Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Abortion And the Republican Party

For a very long time, the issue of abortion has divided the nation and it has divided both political parties, although you don't hear much about such a division among Democrats although it does exist. But quite frankly, the GOP is and probably always will be sharply divided by the issue and in a recent campaign event in Iowa, the issue came up again at Iowa Forum for Republicans.

Not long ago, Herman Cain made the statement that he is personally pro-life, but felt that government should not be involved in that decision.
“It is a liberal canard to say I am personally pro-life, but government should stay out of that decision,” Mr. Perry said, drawing enthusiastic applause from a crowd of social conservative voters. “If that is your view, you are not pro-life, you are pro-having your cake and eating it too.”
To me this is a perfectly legitimate and quite libertarian position to take. I understand the moral outrage that social conservatives have about abortion. But I also understand that some people believe it should not be the role of government to get involved in the decision. What I find appealing about Cain's initial position (since he is now starting to walk it back) is that it makes a moral sense. So, like Herman Cain, I am am pro-life but believe that government should not be involved in the matter because the government and the courts have have already stepped into this quagmire and muddled it up. Essentially what Herman Cain and I have in common on this issue is that government is that the issue is so muddled that the only place left that is logical is to stake out a personal position and then step back and say that government shouldn't be involved But Rick Perry, in an effort to make his social conservative bona fides took Cain to task.

But certain segments of the GOP are ready to kill their own on this matter because they have a position, Pro-Life or nothing, that leaves no room for the gray areas that accompany this issue. For example, there are very, very few Republican candidates who will say "No abortion, doesn't matter what the circumstances are." If you talk leading GOP candidates there are always "exceptions" that they are willing to accept, such as life of the mother, or a child conceived through rape or incest. So what does such a willingness to accept "exceptions" do to the moral "clarity" that social conservatives want to have in their candidates. The fact is that abortion is such a murky topic that any clarity is impossible to achieve, so why do social conservatives demand such clarity of their candidates when most cannot maintain that clarity in their own mind.

If we are looking for honesty and clear conviction in our candidates, then isn't Herman Cain being honest about a personal belief (at least before he started walking it back in order to avoid getting trounced). A president has almost no say in abortion "policy" in America, so why do we care? How can Rick Perry stand up at a campaign event and call someone who has declared himself pro-life a liar. Just because Herman Cain, at one time, believed that government shouldn't be telling people how to live their personal life doesn't make Herman Cain any less pro-life.

In fact, I could argue that Cain's position is more pro-life than Perry, because at least Herman Cain believes that you should be able to live your own life with government saying what you can and cannot do in your personal life.

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