The Republicans are losing on the hot-button issues. Let’s review:
Gay Marriage. The vast majority of Americans now accept gay marriages. Republicans have lost big time on this issue.
Unlimited Guns. Thanks to the Parkland students, organizations like Moms Demand Action, and a Russian female spy, the country is now ready to enact gun legislation and challenge the National Rifle Association. I thought this would never happen. I’m happy to be proven wrong.
Climate Change Is a Hoax. The science is overwhelming against this position.
Balanced Federal Budget. The deficit increases when Republicans are in control.
Tax Cuts Help the Economy. As the 2017 Republican tax bill once again proves, tax cuts mainly for the rich do not trickle down.
Support of the Military. Trump insulted John McCain, Gold Star families, admirals, and generals. He reluctantly made one visit to troops overseas and turned it into a campaign rally.
Pro-Family. Republicans continue to support a thrice-married, sexual predator Donald Trump. Enough said.
Getting Rid of Obamacare. Support for Obamacare is increasing.
What is left for the Republicans to run on in 2020? They have two critical issues: the fear-of-people-not-like-you (FOPNLY) and depriving women of the right to choose an abortion. Or, as they would put it, preventing the killing of unborn babies.
Because of the government shutdown over “the wall,” most of the recent national news is about immigration, which is another name for FOPNLY. But I maintain that the issue that holds the Republican party together is abortion.
Back in August 2016, Nancy Pelosi said, “So many times, white — non-college-educated — white males have voted Republican. They voted against their own economic interests because of guns, because of gays, and because of God, the three G’s — God being the woman’s right to choose.”
Even though this quote caused Republicans to lie down on the fainting couch (How can Pelosi be so out of touch with the American voters who made this country great?!), I agree with her. Fundamental evangelical Christians and extreme Catholic Republicans have been running on the idea that God is on their side. They can justify any means to win so they can appoint more judges who will overturn Roe v Wade.
If you squint your eyes, you can see a partial resolution on the FOPNLY and immigration issue and it will, once again, favor Democrats. Just last week, U.S. Representative Steve King was finally being criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for wondering what is wrong with white nationalism. American is becoming a multicultural society and there is nothing Republicans can do about it.
Unfortunately, the FOPNLY issue remains effective when Republicans shift the focus to one of the most “dangerous” groups in America: God-hating, abortion-loving Democrats. Catholic and Evangelical Republican believe that God is on their side on this issue and the Democratic politicians are doing the devil’s work.
Political scientists call this negative partisanship. As reported in the New York Times in March:
Hostility to the opposition party and its candidates has now reached a level where loathing motivates voters more than loyalty. The building strength of partisan antipathy — “negative partisanship” — has radically altered politics. Anger has become the primary tool for motivating voters. Ticket splitting is dying out.
So at the heart of FOPNLY is abortion.
The good news for pro-choice supporters is that, according to a NBC/WSJ poll released in July, 71% of voters believe that Roe v. Wade should not be overturned. Those supporting the Supreme Court ruling include 88% of Democrats, 76% of independents and, surprisingly, 52% of Republicans. These are encouraging numbers but I see two challenges for Democrats.
One is getting pro-choice Republicans to vote for pro-choice Democrats. See the discussion about “negative partisanship” above. For many Republicans, voting for any Democrat is a step too far.
The second challenge is the inability of anti-abortion voters to compromise. When God is on your side, you will only settle for outlawing abortion completely. This means that the only solution to this issue is at the voting box. As Democrats, we need to defeat anti-choice candidates and pass legislation to protect a woman’s right to choose.
I’m writing this post partly in response to comments that Senator Claire McCaskill made after her recent defeat. She was upset that many of her supporters wanted her to vocally support pro-choice positions as she campaigned. She did not want to talk about the issue at all. Her message to her pro-choice supporters was to “Shut up:”
The only way this issue will be resolved is by pro-choice voters, who are a majority, voting for pro-choice candidates. I know the term has negative connotations, but pro-choice must be a “Litmus Test” for the Democratic Party. When the other side has made the fight against abortion their defining priority, we need to offer a clear, uncompromising alternative. So, welcome to the 2020 presidential election. We have been winning on all the other hot-button issues. When we can win on the pro-choice issue, we will banish the Republic Party to the minority party wilderness where it belongs.