Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Of veeps and abortion rights

Of all the political hot-button issues that matter in this particular election cycle, I simply can't understand this renewed Republican fixation with abortion.

This occurred to me recently, as I listened to yet another pundit explain that right-wingers wouldn't stand for the pick of a pro-choice vice president nominee for John McCain. That specifically means Joseph Lieberman and Tom Ridge, candidates who are flawed for Republicans for a number of wholly unrelated reasons.

But as a practical matter, abortion has been legal - with varying restrictions - in our nation for the past 35 years. For an issue that has had little personal effect on an overwhelming majority of contemporary voters, it seems a bit imprudent to use abortion as the fulcrum upon which to decide the bottom half of a presidential ticket.

What about the war in Iraq? The slumping economy? Soaring fuel prices? The housing crisis? These would seem to be the issues of substance that McCain and, to a lesser degree, his vice president could actually affect through a Republican agenda.

On the other hand, abortion would be a much more difficult fight for the executive branch and would require some level of involvement by the other two branches of the government (at the least, the nomination process for any potential Supreme Court justices and a majority vote of that panel - though conservatives may be only a vote away from overturning Roe v. Wade).

Don't let conservatives fool you. Neither McCain nor his vice president could unilaterally decide to make abortion illegal because they like babies. It's more complicated than that - McCain has a better chance of having barbecue this weekend over at John Lewis' house.

I'll grant that there are plenty of valid reasons to oppose abortion rights (though as a guy, I can't understand much the male concern with a woman's personal reproductive choices). But to disqualify a candidate from the veepstakes based on his or her beliefs about one - one - issue, without regard to qualifications, stance on other important issues or whether he or she helps McCain in November, seems unwise.

Which makes a lot of sense, given who we're talking about.


John P. Araujo said...

I'm one of those nut-jobs that won't vote for McCain if he selects a prochoice running mate. As it is, I've never liked voting for the GOP. I don't support their going to war in Iraq, I don't support their views on the death penatly, and I don't like all the butt-kissing that they do for the rich and powerful (among other reasons). And honestly, they've basically given lip service to the prolife cause- and would drop it in a heartbeat if it no longer got them votes.

I've voted Democrat for most of my adult life, but the Dems were just too wedded to an issue that I find offensive. You cited your curiosity as to why some voters let one issue make-or-break their decision to vote for a given candidate. My response would be: if the abortion issue is no big deal to the Democrats, then let them drop that one issue from their platform. Let them try to drop it, and then we'll see how dedicated they are to that one issue. I don't see that happening anytime soon - and probably not in my lifetime. I truly believe that if they'd let go of their obsession to the abortion issue and started accepting prolife candidates for office, they'd get tons of votes tomorrow.

But don't get me wrong - the candidates' views on other issues are also important. If a given candidate was thoroughly reprehensible in every way, but claimed to support prolife causes, I'd look elsewhere. Those other veiws of candidates do matter - but some views matter more than others, and that's the case for anyone. It'd be a strange person who gave equal priority to his views on every issue.

blackink said...

I think, think, Dems consider abortion an issue of importance but not necessarily one more important than ending our occupation of Iraq, ending our dependence on oil, more closely regulating the banking and credit industries, preserving Social Security and so on and so on.

Certainly, some issues matter than others. But think about this: Obama is seriously considering Biden, someone who initially voted to authorize the Iraq war. And, pretty much, that issue is a huge factor in the resurgence of Dems across the country.

But I don't see Dems being beholden to one, singular issue in the way that some Republicans are.

It's not that I don't find abortion offensive (it's a complex issue that is also above my "pay grade"), but I could live with a veep choice who is pro-life. Honestly. Especially considering that person would have little actual sway on the issue.

Just because one issue is important doesn't mean that it supercedes all the other ones - Dems don't have to drop abortion rights from their platform. They can make it part of a comprehensive, nuanced agenda.

What's wrong with that?