Casualty of Capitalism

Exiled into Wilmington, Delaware by virtue of corporate layoffs. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this blog are Copyright 2005, Michael Collins, and cannot be used without permission.)

Location: Wilmington, Delaware, United States

Graduate of University of Maryland School of Law; University of Maryland, College Park (Economics/Political Science).

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Protecting Voting Blocs

James Taranto writes again today about Harry Reid's statement regarding Justice Clarence Thomas wherein the new Senate Minority Leader referred to the Justice as an "embarassment" whose opinions are "poorly written." As I wrote earlier, I believe that Reid's remarks evidence not racism in the sense that he doesn't believe that Thomas can write or reason well because he is black, but it is the more subtle racism that Reid cannot comprehend that the black justice could be a conservative and one who does not agree with affirmative action or other liberal pet projects designed for the black community. Taranto sees it, too:

This, along with the racist attacks on Condoleezza Rice we noted last month, got us to thinking about the relationship between the Democratic Party and black Americans. Some have likened it to a plantation, but it seems to us that a better analogy is a protection racket. The deal is that the Dems will protect blacks from racism and blacks will give their political support to Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, John Kerry and the like. But the most blatant racism in America today comes from Democrats and is directed against black politicians and public servants who opt out of this arrangement.

The bloc of votes represented by the black community is a given commodity in most elections. Blacks have tended to vote for the Democratic presidential candidate in a percentage reaching the high 80's in recent years, and in like numbers in other races. Democrats understandibly want to protect that known quantity of votes, particularly since it makes the likelihood of a Democratic victory that much greater, but also because it makes campaigning far easier. With a few votes locked in the briefcase, the Democratic candidate can focus on the squishier remainder of the electorate.

Protecting voting blocs is nothing new. In fact, the Republicans have their own voting bloc to protect: right-to-lifers. This article lays the groundwork for my point:

Hardly a day passes without Americans being reminded of the debt President George W. Bush owes religious conservatives for their role in his re-election. Evangelical Christians - about 26 million of them - turned out in droves and are ready for payback, we keep hearing.

The only problem is, Bush isn't the president of just one constituency, as he noted in his first press conference following the election. Nor is Bush the culture warrior some insist he is.

Bush didn't make abortion an issue in his campaign except in condemning partial-birth abortion - a position most Americans share.


The bland truth is that Bush is unlikely to deliver on religious conservatives' expectations in any dramatic or immediate way simply because it isn't his style. As Michael Gerson - Bush speechwriter and policy adviser - puts it, Bush is an "incrementalist." And as such is misunderstood by both his allies and enemies.

If Karl Rove is the near-omnipotent genius everyone makes him out to be, he is likely to recognize that most of the 26 million evangelicals and more are firmly in the right-to-life camp and are very often single issue voters when it comes to abortion. Here, you have your solid, known bloc of votes, similar to the black vote above for Democrats. Republicans can count on it.
In election years like 2000 when there is no defining issue between the candidates, abortion is likely to firm up votes in both camps. Not to be misleading, it is actually a bi-partisan effort to keep the abortion issue hot. Both sides can count on their diehards. With these voting blocs firmly entrenched, the remainder of the electorate is that much more simplified. Neither side will willingly give up the firm base. But they will practice "incrementalism," which is nothing more than a minor tweaking of the overall issue (ie, the partial-birth abortion ban) accomplished for the purpose of working the fence sitters.

The nightmare for both sides is a wholesale overturning of Roe v. Wade in the courts. With the issue no longer out of reach of the electorate, but, in fact, back in their hands in the form of state legislatures, the opposing blocs will be broken or at least severely weakened. This destruction of voting certainty for a portion of the electorate would throw the campaign strategies of the parties into that much more chaos. Without abortion, other policies of the parties will be scrutinized more closely (Iraq, social security, welfare, medicare, affirmative action). The smoke screen thus lifted, candidates will have more policies to defend and fewer emotions to manipulate.

I hope one day that Roe v. Wade is overturned. First and foremost in order to save millions of innocent, unborn children. But secondarily, for the purpose of shining a brighter light on other important issues that have taken a backseat to this most emotional issue and consequently avoided the comprehensive public debate they deserve.

Unfortunately, and saddeningly, I'm not counting on it happening any time soon.


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