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Democratic Voters Move Left on Abortion

The partisan gap on abortion grew from 30 points in 2007 to 45 points in 2016, and a leftward lurch among Democratic voters was responsible for the bulk of the shift, according to a new survey released by Pew research center.

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It’s an article of faith among academic political scientists and much of the media that polarization and gridlock is a Republican-driven phenomenon—that the GOP has moved dramatically to the right while Democrats have drifted only modestly to the left.

This view might be supported by esoteric academic metrics for Congressional voting patterns, and it holds in the real world when it comes to areas like tax policy. But on issues from same-sex marriage to public sector unionism to the minimum wage, it’s hard to deny that Democrats have moved away from the center more rapidly than the GOP.

To take another example that we have cited before: Republican views on immigration have not changed so much over the last 10 years. Meanwhile, Democratic support for immigration has soared, from 49 percent saying that immigrants “strengthen the country” in 2006 to 78 percent saying so today.

It’s easy for academics and journalists to repeat the conventional wisdom that GOP extremism has created polarization, because the distance between the views of GOP voters and the academic and journalistic class is indeed growing, especially on social issues. But like pre-Copernican astronomers, the experts might sometimes be confused as to the cause of the motion they are observing.

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  • Andrew Allison

    While it’s an article of faith among Democrat ideologists, er academic political scientists and much of the media, that polarization and gridlock is a Republican-driven phenomenon, the fact is that Harry Reid has been the polarizer-in-chief.

    • Jim__L

      The fact is that polarization is caused by a minority of Leftist ideologues, who add daily to the power of Washington DC to force their beliefs on everyone else.

      Drain the power of the National government, re-introduce liberty and federalism, and polarization will fall away.

  • Anthony
  • gabrielsyme

    The Left is engaging in a process of ideological cleansing by a very simple process: identify the desired policy, and then vilify as evil those who differ. It may not be effective as a means of convincing tribal outsiders, but it is effectively inducing compliance within the liberal tribe.

  • FriendlyGoat

    I have to believe that most people are tired, just tired, of so many other important issues being eclipsed in elections by the politics of abortion. No one “likes” talking about this all (ALL) the time except the political consultants on the right who have been using this hot-button for four decades to try to elect the high-end tax cuts and deregulation of business practices which they are hired to “produce”.

    Legislatures of men telling women whether they will or will not be mothers has never made one whit of sense. The correct answers are 1) Women decide, 2) Any such decision to terminate a pregnancy is encouraged to be made and carried out at the earliest possible moment, 3) Most (MOST) importantly, we campaign boldly and ceaselessly on the subject of men NOT impregnating any women except those who want to have a baby now and who are also reasonably ready and able to care for one.

    The constant chatter we have endured about those who oppose the political use of this issue by snakes like Newt Gingrich being willful “baby murderers” is just insane. It coincides with so many church people having been “flipped” away from common sense on nearly every left-right issue.

    • Anthony

      If you value America (as you most certainly do) beyond narrow (partisan) self-interest, you may find this of interest:

    • wri

      I agree women should have the choice, because they have the most at stake and are most likely to make the best decision. As one not involved in the political war on this subject, my views don’t conform with either side. I assume you mean men should understand that they SHARE responsibility with women for a pregnancy, not that it is their sole or primary responsbility.

      My main disagreement is with your apparent suggestion that “life” is irrelevant to the discussion and is simply an irrationality coming from the religious right. The pro-choice proponents continued insistence on this fiction has reach the point of amorality. It is now clear from science that there is no point after conception at which one can say “life” has now appeared, the converse also being true — that it cannot be said that their is an early point in the pregnancy where “life” is not implicated.The idea that there is no life until a “fetus” is out of the womb and starts breathing is insulting to the rational mind. (The only reason a fetus/baby is not breathing through its own lungs in the womb is that it would drown, like any other human being.) The point is that the whole miraculous process defies being explained by a life vs no-life categorization.

      This being so, there is some societal interest in an arbitrary termination of the process, as the Supreme Court has recognized in its decisions. I nevertheless would give women broad responsbility to decide; but I would not excuse or avoid the serious consequences of their decision by denying there is any form of “life” involved. Nor would I pretend that a pregnancy never progresses to the point where, science, common sense, and morality combine to make it equivalent to murder. That point arrives when you rip a baby out of the womb, killing it in the process, in a late/end of term abortion. (In law, the murder of a pregnant woman can also be murder of her child.) The Supreme Court has clearly held there is no “consitutional” right to terminate a pregnancy in the later stages. I am offended by those pro-choice ideologues who insist the consitutional right exists all the way to the point of actual natural delivery because, after all, it is just a “fetus”, not life. Nor do I think the serious consequences of such a decision should be readily avoidable by finding a doctor who will supply an unaccountable and unchallengeable “opinion” that the health of the mother (including mental distress) is somehow implicated. Those who urge a “right” to abortion in these extreme circumstances demonstrate that at some point political ideologues can lose touch with common human morality,

      • FriendlyGoat

        Good luck maintaining the choice you contend women should have by aligning with the other side’s argument that there is no time period after the moment of conception during which the “murder” debate can be muted in states and elections—-year after dreary year. If you believe women should have any kind of choice, then you are going to have to allow some path to how they can have any kind of choice, no? Claiming to preserve their “choice” while closing all doors to it does not make any sense to me. What exactly (exactly) are you proposing for policy?

        Separately, to your first paragraph, I actually do believe that if men “share” the responsibility for pregnancy that it is not a 50-50 split. I believe it could better be described as perhaps 80-90 percent male duty to avoid pregnancy in the wrong circumstances, and perhaps 10-20 percent female. Examples of excuses for male failure to prevent untimely pregnancy might include a woman who said she wanted to get pregnant but didn’t mean it or a woman who assured a man that she is on effective birth control when, in fact, she was not. And then, there are the good faith efforts at birth control which just fail, notably condoms.

        • wri

          Well, you could start with the policy articulated by the Supreme Court. I didn’t agree with Roe v. Wade, not because I don’t support a woman’s right to choose, but because I thought making it a Constitutionally protected “right” was bad Constitutional law, something on which Justice Ginsburg now seems to agree. But even the Supreme Court recognized that the “right” of choice couldn’t extend throughout the pregnancy and so drew the line at “viability” — the ability of a fetus/baby to live outside the womb. Science has now inevitably impacted this constitutional test by making viability possible an an ever earlier time in a pregnancy. This sort of imperfect line drawing and need to constantly monitor the parameters of a supposed “right” is why the Court usually defers to the legislature in making these determinations and why Roe was an ill-advised decision.

          Although the exact allocation of responsibility will remain uncertain, the “right” to choose an abortion is now, and absence an overturn of Roe will remain, a combination of constitutional right and legislative determination. I’m not sure it would have made any difference in the long run if the Court had simply left the whole matter to the legislature.The process would still have been subject to uncertainty and debate, and therefore controversial, but that is exactly why we have legislatures.

          I suspect what led the Court to conjure a constitutional right to choose was the apparent arbitrariness is allowing the possibility that a majority, acting through legislation, might absolutely prohibit choice from the very inception of pregnancy. As I said, I think the Court nevertheless should left this determination to the legislative process. But the Court’s opinions in Roe v Wade and subsequently leave no doubt it does not believe the absolute constitutional “right” it created can extend to the end of pregnancy regardless of circumstances. So whether by the Court or the legislature, we have — and were destined to have — a need for society to make a determination where it is comfortable drawing the line on the right to choose. The fact that this decision is difficult to make is not a reason for not making it. Society is faced with these sorts of decisions all the time — e.g., when is it murder and when self-defense.

          I am not “aligning” myself with the other side’s arguments; I am accepting the law as set forth by the Supreme Court. I am then arguing that, starting from the point of time in a pregnancy at which the Court has held the legislature can impose reasonable limits on the absolute right of abortion, I believe legislatures should give significance deference to the woman’s ability to decide — and I believe this deference is warranted because the intensely personal nature of the decision, and the woman’s on self-interest, are a better assurance of a good societal decision than any other alternative. But women do live in a human society and every society that has ever existed has taken an intense interest in human procreation, which means in human “life.” So I have no problem with a majority of society deciding that intentionally destroying a “fetus” near the natural end of a pregnancy is equivalent to killing a baby. It seems to me that if you still find my position unacceptable, you are arguing for something women have never had, did not ask for in Roe v. Wade, and were not granted by the Supreme Court — and absolute right to have an abortion at any time during a pregnancy, under any circumstances, without restriction or limitation by society and law, and regardless of the health, well-being or “life” of the baby — or “fetus” is you will.

          Finally, you second paragraph suggests we do have fundamentally different perspectives on this subject. Why is it not demeaning to women to say they should have far less responsibility for a pregnancy than a man? What is it about them that makes them incapable of exercising at least an equal responsibility? The examples you give are not ones that show men should have primary responsibility; they just point up that sex is a very human undertaking, subject to mistakes, mis-communication, second-thoughts and regrets — things that men and women share in common.

          • FriendlyGoat

            1) I am not arguing for late-term abortions except in cases of fetal abnormalities only discovered late in the term or any legitimate health issues with the mother’s ability to safely deliver which arise late in the term.

            2) Without Roe, some women in some states would have no choice rights at all. If we do not know that, we are not paying attention to what a red-state legislature is. The idea of choice cannot be dependent on the whims of the men who may be elected in Alabama, Oklahoma or Nebraska—–and the misfortune of a girl for being born there. Worse, state by state determination increases the “use” of this issue for everything else under the sun—–the very travesty that we are all sick of

            3) Drawing some kind of viability line is fine if we would get on and do it on a national basis AND assure that there are absolutely no hurdles set up anywhere to prevent women from making choices way ahead of whatever that reasonable line is. In fact, our politics would be much improved if the line was drawn and the state politicians gave up on trying to redraw the line somewhere else or remove access to

            4) How could it possibly be “demeaning” to women to admit they actually deserve some preventive protection from horny boys and men in our national messaging? The sexual use of women is legendary, for Pete’s sake.

            5) As for early viability, I am personally aware of a case of twins born at 5 1/2 months. The Medicaid system undoubtedly has over a million dollars invested in them now as the hospitalization went on a LONG time and Medicaid is the only source of any money. One passed away anyhow. The other will have severe life-long disabilities. The parents actually were, at least, married. But the “viability” is actually a tragedy on all levels.
            So, when the pro-life community carries on about drawing lines viability lines at earlier and earlier moments in a pregnancy term because of “medical science”, they are misleading us about what “viability” is.

          • wri

            Viability may be an imperfect test. If so, that’s another reason Roe was bad governance; legislatures are much more flexible in revisiting such things from time to time. The Court will have to revisit this as it is no longer a legislative question. Although we get there different ways, we probably end up about the same place on abortion choice. On the other hand, I don’t agree with your view of men as predatory animals. They are by nature biologically different from woman in sexual instincts and no doubt are still evolving to a higher consciousness on this matter. Still, this is 2016 not 1616. I do not think it is fair to either men or women to assert that men are so predatory that women should be treated as helpless victims with little or no ability to be responsible for themselves. It certainly is not an attitude calculated to promote increased understanding and harmony between the sexes.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You can argue for women’s choice or you can argue for male legislatures to tell them what their choices are—-but you can’t argue coherently for both. At least not to me.

            On the other matter, when I was a kid my grandfather told me to respect and take good care of girls. I had NO DOUBT what he was talking about and it was NOT “tee-hee, if you find a horny one, don’t forget your condom”. It was more like “Young man, don’t you dare take advantage of a girl just because she might let you. YOU be the gentleman. YOU set the standards. YOU put her at ease that you’re not a wolf and stick to it even if she warms up. YOU take care to not hurt her or cause her any regrets. YOU behave yourself.” That was about 1966. We need to learn how to re-paste this message all over our 2016 world.

          • wri

            No point arguing about how you feel and how that affects your views and perspective; those are just facts of your reality and exist independent of truth. Your grandfather made a cryptic remark and you have turned it into a lecture on male behavior. If you are a male, your inferences of what he meant are valuable moral precepts. If you are a female, I’m not sure how you had “no doubt” he meant what you say he meant, but it still is a reasonable standard of expectation for male conduct. In either event, I’m pretty sure he was not telling you to hate men, which seems to be where you have ended up.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’m a male and the reason I had no doubt about what my grandfather meant was because he was a straight arrow with Grandma, a teetotaler, not a womanizer, not a locker-room talk guy and because it was not the only thing he said to me. It was part of a “do right” context which went on from the time I was a toddler to the time I moved away to college and then marriage.

            If you even remotely thought you might have been talking here to a woman who hates men—–good grief, how do I keep drawing responses from clueless people? Do you really think I was a girl being told to “respect and take good care of girls”. Dang!

          • wri

            I realized in writing my last post that I was assuming you were a woman. Maybe it’s because I’m a senior, but I have never come across a man who expressed himself in the way you do on male/female matters — not just your views, but the tone and way you express them, together with an apparent prejudice against men. I have lived my whole life as a man and encountered many men in different contexts and circumstances. I have witnessed bad sexual behavior among a few, especially when I was younger. But my experience provides no support for your view of men as rapacious predators.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Evidently, the antics of both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump have somehow eclipsed your attention. Perhaps you have not heard of sex and alcohol problems in the colleges as of late. I too am a senior, worked with hundreds of guys and have only met four in close quarters other than my Grandpa who were guaranteed to not be questionable on sex matters and sex attitudes.

          • wri

            I lived through Bill Clinton and haven’t missed Trump’s boorish sexist behavior. There was plentty of sex and alcohol when I was in college 4+ decades ago and I’m not surprised it’s still around today — that’s life when you’re young. I’m sorry your “experiences” with men have been so negative. Mine have been very different and, indeed, I’ve known few women who share your view of men as sexual predators. We have clearly had different life experiences and there’s not much point of arguing over the different perspectives this has given us on life, and people. Good luck.

          • FriendlyGoat

            And good luck to you too. The comment section is where I sometimes speak of things as RFK said that “never were” and ask “why not”?

          • Anthony

            “Never were and ask why not” may parallel how conveniently we choose to forget:

          • FriendlyGoat

            Yes, indeed. Thanks. We have to wonder why the Guardian explains our own history to us more than almost any American seems to know it. Government never created a job, right? Always was inept at everything, right?

          • Anthony

            Outside eyes perhaps but we ignore truth at our own peril. Similarly FG, as an experienced and well practiced hand at this electoral and governing business, trust me I get the Clinton fatigue, distrust, dislike, etc. But, as a patriot in more than words and appreciating that some electoral contests (this Presidential election for example) reflect real differences between reactionary and progressives forces, I recognize “who is elected” can make a difference within a limited but important range of policy options as well as National well-being. To my mind, the choice is simple. Most importantly, Hillary Clinton is a better candidate than she seems and better suited to cope with the awful, broken state of Washington politics than her critics will admit.

          • Chris Prestridge

            No. 4) outside of rape, every single women that gets pregnant made a choice of their own doing to spread their legs. Men are no more responsible for an unwanted pregnancy than the woman. Aren’t we supposed to be a society of equality or are we picking and choosing? I’ll also add, there are no less an amount of horny girls walking around as there are horny boys.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I suspected you were a jerk at your accounting comment, and I know so beyond a shadow of a doubt from this one.

          • Jim__L

            FG, Chris was respectful in is reply to you — he simply disagreed. If you’re an old guy and you hang around with other old people, you haven’t seen the way that girls have changed even in the last 20 years or so, with Leftists pushing of the “sex-positive” point of view.

            Chris was a little crass in his terminology, but his observations were spot-on.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Chris’s mansplaining won’t work in the Couples’ Adult Sunday School Class at your church any better than it will work in the mixed-gender employee break room at work. If you don’t already know that, give it a whirl tomorrow and see how it goes.

          • Jim__L

            OK, can we clear up some terminology here? When you say that boys have “primary” responsibility for inappropriate sex, do you mean that girls have less responsibility than boys do?

          • FriendlyGoat

            Yes. As an ideal, that is exactly what I mean and my feelings about it are running through the entire exchange between “wri” and me in this thread if you care to read through them. I believe in connection with the abortion debate and the college culture debates that we are missing a loud and constant message from men to men that WE are responsible at a level of 80-90% for “whatever happens”.

            Yes, it’s awkward, and no, guys don’t want to talk about it or hear it.
            But some voices are still heard. Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks comes to mind. Also, Tim Tebow, of course. It is possible for a guy to be the leader in setting limits on the activities of “making out”, of putting his girlfriend in the safe comfort of knowing that the guy is in charge of his temptations and that he will not make her be the one to say no to anything because he already knows how to really love her by being sexually kind to her. What is that kindness? Not putting her at risk of pregnancy. Not causing her to have regrets about him. Not hurting her heart with more intimacy than she really wanted to get into for a relationship that never quite makes it to marriage. There is SO MUCH we could be talking about in this regard. Churches do it with boys to a degree for the sake of God and in the religious context. But it can be secularized too, simply in the context of “Be kind.”

          • Jim__L

            As far as churches talking about sex outside of marriage, two words is one word to many — “Don’t” is sufficient. That neatly avoids all the issues you’re talking about.

            I agree with what you’re saying guys should do, but it simply does not follow that guys “are responsible at a level of 80-90% for ‘whatever happens'”. We are responsible for ourselves, that’s for certain. If we say no, it doesn’t happen. But the same goes for women — if they say no, it doesn’t happen. (If in either case it then happens, it’s called rape, which is a different conversation entirely.)

            To say that women aren’t half of the equation — that they are not responsible for their own selves too — is just plain bunk.

            It’s bunk, FG. Pure bunk.

            A woman that decides to have sex, to the point of advertising that she is interested in sex and consenting to that sex — is not a paltry 10% responsible for the consequences of that sex. (If I may be forgiven for using this jargon) That is infantilizing and condescending, and denies agency on the part of the woman, especially women who are so very clearly and deliberately exercising agency. And they do that now, FG, this is not the 50s anymore!

            It takes two to tango. Either one can take responsibility and say “no”. There is nothing special about a guy’s ability to do so, over a woman’s ability to do so.

            I’m not sure how you get there.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Well, the churches have been saying “don’t” for decades to centuries in this country and yet you keep telling me in the details of your posts how much worse the situation is becoming.

            I’m saying we need messaging from outside the churches to be added. I’m also saying that messaging can be centered on kindness which is a word neither offensive to the faith community nor owned by it. I haven’t done it yet, probably won’t—–but when/if I get anything up on YouTube for this subject, I’ll be sure and let you know.

          • Jim__L

            The situation is getting worse because Leftists, often using the power of government, are directly and deliberately suppressing churches.

            They’ll suppress “outside the churches” too, which is a bit of a joke anyway.

  • Robert What?

    In the future American Police State, everything will be illegal except abortion.

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