Ever since I became interested in politics, and going back to my time as a “Democratic strategist” (see how easy it is to be one!), I’ve wondered what the political landscape would be like if there were no such thing as abortion. Biologically, anatomically, and scientifically, I have no idea how this would have come about. Perhaps if women, or men, were able to click some box in their physiology next to “Turn Off Baby Making Ability” and, as easy as that, could eliminate all unwanted pregnancies.
Conversely, I have always wondered whether John Kennedy could have won in 1960 if he had been forced to take a stand on the issue of abortion. What if Roe v. Wade has happened in 1958?
Well, an article that I stumbled upon in Salon argues that one of the two parties could be poised to step up and refocus political divisions on economic policies and permanently bury the division brought about by social policies such as affirmative action, abortion, gay rights, birth control and censorship. Whichever party does this, should be able to assemble a supermajority of support that would just about guarantee quick and easy passage of a number of policies that are designed to benefit the citizenry instead of the special interests.
Using “The Newer Deal” as the overarching title for this shift, Michael Lind sums up what the party would have get behind:
The public wants the middle-class welfare state to be rounded out by a few major additions — chiefly, healthcare and childcare — and the public also wants the government to grow the economy by investing in public works and favoring companies that locate their production facilities inside the U.S. There, in a sentence, is a program for a neo-Rooseveltian party that could effect an epochal realignment in American politics.
One might think that this sets up nicely for the Democratic Party. However, Lind says, Democratic adherence to social liberalism as a litmus test of sorts, and that party’s unwillingness to welcome social conservative/economic populists into fold could leave the door open for a new/old GOP:
If Democrats don’t create a new Roosevelt Party, the Republicans over time just might. In their recent insightful manifesto “Grand New Party,” Reihan Salam and Ross Douthat call for the GOP to adopt activist government on behalf of the working class, while remaining a socially traditional party. That formula — more Gaullist than Thatcherite — has worked recently in Germany, France and Italy. It might work here, unless Democrats forestall the possibility by reaching out to Sam’s Club Republicans.
As I wrote when I started reading through a draft of the Democratic Party platform, it appears that the Dems are moving towards the model that makes some concession to their socially conservative but populist brethren. While remaining firmly pro-choice, the party is backing off of the tactic of painting pro-lifers as backwards-thinking, women-hating neanderthals. In fact, with the invitation of Senator Bob Casey to speak at the Convention, it seems like the Democratic Party is ready to close the chapter on Lind’s “McGovern Party” and make a move back to the “Roosevelt Party” that enjoyed so much success until 1968.
Lind says that there will be an easy way to tell if this happens:
When pro-choicers and pro-lifers unite in cheering the public investment and living wage planks at the convention of the neo-Roosevelt party, we will know that the political era that began in 1968 is truly and finally over.