May 15, 2014 by Anders Ingemarson
As the new election season shifts into gear the GOP has its work cut out. Dethroning enough Democrat incumbents to gain the upper hand inside the beltway will require significant support of unaffiliated voters in addition to the support of registered Republicans. Two areas appear key to attracting independents: (1) a credible fiscal and regulatory vision championing reduced government spending, tax cuts, and regulatory repeal, and (2) a rational position on social issues, above all, a rational pro-choice stance on abortion. The party has failed miserably on both counts in the past.
After a couple of decades in the desert, the liberty and individual rights wing of the GOP appears to be making some progress on the fiscal and regulatory vision with the support of the Tea Party movement. Call me too optimistic, but the time may soon be here when we’ll see candidates with platforms that will put us on the path towards separating state and the economy: credible plans for phasing out Social Security, returning control of retirement to individual Americans; proposals for phasing out Fannie and Freddie and HUD of the mortgage industry, returning decisions of home financing to homeowners and private mortgage lenders; calls for rolling back the regulatory policing of individuals and corporations, dismantling the powers of the EPA, FDA, SEC, FCC and other alphabet soup agencies. As candidates with such goals emerge and succeed, pressure will build on the party establishment to rally around a platform championing reduced government spending, tax cuts and regulatory repeal.
The outlook is dimmer on abortion. The Republican Party has to reform its position if it wants to attract pro-choice independents. Unfortunately, it appears the pro-life movement has a stranglehold on the party. As a result, unaffiliated voters are inclined to cast their ballots for the opposition or not vote at all, even though they may support the party’s fiscal and regulatory vision.
It is possible to find a handful of pro-choice elected Republicans such as Senator Susan Collins of Maine. However, almost without exception, members of this group are not champions of the vision of reduced government spending, tax cuts and regulatory repeal that unaffiliated voters also look for. The latest example is Senator Collins’ recent wavering on the issue of a minimum wage increase, something a liberty and individual rights minded GOP representative would reject without hesitation.
It appears that GOP candidates holding the positions that would attract the largest number of independents—championing a vision of reduced government spending, tax cuts and regulatory repeal, and being pro-choice—either don’t exist, or don’t stand a chance getting past a GOP primary because of their stance on abortion.
I suspect a large majority of grassroots Republicans consider themselves champions of the Founders’ view that our individual rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are inalienable. The step from there to a rational pro-choice view on abortion is shorter than one may think. For most GOP pro-life advocates, the missing link is the realization that individual rights only apply to actual human beings, not potential human beings.
Actual human beings have individual rights because they possess the traits that are necessary conditions for rights to exist in the first place: (1) the capacity (mental and physical ability) to reason (to think), and (2) free will to exercise that capacity. Potential human beings have not yet developed those traits and therefore the concept of rights does not yet apply.
Science is making progress in determining when the fetus has developed enough to be considered an actual human being. However, it clearly does not happen during the first trimester, validating the rational pro-choice stance that an abortion during this time is not a rights violation. For Republicans championing individual rights but mistakenly holding the pro-life view that actual human life starts at conception, this should allow them to alter their position at least as it pertains to the first trimester.
If a sufficient number of GOP supporters changed their position on abortion the Republican primaries would open up to candidates who champion reduced government spending, tax cuts and regulatory repeal, and who take a rational pro-choice stance on abortion. Come the general election, such candidates would prove formidable in attracting the support of unaffiliated voters, ringing in an era of deserved Republican dominance in U.S. politics. Some hard-core social conservatives may stay home but the gains among independents would make up for it many times over.
Will enough GOP pro-life supporters have the will and courage to adapt a rational pro-choice position on abortion? And will they give pro-choice candidates who champion a vision of reduced government spending, tax cuts and regulatory repeal a chance both in the primaries and the general election? Time will tell or time will most likely run out as unaffiliated voters give up on the Republican Party for good.