination of Catholicism and conservatism for years. I’m tired of those that are too despairing but also those that are too philosophically mushy and obsequious. I appreciate the generally free-market tone as well. I used to be “anti-capitalist” until I started actually studying real economics… that and seeing how the economy works as a father and provider, rather than as a mooching, idealistic college student. Your content is timely and relevant. Socialism is no longer just another option, it’s part of the problem. God bless!

  • Darwin,

    Since you have analyzed Parker so well (which I agree with you… her ideas will have the Republicans lose more elections), can you tell me what is Noonan’s problem?

  • Dr. Dobson responds to Kathleen Parker.

    I will be charitable and assume that Ms. Parker was drunk when she wrote her screed. Surely no one sober could wish to reveal herself as a bitter bigot who, under the guise of giving suicidal advice to the GOP, spews the type of hate better reserved for the walls of a public toilet instead of a newspaper column.

  • The difference between Dowd and Parker is that Dowd has the good sense to attack the other party. I don’t think Noonan has a problem, personally. I do not agree with everything she writes, and her style is very hit-and-miss, but she is in an entirely different class (in many respects) than Parker.

  • Noonan has class, which Parker appears (at least from the few pieces I’ve read of hers lately) to lack.

    However Noonan does seem to have two problems that annoy me, though they certainly don’t keep me from sitting down with her column and the drinks column of the WSJ of a Saturday morning over coffee.

    1) She has a schoolgirl crush of sorts on Obama.

    2) Of late she seems to almost always have 3-4 themes for each column, and never quite decide which one she wants to write about.

  • Public religion defeated GOP, eh? Not the perceptions of the GOP as a party of fiscal irresponsibility, lawlessness, corruption, and deceit? Not the perceptions of the Bush Administration’s performance and the persuasiveness of the McCain campaign?

  • What defeated the GOP was the third term itch and the September financial collapse. The economy tanks and the party in power is going to take it on the chin.

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  • Doesn’t the whole debate seem a little asanine in perspective though? How would your average Republican-off-the-street of today stack up–in terms of social and moral issues–to a Democrat from the same street from 50 years ago? The political center can be determined by reference to the extremes of the right and left, but don’t we find the center marching consistently and inexorably further and further to the left? The more I see the more I think Polybius and his anacyclosis are right (no pun intended).

    Practically, religion and traditional values are not going to win a whole lot of points with the next couple generations. So Republicans will adapt, and become something else–they won’t be as far left as the Democrats, but not as far right as they are now.

  • “but don’t we find the center marching consistently and inexorably further and further to the left?”

    No. Obama for example, although I believe he is at heart a socialist, probably will not implement economic policies as far to the left as FDR. Many evangelicals were indifferent to abortion as an issue for a few years after Roe. The semi-pacifism of Carter will probably not be a guiding star of the Obama administration. The Reagan administration and the free market economics it ushered in came as a radical break with the ever increasing government involvement with the markets since FDR. The RINOS used to control the Republican party and are now a marginal fringe. Union political strength has been steadily diminishing for generations and I doubt if the Obama administration will be able to pass card check and reverse the trend. There is nothing inexorable or inevitable about politics. Many a bright new idea turns out to be merely a passing fad to be added to the closet of history.

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  • Donald, I think it is true that “consistent” wasn’t the best word choice to apply to political evolution, and I think you could have skewered me on that mistake but you were merciful (so thanks). But I do think that certain things–certain momentous social and political changes–are inevitable. It all depends on the scale of analysis–your examples, though compelling, go back about 4 generations or so.

    As you pointed out, policy and policy makers come and go. But demographics are slooooow to change. Or they have been relatively slower to change in comparison to policy. If you believe, as I do, that we can fairly accurately forecast demographic changes in the future — and — you believe that demographics have a lot to do with voter behavior, then you will be able to find a certain inevitability in our political future.

    With the way *I* percieve our demographics to be changing, I don’t see religious or moral issues being determinative in national political contests the near future. I think the GOP is losing, and I think that it was inevitable. I am not saying I am glad or sad about it, I am just stating my opinion. In 20 years I seriously doubt pro-life will be a viable campaign platform in most of the country. If that day comes, I don’t think we are ever coming back.

  • Tim,

    I disagree. I think my generation is more pro-life than the last one. Though, I do think this generation is perhaps more liberal. That doesn’t mean some of us aren’t social traditionalists.

    I think what is hurting the GOP is not the religious base, though I will admit — some of the “right wing” can be quite alienating to certain voters and I find myself annoyed with the fact that I get associated with radical biblical fundamentalists, who sometimes do not help the debate — and this isn’t to say no one from the other side hasn’t provoked them.

    Though, on several issues, I thnk the GOP has dropped the ball. Health care is one of them and it’s the one issue I go on and on about. After Clinton’s health care reform failed, the GOP took control of Congress. They had a willing president, who would have made a compromise as was done with Medicaid, Medicare, and SCHIP. No, instead they go after Clinton using tax payer dollars and turned the political arena into an angry circus.

    I recentedly looked up some statistics. Currently, in states that usually go Republican have the highest rates of Americans lacking health insurance with the opposite being true of states that traditionally go Democratic. The fact is the GOP had 12 years in control of Congress and health care wasn’t a priority to them. SCHIP, the public health program for children doesn’t get much conservative support — even in states where they get unborn children covered to encourage women to not have abortions — funding gets cut, thus so do the recepients of federal aid. How does that help fight abortion?

    Regularly, fiscal year after fiscal year, funding is cut to public education. Yet, we’re willing to borrow $10 billion dollars a month to fight a war and rebuild Iraq? My focus here is not the ‘rightness’ or ‘wrongness’ of certain policies, but the perception of priorities.

    There are plenty of Democrats — ones I know — who hold traditional Christian moral values particularly among African Americans and Hispanics. However, for whatever reason, they vote in terms of domestic and economic policies. Everyone in my household voted for Obama except for myself.

    Hispanics and African Americans, which primarily make up the majority of the bottom of the economic bracket don’t have a sense that the GOP really cares about their concerns. Overwhelmingly in this last election, these two groups went for Obama more so than in the last election. It’s one thing to say that the mechanism of government is not going to help people who are socio-economically disadvantaged, but that doesn’t mean don’t do anything. I think there’s a reason Republicans don’t come to mind when thinking of legislators who are adamant about finding some way to assist the American people, particularly the most vulnerable. This isn’t the say Democratic positions are the solutions, but if it doesn’t even seem to be a priority — and I don’t see how when fundng is being directed away from inner city schools and social programs that provide a safety net for the most vulnerable are first in line to lose funding — I think it’s difficult for the GOP to make its case for the groups that go Democratic in large numbers, particularly Hispanics who are a growing population.

    In essence, if the Republican Party without going left on “life issues” goes left on economic policies, I honestly will welcome it. Maybe then I’d switch parties.

  • The GOP did not fail. the RNC did. The GOP took over Tennessee by keeping on message and target unlike the national RNC.

  • Sarah Palin did not fail, John McCain did. Ms. Parker went into panic attack on Sarah in mid-September at the height of the attacks on her state, number of children, NRA membership, Trig, etc. Gone wobbly since then. Seems to think Democrat Lite is the way for GOP to go. Might be hanging out with Christie Todd Whitman too long. As for the need of a MoDo-style columnist- so who is Ann Coulter? Only tougher, smarter, funnier on an off day than Mo at her best. Ms. Parker- chill.

  • I’m not sure Parker would be classified as a Beltway Insider–I think she’s in NC these days and if I recall used to work for a Florida paper. I think she is mainstream Protestant of the type for whom mentioning religion in conversation is a social no-no, however. Though I’ve been a fan of her writing for years–and recent columns notwithstanding she can be quite good when she wants to be– I have often found her to be disappointingly lily-livered when it comes to contentious religious and social issues. It’s really too bad that she seems to have imploded, both as a political commentator and as a writer, over recent events. I’m at a loss to explain her reaction to Sarah Palin. One would think a student of politics could look past a candidate’s cotillion bearing.

  • The citizens of Gardner, KS are currently working to recall two members of their City Council. The recall is tied up in the courts at the moment, but it should go to a vote in March of 2010.

Narrative of a Defeat: Why the Republicans Lost (It Wasn't Pro-Lifers)

Tuesday, November 11, AD 2008

One of the primary tasks of a historian, as I understand it, is to craft a coherent narrative out of the available facts. These narratives are important, as people are often suspicious to the point of irrationality when presented with information that contradicts their preconceptions. For this reason, I think it is worthwhile to push back on a few of the narratives that have been circulating over the past week about the reasons for the Republican defeat. A number of commentators have suggested that the Republican party’s anti-abortion position is hurting the party with social moderates, and that the party going forward needs to distance itself from pro-lifers.

One way to evaluate this advice is to identify the primary causes of the recent Republican loss. Why did 53% of voters choose Barack Obama, when 51% had voted for George Bush four years ago? It seems to me that the three primary reasons were Iraq, the economy, and the McCain campaign, in that order.

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15 Responses to Narrative of a Defeat: Why the Republicans Lost (It Wasn't Pro-Lifers)

  • Abortion was only mentioned once in all the POTUS debates. I highly doubt as well that the GOP needs to distance itself from Pro-Lifers. What the GOP needs to do is to understand who they are before they put out a weak candidate such as McCain (ie, Dole) again.

  • It’s interesting that Iraq is listed first, in that few people cited it in exit polls, but I think you may have a pretty solid case there. Bush’s approval ratings tanked over the situation in Iraq and rightly or wrongly they never rebounded when the situation there got better against late last year and throughout this one. (That could have a lot to do with the media’s tendency to only cover exciting, and thus bad, news — not the tentatively good news which has been more the norm in Iraq lately.)

    It strikes me as an unfair reason for McCain to lose, in that he championed the surge and counter-insurgency approach (at personal political risk) which eventually brought things to their current relative stability. But life is notoriously unfair, and I think that you’re probably right.

  • Very balanced and well written analysis, John Henry…

    Darwin Catholic,

    People probably saw in John McCain th every poor mindset that got us into the Iraqi War in the 1st place. With Iran on the horizon, he scared many into thoughts of an unnecessary, brashly waged war ofcataclysmic proportions.

  • Would flipflop the order- 1. economy 2. McCain campaign 3. Iraq way way behind the other two. #3 not much of an issue thanks to our guys and gals taking care of business who we honor today with vets from other conflicts. Good point by Prof. Dr. Krauthammer that McCain’s chances melted down with Lehman Bros., Merrill Lynch, AIG on that bizarre Sunday night in September. Pocketbook issues will take precedence in any campaign if no other causes scream loud enough. The thought of not even having a pocketbook was enough to send many voters into the arms of the Dollar Store Messiah, the Greater Advocate of Greater Gummint. McC’s campaign was an unholy mess- allowing him to jibber and jabber and say the ca-waziest things on the economy. In truth he was not measurably more coherent than Obama just less willing to find solutions thru Greater Gummint. Hey he coulda gotten shellacked by 20 or more points that’s how bad this financial sector mess coulda gotten. Seems like once again Obama was more lucky than good. In Illinois primary for Senate his Dem opponent dumped out after horrible charges by ex-wife the actress who used to be on a Star Trek show and James Woods’ boss on Shark. Then onto the general election when his opponent was Alan Keyes, imported from MD, who promptly acted like a damn fool. In 08 he gets an opponent who has spent most of his career bucking the party whose support he needed, who wandered in and out of traffic like a motorist who spent too much quality time at the Dew Drop Inn. Luck resembles fossil fuel in that it burns out sooner or later. Come 2010 The Pres-Elect may long for the good ol’ days of the ’08 campaign. Where he had unfair advantages.

  • Gerard E. – I think the financial crisis was the nail in the coffin, but the deeper problem was the political climate was very hostile to Republicans, primarily because of Bush’s unpopularity. Every time Sen. Obama referred to ‘the failed policies of George Bush,’ I think many voters thought of the mistakes that were made about the presence of WMD’s and the botched handling of the war for several years (pre-Surge), along with other secondary problems like Katrina and the unsuccessful attempts at immigration reform. You could be right, however, that the economy would have delivered the election to the Democrats even without the mistakes in Iraq.

    Regarding Obama, it should be acknowledged that he defeated the Clinton’s in the Democratic primary – that took more than luck. The rest of his political career, as you observed, has been remarkably easy.

  • I also agree that the economy and the perceived Bush failures were the cause. Obama will be in for a rude awakening if he believes he got a mandate for his social views on abortion and same sex marriage among many others. The USCCB seems to have gained their voice the preceding few months ever since the Pope’s visit to America.

    Let’s pray for President-elect Obama’s conversion on his road to the inauguration.

  • JH- Iraq was not a mistake. Our guys and gals have done noble work that will be lauded by future writers of books/holograms/other new techno formats. Of course our President-Elect was lauded for admitting that secrecy in certain military ops is a swell idea. Forgetting that President Bush was fried parboiled and scorched by D.C. Dems and their MSM flacks for just such activities. No doubt to preserve the lives of these valiant warriors in harm’s way. Given the growlings of Putin, Chavez, Ahmadingdong, Beijing, there may be a lot more secrecy in the next two years. Unless things go kaboom very loudly. Also, Obama was lucky in that the La Hillary Campaign was among the most dysfunctional that ever was in this great country. Numerous higher-ups in more intense combat with one another for turf, access to Her Hillaryness’ ear, etc. than defeat of Illinois upstart. Leading to the calculated but accurate decision to throw 18 million voters under the proverbial bus. Surprise. They got up, dusted themselves off, and boarded the Obama Express. And one more thing- I hope Slick Willie got serious bank for service above and beyond duty for Obama campaign. Send him to stump for a candidate, any candidate, and watch that poor soul give mournful concession speech.

  • One of the primary tasks of a historian, as I understand it, is to craft a coherent narrative out of the available facts.


    These narratives are important, as people are often suspicious to the point of irrationality when presented with information that contradicts their preconceptions. For this reason, I think it is worthwhile to push back on a few of the narratives that have been circulating over the past week about the reasons for the Republican defeat.

    Ah, but what you’re seeing now isn’t history being written. It’s still journalism. The best a historian could do at this point is to look for context from the past, not offer a serious story as to what happened and why. The real historical narratives won’t be seriously attempted for a generation (more than likely).

  • Mark Windsor,

    Excellent point. But we should remain vigilant and not let the ‘noise’ overshadow the facts and continue telling it as it really is, until such time comes.

  • Interesting analysis, thanks.

  • “Ah, but what you’re seeing now isn’t history being written. It’s still journalism.”

    Mark W. – I agree entirely. My point was simply that narratives are important (whether they be journalistic or historical). Thanks for taking the time to correct the ambiguity – apologies for not being clearer.

  • Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom
    Lead Thou me on
    I do not ask to see the distant scene
    One step (is) enough for me…

  • Mark D.,

    The poet warrior in you has come out! Cool.

    I’d like to take this time to repeat myself that is one cute little sausage dog pic that you have (is it a sausage dog?).

  • “Lead kindly light, amid the encircling gloom
    Lead Thou me on
    I do not ask to see the distant scene
    One step (is) enough for me…”

    A masterpiece.

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Thou Shalt Not Run Smear Campaigns

Monday, November 10, AD 2008

So the Republican Party is reeling, trying to find its voice and a clear path forward in the aftermath of a terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad defeat. While initially we hear that the party will be led by fresh faces, such as Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal, and that forerunners for 2012 will also include Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, this brief noise has been covered over with the deafening sounds of ligaments snapping from too much finger-pointing. These days, if you want to know who is old-guard in the Republican party, you merely need to see who has his index finger splinted and bandaged.

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  • Even if you (I don’t, BTW) assume the smears are true, who ultimately looks worst for their airing?

    The candidate for whom the clothes were bought or the campaign manager who provided a blank check and no parameters for the purchase?

    The candidate who made embarassing civics and geography mistakes or the nomination committee vettors who failed to identify her weaknesses before her selection?

    The candidate who may have acted inappropriately in the company of fellow party members or the campaign staffers who sought to minimize their own failures by airing her pecadilloes to the world?

    Judith Martin used to say, “Miss Manners would be too polite to notice.”
    The finger-pointers only proved their own lack of class, not Sarah Palin’s.

Are Pro-Lifers Stuck With the Republican Party?

Sunday, November 9, AD 2008

Every election cycle, the New York Times and similar publications run op-eds or features discussing the ’emerging trend’ (always emerging, never quite emerged) of pro-lifers reconciling themselves to voting for the Democratic party. These articles vary widely in quality, and range from intelligent and provocative (if flawed) to embarrassing, but the most common feature is disenchantment with the current state of the Republican party. I will grant that the case has been easier to make this year given the widespread dissatisfaction with the Republican party (particularly among the chattering classes).

Nevertheless, I think the answer to the title of this post is that, yes, pro-lifers are stuck with, or at least would be best served by, support for the Republican party. Some points for consideration:

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21 Responses to Are Pro-Lifers Stuck With the Republican Party?

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  • John, I agree that in the short-term, we’re stuck with the GOP. But I also think that we need to have a longer term strategy, which might include assimilating the Dems, looking to the possibility of a Christian Democratic party, etc. Guessing that you’d be in agreement, I’d rather have *multiple* options for pro-lifers than just one… better for the cause, but more importantly, better for the goal.

  • Chris, you raise a good point. The last 4-8 years in particular have made the disadvantages of being allied with one party painfully clear. On numerous issues, the initial invasion in Iraq, torture, etc. many pro-lifers have been strongly opposed to the positions taken by the Republican administration. Ideally, there would be a range of political options. Working toward that ideal state creates a bit of a collective action problem because of the outsized influence of the Presidency, made particularly difficult for pro-lifers by the Roe decision.

    Any third party would resign themselves to the political wilderness in Congress and national affairs for the foreseeable future. It may be at some point the wilderness is the best place to be, however I am not sure we are there yet, given that one party is fairly sympathetic to pro-life concerns. I would be open to exploring Christian democratic political options if they were on offer, but in the short-term I see little evidence that the two-party system is losing its hold on the electorate.

  • “Are Pro-Lifers Stuck With the Republican Party?”

    For the foreseeable future yes. The Dems don’t need pro-lifers to win elections and the Republicans can’t win elections without pro-life votes. The third party route is as useful as tossing ballots into a shredder instead of a ballot box. If in the future the Democrats lose enough elections due to pro-lifers voting Republican they may be open to changing the position of their party. Don’t hold your breath. The core value of the Democrat party today is adherence to abortion on demand. Everything else is negotiable, but not that.

  • I think it’s an absolute necessity that we vote for pro-life politicians. So I guess that means we’re stuck with the GOP for now.

    That said, I don’t think politicians are going to bring about the end of abortion in America. I think it’s going to be a grassroots effort on the ground: Crisis pregnancy centers, 40 Days for Life, sidewalk counselors, etc. are going to continue to dry up the business of abortion–particularly in rural America. I think we’ll see this trend continue until abortion facilities are scarce outside of NYC, California, etc.

    As this changes, I think we’re going to see laws changing at the state level (I could be wrong, but I don’t see FOCA passing) in a lot of the traditional red states. Whereas we got abortion in bang-bang fashion with Roe v. Wade, I think abortion will end with a gradual erosion. I expect by the time abortion is outlawed, people who support, provide, and procure it will be few and far between and that the legislation will be, essentially, a formality.

  • any meaningful political changes will only occur on a local basis. that means city council members, that means mayors, and that means state congressional seats.

    it is the only way to change things. which mean we all have to get up off of our collective butts and go talk to people in the real world.

    do we have the energy or initiative for that? I doubt it.

    therefore we got more moderates for the conservative causes and continue to lose power on the federal level.

  • Despite its anti-abortion platform, the GOP has, for me, lost its credibility as a viable instrument for outlawing abortion long term. Republican leaders, particularly in the current administration, have undermined the law itself in their efforts to institute a torture policy through the Office of Legal Council. The problem for the GOP isn’t just the acceptance and even embrace of torture, but the reality that those who undermine the rule of law cannot credibly champion particular just laws. They destroy the foundation on which they build. For this reason I think the pro-life movement shouldn’t stick with the GOP, not with superglue, anyway. To the extent that the GOP undermines the rule of law, it undermines the pro-life cause, even while working to promote it.

    I would still encourage the pro-life movement to work politically for legal protections for the unborn, and this work in practice means working with the two parties, but it should be very careful not to unite itself with either party. Its alliances with political parties should remain fragile, especially as both parties are, to an extent, hostile in their own ways to the movement’s objectives.

  • In my view, if the pro-life movement wants any shot at ending abortion, support cannot come from only one side of the political spectrum. If Barack Obama weren’t such a leftist, out-of-touch liberal with no experience, I would have found it much more difficult to vote for John McCain after the last eight years of George Bush.

    One thing that does concern me — and this isn’t a generalization of all pro-life conservatives because I haven’t met everyone — in my experience with pro-life conservatives, they often demonstrate to me little knowledge of or concern for other issues and that’s very disconcerning. It’s one reason why I never, and may never, join the Republican Party aside from sincere disagreement.

    I’ve spoken about the food shortage crisis that effected third world countries because of the production of ethanol from corn — to some people, this was not only news, but just a terrible, I hate to say it, side-note at best. “Thats horrible,” they would say to me. And thats it.

    You mention the fact that 47 million people don’t have health care insurance and all you get in return is that people are irresponsible and the nation shouldn’t subsidize them. Point well taken, but how do we solve the problem — especially for children and vunerable populations?

    Then you mention that the GOP is running pro-choice candidates, even allowing one to run for the nomination to be at the top of the ticket, or John McCain may want to change the GOP platform on abortion (to be more inclusive) and they’re ready to write a letter to someone and make some phone calls.

    Does anything else matter to them? I oppose abortion, but doesn’t Christ have brothers and sisters effected by other evils as well? I often wonder this. I’m sure this isn’t the case for all conservatives, but in my experience this has frequently been the case. And from what I’ve discussed and read from many pro-life Democrats, they are simply turned off by the *seeming* lack of concern for other issues that garners hardly even a response to some people. And they genuinely fear that a vote for a pro-life Republican will lead to countless policies they don’t agree with and not much progress on abortion. I think their priorities are misplaced, but I sincerely sympathize with them.

    Another point, to many of my friends, Obama is nothing short of the Antichrist, the devil incarnate, and he is going to destroy the world. Such talk I find to be very ignorant and against any sort of ecumenical dialogue. It cuts off all rational discourse and leaves us with a never-ending culture war. Just today I was talking to a friend about abortion. He is pro-choice. He never knew my views. He knows I’m a Democrat and assumed I was pro-choice until he discovered I voted for McCain. In the middle of the conversation he said to me, “Well, you oppose abortion so much right?” I answered in the affirmative. He then asked, “Do you support the death penalty?” I answered, “No, not at all. I think it should be abolished.” He was shocked. He didn’t know what to say. He realized that my opposition to both was very consistent. I began to discuss things such as abortion and breast cancer, when human life began, how society defines personhood based on convenience and on functions (being autonomous, self-aware, conscious, independent) rather than on what something is by nature — human, the right to life as the foundation of all rights, moral objectivity, and so forth. I addressed his concern about the emotional struggle of the woman and I was welcoming to his points and I acknowledged his sincerity and didn’t put him down. You know what? He was very receptive to the pro-life position and asked to talk about it again later. He admitted that he’s possibly very wrong.

    The greatest temptation in politics — particularly on moral issues — is to attack the other side with ad hominem attacks. It works well if you can pass the other side off as the devil and evil. Nevermind the challenge of modernity, the challenge of relativism, and a culture that conditions us to affirm these things. I spent 10 years of my life as an atheist. Why? Because I thought that was facing reality. I was an atheist because I hadn’t heard a *better* case. Thats what I experienced today talking to my friend Jeff.

    The pro-life message transcends party lines and I think one thing the pro-life movement must do to succeed is to look less partisan. Right now it seems you have to be a Republican to support the sanctity of life and that alienates some people. The creative way, in which we do that, without compromising our mission is the question. But the current method, in my view, is not going to win us any victory as quickly as we’d like it nor as quickly as we need it.

  • “One thing that does concern me — and this isn’t a generalization — in my experience with pro-life conservatives, they often demonstrate to me little knowledge of or concern for other issues and that’s very disconcerning.”

    Eric, as someone who is a political junkie, I have found that is not at all unusual in either party. Most people have a very few issues they feel passionate about, and have thought little about other issues. Sometimes I think they are the sane ones. I spend a fair amount of time keeping abreast of a great many issues, and I can easily understand the unwillingness of many of my fellow citizens to do so.

    It is intriguing as to why conservatives generally oppose abortion and liberals generally support it. I think it boils down to three main factors: 1. The Sexual Revolution; 2. Feminism; and 3. Religion. Liberals in this country, since 1968, have generally embraced the Sexual Revolution, championed the most extreme forms of Feminism and tended to look askance at religion. Conservatives, while just as likely to commit sins of the flesh, have generally looked askance at the Sexual Revolution as a threat to the family; generally viewed radical feminism with distaste; and generally regard Religion as the source of moral conduct. It is no accident, as the Marxists say, that conservative Republicans fight against abortion as the destruction of innocent human life, while liberal Democrats champion it as a constitutional right. One can point to liberals who oppose abortion, for example my personal hero Nat Hentoff, and conservatives who champion abortion, the late Barry Goldwater for example, but the philosophical underpinnings of both parties easily explain why the abortion battle has become a partisan issue. I would love for pro-life democrats to change this equation, but I do not see this happening for at least a generation, or after some great national calamity that will demonstrate to all how precious human life is.

  • Eric Brown,

    I’m one of the 47 million uninsured. I’m also one of the dreaded people who puts abortion above every other issue.

    But I’ll put my so-called “right” to medical care that’s been around for less than a century of human history in the back seat to stop the ongoing slaughter of innocents any day.


  • I do feel stuck with the GOP. I am pretty upset about it. Believe it or not, I like Obama in many ways. I find his position on abortion deplorable, but I still like a lot about him.

    I just didn’t vote. I couldn’t vote for the Republican party. I think John McCain is a very impressive man, but he had to go and pick a running mate who has no business in the White House except on the guided public tour. And, if he ran a country like he ran his campaign, I’m afraid I wouldn’t have much faith in him being an effective leader.

    Things like the Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay, and the treatment of US Citizen Anthony Padilla may not outweigh the issue of abortion, but I just can’t bring myself to vote for a party that has eroded basic civil rights and abused so many human rights.

    Finally, as someone with a chronic medical condition who cannot get health insurance, I had to move to another country just to get medical care. I was very lucky to have that opportunity. I’d like to come home, but I can’t until the health care situation is sorted out. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy the right-wing arguments against socialized medicine.

    I know, I know… none of that outweighs abortion. Being told that to vote for Obama in spite of his abortion views was still a mortal sin is why I didn’t vote at all. I’m not sure I believe that it’s true, but I am afraid to argue with a bishop.

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  • Kyle wrote: “To the extent that the GOP undermines the rule of law, it undermines the pro-life cause, even while working to promote it.”

    I agree completely, and that summarizes the feelings of many pro-lifers who have voted Republican. I think the debate was too easily caricatured given the perceived (or real) security threats involved, but the actions of the administration ranged from questionable to appalling. That said, it is important to remember that 1) George Bush will not be running again and this was his decision, 2) torture is not part of the Republican platform. It seems to me that the question is: where do we go from here? I submit that it will be increasingly difficult for Obama apologists to defend his record on pro-life issues, and, in the absence of a third party, we should work to ensure the Republican party will represent pro-life concerns going forward.

    Eric – You raised a number of good points (your response would have made a good separate post). I would echo Donald in observing that many, many voters are ignorant of basic political realities in both parties, and additionally that there is an unfortunate tendency on both sides for insults rather than dialogue.

    katy – I would encourage you to read the bishop’s statement. It certainly does not say that it is a sin (still less a mortal sin) to vote for Obama despite his abortion views. Catholics should not, however, vote for a pro-choice politician with the intention of furthering pro-choice policies.

  • Did you know a record 31 Democratic Party pro-life candidates were elected to Congress?

    According to Democrats for Life of America, five new Democratic pro-lifers were elected, joining 26 pro-life incumbents who were re-elected.

    “This will be only the second time in 30 years that the number of pro-life Democrats increases instead of decreases,” Kristen Day, director of Democrats for Life of America, told “The first time we made gains was in 2006 due to the work of pro-life Democrats all over this country advocating on behalf of the pro-life cause.”

    The first task confronting Congressional pro-lifers from both parties in the next Congress? Forging bipartisan alliances across the aisles of the Senate and the House of Representatives to prevent passage of the abortion lobby’s Freedom of Choice (FOCA) legislation.

    The real question is how are we going to support pro-life politican regardless of them being democrats or republicans? We Catholics cannot find home in either party for many reasons but we must work within both affect REAL change.

  • John: I know that the USCCB’s statement said it’s OK to vote in spite of pro-choice stances, but then I’ve read several very strongly-worded statements by individual bishops contradicting that.

    I do agree that it’s not a mortal sin if you genuinely believe that there will be less abortions with Obama in the White House. Whether or not that’s correct is certainly up for debate, but being mistaken does not qualify as being in a state of sin.

  • If you’ve chosen to enter a state of denial over (or intentionally avoided receiving the information regarding) Obama’s record, rhetoric, and campaign promises, then I’d say it’s not possible to ‘genuinely believe’ given the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

    I’m not saying there aren’t folks who didn’t just ‘genuinely believe’ out of ignorance, but I think it’s probably rarer than I’d hope.

    What really saddens me is the defeat of all the anti-abortion legislation. Makes me think that there will be plenty of GOPers caving in to the abortion lobby to save their jobs (given the trend amongst voters) and the new pro-life Dems won’t rock the boat with the abortionists champion now running the show.

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  • It seems to me that not being a single-issue voter would be pretty useful, in this case.

    Also: how does national healthcare fit into your theology? Or war? George Bush (and McCain) is anti-life on both of those fronts. How can a Catholic vote for the party which supports the death penalty?

    Last, but not least, anyone who thinks that Republicans will over turn Roe v. Wade is fooling themselves. They pull in tons of voters (like you, apparently) who would not otherwise vote for them, just by running this farce up the flag-pole. Not to mention that outlawing abortion wouldn’t stop abortions any more than outlawing liquor stopped drinking. We had illegal abortions in this country, and so many women died that good, thoughtful, caring people, said that a change was needed, and that if something like this was going to happen, it should at least be done safely.

    This whole post is silly. I came here hoping for a thoughtful, intelligent post, weighing the issues, and get a lot of foolishness.

  • I wouldn’t call either George Bush and John McCain “anti-life” on those positions. I happen to disagree with them on all of those fronts, actually. It is debatable whether or not the two wars in the Middle East are justified, it is arguable if universal health care is the most efficient way of providing medical care to all Americans. Lastly, a great number of Democrats support the death penalty including Senators Obama and Clinton.

    Lastly, overturning Roe v. Wade wouldn’t stop abortions, but it would enable many states to outlaw abortion and give people the opportunity to work toward its end in a way they cannot now. I’ll have to find the studies, but I just looked up the abortion rates state by state and surprisingly, the states with almost entirely Democratic regimes have higher abortion rates, particularly New York and California. You’d think all that economic support for women would really have dramatically done away with abortion entirely, while the conservative states in the Bible belt have a notably lower abortion rate and their method has been placing legal restrictions on abortion for the most part.

  • This whole post is silly. I came here hoping for a thoughtful, intelligent post, weighing the issues, and get a lot of foolishness.

    Sorry to disappoint. I had a similar experience reading your response. It seems to me that you either mis-read or misunderstood the post. I’ll risk a response, although I am not sure, based on your tone, whether it will win a hearing.

    George Bush (and McCain) is anti-life on both of those fronts

    The post is not about McCain (still less for Bush). The argument is about what pro-lifers should do going forward.

    how does national healthcare fit it into your theology? Or war?

    If you read the post, I conceded that for many Catholics, both parties are deeply flawed. I suggested that the Republican party may be more open to reform on an issue like healthcare than the Democrats will on abortion. After all, McCain had a plan to improve healthcare this election; Obama offered FOCA and the removal of ‘rare’ language from the Democratic platform to offer pro-lifers. Regarding foreign policy, unless you have a crystal ball into 2010-2012 it’s a little early to compare approaches to foreign policy. Whoever the Republicans nominate, it won’t be McCain or Bush.

    Last, but not least, anyone who thinks that Republicans will over turn Roe v. Wade is fooling themselves.

    Possibly, but we likely have four votes on the Court that would overturn or severely limit Roe. What we know is that Obama has a record of extreme hostility to any abortion restrictions.

    Not to mention that outlawing abortion wouldn’t stop abortions any more than outlawing liquor stopped drinking.

    That’s ridiculous. Abortion restrictions reduce the number of abortions. Does the number ever reach zero? No. Can the number be substantially reduced? Yes. The abortion rate doubled after Roe. Studies have shown that restrictions such as parental consent laws, etc. reduce the number of abortions. Keep in mind, overturning Roe wouldn’t make abortion illegal – it would mean the issue could be addressed legislatively.

    We had illegal abortions in this country, and so many women died that good, thoughtful, caring people, said that a change was needed, and that if something like this was going to happen, it should at least be done safely.

    I recommend reading a history book rather than a NOW pamphlet. If you view abortion as a good, then you are not really the intended audience for the post. In any case, abortion wasn’t illegal everywhere prior to Roe v. Wade; it was left up to the states. Many states had recently relaxed their abortion restriction laws prior to Roe, but some had not. If by ‘good, thoughtful, caring people,’ you mean seven Supreme Court justices, I guess you are entitled to that view. It seems rather uncaring, bad, and less than thoughtful to bar states from trying to protect human life to me, but, again, perspectives differ. Regarding safety, my understanding is that abortion is quite hazardous to one of the two people involved in the procedure.

Sarah's Going Rogue

Sunday, October 26, AD 2008

See here and here.

I’m perfectly fine with that… maybe she’s not the hope for the future of populist conservatism that many believe she is or was, but I’d rather have her in the mix than not. And while she certainly bears some responsibility for some of her poor performances in interviews, an equal amount goes to the campaign for mishandling those aspects of her rollout.

(HT: Rod Dreher.)

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14 Responses to Sarah's Going Rogue

  • Sarah’s biggest problem is that she does not know how much of an amateur she is…and how much she does not know…

    And a reformer?

    Maybe in an artificial ‘reality-tv’ show…probably her next destination…if not Faux Noise…

  • Naturally I disagree, Mark. 🙂 I think Sarah is well aware of how much she doesn’t know… I just think the whole prep process for her rollout was bungled by the campaign.

  • What is her appeal…sexually-charged bigotry, demagoguery and anti-intelectualism?

    Oh..I know..she’s pro-life…as her trophy baby proves…

  • Mark, let’s focus on one thing: the charge of anti-intellectualism. Not being an intellectual isn’t the same as being anti-intellectual. Nor is disdain for *some* intellectuals the same as anti-intellectualism.

  • You know Obama is not such an intellectual. Have you ever seen him for something he hasn’t reheased for (the debates) or without a pre-written speech? He stutters for days, he can’t find words, and he really reminds me of George Bush.

  • Is it me or is it that ‘W’ doesn’t try nor care to work on his speech impediment(s)? It can get irritating sometimes… and I like the guy, but sheesh it does get irritating at times.

  • Mark needs to find another blog, more in tune with his thinking. Here’s one…

  • Mark,

    When this blog was started, you said, “I’m outta here!”

    Well, leave… I’m tired of your leftist-Koolaid drinking self.

  • Wingnut loons,

    So am I a socialist for believing in the progressive tax code we’ve had in this country over the past umpteen years?

  • So am I a socialist

    Wow, not only are you a vile partisan who makes disgusting comments about Palin, you obviously don’t have tremendous reading skills. No one actually called you a socialist.

  • No,

    it is your bigotry, demagoguery and anti-intelectualism that is not wanted here while you pretend to be Pro – Life.

  • Mark,

    You wouldn’t find random name calling with little relation to reality convincing if it was aimed at Senator Obama. Why do you think it woudl convince your opponents? Or are you just wanting to be unpleasant at the moment.

    You’re capable of reasonable discourse at time, but other times you just seem to want to cause trouble.

    And if you show up being offensive and trying to cause trouble, don’t get all surprised if you get rhetorically dogpiled.

  • To answer your question, Mark, yes you are “a socialist for believing in the progressive tax code…” Perhaps you’re not as committed a socialist true-believer as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles who made progressively punitive taxation of incomes a major demand of their Communist Manifesto (1848). Perhaps you’re a soft core socialist who lacks the courage to honestly admit and follow the convictions you proclaim. Still, you’ve announced that your allegiance is to the socialist program. To use a bit of the old time Marxist lingo, Mark you are objectively a socialist.