Political parties shouldn’t conform to public
Observer Viewpoint | Sunday, November 14, 2004
This letter is in response to Bryan Hambley’s viewpoint on Nov. 11 that the Democratic Party must become pro-life. In his article Hambley claims that, on Nov. 2, the pro-life movement struck a fatal blow to the pro-choice position, and the pro-choice movement has been defeated. He bases his claims on three things: first that Bush and his pro-life stance clearly won the election, second, an anecdote of his personal experience with a friend, and third, that 80 percent of the 22 percent of the electorate voted for Bush based on moral values. The first piece of evidence assumes a large causation between abortion and the Bush platform. The second is an isolated incident that should not be used to generalize a trend in the country. The third assumes abortion is the only moral value the electorate votes on.
In regards to Bush’s victory being based on his stance on abortion I must disagree. I believe Kerry lost based on personal characteristics in addition to differences in policy. Kerry did not lose because he had an unpopular stance on the abortion issue, Kerry lost because on the morning of Nov. 2, 56 percent of America thought he said what people wanted to hear, and only 40 percent thought he said what he believed. Hambley’s proposal for the Democratic Party is that it should all do the same by changing one of its platforms to the other side solely because the population voted against it.
Much has been made of the fact that 22 percent of the country voted for moral values and that 80 percent of them voted for Bush. Is abortion a moral value? Absolutely. Is it the only moral value? Absolutely not. If abortion were the only moral value that mattered on election day, President George W. Bush would not have taken 80 percent of the moral value voters on Nov. 2. The statistic not provided in the article is that when asked if a person thought abortion should be always legal, mostly legal, mostly illegal or always illegal, the electorate responded in percentages of 21, 34, 26 and 16 respectively. It appears from the data that 55 percent of the country believes abortion should be mostly legal or completely legal, certainly not the position of the pro-life movement. The moral value where America does go Bush’s way? Gay marriage. Of the 72 percent of the country that stated gays should not be allowed to marry, 61.9 percent voted for Bush.
Does this mean I think the Democratic Party should switch to an anti-gay marriage platform to win over the populace? No. In fact, I’m insulted by the suggestion that a party should ever change its ideals because of the population. If all political parties did that, there would be no ideological divide and each party would be the slaves to whatever the current market research numbers were suggesting.
In light of these numbers I will have to conclude that Hambley has jumped the gun when he declared the pro-choice movement defeated. Living on this campus and in small-town America – I am from North Dakota – I can empathize with his belief that the country seems to be more pro-life then pro-choice. But our individual experiences should not bring about broad generalizations to describe the nation. According to this data and similar results from 2000 I believe the pro-choice movement still remains strong in this country, and a Democratic departure from that would not only be fundamentally wrong but also unbeneficial.