Sunday, November 02, 2008

Political thought for the day

The election is two short days away; it's likely that in 48 hours, we'll have a pretty solid idea about who will be our next President. I'm waiting for it to be over, not least because my inbox is crammed these pre-election days with people passing along witty/evil stories about one candidate or the other. Last week, one of my favorite aunts sent me one of these, an infinite .fwd supposedly from some preacher, saying that the only real issue in any election is the candidate's stance on abortion. Normally I shunt these directly to my trash, but on a whim I actually responded. And, for the first time in years, I accidentally Replied To All. So, since I already shared, here's what I wrote back to my aunt:
Wow. It’s astonishing how people can ignore five hundred political, social, trade, and international issues of importance, in favor of merely looking at a candidate’s stand on one single issue. I wish I could do this; it’d save me the trouble of actually working to stay informed at election season....

Ready for Jeff’s Deep Thought Of The Day? Here goes. You’ll notice that for the four years between 2002 and 2006, we had the most strongly Republican, most ostensibly pro-life house, senate, and White House we’ve ever had since Roe v. Wade. You’ll also notice they did utterly nothing about the issue of abortion. Know why not? Because it’s not in their best interest to win this fight. As long as they can keep it an issue, they’re guaranteed 25% of the vote without actually doing any work to improve anything in the country. As soon as they ban abortion, they’ve suddenly got to do actual work to appeal to this 25%, and they know they’ll be in trouble. Sure, they’ve got other hot-button issues, but none carry the conservative weight that abortion does. The next big conservative/religious issue on their list is “sanctity of marriage”, and it’s pretty far down. We all know gay people in happy relationships, and it feels uncomfortable to tell them they don’t deserve hospital visitation rights or communal property. It’s an issue with a face, and the face is of loving couples trying to build a life together. It won’t get people to the polls like abortion does, and it’s a pretty weak single-issue-voter issue. Conservatives survive on the abortion issue; even in the most strongly Republican states, they only win by 25% of the vote. If you no longer could count on the knee-jerk support of pro-life-only voters, you’d be in trouble. Imagine having to stand on your voting record, instead of merely sounding more pro-life than your opponent. They can imagine it, which is why they don’t ever do anything about the issue.

I don’t want this to sound like an attack; you know I adore you. So I’m a bit defensive when politicians try to manipulate you.
I heard back from quite a few of the people on the original distribution list, most of whom got a kick out of it. So thought I'd share.

Also, for reference, you'll notice I never take a stand on the actual issue of abortion. I'm not talking here about the right/wrong of this [harmless standard medical procedure/horrible fetus assasination technique]. This is entirely about cynical politicians, regardless of their personal views, taking advantage of a subset of conservative voters.

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