Monday, June 9, 2008

Abortion and the General Election: Rhetoric and Stratagems

Now that Barack Obama is unquestionably the Democratic nominee and thoughts have turned to the general election, many have begun to ask 'what now'? Both Obama and McCain will be looking to bolster support from their party's traditional bases. McCain will be searching to rally the Huckabee-voting fundamentalist Christians behind him, and -if the pundits are to be believed- Obama will have to work to win over Clinton's most ardent supporters. In short, both men are seeking to woo their own party's 'true believers.'

So what does this mean? Probably that we'll be hearing a whole lot more about abortion in the coming weeks. According to one recent article by Ed Stoddard, both Obama and McCain need the abortion issue to be front and center during the general election, precisely so that they can stir up the type of high-emotions that will prompt party loyalists to come out to vote in November:
"Religious conservatives may not be wildly enthusiastic about McCain but they can point to his pro-life stance as reason to stay on board," said Matthew Wilson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

...Allen Hertzke, director of Religious Studies at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, said [Obama's pro-choice stance] could help Obama secure support from some of the white women who voted in droves in the Democratic nominating contests for Sen. Hillary Clinton...
Stoddard also notes, as we have, that many voters also predict that the next president of the United States will be responsible for nominating a new Supreme Court justice:
McCain has reiterated that he would appoint [anti-choice] justices; for the Democratic base it is seen as vital that the tide of conservative appointees on the bench be rolled back.
However, focusing exclusively on preserving Roe might not be Obama's best tactic, writes
Yes, it's true that replacing John Paul Stevens and/or Ruth Bader Ginsburg with a Republican appointee will be bad for abortion rights, although this is likely to occur by further draining content from Casey rather than overturning Roe outright.
But even when it comes to women's rights, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The enforcement of civil rights protections for women is likely to be much less in a Republican administration, for example. The global gag order will remain firmly in place. And in general, four more years of a tax-cut-supporting, massive-defense-spending GOP president will not only make any kind of serious progressive reform (much of which disproportionately benefits women even if not specifically targeted to do so) virtually impossible for four more years but will also make it more difficult in the future.
So, I ask - how will you be talking to your politically conservative and undecided friends and family in the days to come? If you know any former Clinton supporters who are considering not casting a vote for Obama come November (I've never met one, but they are widely rumored to exist), what arguments will you be using to convince them?


Sally said...

I realize the point of your post is abortion, but I would say that the way to get others (conservatives and Clinton supporters) to vote for Obama is to stress the "total package," for lack of a better term.

I know a lot of comments in the blogosphere have noted concern that repro rights is the carrot being hung out in front of these groups, so I try to explain that Clinton and Obama agreed on almost all major issues and that their policies are in stark contrast to McCain's. So the economy, the war, women's rights, Supreme Court picks, education, etc. These are all areas we need to consider in making our vote and, imo, McCain's policies and beliefs hopefully just won't fly with people.

Sally said...

I forgot, of course, health care!

Habladora said...

I'd actually agree that focusing on the 'total package' is best. Are there issues that people have found have particular traction with conservatives, undecided, and the alleged Clinton-only supporters?

Casmall said...

When you compare this Dem primary to others in the past, these two treated each other with kid gloves. Conflict between the two was entirely the creation of the press and proxies. I find it hard to believe that Clinton supporters would vote for Mcain due to sour grapes.

uncensoredfeminista said...

This is the biggest case of irresponsible feminism I have ever seen. I understand what she's fighting for, but in fighting to get a woman in office what is she risking? There's just too much at stake, in my opinion to be so stubborn.

Habladora said...

She has backed Obama now, and has urged her supporters to do the same. And, although the media has certainly set it up this way, I'm not sure that any push to get a woman in office is necessarily feminist - there are lots of women out there who represent their own interests, but not those of women in general. Hillary Clinton, though - like Barack Obama - supports legislation that would be good for women. Sure, I was briefly worried that she would put her own interest in becoming president above the greater interest of getting a pro-woman candidate into office, but she showed those worries to be unfounded. Certainly I am proud of her campaign in general, although (as I've noted a couple of times in posts) I've occasionally been angered and worried by some of her tactics.

Habladora said...

Oh, dear... Lissette (the Uncensored Feminista) has gone and destroyed my illusion that no one would turn their back on Obama due to some past loyalty to Clinton (here). OK, so - I acknowledge that they exist - but how do you talk to them?