Post-Election Instapundrity: Do the Democrats Have a New Coalition?

by James Hanley

A few years back, during the G.W.B. administration, an older political scientist I know was bemoaning the fate of the Democrats. “They need to rebuild the New Deal coalition,” he said, “or the Republicans will have a permanent majority.” Understand, he was born into the era of the New Deal coalition, of staunch FDR-worshipping parents, and he saw the deaths of JFK and RFK as the crucial turning point in America, the destruction of the opportunity for the right kind of politics and a truly great country.

My response was that the New Deal coalition was dead, and nothing could revive it. Affirmative-action and environmentalism were wedge issues that the Republican Party had used to split off a lot of blue collar white folks–the Reagan Democrats–and abortion was an issue that split off a sizable number of Catholics. The only parts of the New Deal coalition Democrats could still rely on were academics and African-Americans–two unloved minorities. They had to quit looking at the past and build a new coalition.

They may have done so, and if they have, the Republicans are in for another long night in the wilderness.

This isn’t all worked out in well-supported detail (it’s instapundrity, you get what you pay for), but here are the rough outlines.

  • The Republican “coalition” now seems to be primarily white Christian men. There’s no way to get a majority out of that group, not anything like. This is largely, I think, a phenomenon of the old Dixiecrats shifting to the GOP and tilting it to the right (and simultaneously tilting the Democratic Party to the left). That tilt in itself wouldn’t have been devastating, but the social conservatives have consistently pushed out the old moderates, the uppper-Midwest and New England style Republicans. E.g., Representative Walberg (R-my district) is a minister who un-seated a Gerald Ford-style Republican incumbent 6 years ago in the primary by repeatedly calling him a liberal. The G.W.B. administration, in their efforts to “punish” Vermont Senator James Jeffords for not being sufficiently supportive, ended up driving him out of the party. And in Indiana, right-wing conservatives unseated long-time incumbent Richard Lugar. Once upon a time the GOP portrayed itself as the Big Tent. Those words aren’t uttered much anymore–those who dominate the party explicitly don’t want a big tent. Only true believers are welcome now, but without the sinners in the tent, there is no revival meeting. Here’s the key data point: Obama lost the white vote by 20 points (59-39%), and he still won the popular vote by 2 points. Democrats can safely ignore any concerted effort to regain white male votes, so long as they keep giving friendly nods to labor. (All exit polls are based on CNN.
  • The gender gap has widened, in Democrats’ favor. Romney won men by 7 points (52-45%), while Obama won women by 11 points (55-44%). That would be bad enough if men and women voted in equal numbers, but women were 53% of the vote to men’s 47%). Let’s do some simple math. 52% (Romney’s percentage of men) * 47% (percentage of voters who are male) = 24.4%. 55% (Obama’s percentage of women) * 53% (percentage of voters who are female) = 29%. Right there the Republicans may start with a 5 point disadvantage. If Democrats can continue to hold large advantages among women–which they will at least as long as Republicans push the abortion issue (see below), they actually begin with a head start.
  • The Latino vote has long been the big prize for both parties. A sizable and growing population that didn’t yet vote in large numbers. Democrats hoped to get them because they always got the unloved minority vote. Republicans hoped to get them because Latinos are Catholic and tend to be family-oriented. According to exit polls Obama got 71% of the Latino vote, over 2 1/2 times as much as Romney. And exit polls also showed about 60% of Latino voters favoring same-sex marriage, so the social values approach doesn’t look prospective for the GOP. I know lots of Republicans are pinning their hopes on Florida’s Marco Rubio, but he’s Cuban, folks, and that don’t mean squat to Mexicans, Hondurans, and Salvadorans. The immigration issue has killed Republican hopes for gaining a majority of the Latino vote. It belongs to the Democrats for the next generation, at least.
  • The age gap is a big problem for Republicans. They won all age groups over 40, and lost all age groups under 40. Worst of all, at each successively lower age group they did more poorly, down to those below 30, where they polled less than 40% of the vote. As the Republicans have increasingly looked like the “Get Off My Lawn! Party,” they risk permanently losing two up and coming generations of voters. The same-sex marriage issue is killing the GOP here. A majority of young folks support SSM, and a huge chunk of the rest don’t really care. Abortion is also a generational problem that’s dragging the GOP down (see below).
  • Abortion is a dead issue. Americans have spoken. They don’t want abortion under all circumstances, but they want it under at least some circumstances. And by God if you even hint that a raped woman should be denied an abortion you are dead in the water (unless you represent Dutch Calvinists in western Iowa). That was the key factor in turning a close race for Indiana’s Mourdock into a clear loss for Republicans, and in Missouri, although late polls showed the race tightening, Akin went down to a smashing 16 point defeat. Why is the GOP losing women and young folks? Here’s the answer. Beyond women just being repulsed at the cavalier attitude toward the consequences of rape, young people are far more aware of the tragic reality of rape than they were a generation ago. When I went to college, you only heard about it if someone you knew was raped. Now nearly every college has rape awareness and Take Back the Night events. Any younger person who’s spent a few semesters at college has heard the message. The Mourdock/Akin approach is actively alienating young men as well as women. In fact I suspect it’s alienating young, white, Christian men. The GOP hasn’t figured that out yet.
  • Demographic change in state electorates. Once upon a time the GOP was said to have an electoral lock. I won’t claim that for the Democrats, but two formerly solid Republican states may be on the verge of becoming reliable–or at least mostly reliable–Democratic states: Colorado and Virginia. Both have gone Democratic twice in a row now, and while that in itself doesn’t prove they will again, it’s well understood by now that both have undergone demographic shifts that have dramatically changed their electorate. Colorado has grown substantially, and a lot of that growth has come from migration from the Left Coast (which, it turns out, had more than enough liberals to spare), and Virginia’s population growth has come predominantly in the D.C. suburbs. Those changes aren’t going to reverse themselves. Snowboarders and exurb bureaucrats are key parts of the Democrats’ presidential coalition.

In short, the Democrats just may have built themselves a new coalition based on social liberalism. The outcome of this presidential election was inarguably a socially liberal torpedo to the hull of the GOP’s battleship. Same-sex marriage was approved by popular vote for the first time, not just in one but three states, and a proposal to constitutionally ban it failed in a fourth state. Legalization of marijuana passed in two states. And the vocal opponents of banning abortion even in the case of rape lost in two states, strengthening the Democrats’ Senate majority.

The Republicans aren’t going away. I have no patience for those who predict the demise of one party or another at any given time. But it’s clear that the social issues the GOP has been running on since Reagan, on which they built their governing coalition, have lost their effectiveness; have in fact come to work in the Democrats’ favor. The GOP will eventually reinvent itself. But it will take time. How much time depends on whether the tug of war between the social conservatives and the Chamber-of-Commerce Republicans. COC Republicans who want to tax legal marijuana, sell home supplies to happy gay couples and their children, and protect their daughters from carrying the children of rapists…that’s the basis for the Republican renewal. Strong on defense; America’s ok with that. Pro-business; America’s ok with that. Pro-interfering in our personal life? America’s no longer ok with that.

Admittedly, bias could be warping my vision here. These election results (Obama aside) have made me inordinately happy because I despise the moralists who would try to control how other people live. So maybe I’m overstating things. I hope not. But remember, this is instapunditry. Don’t bet big on it.

(Image: Richard Mourdock realizing he’s a loser.)

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289 thoughts on “Post-Election Instapundrity: Do the Democrats Have a New Coalition?

  1. It’s really not hard. What part of “That’s none of your business” do too many Republicans not understand?
        • Look, if pro-life people believed the only people involved in abortion were a woman and her doctor, we wouldn’t be pro-life.

          If you want to talk about the issue, at least acknowledge what the debate is about.

            • No. It’s about how to balance a woman’s rights over her body and a child’s right to life. It’s about what qualifies as person whose life is worth protecting.

              The state isn’t at the core of it, because we already recognize that it’s acceptable for the state to say you can’t kill people. The argument is over who counts as people.

                  • Free birth control looks to do a remarkably good job at reducing the need for abortions and teen pregnancies.
                    You for it, or against it?
                    (this is one of my decent acid tests…I do not make the mistake of believing taht everyone who checks one box once every 4 years thinks the same way. )
                    • Your position on women’s issues is sexist, depending on how you construe sexism.

                      You think men do not have a duty to risk their lives or sacrifice their life goals and plans to save innocent persons (evidenced by the fact that you don’t give every spare penny to save starving children around the world and you don’t work for the Red Cross or some such), but you do believe women have a duty to risk their lives and to sacrifice their interests and life goals to save the lives of fetuses (which you believe to be persons even in the first trimester, which I know to be ridiculous).

                      You believe you have a right to spend your money and time and the use of your body as you see fit for your interests and no duty to save others, but you believe women do have such a duty and no such equivalent right.

        • Because it’s a tired line from the pro-abortion crowd, it’s absolutist and it ignores the reality of public opinion.

          The truth is that polling shows the American people want a more nuanced abortion policy. Neither side really has it right. The Left wants pretty much no restrictions while folks like Aiken want complete restrictions. The truth is that a complete ban on 3rd trimester abortions (excluding big three exceptions), and partial restrictions on the 2nd trimester are what the public prefers.

          And DRS is also being disingenuous in implying the government isn’t involved with moral decisions every single day.

          • I think you’re right about where the consensus lies regarding abortion laws, Mike. But whether partisans on either side of the issue are willing to accept that consensus is another matter.

            While I consider myself pro-choice, I could live with the set of limitations you set out.

            • Same here, though I’m on the pro-life side.
              And I would further stipulate that the focus of the pre-procedure requirements is misplaced in that post-procedure counseling is probably needed much more.
          • Nice try, Mike. Abortion on demand in Canada has not led to any of the scary outcomes that pro-lifers fear so much. It’s almost like women can be trusted to make intelligent decisions about whether or not to end a pregnancy. And it’s pro-choice, not pro-abortion.

            The truth is that a complete ban on 3rd trimester abortions (excluding big three exceptions), and partial restrictions on the 2nd trimester are what the public prefers.

            That kind of contradicts your previously stated preference for a complete ban, doesn’t it?

            • DRS ,

              The whole “I don’t like abortion, but I believe it should be legal” thing is a cop out. You want woment to have the option. You want it to be part of the family planning toolkit. That’s like saying you want birth control to be legal but you are opposed to it being used. Have a little more conviction.

              While I may personally prefer a complete ban as a moral position, as a matter of policy I prefer moving the ball forward. That means reasonable restrictions like I outlined above.

              • It’s not a cop-out. I don’t like drunkenness, I don’t like spousal abuse, I don’t like child abuse, I don’t like drunk driving. This doesn’t mean that I want Prohibition of Alcohol.

                Sometimes a thing can have very unpleasant associations without it being something that it would be even worse to ban.

                Okay, I’m neutral on drunkenness.

                • Jaybird,

                  I would disagree with that analogy. It’s really more like saying, “I don’t like spousal abuse but I still think people should have the option.”

                  When people say they don’t like abortion…why? If it’s not murder, then why the discomfort? And if it IS murder, why allow it?

                  • Abortion is at least occasionally the result of stupid people doing stupid things. Soem people get the idea that a pregnancy will save their marriage/relationship. When it doesn’t, they don’t want to take responsibility for their actions.
                  • Mike,
                    Did somebody call a Quaker? That very position: that spousal abuse was wrong, but that we ought to talk to y’all, was espoused near the founding of this country.
                    Eventually, they decided that spousal beating (and childbeating) was too much, and Kicked the Scotch Irish out.
                  • It’s not murder… but neither is it a morally neutral act. That said, there is a difference between the expulsion of a fertilized egg by a woman’s moons and a D&X procedure.

                    This difference, whether or not you personally recognize it, is recognized by a whole buncha people out there and you should recognize that they recognize it… from there, we just have to hammer out *WHY* they see the differences they do and work our way up through differences of degree and figure out where the difference of kind occurs.

                    And, after that, we’re just haggling.

                    • Argh, I thought I was just pointing out a poorly phrased argument, but now I see that you actually think “either it’s murder or it’s good” is the case.

                      Can you name some other things, besides murder, that are not morally neutral? You don’t have to type them out, just name them in your head.

                    • Much like with drunkenness (in the bad sense of the term which I do *NOT* support), it is something intemperate, something destructive to families, something harmful to the individual’s soul.


                      And that’s not even getting into the question of where in the hell your jurisdiction ends.

                    • Jay, it seems like it’s pretty straightforward to argue that the fetus’ moral agency is ambiguous, but not nonexistent, and therefore we should defer to the woman’s agency, while recognizing that, all things being equal, it is better not to destroy the fetus. To me this seems like the obvious position if we accept that the fetus is not a person in the same way, or to the same extent, that the woman is, and therefore that it is not an issue of “murder.”

                      something destructive to families

                      I have, by the way, see abortion be conducive to healthier families.

                    • But Jaybird – if we accept the pro-choice position that the fetus isn’t a life, where is the moral harm? I don’t see a ‘destructiveness’ that comes from a medical procedure.
                    • But Jaybird – if we accept the pro-choice position that the fetus isn’t a life, where is the moral harm?

                      Of course the fetus is a life. If it wasn’t a life, there would be no debate at all. Duh. This is not the first time someone has had to remind you of that fact; I know I did at least once. Like your use of “pro-abortion” it makes me wonder if it’s possible to argue with you in good faith.

                    • DRS – if it IS a life, then morally it is murder. There’s no gray area there. Jaybird says it isn’t murder. That seems to imply it isn’t a life.
                    • Mike,
                      Well you either say it’s not human yet, (as I do)
                      or you say it’s not alive (which I also do, albeit i’d just say “it’s a parasite”)
                    • If you’re hung up on it being “murder”, I’d ask if you think that a woman who buys a box of Plan B at a pharmacy should be arrested and jailed for conspiracy to commit murder as she walks out the store.

                      If you don’t, then I’d ask “why in the hell do I find myself having to ask questions like this one in every abortion debate as if I were one of the pro-choice people when, seriously, my moral intuitions are with the pro-lifers?”

                      Then I’d ask if there were any limitations to your jurisdiction at all.

                    • I can’t believe I’m being dragged into this morass, but there’s a difference (potentially a big one) between “life” and “person”. A goldfish is a life, but I’m not going to throw you in prison for killing one.
              • Mike,
                I believe, for reasons that I outlined earlier, that many women get pregnant through non-consensual sex. A smaller fraction get pregnant through sex that they didn’t know occurred. And a small fraction of those wind up being folks that didn’t realize until they were showing.

                I feel like, if the “rape” exception was broadened enough to cover most non-consensual sex/impregnation, I could go with a lot more regulations in general.

                But I feel like the “punish thy neighbor” segment of the US population would immediately start trying to rachet down the “rape” exception, until the point where you had to actually establish incourt that you were raped. Because otherwise women could just lie about it.

              • Legality will now be settled by Mike’s sense of what is moral and his beliefs on whether fetuses are persons, one of the most vexed questions facing human beings.

                All hail King Mike!

            • What “scary outcomes” are we talking about?

              Approximately one in Canada child is aborted for every three that are born. I consider that deeply disturbing. And the fact that Canada has a robust social safety net, public health care, and sex education, and still has an abortion rate that is so high refutes the liberal position that non-restriction, sex ed and supports are all that are needed for “safe, legal, and rare” to occur.

              It would be nice if the pro-choice crowd would either offer some genuine solutions, or acknowledge that they don’t give a damn about either “rare” or about the morality of abortion.

          • The problem is, Mike that in the various countries of the west the consensus has been reached on abortion pretty much exactly where you’re placing it. Pro-choicers accept restrictions on mid term abortions and tighter regulation of late term abortions AND (and this is where the US differs from the rest of the world) pro-lifers accept that they have to restrict their campaigning against abortion to mostly extra-legislative strategies of non-coercive persuasion.

            The problem is there’s no trust for and of course from a biased pro-choice perspective, no incentive to accept this compromise. Pro-lifers in the US are steadfast and forthright in their assertions that they will not accept a compromise along the parameters you defined and that they’d view such a compromise as a beach-head from which to fight for blanket bans on abortions. With that in mind it makes perfect sense for pro-choicers to not concede anything. If you’re going to be stuck fighting either way then better to fight there than fight in the middle. Why give up the concession for nothing in return?

            • North – I agree. And that’s really the problem in the U.S. with most policy. We stake out the extremes and accomplish little. It’s the same way with liberals and healthcare. People like the President are on record as saying the public option is the first step towards universal healthcare. That’s part of the reason why the Right fought so hard to stop it.
            • The problem is, Mike that in the various countries of the west the consensus has been reached on abortion pretty much exactly where you’re placing it. Pro-choicers accept restrictions on mid term abortions and tighter regulation of late term abortions AND (and this is where the US differs from the rest of the world) pro-lifers accept that they have to restrict their campaigning against abortion to mostly extra-legislative strategies of non-coercive persuasion.

              Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!!!!

              Just for the record, it was pro-lifers who screwed the pooch in Canada too, back in the day when the existing abortion law (with strong restrictions) was being overhauled as a result of a legal challenge that overturned most of it. Their absolute refusal to settle for anything but a total ban ensured that the government (which was conservative and led by a very pro-life prime minister) could not work with them. As a result, the old law was overturned, no new law replaced it and a LOT of pro-life politicians from three different parties were plenty steamed at their erstwhile allies for being no real support at all.

        • Unless you take the position that the FDA should be done away with, then that argument is a non-starter.
          At least, be consistent in your views.

          Should women be restricted to taking government-approved medications?
          Should the Food and Drug Purity Act be rescinded?

  2. Good stuff James. The R’s need to learn that socially conservative groups like Latino’s and Af Am’s don’t hate gov that supports families and helps them rise up. Minority groups also often, but not always, don’t go for campaigns based on hating other minority groups. They know what its like to be used as a target and to be held down by the majority.
    • People really do over-rate the idea that Latinos and African-Americans are “socially conservative”. There’s a decent amount of evidence that suggests that neither claim holds up to scrutiny particularly well. Likewise with claims that “Latinos are Catholic”. There are quite a few Latino evangelicals, although no-one seems to recognize this fact in the pundatariat. In sum, Latinos are not and never have been monolithic in their allegiances.
      • Yes, Yes and yes. AA have had their lineage taken away from them. Latinos have not, and still take a fair amount of pride from it.

        I heard a black lady on teh bus about four years ago: “I’m prolife, but I’d never DREAM of telling someone else what to do!”

      • The differences between people who either lived or descend from people who lived in the Carribbean, people who lived or descend from people who lived in Mexico or Central America (and perhaps parts of South America), and people who lived or descend from people who lived in much of South America, are pretty big. And that’s just the broad divisions.

        Hell, people from Latin America can’t even agree on the word for “bus” or “car.” Why do people think they’re going to agree on complex social, economic, and foreign policy issues just because they speak the same language (sorta)?

      • I’ve long thought that when I hear a Republican offer the idea that “Latinos and African-Americans are ‘socially conservative'” they meant “Latinos and African-Americans will either vote for us, or at least stay home and not vote at all, without us ever having to change our own preferences to get that result.” That’s kind of magical thinking when you get right down to it.

        And “go to church a lot” does not necessarily mean “so socially conservative as to be creepy weirdos.”

  3. “The GOP will eventually reinvent itself.”

    Indeed. Your second to the last paragraph was solid gold. Excellent piece.

  4. This is a great post. The one I had been composing in my head was an Open Letter To What Koz Represents.

    I don’t think I have to write it now.

  5. The thing that heartens me the most is not that the Democrats won so big on so many things (I don’t care that much about the Democrats), but that they did it with liberalism. Same-sex marriage, pot legalization, a semi-Dream Act in Maryland, Akin and Mourdock, Tammy Baldwin, Liz Warren.

    This election was a pretty resounding victory for the left (and libertarianism didn’t do too shabbily either – in addition to some of the above, Jeff Flake stands a chance of being a pretty decent senator).

    • In particular, the fact that Obama could take a stand supporting gay marriage and still handily win a national election is tremendous. No need for future Dem presidential candidates to run away from it.
      • Yep. I don’t care whether it was cynical calculation on his part or a genuine conversion on the issue, but I think his support made it acceptable for other politicians to embrace SSM.
        • I’d say “slow drift” rather than conversion. You had someone who liked the idea of “civil unions” come to understand that his entire coalition wouldn’t fall apart if you called it “marriage”.
        • The SSM plebicites did underperform Obama where they passed though. And were close run things in any case. I can still see any politician that needs to avoid ‘controversy’ trying to avoid the issue entirely (or failing that, taking the stance that Obama had at the beginning of his term)
    • Jeff Flake stands a chance of being a pretty decent senator

      Funniest inadvertent line of the night was the CNN commentator saying, “And the Republican Flake goes to the Senate.”

  6. Great post James!


    “That tilt in itself wouldn’t have been devastating, but the social conservatives have consistently pushed out the old moderates, the uppper-Midwest and New England style Republicans.”

    Ironically though, I think Yankee Conservatives are the best way for the GOP to fix itself. Chris Christie may not be the best candidate for 2016, but he serves as a model in a lot of ways.

    • I think the New England conservatives are at least a good starting point.
      Unfortunately, they seem more like easy targets from either side.
      One of the interesting things that I noted was two independents winning Senators seats in New England.
      Doesn’t bode well, I’d say.
      • Another vote for wanting to have a chance to vote for a Yankee Conservative. Here in Orange County, CA, in localish elections I get the choice between dullish moderately right corporatist Rs (Ted Stevens with fewer layers in the wardrobe) and, well, those who thought letting the county go bankrupt was preferrable to oh the horrors, raising taxes.

        You’re right about Yankee conservatives being targets for both sides, though. It’s going to be hard for them to make it through the GOP primaries (are there any high profile Yankee Conservatives on the D side these days?), unless perhaps a New England state adopts a jungle primary, or at least lets NPAs vote in the primary. Along that line, I thought it was a minor tragedy when Richard Riordan (mayor of LA, and a good one) lost the 2002 CA gubernatorial primary (partly thanks to the execrable Gray Davis, but more thanks to the equally execrable GOP primary voters).

        I also don’t know, unfortunately, how successfully Yankee Conservatism could be exported to the lands of megachurches and all that goes with them.

        I am a bit saddened to see Charlie Bass lose, though, speaking of that moribund species.

  7. ” I know lots of Republicans are pinning their hopes on Florida’s Marco Rubio, but he’s Cuban, folks, and that don’t mean squat to Mexicans, Hondurans, and Salvadorans.”

    Do you think this is a specific issue with Cubans and other Latinos? If not, it makes me wonder if we should really think of it as a “Latino” vote…

    • That’s probably correct, in that we shouldn’t. In addition to nationalities, there’s divisions in ethnicity and (most importantly for politics imo) class. Though South Florida Cuban-Americans are sufficiently sui generis to make them even more distinctive from the rest of the ‘Latino’ vote.
      • How is the class breakdown of Latinos in this country?
        I know AA’s tend to be from the peasant class (aka the “got runover and hauled off to America” class)
      • Though South Florida Cuban-Americans are sufficiently sui generis to make them even more distinctive from the rest of the ‘Latino’ vote.

        That’s my take as well. Cuba’s farther away from Mexico than El Salvadaor and Honduras (and some others–those are just placemarker names), and Florida’s separated from the TX-NM-AZ-CA southwest. I think it’s a combination both of big difference in ethnic origin and big difference in U.S. regional diversity.

        • I think the idea of the “Latino vote” (which we increasingly hear about) or an “Asian vote” (which I’m not sure I’ve ever heard about) is fallaciously extrapolated from the notion of a “black vote”.

          Generally speaking, there is far more homogeneity within the black community than their is within the Latino community and even less within the Asian community. Most black Americans trace their ancestors back through slavery, meaning a separation from the cultures of their homelands. Most black Americans don’t know from what countries or tribes their families hailed from.

          Compare this with Latinos and Asians, who are not only often acutely aware of their native homes and cultures, but also often don’t see themselves as part of a larger “Latino” or “Hispanic” monolith. Puerto Ricans certainly aren’t Dominicans which damn sure ain’t Mexicans etc. There certainly are similarities of both culture and American experience that serve somewhat as a unifying factor, but not in the same way that we see within the black community, which tends to be our model for how we view all demographic minorities.

          (Why do I feel like BlaiseP after writing this comment…?)

          • hehe.
            The Asians, at least the older ones, have the “us versus the Japanese” mindset. At least a lot of them are still pretty pissed (and I’m counting Koreans, not so much Chinese, where nationalism may be more implied).
  8. I don’t think abortion is a dead issue. This election didn’t say anything about it. It just said that Republicans who make comments about rape that are repugnant even to pro-life people (including me) are going to lose at the polls, and the party is going to suffer from nominating them.
      • A prediction: I believe abortion will decrease in importance as a hot-button issue over the next dozen years. The 20-somethings who will be in their mid-30’s/early-40’s by then will be more comfortable that this is a private matter, and will treat it accordingly. I could see them backing regulations of 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions, requiring that they be done in hospitals or mandating approved personnel performing the procedure.

        The issue that will grow in importance over the next 10 years is how to handle end-of-life matters in the absence of a living will or the existence of an imprecise one. A lot of agonizing decisions will be faced in many doctor’s offices as an older generation continues to age as its health declines.

        I can see a lot of moral issues coming from that: are children who are heirs to an estate completely unbiased in a decision that might involve ending care for a parent in a vegetative state or beyond medical help? who adjudicates when there is disagreement between those who might have authorization – the Shiavo precedent tied up a lot of courtroom time and paid a lot of legal bills, but was it the best precedent for this kind of decision? is the legal system equipped for these kind of Solomon-like decisions? would a hospital be better off having legal experts or medical experts who aren’t involved in the case offer third-party advice? or would hospitals be seen as having a conflict in the matter as well?

        Given that we really don’t like to think about death, I think the issue will likely take many politicians by surprise.

  9. I think you’re also understating the importance of foreign policy. For a few decades, the Republicans had the advantage on it. Bush, with the war in Iraq, destroyed that. Romney didn’t help himself by taking a hard line, and only realized that in the last debate and tried to back off.

    Based on opinion polls a substantial portion of Americans think the US is too quick to get involved in overseas conflicts. Obama may not be great on that issue, but the Republicans are going to lose support on it as long as they keep looking like invasion-happy nuts.

    • Agreed. I don’t think most Americans want to see us involved in more futile military actions in the Middle East. Romney seemed to be promising that’s what he’d give us.

      The Republicans really need to divorce the neo-cons.

    • Katherine,
      An excellent point. I purposely left it out because I wasn’t sure how it fit in, and whether it’s just a temporary issue or a longer term electoral coalition issue. In other words, for those asking how I could put this together so fast, well, with a little smoke and mirrors, ignoring the tougher questions (and hoping no Katherines call me on them!).
          • I don’t know.
            I’m not smart enough to figure it out.
            What do you mean by slur?

            1. to pass over lightly or without due mention or consideration (often followed by over ): The report slurred over her contribution to the enterprise.
            2. to pronounce (a syllable, word, etc.) indistinctly by combining, reducing, or omitting sounds, as in hurried or careless utterance.
            3. to cast aspersions on; calumniate; disparage; depreciate: The candidate was viciously slurred by his opponent.
            4. Music . a. to sing to a single syllable or play without a break (two or more tones of different pitch). b. to mark with a slur.
            5. Chiefly British Dialect . to smirch, sully, or stain.

            Indicate which one you mean by “slur,” and I’ll tell you if it was either that one or a typo.

            • He means 3.
              I’m kinda curious about what the hell you were saying, too, though I’ll give you the benefit before shouting antisemitism. I like wit, and wit is often flops.
            • The city is spelled Jerusalem. You wrote “Jewrusalem” Israel is a Jewish state. W is no where near u on a standard keyboard.

              Of the ones above, guess which definition I am going with. It certainly sounds like a disparaging remark to me about the composition of the city.

              • NudeDealer:

                that disparages; tending to belittle or bring reproach upon: disparaging remarks.

                How does the composition of the city bring any more reproach upon Jewrusalem than it does Boca Raton, other than there are notably less Arabs in Boca?
                That seems like a terribly anti-Semitic remark to me.

                Secondly, I am no Zionist, but Jews have a right to be in Jewrusalem.

                That’s what I’ve heard anyway.

  10. Awsome post James. The pot legalization has me giddy. Surely a confrontation averse Obama who has made favorable noises about pot before and just got a major solid delivered to him by social liberals will rein in the drug warriors and try to avoid any big fooferaw about legal pot? That strikes me as his most likely approach. If he does, and if the GOP attacks him for being hands off on pot, that might push the Dems into becoming more solidly the anti-drug war party.
    • It feels a bit like wishful thinking. If liberals want progress on this they’re going to have to build a movement and push Obama, hard. He won’t move if he isn’t pushed.
    • I’m really curious what drug policy will look like in Obama’s second term. I can’t believe he really thinks marijuana should be illegal but will he have the guts to tackle it when he probably has other issues he cares about a lot more?
      • I’m hoping that, without having to worry about being re-elected, he no longer feels the need to push his law-and-order bona fides. I always believed that’s what the dispensary raids and other crackdowns were really all about and now that we’re on the other side, I hope it turns out to have been true.
  11. You miss a third kinda big state about to go D for prez two in a row: Florida. I’d say it’s not likely to be reliable for them, except that these victories wouldn’t be possible without demographic trends at their root. What did Obama have going for him in Florida this cycle? Ryan was supposed to spook the seniors – but he didn’t. The campaign only went there when it seemed to be falling in their lap at the end. If it weren’t for Rubio (a version of who thatm is probably arguably something of an inevitability in a way, so I’m not saying he’s just a fluke, but his timing kind of is), I’d say that the chances that you’re overly gloomy about the party’s national prospects prior to sorting out the issues you list would be …low. Rubio could let them relax about Florida for a few cycles, but he doesn’t fix those problems in the rest of the country.
    • FWIW, I suspect Bill Clinton’s convention speech probably is most directly responsible for Florida likely staying in the Obama column. I don’t think that speech swung the results in any of the other states, but so much of that speech was directed at old white retirees, including the most effective parts, that I strongly suspect it had its biggest effect in Florida.
    • I think it was just harder to spook anybody this time around. There’s a difference between, How should we know what this guy is gonna do if he becomes President?!?! and How should we know what other things this guy might do if he becomes President again?!?
    • I don’t mean to be dismissive, but those reasons both sound pretty speculative to me. One speech? A storm that didn’t hit there? I don’t see anything in particular of a kinetic nature pointing to an Obama victory in FL this time that’s driven by something different from what drove it last time this time from the one last time. (It’s just narrower, which is of a piece with his margins elsewhere. I’ll look closer at the numbers, though.) And it’s still two in a row either way. Will there be further reasons why it’s not real next time should it happen yet again?

      The state I’m interested in is Indiana, which James might have some insight into? Whatever economic message worked for Obama in the rest of the rust belt just up and died when it hit that border this time. There was even a divisive social conservative on the ballot. I get that conservative whites recoiled from the president’s policies, and that’s largely who’s in Indiana. I’m not sure what it is I don’t get, but that’s a lot of recoiling. Maybe I don’t get what they liked last time. If it just hadn’t been for the (marketing of the auto bailout), could Michigan and Ohio have looked like Indiana? Or is it just that the diversity level drops so much as you go south?

        • The Obama campaign in ’08 was doing well enough nationally that it could swing for the fences by pouring resources into red states. This year the campaign had to be a lot more economical. Obama had a national +5 in ’08, and the added resources are adequate to explain the other +4 that put him over the top in Indiana that year.

          Gary, Notre Dame, Indianapolis… there are definitely enough blue voters in Indiana for a Democratic presidential candidate to turn the state when the cards are right. I mean, look which party won the Senate race there.

        • I’m not sure it’s quite that “deeply” red (e.g. Gregg lost to Pence by only 3%, though Boneham the Libertarian got 4%!). But to use Nate Silver terminology, it’s pretty inelastic, lagging the demographic change wave, and any bounce from the auto industry bailout will be well dissipated by 2016. Safely in the R column, I think.
      • …I don’t mean to say that Clinton didn’t help. But Clinton would have helped in any case – he’s done as much as anyone to shape precisely the Democratic Party James is describing as the one who may have achieved a realignment. He is an agent of, but not separate from, that emerging reality. Just because Clinton helped in Florida doesn’t mean Florida isn’t a part of what James is talking about. As I said, for Florida to even possibly be tipped by such a discreet event, it had to be brought to that point by some fundamentals. That it was ought to be terrifying enough for GOP strategists looking at these results today.
          • Oh okay, right on. I agree with James that for now it’s more swingy than coalition-y. But with the other states starting to solidify, the GOP has gone from having presidencies themselves swing on it to having *their hopes for a chance* at presidencies do so. I guess that’s more what I’m seeing (that and just being momentarily surprised based on expectations that were more or less specific to this year). But: two in a row now. We’ll see.
        • Mitch Daniels wasn’t running for re-election, so it was an open seat. The Republican, Mike Pence, won. So of the three statewide races, only Mourdock lost.
    • Michael,

      Possibly. I purposely left Florida out because I’m not persuaded it’s really as sure a long-term shift, and think it’s likely to remain more swingy than CO or VA in the long run. But you might be right. There continues to be an influx of northerners there (for reasons that make no sense to me).

    • I think it has more to do with the foreclosure crisis.
      More people hoping for assistance from the federal government.
      Because the state legislature is so in deep with the insurance industry, it ain’t gonna happen there.
  12. ” But it’s clear that the social issues the GOP has been running on since Reagan, on which they built their governing coalition, have lost their effectiveness; have in fact come to work in the Democrats’ favor.”

    This is largely true.

    Here is the problem for Republicans though. If you have a more moderate position on social issues like gay marriage and especially abortion, how do you prevent the working class, heavily southern, predominantly evangelical whites who have populist views on taxes and spending from defecting back to the D’s. (Southern white D candidates have found ways to win them back occasionally even with the R’s cudgel of the pro-life movement.)

    Of course, you’ll always keep some or even a good sized majority of evangelicals and southern white men in the fiscally conservative party, regardless of moral issues, but there is a populist strain of voter in the south and amongst evangelicals who voted for Carter and Clinton, and who have a long tradition of economic populism. The triumph of the religious right and the Reagan years, etc. was that they shifted a lot of people who were prone to be economic populists to align themselves with economic conservatives over their strongly shared views on moral issues, most especially, especially, especially abortion.

    I’m not saying D’s will start winning Arkansas and Alabama, but if future D candidates can get a few more white evangelicals in Florida or North Carolina (and more) they will be able to lose some Latino voters or single women to Republican candidates who are more centrist on moral issues and still win those states.

    That’s the danger for the Republicans here. What happens if somebody splits the Reagan coalition of voters who care about moral issues (but might vote D if only fiscal issues were on the table) and fiscal conservatives? That’s always been the danger, IMO. Republicans have found ways to avoid the danger in the past, but it is unclear if they can keep it up, and win elections.

  13. Very good post, sir.

    Some additional thoughts:

    1. Social Conservatism has made the Republican party a pox on the coasts. California just gave the Democratic Party a super-majority in the state legislature. The few remaining areas of California that go Republican are closer in spirit to Alabama than they are to San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and other major cities. Even the moderate Republicans are damned by association.

    2. The Republicans damned themselves by also not caring about any urban area. Cities are growing faster than suburbs and rural areas. In many ways, 2008 and 2012 feel like the revenge of Al Smith. I think Republicans can win cities but it will require social moderation, economic pragmatism, and less hostility towards public transportation and bike lanes.

    3. We are seeing that being too ideologically rigid/pure can lose elections. This happened in 2010 and 2012. In both elections, there were seats that should have gone Republican but remained or became Democratic because of talking points that Americans saw as beyond the pale or insane. In 2010, Republicans should have been able to pick up Senate seats in Nevada, Delaware, and Colorado but lost because they picked ideological purists instead of establishment candidates. In 2012, it was Missouri and Indiana. The off-kilter remarks from 2010 are more anti-urban. The Republican Senate candidate from Colorado who saw bike lanes as a secret UN plot to take over America comes to mind. Whether a dog whistle or sincere belief on the part of the candidate, most people see that and think the guy is nuts.


        I grant that there will probably always be plenty of young people who stay in cities in their 20s and 30s and then move to the suburbs to raise families. However:

        1. I don’t think these young people are going to give up their social liberalism

        2. Many more young people are trying to raise their kids in cities especially Western cities with a bit more single family housing like Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Denver, etc.

        • And the biggest differences between now and the big wave of suburbanization in late 20th century are the real and perceived crime rates. (and the second biggest differences are perceived and real racism).
          • Except four years for undergrad, I have spent my entire life in or near New York and San Francisco (plus a year in Tokyo) so I am a bit more immune to high gas prices/high prices than the average American.

            But this is a good point, I think a lot of younger people (especially those in the educated-professional class) are going to try and avoid car travel more because of energy costs, concern for the environment, or at the very least seeming cool.

              • I shop once a month, using a Zipcar. Organic milk lasts that long. I bus to work. It works for me.

                And I still spend less on my 0.2 cars and one (expensive) house, than most in my area do iwth two cars, and a (cheap) house.

            • I think a lot of younger people … are going to try and avoid car travel

              I keep seeing reports that the percentage of older teens with driver’s licenses has dropped significantly. There may be something to what you’re saying.

              • I’d credit that to “less money around the house” more than anything…
                Guys are still going to want to get laid, after all… and a car is a trifle more socially approved of than a graveyard…
              • Derek Thompson at the Atlantic published some blog posts a few months ago about how getting a car is no longer a status symbol for young people.

                Being that I live in California, I know plenty of people in their 20s and 30s who love and use their cars on a daily basis,

    • The Republicans damned themselves by also not caring about any urban area.

      Make it urban and inner-ring suburbs. Those suburbs’ problems/issues are looking more and more like those of the urban core than like the rural and exurb areas. I was playing with Politico’s very nice county-level maps this morning. Obama won the battleground states in the urban and inner suburb areas. Across the red states with universities that belong to the SEC, Obama won in the counties containing: Kansas City, St Louis, Dallas, Houston, Birmingham, Atlanta, Columbia, etc. The red/blue divide is a rural/urban divide. I assert that such a divide will be very difficult to bridge on policy matters.

      I’ve seen pieces today about the “new” Democratic coalition. No need to try to slice and dice it — the coalition is the people who are comfortable living in the urban and inner suburban areas.

  14. I think you’re right that the GOP will reinvent itself. It may take more losses from going further right first, but eventually the folks running the show will realize that trying to drag everyone back to 1950 is something that appeals only to white, Christian men.

    I think abortion was part of it, but more from tone that anything else. Pro-lifers can argue for their position in a way that’s sympathetic. This cycle, however, what got in the public view most often was older men making patronizing and/or outright stupid&offensive statements about what decisions they would ‘allow’ women to make and why. Even a lot of women who are against abortion reacted against that.

    As to Latinos and other minorities – well, it doesn’t take much to see that constantly talking about someone as one of ‘those people’ is not going to make them want to join your party.

    Lastly, I think the GOP shot itself in the foot with all the blatant attempts at voter suppression. There were plenty of Democrats who were disillusioned by Obama and might have stayed home, but when when the folks in charge come right out and try to take the choice away from you, the natural reaction is ‘Oh yeah? Well, I’m going to show up and vote, dammit!’

    • Im kinda annoyed about the refrain “Won the white vote”. It’s..misleading, and I think it actively harms Republicans.

      You look at the break downs, and the GOP lost the young white vote, male and female. Heck, the sub-40 crowd was split. The giant leads in whites is restricted to a few regions, and a few subsets of white male.

      Still nearly half the country, yes — but a shrinking half. Especially the age side of it.

      Contrary to popular belief, you don’t really get more conservative as you grow older. Younger people are just more accepting, in general. The generation that’s hugely pro-SSM — you think they’re gonne be fifty and voting against all them gays getting married?

      Now the 18-29s then might be rolling their eyes because their 50+ parents are obviously a little uncomfortable around genderfluid individuals or whatever the next big sexual battelground is. And then us happy with gay-marriage, not terribly comfortable with whatever folks will die off.

      But we don’t get more “conservative”. We don’t wake up and say “Holy crap, I hate gays now!”. Heck, we don’t even get that way on taxes or regulations. We tend to believe what we’ve always believed, absent a sharp shock to our belief system.

      That doesn’t mean we’re motivated to vote — just that…people don’t tend to regularly change their beliefs without a good reason. Beliefs, idealogies, even political preferences have inertia.

  15. Maybe a dumb question but were there any governors’ elections last night? Seemed awfully quiet on that front.
  16. Is it “social liberalism” or “social libertarianism” that we’re seeing. When some of this “liberal” social policy is passed, it is mostly to make things legal and available; it create a choice in the marketplace. Gays and straights both have the choice to get married. Women have the ability to choose to have an abortion. Isn’t that a libertarian goal?
    • Sam,

      I’ve always seen this as the area where contemporary liberals and contemporary libertarians tend to overlap. I think it’s both. When I shifted from liberal to libertarian, it was almost entirely a shifting on economic positions, and very little on social positions (just some increased discomfort with enforcement against private discrimination, which liberals normally don’t share). I think this is one of those moments when libertarians and liberals can hold hands around the campfire and sing kumbayah with deep sincerity.

      Of course we’ll find other things to fight about tomorrow.

  17. New Hampshire makes electoral history!

    Just had this pointed out to me by a friend. With two women challengers (Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster) defeating two male incumbents for New Hampshire’s House seats, the state’s entire congressional delegation is female (senators Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen).

    This is the first time any state has done this. (I expect California to never achieve it.)

  18. I think the first thing Republicans should do is institute a “no creepy wierdos” rule. This will help block them from being identified by guys like Mourdock and Akin in the future. It will also alienate the vocal social conservatives who seem to like creepy weirdoness but the GOP is just going to have to make do with demonizing the Democrat in the future to keep them in their column.

    I agree that abortion is not a dead issue, and that’s been litigated in depth above so I don’t need to do that.

    Fiscal conservativism can be recaptured by the Republicans. But they have some work to do to get there. The public hasn’t forgiven them for the fiscal excesses of the George W. Bush administration.

    Caution in foreign policy, not military adventurism, is the natural posture for conservatism. Republicans should be asking themselves, “What bad thing will happen if we declare victory in Afghanistan and bring the troops home?” And the answer is “Nothing of consequence that wasn’t going to happen eventually anyway.” Future areas for potential military activity, like Syria and Iran and who knows what other flashpoint might be arise in the future, should be approached pragmatically but with an overtly prudential doctrinal default position.

    State-federal partnerships, not devolution of the established federal role, should be the approach to most social welfare programs in the future.

    And same-sex marriage needs to be seen as what it really is: a pro-family policy. If the GOP wants to promote “family values” then a law that allows more families to be created is pro-family. If conservatives want to be about (as I think they ought) norms and institutions, then expanding rather than constricting the scope of those norms and institutions to embrace ever-wider segments of society will knit stronger communities and build a stronger nation of people who are more moral and financially stable than they would have been otherwise. Conservatives and Republicans should embrace same-sex marriage with gusto. Better late than never.

    • It seems to me that the candidate described by this comment would be a Democrat, and not even a very conservative one.

      A lot of the advice I see offered to Republicans would essentially require them to cease being a real political party. I’m not saying we need a choice, but there appear to be very large segments of the population who reject an echo.

        • I agree here. I don’t think you can just squelch that which produces the Mourdocks, Akins, etc. – that’s why they win nominations. They deserve a party of their own. Long term, to survive, the GOP will have to jettison them. Or become them. And that’s the question, and it implicates the Democratic Party: can the Democrats simply absorb the part of the party that will leave a GOP that won’t leave its current base? I actually don’t know that there are that many litmus deal-breakers on the left of the Democratic party that would nix the deal that would bring in the moderate part of the GOP and create a majority governing party. (A period of one-party dominance of course wouldn’t be stable over the long term, but in that history, I’m not sure what the nature of the successful competition that evolves would be.) This would drag the Democratic Party further right, but also establish a long era of governance.

          Alternatively, can the GOP cut its ties to the social fundamentalists and make the great moderate leap that would challenge the Democratic Party throughout the century? This would be the better history for all involved – more progressive, more free, more choices, more interesting.

          We’ll see.

          • My personal bet/hope is that you get a reduced democratic party competing with the NotRepublicanWePromise party. It’s where my money’s going — and if Obama and Lamont can win surprise victories, I have a good deal of hope in what I pay for.
          • You know, I can suggest a “no creepy weirdos” rule but if they insist on liking creepy weirdos, then that’s what they’re going to offer. And they’ll continue losing with those creepy weirdos until they either reform or go defunct.

            As I mention below, Romney and Ryan are not creepy weirdos. In terms of the popular vote, they were competitive. Republicans can do fine when they aren’t creepy weirdos.

      • It seems to me that the candidate described by this comment would be a Democrat, and not even a very conservative one.

        By the political calculus of the moment, this statement is kind of true. But only kind of. That’s in part because out best examples of Democrats are not particularly liberal, and what it means to be liberal or conservative in today’s political environment is kind of far out of whack with the historic definition of those terms. The kind of Republican I describe above seems to me to be cast in the mold of Dwight Eisenhower.

        Barack Obama has been incautious with regards to foreign policy adventurism, most notably vis-a-vis Libya but beefing up the Navy’s activities in the western Pacific is a long-term trend to watch with a very jaundiced eye. Obamacare is largely federally-focused with deprecated involvement by states and such involvement as is involved in it was done as one of the many waterings-down the PPACA endured on its way to passage. And the Obama Administration has also expended all of its credibility regarding fiscal responsibility. These are things Republicans can be immediately critical of, and co-opt into their next iteration of what it means to be a “real conservative,” which if you notice has been something of a moving target for some time now (e.g., Mitt Romney wasn’t one).

        If a Republican leader, or a group of leaders, emerges who can explain why these kinds of issues are conservative issues, why espousing these policies are conservative things to do, then the calculus could change. And the Republicans could start succeeding again, as the find themselves in harmony with, rather than in sneering dissonance to, the prevailing culture of our nation. My comment is intended to point out that I think it is possible for this to actually happen. There would and will still be disagreements between left and right about different kinds of policies.

        And I don’t think that leader has to become Ron Wyden to do it. Wyden is an unreconstructed liberal and the reasons why he is in favor of these policies would be different reasons than those that a conservative would articulate. E.g., liberals often favor SSM most strongly on equality grounds (it’s just not right that gays should be treated different than straights, equality is an inherent good worth pursuing for its own sake), but conservatives could, and should, favor it as a tool for building stronger communities (stable, monogamous family units for gays would be better for society as a whole than being relegated to a cultural status which presumes serial monogamy at best and outright promiscuity at worst). It’s possible for an individual to agree with both kinds of motives, of course, but tapping into the communitarian instincts and motives which are part of conservatism at its best will — I should say can — produce results that are beneficial to the nation as a whole. And different motives for a policy it will surely produce different sorts of manners of execution and implementation, although I admit I’ve not thought that nuance of it all the way through yet.

        • but dude, Republicans are racists who want to ban abortion and cut taxes on rich people.

          It doesn’t matter what they say about anything, anything at all, because they’re all racists who want to ban abortion and cut taxes on rich people. I know this, I know it deep in my bones, in my soul. It doesn’t matter what you say. It doesn’t matter what they say. Both of you are lying anyway.

    • I think the first thing Republicans should do is institute a “no creepy wierdos” rule.

      Which woud have left Huntsman as the only presidential aspirant. Well done.

    • I have a question for you.

      What do you make of the Democratic Supermajority in the California Legislature?

      How long do you think the GOP will make themselves irrelevant in California?

    • Can’t have a no creepy weirdos rule if that’s what the base wants. *shrug* Money can buy you a lot of things, but if your base of primary-voters wants something well to the right of median — that’s what you GET the second they organize, no matter how much money you spend.

      Tea Party cost the GOP control of the 2010 Senate, and did it AGAIN this year. Democrats picked up Senate seats in a year when they were defending twice as many people, a giant chunk of them from red-leaning states who got swept in during 2006.

  19. I agree that abortion is not a dead issue

    I figured I’d get push-back on that. I really just meant that promotion of a total or near-total ban on it is no longer part of the country’s serious political agenda. Actually, it probably hasn’t been since South Dakotans voted to overturn their state legislature-imposed total ban. As someone said above, we’re just bargaining about the details now.

  20. Jaybird,

    “If you’re hung up on it being “murder”, I’d ask if you think that a woman who buys a box of Plan B at a pharmacy should be arrested and jailed for conspiracy to commit murder as she walks out the store.”

    Jaybird – I don’t consider Plan B to be an abortive procedure, but that’s just my take. But the point is, if you don’t think an abortion is murder, how can the fetus be a life? Is it, like DRS says, killing but not murder?

    • It is possible to extend limited protections to something that is a future life, is it not? I mean, saying “it is every woman’s duty to take a multivitamin so we don’t get more headless babies”? You could even enforce that with government, methinks.
    • I don’t consider Plan B to be an abortive procedure, but that’s just my take.

      It expels an implanted egg. What more do you need?

      if you don’t think an abortion is murder

      Let’s say that it is.

      How far does your jurisdiction extend?

      • Jaybird,

        I think you are talking about somethign different. Plan B does not allow implantation.

        If it everyone agrees that it IS murder (we are a long way from there) then I’d say jurisdiction goes a long way.

        • The one I’m thinking about says “let’s make the muse shows up” and allows the implanted egg to end up in a maxi pad.


          What would you say your jurisdiction would be if you found out that a woman menstruated 12 times in a given year? Evidence of murder? What if she skipped a period? Evidence of murder?

          This is one of those conversations that I can’t even believe I’m having. I hope to never say “maxi pad” in public ever again. Hell, I hope to never say “menstruated” in public ever again.

          • You’re talking about the so-called ‘abortion pill’ or RU-486 (now called Mifepristone). It’s exactly what it says it is. It’s an abortion, administered under doctor care. If an implanted egg was ruled a life, then yeah, that would logically be a murder. As for jurisdiction, you simply make the pill illegal.

            Keep in mind we’re talking about hypotheticals here. I’ve already stated in this comment thread that I wouldn’t ban first trimester abortions.

                  • Honestly, I don’t know. If I was making the law I would also include vastly increased funding for sex ed and adoption services, not to mention eliminating many of the nonsense hoops that adoptive parents would have to jump through. I would try to create a holistic approach because I agree with liberals when they complain that conservatives seem to only care about eliminating abortion and don’t think about what options that leaves the mother.

                    Even if you took all of those steps I think you would still be lookng at 250,00 abortions per year. It would be interesting to hear what the Left had to say about abortion then.

            • Illegal how? Controlled Substances? Conspiracy to commit murder?

              I’m not asking you to tell me what you’d do if you were emperor, Mike. I’m just asking you to acknowledge that you understand that other people make distinctions on this for non-arbitrary reasons.

              • I have no idea what the charge would be and I don’t know that it is relevant.

                And I am aware that people make distinctions but no one here has really explained how. You say it is not murder but it is a moral act. I’m just asking what makes it moral? If the question arises from eliminating the potential for life, then would a sterilization procedure be a moral act?

        • Mike is almost right here.

          There is no solid evidence that plan B prevents implantation.

          Instead it works like the lower dose birth control pill by preventing conception.

          The move by some pro-life orgs against it is based on either bad science or hostility to women controlling their sex life at all. Someone who was actually for stopping abortion as opposed to controlling women’s sex lives should be for both plan B and wide spread use of contraception as a means of reducing the abortion rate.

    • Murder is killing a person, not anything that is alive.

      Killing plants is killing a life, but it isn’t murder.

      Killing human cancer cells, partial molar pregnancies (which sometimes yield trophoblastic malignancy) or anencephali fcetuses ( the killing of a “human life”) that isn’t murder.

      Murder is the (intentional) killing of a person.

      Fetuses in the first two trimesters (first trimester for sure) are not persons any more than cancer cells or anencephalic fetuses. They are human tissue.

      Maybe fetuses are potential persons. And maybe killing potential persons is wrong. But you need to make a case that killing potential persons is as wrong as murder. (Any such case will likely imply that all use of contraception also destroys potential persons and is as immoral as murder and/or abortion, which is sort of a reductio, IMO.)

  21. Bush 2004: EV 286, PV 50.7%. A vindication.
    Obama 2012: EV 303 (or 332), PV 50.3% . A razor-thin, almost accidental victory which gives him no mandate.
  22. What I cannot fathom is the vilification of Christie by some on the right. How can they hope to attract talented politicians if they do him in? And make no mistake, Christie is talented, maybe not Clinton level, but the dude is good. I would love to have that guy in the democrat camp.
  23. Mike, down here.

    When people say they don’t like abortion…why? If it’s not murder, then why the discomfort? And if it IS murder, why allow it?

    I will attempt to answer this question.

    The issue in many peoples’ minds is not whether or not the State has the moral authority (and jurisdiction) to prevent abortion.

    The tradeoff is framed like this:

    “I don’t generally think abortion is okay (I have specific circumstance where I think it’s okay, and ones where I don’t)”


    “I don’t generally think the government should be involved in the relationship between a doctor and a patient”

    It’s probably impossible to drill that second one down to “I don’t specifically think that the government should be involved in preventing medical access to abortion” in this context. I can’t (myself) imagine a set of circumstance which would enable the State to meaningfully interdict abortion without it also having to have a much deeper overall presence in the doctor-patient relationship, where it doesn’t belong.

    Despite abortion not being generally okay, I think it’s morally legitimate to do it if the mother’s health is threatened. I think it’s morally legitimate to do it if the fetus is long-term not viable. But those two things require medical judgement (which of course may be wrong). I lack the expertise to judge if a fetus is viable. But a doctor, who possesses expertise, doesn’t hold a monopoly on it. Witness the Terri Schaivo case; there was an argument by on-paper experts on both sides that she was in a persistent vegetative state. Who was correct? I happen to believe that the “she’s braindead” side was, but that’s based upon the evidence that I’ve seen.

    But regardless, I don’t think it’s the proper role of government to adjudicate whether or not Terri was braindead. Her husband inherited medical decision making with the marriage, and if Terri *didn’t* want him to have that authority it was on her to make a living will and pass that authority to her parents. Lacking that, the State’s role is pretty clear: a doctor says she’s braindead, her husband has the power of medical decision-making, it’s our responsibility as The State to butt out.

    Similarly, I don’t think it’s the proper role of government to adjudicate whether or not a fetus is viable, or if the woman’s health is endangered. That’s between the woman and her doctor, right or wrong.

    • What if “her doctor” is named Mengele, or is a relative? The point being, if you follow the news about what some M.D.’s will do for a buck, there will always be a doctor somewhere who will say anything.

      In California, you’re a google away from an MD who’ll prescribe medical marijuana.

      In the UK, at least they have doctors’ panels. Far more restrictive there. Then again, there are always those who exempt themselves from the rules…

      • AS IF they don’t fucking have doctor’s panels here?????
        Crimminy! You let ONE patient slip by with Hepatitis, and oh my GoD, you would not believe the inquiries!!! (that’s mostly a system analyst thing, for that one, but some are NOT).
    • Patrick,

      I get all of the medical privacy type stuff. I think that complicates things though. It’s really this basic:

      Pro-choice view
      – Woman
      – Doctor

      Pro-life view
      – Woman
      – Doctor
      – Child

      Our position is that in the situation of an abortion someone has to advocate for the child. That falls on the government. It’s really no different than a social work situation. In the case of neglect, for example, the government becomes and advocate for the child and can overrule the wishes of the parents if need be. Ironically liberals tend to support that process with gusto.

      • “Ironically liberals tend to support that process with gusto.”

        I’m not getting into the rest of this debate with you, but as a former social worker, I can tell you that NOBODY supports the process with gusto. Nobody. That’s why there are no good fixes for children coming out of the situations that I think you’re imagining.

          • I’m talking about the reality on the ground. That reality is one in which society, collectively, does NOT want to deal with issues of abuse and neglect. There’s a reason that the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts can get away with hiding molesters for decades. There’s a reason that most abusive parents not only don’t go to jail, but don’t get charged. There’s a reason that children end up in group homes.

            Maybe we’re talking about different issues though; I’m happy to stop as this is irrelevant to the larger issues being discussed in this thread.

            • But Sam, we’re talking about government policy. Patrick is taking the position of abortion being woman+doctor. I’m saying that the government DOES play a role in advocating for children. Jerry Sandusky can tell you that. Whether people are protected by non-governmental organizations is irrelvant.
              • Mike,

                We’re arguing about different things. My point is that the government’s “advocacy” for children is a joke. I’ve seen it first hand. Society might endow the government with that responsibility, but not in a serious, productive way. Everybody would rather not think about the problem. I’m happy to let this go. It’s for another thread perhaps.

              • No, I’m not saying that abortion is an issue between a woman and her doctor, Mike.

                I’m saying that in order to get to the point where the State can be involved, the State has to get involved in all sorts of medical decisions. Now, the State already gets involved in some medical decisions, so this isn’t an objection on principle, it’s an objection on practice. You have to know that it’s already the case that the baby is involved in the decision-making, I will bet you dollars to donuts, in almost every abortion case out there. The question is, do we want the State to be the proxy for the baby, and how to we formalize that.

                You can’t open the door and just have the feds peek their heads in and say, “Hey, doc? No abortions, aiight? Well, unless her health is in danger. Or if the fetus is nonviable. Maybe in this particular state if it was a rape or incest case, I can’t keep ’em all straight. Okay? Done here? Awesome” and expect that there will only be abortions in those instances. Look at Tom’s point above about medical pot in California.

                So you have to determine, up front, what it is that you want the federal government to actually *do*. Is there a process by which the doctor needs to sign off on the fetus being nonviable? Can that process be challenged? If it’s challenged, what happens? Let’s say a girl who is at her majority is pregnant and her doctor says the fetus is nonviable. Her parents think that the doctor is just saying that because their daughter wants an abortion. Can they take the doctor to court? Are additional medical exams required? Does it matter if the girl is a minor? What if she says she was raped? Does there need to be a criminal prosecution? What if she doesn’t want to testify? What if the DA refuses to take the case to court because the girl is a prostitute and they know they’re going to lose the case?

                Can every potential abortion turn into the Terri Schiavo case?

                Now lump all that together with what you know of how the government enforces things and ask yourself the meta question: when all of this burden (justified or no) gets placed on society by the federal government, where’s it going to land? Who’s going to be able to skirt all this red tape when they want, or use this red tape as a bludgeon for their agenda of getting into particular other people’s business?

                It’s all bad, Mike. It doesn’t even work if you’re just trying to ban *some* abortions.

                You and I both agree that third term abortions are probably morally unjustifiable under any permutation, but we both know that there aren’t very many of them. They’re very nearly the bogeyman. You know we could do all of the above in an attempt to interdict them, and we’re going to stop probably almost none of them (there are few enough of them that the black market will provide them if the white market doesn’t), and we’ll be creating all of these exceptions that themselves can cause worse problems.

                If we adopted a U.K. style abortion law, would that be enough? Because I look at the graph for U.K. abortions by trimester and it looks pretty much exactly like the graph I see for the U.S. one with the exception of the outliers in the third trimester. Just like in the U.S., in the U.K. about 99% of abortions occur before 20 weeks.

                It might help assuage the (legitimate) moral qualms that some members of the pro-life community feel regarding their support of the State, but on the ground it’s going to make no difference in actual abortion rates.

                • Patrick – other western countries have worked out the logistics of how to monitor the process so I am going to assume we can figure it out here.

                  And I wouldn’t got with 20 weeks. I would go with 12 weeks (end of first trimester) which is 88% of abortions, not 99%.

                  • Does this count with an exemption for rape?
                    Aka if a child decides to “forget” that awkward/bad/horrible thing happened, (and conveniently “forgets” that she hasn’t been menstruating), can she get an abortion in the second trimester?

                    How about someone who genuinely didn’t realize they were pregnant?
                    (if a child doesn’t start menstruating before getting pregnant, fair odds that they wont’ realize they should be menstruating, after all…)

      • Why does it fall on the government? Because the church is an immoral POS? Or merely because the church is ineffectual? Hell, why not the rest of the family?

        I’d have much less objection if the government was willing to pay the costs of a woman basically being involuntarily forced to bear a child. Less, naturally, being a relative term.

        • Just a caution, as someone on this board has had a stillborn child with anencephaly (which everyone else knows, as he’s posted about it — I have forgotten whether you were around/posting/reading that one). You may want to use some kid gloves about talking about the condition…
  24. “Democrats can safely ignore any concerted effort to regain white male votes, so long as they keep giving friendly nods to labor.”

    And hey wow, look what happened to benefit the UAW over the past four years. First cash-for-clunkers so that everyone buys a new car, then the US Treasury buys up GM’s debt. Keep the midwest population centers happy, add the natural tendency of coastal cities to go Democrat via peer pressure, and that’s how you do it.

  25. I’m very late to this, James, but this is an excellent post. If a sat down to analyze the variables in play, as you have done, I’d probably come up with the same stuff, but not nearly as well argued and well written.

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