Reproductive Rights and the National Parties

These are the percentages of Democratic and Republican voters who describe themselves as either "pro-choice" or "pro-life." The numbers are derived from 2000 exit polls:
	      DNC      RNC
Pro-Choice     76.8    39.3
Pro-Life	      23.2    60.7
Overall, this means that in 2000, 71% of pro-life voters voted for Bush, while 63% of pro-choice voters voted for Gore. Thus, while 86% of Senators follow their party line on this issue, fully one in three voters are either pro-choice and do not vote Democrat or pro-life and do not vote Republican.

I have a couple thoughts on this. The first is that if Democrats could manage the same percentage of the pro-choice vote that Republicans receive from the pro-life vote, Democrats would win every Presidential election. My second thought is to wonder what would happen if the pro-choice faction of the Republican Party increased in size by just a few more percentage points and the GOP became almost evenly split between pro-life and pro-choice. Could the Republican coalition still hold together? Could a pro-choice Republican become the Presidential nominee? Would the struggle for reproductive rights be over?

Considering all of this, would it be better if Democrats received a higher percentage of the pro-choice vote or if the Republican party no longer had a clear pro-life majority? I do not know the answer, but I have included a poll.

GOD & the GOP vs the Secular Warriors

Republicans in Texas now control every statewide office, and in 2002 gained control of the state House for the first time in over 100 years. The Texas GOP just held their state convention over the weekend, and though I've not yet seen the platform, apparently, it's more of the same that was in the extremist 2002 edition. The Austin Statesman reported: At the Texas Republican Convention, God and the GOP are even tighter than the mere one-letter difference might indicate.

There's no official count, but the convention references to God are running about neck and neck with the mentions of home-state hero George W. Bush.

And on the evening of the first day, the Rev. Charles Murphy of Heritage Baptist Church in Missouri City was moved to comment on it.

"I thought when I was over there today I was at church," Murphy said gleefully before offering the invocation at a Texas Christian Coalition dinner on Thursday. "I heard more about God there than I hear at some of the conventions we go to that say they are Christian."

For many delegates at the three-day convention, religion and politics commingle with comfort, purpose and zeal. Delegates on Friday approved a platform that refers to "the myth of the separation of church and state."

...A plank in a section titled "Promoting Individual Freedom and Personal Safety" proclaims the United States a "Christian nation."

...The rewritten "Celebrating Traditional Marriage" section now calls for legislation making it a felony for anyone to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple or for a "civil official" to perform a wedding ceremony for such couples.

Also new this year is a section declaring that the Ten Commandments "are the basis of our basic freedoms and the cornerstone of our Western legal tradition."

At a 7 a.m. Friday prayer rally, thousands of delegates turned the convention floor into a house of prayer.

As delegates prayed and sang, oversized religious images, including Jesus on the cross, were displayed on the hall's giant video screens. Christian clergymen took turns leading the prayers, some with political overtones.

What's increasingly happened within the GOP is that the values which Christians have for their religious beliefs, such as total unquestioning faith, have migrated to their One Party belief-- they have become Fundamental Republicans. Which explains why they find it necessary to weed out those whom are not true believers in the Party. The rise of the Christian fundamentalist groups as a political power has been in the making for decades, and all to often, Democratic candidates have been afraid to call the zealots on their attempts to institute a theocracy in the United States, due to their political clout, but that's changing.

With the religious right making the GOP their home, their issues have becoming firmly polarized within the political stalemate. With their actively targeting Democrats, a force has arisen to oppose them, backing the Democrats. It's probably the least talked about force in politics today, what Greenberg called the Secular Warriors in The Two Americas. And the Secular Warriors are on fire in 2004, rearing to burn down the GOP's house of trifecta power.

According to Greenberg & Carville's Democracy Corps polling, the Secular Warriors make up 15% of the electorate, and are voting alongside Kerry with 69% of the vote, compared with the 58% that Gore garnered in 2000. In fact, that 11% gain represents the only one among all loyal Democratic groups that shows such any notable gain over Gore's numbers for Kerry. It's not yet near the 80% of the Christian right that Bush gets, which accounts for 17% of the electorate, and the group of voters where Rove thought pulled up short in 2000. The Democracy Corps polling actually shows a minor drop amongst these voters, to 76% for Bush in 2004, against Bush's numbers in 2000; but it's going to be the GOTV yields of the Fundamentalists that determines their success, as the strong counter effort is what's giving Kerry the lead right now in the polls.

 

Republicans in 2008

In 2008, there will be a contested Republican nomination season. Its character will be very different depending on whether Kerry or Bush is President. Without knowing what the situation will be, here are my top ten contenders:

1. Jeb Bush
Of course, if Bush loses, he drops out of the top 10 altogether. Otherwise, he would be a heavy favorite to continue the Bush dynasty.

2. John McCain
Would not run if Jeb does, and might not run anyway. However, if Bush loses to Kerry, McCain would have a clear shot at the nomination. He would have absolutely no difficulty winning any primary open to Democrats and independents. His national popularity only seems to grow as time goes by. Would be very difficult, if not impossible, to defeat in the general election.

3. Bill Owens
The governor of Colorado would be the first choice of the conservative wing of the party if no Bushes are available. Probably did not run for Senate in order to prep for a 2008 WH run. Would be able to challenge McCain, but might have some difficulty with his, um "personal indiscretions."

4. Chuck Hagel
Without Bush and McCain, Hagel would be a major player for the nomination. Instantly top tier anyway. Received strong consideration for Bush's VP, and is now even being mentioned as Kerry's VP. Has the potential to unite the libertarian and fundamentalist wings of the party. Would be a very serious threat to an incumbent Kerry.

5. Bill Frist
He will be a player, but probably needs a weak field in order to take the nomination. Weak as in none of the top of the top four decide to run (except possibly Owens).

6. Mitch Daniels
If he becomes Governor of Indiana, Daniels clearly has his sights set for the big prize. Might not want to risk waiting until 2016, and could give it a go in 2008.

7. Tom Ridge
Has the resume to win, but so did Dick Lugar. Has not run an election since 1998, and even then he did not face a serious challenge. Has only slightly more charisma than Phil Graham.

8. Bill O'Reilly
Some pundit will run. Why not O'Reilly?

9. Tom DeLay
From the Orin Hatch wing of the Republican party. Ideologue who craves power in order to re-establish the Plymouth Bay Colony. Will come to shocking realization that Republicans only tolerate him out of fear and despise him almost as much as Democrats do.

10. Senator Gronk
He crush middle-class tax hike. He defend American liberty overseas. Senator Gronk punish crime! Senator Gronk pummel partisanship! He know American family center of good. Senator Gronk not appoint activist judges. He bring dignity and CEO experience to White House. Senator Gronk next Reagan! Vote you Senator Gronk! He not boutique liberal. Senator Gronk crush special interests. Rrrraaarrrggghhhh!!

Who did I miss? Take the poll and produce your own top ten.

POLL--What is the Biggest Lie About Reagan?

Which of the many lies being spun about Reagan this week is the biggest? It is hard to choose, so consider all the possibilities before selecting one. I have provided an article that works to debunk each myth.

Lies all. But which lie is the most extreme? Take the poll.

The War Against Freedom

When stories of Reagan's legacy are told over the next week, his affirmation of lightly regulated capitalism and his contribution toward "ending the cold war" will probably be the most common angles taken. Combined, these two narratives will paint Reagan as a great warrior for liberty in the face of tyranny both at home and abroad. However, under Reagan's still pervasive influence, in at least two important aspect the United States has sharply turned away from its long history of slowly increasing personal freedom (Warning: PDF file):

The Bureau of Justice Statistics recently reported that there are now two million people in the nation's prisons and jails. This figure is a record high and represents the product of an unprecedented 30-year rise in the use of incarceration. The national inmate population is now six times that of the approximately 330,000 total of 1972, just prior to the inception of the modern day "get tough" movement....

The absolute figures are dramatic in themselves, but take on even greater significance in comparison with other nations. In this regard, the U.S. rate of incarceration of 702 inmates per 100,000 population represents not only a record high, but situates this nation as the world leader in its use of imprisonment....

Criminologists Alfred Blumstein and Allen Beck examined the near-tripling of the prison population during the period of 1980-1996 and concluded that changes in crime explained only 12% of the prison rise, while changes in sentencing policy accounted for 88% of the increase....

Over the past two decades, the most significant change in the composition of the U.S. prison population has been the dramatic increase in the number of persons incarcerated for a drug offense. In 1980, prisons and jails held about 40,000 inmates for drug offenses. That figure has increased more than ten-fold to about 450,000 today, nearly a quarter of all inmates.

Surprisingly, when Reagan was Governor of California, the state prison population did not significantly increase. However, as President, by declaring the "war on drugs" and escalating "get tough" policies to new levels, the national prison population exploded (as did the government bureaucracy to support and administer the prison system). Since none of the three administrations to follow Reagan's seriously challenged the highly punitive policies he put into place, the prison population in the United States has never stopped escalating. Now, America has become the most imprisonment happy country on the planet. Our rate of incarceration per 100,000 population (702) surpasses that of Russia (628), South Africa (400), England / Wales (139, the highest in Western Europe), and Japan (53). Our total prison population of over two million people is easily the highest on Earth. Further, 25% of all inmates are imprisoned for crimes they committed against their own bodies: non-violent drug-offenses. This had led to, among other things, 13% voter disenfranchisement among African-American males.

As we all know, Reagan's wars did not stop at out own borders. Many of the governments and rebels his administration provided aid to, including Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq (during its war with Iran) and the precursors of the Taliban, the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan (during the Soviet invasion of that country), may have been anti-Communist, but were certainly not freedom loving. Now, of course, we are occupying both countries ostensibly in order to free their populations from the terroristic tyranny of our former allies in the War on Communism. One can only imagine what other countries we will invade in the future as part of the War on Something Else in order to free the populations of those countries from the tyranny of our current allies in the War on Terror.

In many, if not most, respects, the United States if a wonderfully free society. However, the shadow of Reagan still looms over our criminal justice system and our foreign policy, two areas where for at least two decades now we have been actively working to reduce the freedoms of millions of people both at home and abroad. I have no doubt that Ronald Reagan loved the concept of freedom above all else. However, like many Americans, he was able to develop a mental blind spot when some of his specific beliefs ran counter to the furthering of liberty. Sadly, the fact that few, if any, nationally prominent Democrats are willing to stand up against the draconian measures we are taking in the War on Drugs and the War on Terror will prevent this part of Reagan's legacy from receiving significant air play during the coming week. After all, Reagan's continuing policy success in these two areas is reflective of our continuing failure.

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