Battlepanda: Taking the offensive position on abortion


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Taking the offensive position on abortion

Matt got the chance to see Sherrod Brown up close and personal at one of those media breakfast things. I'm kind of concerned that Brown, in the words of Matt, "
thought he could just sort of trump cultural issues by doubling-down on economic populism", but encouraged that when he eventually was faced with a question concerning "cultural" issues he cannot dodge, he responded well and strongly with a counterattack that I've seen mushrooming recently -- do Republicans really think women who have abortions should be punished like first-degree murderers?

Matt muses that both the Republicans and the Democrats hold some awfully unpopular views about reproductive rigths. Yet it is always the Democrats who are on the defensive and trying to run from cultural issues, which does not work because it simply gives the Republicans a good opening to play 'gotcha!' Better framing of our ideas should definitely be part of the package, but nobody ever won a battle by retreating their way to victory.
It's worth recalling that George W. Bush didn't exactly go around trumpeting the fact that the Republican Party is committed to the blanket criminalization of all abortions. But they are, in fact, so committed. Democrats may as well point this out. If you voted against a "partial birth" abortion ban or a parental notification provision somewhere down the line you're never going to succeed in keeping this a secret from the voters.

This isn't to deny the new model conventional wisdom that Democrats need to find better ways of talking about this stuff, etc., etc., etc. but merely to say that going on the offensive needs to be part of the mix. It even all comes together in the way that extremist conservative opposition to contraception and real sex education lead, among other things, to lots of unplanned pregnancies and therefore abortions.

At this point, I don't think this post is just about abortion anymore. There are so many issues I can think of where Democrats know they're right but is afraid to say it. Universal healthcare anyone? Now, I understand a strategic retreat from an unpopular stance, but when this is standard operating procedure on every tough subject, it is inevitable that our party is seen as weak and spineless.