How will Democrats respond to a left-wing, pro-life, presidential candidate?
August 13, 2002 8:50 AM   Subscribe

How will Democrats respond to a left-wing, pro-life, presidential candidate? Congressman Dennis Kucinich is being loudly promoted as the left-wing dream candidate for 2004 -- someone who can bring the Naderites back in the fold and send a message, that mainstream / moderate Democrats won't or can't, about being for the "people, not the powerful." Yet he has always and continues to oppose legal abortion. Can he be nominated? Would most progressives prefer a conservative Democrat who is right (in their opinion) on abortion, to a progressive who they see as wrong in that issue?
posted by MattD (68 comments total)

 
first of all, it's important to distinguish between "liberals" and "democrats."
posted by mcsweetie at 8:56 AM on August 13, 2002


Interesting. You know the old Political Compass test that puts you on grid with "socially authoritarian vs. libertarian" as one axis, and "economically left vs. right" as the other? I've always wondered about that strange little group that is highly authoritarian, but also left on economic issues. They would tend to be the diametric opposite of the American Libertarians. I think of Catholic nuns who play guitars and sing "we shall overcome." I guess maybe this guy is one of the
posted by Fenriss at 8:59 AM on August 13, 2002


How will Democrats respond to a left-wing, pro-life, presidential candidate?

By marginalizing him and not giving him a shot at the nomination.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:07 AM on August 13, 2002


I've always wondered about that strange little group that is highly authoritarian, but also left on economic issues.
In poly sci 101, that corner is usually labelled "populists".
posted by goethean at 9:07 AM on August 13, 2002


There is that odd little group of vegan lefties who are opposed to abortion. I've got admire their consistency, if you think killing a shrimp is murder, I guess blastula-stage pregnancy isn't too far off.

Anyway, I'd say in general a strongly liberal pro-life candidate has no chance... then again, a strongly liberal candidate of any sort has no chance. (I'm reminded of the campaign ads that called an opponent "shamelessly liberal". I'm so ashamed.).
posted by malphigian at 9:08 AM on August 13, 2002


Ted Rall made an interesting point about the campaign trail: Democrats generally support abortion, they just don't talk about it in the South. Republicans generally oppose abortion, they just don't talk about it in the North.

Hence, Kuinich's chance in the Democratic strongholds of the country lie in his ability to prevent as many people as posible from knowing he's anti-abortion. As the enitire novelty of this guy is that's he's an anti-abortion Democrat, the chances of that not being posted on him like neon paint are close to nil.

Keep in mind, also, that despite the various arguments on types of abortion, ages of allowance, and so forth, the majority of the nation undeniably agrees that it is woman's fundamental right to have one.

Now, to enter troll mode, he won't have my vote. Women's rights are one of my key personal issues, and Democrat, liberal-leaning or not, I will not compromise to vote for someone who opposes abortion. And I only emphasize that becuase I'm one of those aggravated Democrats who need to be satisfied so I'm "brought back into the fold."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:10 AM on August 13, 2002


Oh, and another thing: this guy's not running because he's only a Congressman. As far as likely recognizable candidates go, he's got 50 Democratic Senators, a handful of governors, the Speaker and Minority whip, and even Jeffords and McCain to get above on the "Democrats love and know me" ladder. I don't have time to check fully right now, but name the last Congressman to be elected president. With the exception of Bush Sr. who was VP at the time, the previous five presidents were sitting Governors at election time.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:14 AM on August 13, 2002


the majority of the nation undeniably agrees that it is woman's fundamental right to have one.

Where is your data for that claim?
posted by insomnyuk at 9:19 AM on August 13, 2002


[Republicans generally oppose abortion, they just don't talk about it in the North. ]

There are always those of us who oppose abortion and don't feel we need to impose our beliefs on others via legislation. Call us anti-abortion, pro-life and pro-choice.

The only thing that motivates us to vote (the issue) for a pro-life candidate is when a pro-choice candidate seems to think we should pay for someone elses abortions.
posted by revbrian at 9:20 AM on August 13, 2002


XQ - The answer is JFK. He's also the last person "officially" from the Northeast to be elected president. (George HW Bush, of course, is from Greenwich, Connecticut; not Texas.)In fact, the last person from the Northeast to be elected Vice President was Spiro Agnew in 1972, who previously served as governor of Maryland.

revbrian - The issue crosses party lines quite frequently. In fact, in the Rhode Island U.S. Senate race in 2000, a pro-choice Republican defeated a pro-life Democrat.
posted by PrinceValium at 9:24 AM on August 13, 2002


He'd never win for the simple reason that he's not from the South. This entire chunk of the country pretty much votes Republican unless there's a Southern Democrat running. And as Gore found out in 2000, he wasn't southern enough. I'm predicting Edwards in 2004, or if Gore runs again, Gore/Edwards.
posted by spilon at 9:30 AM on August 13, 2002


Part of what you need to understand about Kucinich is the district he represents. Ranging from the Cleveland inner-city out to the wealthy western suburbs, he has this strange amalgam of working class and white-collar folks of various and sundry ethnicities. In the midst of classic liberals, there is also a sizeable Catholic base; Fenriss's comment is pretty on-target. Even with all these different folks, and even though he was mayor during the default-years, he has been able to garner broad appeal. If I recall correctly, the Greens didn't bother running a candidate at the last election (one where Nader did very well in Kucinich's district) and the Republicans trotted out a weak candidate.

I'm not sure how many folks around here really know that he is pro-life, nor am I sure that many care, given his track record for women's rights in general. He's been able to make that a non-topic here, but I don't know how successful he would be elsewhere. In any case, his pro-labor, pro-environment stance may be an appealing counterpoint to Bush.
posted by Avogadro at 9:44 AM on August 13, 2002


By marginalizing him and not giving him a shot at the nomination.
If they want a decent shot at defeating the Shrub machine...
posted by owillis at 9:57 AM on August 13, 2002


Oh, and this poll says abortion stands at 52-43 in favor of choice
posted by owillis at 10:01 AM on August 13, 2002


And that's the most conservative poll I've ever seen. Frightening actually.

Scary how the poll states that 50% of all people who are against abortion are aganst it because of religious beliefs.

But still, thank you Oliver, and this should answer you, insomnyuk.

In light of this thread, what's significant is also a reflection of what I was trying to emphasize before: there are more conservatives who support abortion rights then there are liberals who oppose them. That's why this guy won't be galvanizing any Progressive movement with his views.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:21 AM on August 13, 2002


I think that Kucinich might have some interesting possibilities. He is well-loved by labor and labor is big for Democrats in Iowa and huge in Michigan (key early states), and both those states have significant pro-life Democratic contingents as well. Although labor is not well established in the south, Kucinich could try to hold the (huge) pro-life vote there and pick up the black vote with his progressive stance (and I don't think his pro-life position will hurt him too much with influential black preachers in Alabama and Mississippi.)

I would have to expect that he'd run aground in California, New York, etc.

What would be fascinating to me would be a California-New York confrontation between Kucinich and Lieberman, where liberals would essentially have to decide if abortion was, in itself, more important than all other issues combined.
posted by MattD at 10:24 AM on August 13, 2002


XQ... while we can certainly agree that Kucinich's pro-life views aren't going to get the hearts aflutter in Madison, Berkeley, or on the Upper West Side, are you suggesting that the remainder of his views (by hypothesis better loved there) will go unheard in those precincts simply because he is pro-life? Would those folks prefer a Lieberman to him, simply on the grounds of abortion, or a can't-win-spoiler like Nader?*


* NB, by saying "can't-win-spoiler" I'm not invalidating a vote for Nader or saying that spoiling might not be a valuable thing for Green voters to achieve, just saying that it is a deliberate choice that those who'd otherwise vote Democrat make...
posted by MattD at 10:28 AM on August 13, 2002


Scary how the poll states that 50% of all people who are against abortion are against it because of religious beliefs

I hope this doesn't derail the thread, but why is it "scary"? Why would someone using their religion as a basis for their opinion scare you?
posted by internal at 10:30 AM on August 13, 2002


Scary how the poll states that 50% of all people who are against abortion are aganst it because of religious beliefs.

Scary that so many are religious or that they use religious values to guide their morals? While I agree on the first, the second seems quite normal. After all, religions are, largely, moral systems.
posted by andrew cooke at 10:38 AM on August 13, 2002


sorry. didn't check on preview....
posted by andrew cooke at 10:39 AM on August 13, 2002


Why would someone using their religion as a basis for their opinion scare you?

Something to do with someone using their religion as a basis for supporting legislation which would make their religious views law, I s'pect.

Obviously we all bring our own personal beliefs (and life experiences and prejudices and pet peeves and bad hair days) into the voting booths with us, but while I'm okay with letting the question of a one-cent tax to pay for a new road be decided by the majority, I---as an atheist---am a hell of a lot less enthusiastic about codified-morality-by-popular-vote.

*hoping like hell someone doesn't feel the need to point out that murder of a grown adult is immoral and therefore atheists must, in order to be philosophically consistent, want homicide laws taken off the books, so that we can all live in our godless utopias of moral relativity and blah blah blah missingthepointcakes.
posted by Sapphireblue at 10:42 AM on August 13, 2002


David Bonior (former US Representative for Michigan) ran for governor here this year as a Democrat who (paraphrase) "opposed abortion personally, but would not fight laws allowing it if elected governor". He was defeated by Jennifer Granholm, the current Attorney General, and the only Democrat in our Republican state government, who is very vocally pro-choice despite having to uphold laws passed by our very conservative State Legislature/Governor (who thank god is term limited) limiting access to abortion.

I don't know if it was his beliefs on abortion that got him defeated, or his otherwise very environmentally-aware/very-liberal record, but I found it refreshing for a democrat to actually admit that he was pro-life. Bonior simply stated that as a Catholic, he felt that life began at conception. Well, I respect his right to that view.

I consider myself pro-choice, but the fact that Bonior was pro-life didn't dissuade me from considering him as a candidate. It was his platform as a whole. Granted, I make it a point to vote for pro-choice candidates, but at least Kucinich isn't hiding his stance in the hopes of getting elected. It's not popular to be pro-life in the Democratic Party, but I don't think it's too popular to be pro-choice in the Republican Party, and I believe there are Republicans who identify themselves as such.

Everyone is entitled to their opinions, I just wish they wouldn't try to force it on everyone else.
posted by greengrl at 10:52 AM on August 13, 2002


What Sapphireblue said. I have no problem, or for that matter even the right, to say someone can't believe abortion is wrong and bad. Hell, it's not like I'm HAPPY women have to go out and terminate their pregnancies. The physical and emotional conflict they have to deal with is something I am both thankful and remorseful at the same time that I will never have to deal with.

What scares me is the fact that among the people who actively want abortion legally forbidden, according to this poll half of them want the law changed because God said so.

There is, of course, a ridiculously large difference between being against the concept of abortion and being against the inherent right to have one.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 10:54 AM on August 13, 2002


As a Clevelander, though I try to maintain a very objective stance on Kucinich, I still think he's a nut job. Mind you, not Traficant-quality nut job, but in his own right he is.

I think someone else here put it perfectly: he's a populist.
posted by tgrundke at 10:54 AM on August 13, 2002


Though an atheist, I'm opposed to abortion myself, at least in how it has been used as an acceptable method of routine birth control for some (I've met enough women who have had several, and still take little responsibility for themselves); however, particularly as I will never have to participate in the decision myself (being a gay man with bisexual tendencies extending only to the incredible Sara Pezzini (Yancy Butler) on Witchblade), I would never force my personal feelings about this onto women through the legal system. Until there is full legal enforcement of a man's responsibility to his children (good luck), women should have all options open to them.

Also, you can bet your ass that no matter where some politician stands on abortion, if his teenage daughter needs one, she'll get it whether it's legal or not.
posted by troybob at 11:00 AM on August 13, 2002


Something to do with someone using their religion as a basis for supporting legislation which would make their religious views law, I s'pect.

I'm not sure that I could remove my religious views (disclosure- I'm Catholic) before entering the voting booth, but you've already acknowledged that. What I am not sure is if someone would vote because of their particular religion's point-of-view. I guess I am more inclined to believe that people generally choose their religion based on their beliefs. One's denomination will either reinforce their beliefs, or in cases where one disagrees with the "party line" (as I often do), the choice will generally be to vote one's conscience rather than what Pope/Bishop/Reverend "X" deems theologically orthodox.
posted by Avogadro at 11:03 AM on August 13, 2002


Even though I'm a pro-choice democrat, abortion is one issue that I'm sympathetic enough to the other side that it will not stop me from voting for a pro-life candidate for, let's say, the Senate. It's a complicated issue, with competing moral interests on both sides. I don't think I could seriously support a pro-life candidate for president, however.
posted by gspira at 11:04 AM on August 13, 2002


I apologize for going off topic, but I need to mention that "I'm gay, except for Witchblade" is one of the most brilliant statements I have ever heard in my life, and I don't know why.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:10 AM on August 13, 2002


There are a lot of Catholics (such as myself) who desperately want to vote for Democrats, but we will not do it unless they adopt the right position on abortion. I used to live in a heavily Catholic district, and we had a pro-life Democrat representative. It was great.

I'm not ashamed of being a single-issue voter. Every other issue is one that reasonable people can disagree on because it involves making controversial prudential judgments about how best to achieve ends we have in common. Abortion isn't like that; abortion has to do with disagreements over what ends we must have in common. That's why a person who does not understand why abortion can never be legal is not fit to hold public office.

Give me two pro-life candidates to choose from, and I won't be a single-issue voter any more.
posted by peeping_Thomist at 11:21 AM on August 13, 2002


I ---as an atheist---am a hell of a lot less enthusiastic about codified-morality-by-popular-vote.

Sapphireblue:

I've been thinking about this for the last 20 minutes or so. Maybe you can help me out with something.

First of all, I think we can both agree that the American system of criminal law is, at least in part, a system of morality-based law. The only way to avoid saying that, the only way to totally remove moral concerns from the criminal law, is to say that criminal law should be totally operated for the good of the people. That leads to all sorts of bad places, such as punishing an innocent man unjustly if his punishment will stop an impending riot that would kill several other innocents, etc.

So I'm assuming you'll agree that our system of criminal law at least takes moral considerations into account.

Given that -- and here's where I need your help -- it seems to me that there are only four possible basis upon which our criminal law system can be based:

1) An ethical system founded on religious values (theocracy)
2) An ethical system founded on non-religious values (indestinguishible from theocracy, i think. But more on that in a minute)
3) Majority rule (mob rule)
4) Utilitarian good (authoritarian, Rousseau-like view of state supremacy)

Okay. Now, unless I'm missing something, you're in a bit of a quandary. You've said that you don't want #3 (morality-by-majority). #2 seems untenable, unless you're willing to say that non-religious ethical systems are somehow inherently better than religious ethical systems. Most people aren't willing to go that far, and indeed, the American Constitution forbids it. Most Americans would reject #4, because that's just not our style.

Which brings us back to #3. In it's early days, America was a #3 founded on #1, nowadays it is becoming a #3 founded on #2. The difference is relevant in terms of our social direction as a country, but not in terms of the normative basis of our laws.

So I don't understand how you can reject the validity of majority rule, even (perhaps especially) when it concerns moral issues. Would you be willing to explain a bit more?
posted by gd779 at 11:23 AM on August 13, 2002


A few years ago I attended a fundraiser for a Burma Democracy group at American University in DC at which Kucinich gave the keynote address. It was a decent speech, but what was cool was that my wife and I ran into him on the Metro afterward on our way home. I don't know how many Congressfolk ride the Metro at all, let alone at 10 pm. He was very friendly, we discussed Burma and he talked a bit about his ideas for a Dept. of Peace.

That said, I don't think he has a snowball's chance of winning, but, like Nader's, his campaign would spotlight issues that would otherwise be ignored by corporate Dems and Republicans.
posted by Ty Webb at 11:25 AM on August 13, 2002


I think for many people, the abortion issue can be a turning point, but not enough so that in a very close race (read: 2000 Gore/Bush) that it swings the vote heavily one way or another. If an election was held on abortion issues alone, I'm pretty sure that the pro-choice candidate would win by a margin, unless they were massively uncharismatic.

troybob: Until there is full legal enforcement of a man's responsibility to his children (good luck), women should have all options open to them.

Why should that matter? There are many other reasons for abortion other than 'the man won't accept responsibility,' that are more painful, decision-wise than the 'oops, the condom broke,' and I would suspect are the more typical reasons for abortions today.

For me, I don't think I could ever vote for a pro-life candidate, unless I was convinced the opposition candidate was completely insane and would possible send us back to living in the middle ages.

Sapphireblue - atheists can support laws against murder, since it does cause problems for the social group, regardless of its immorality (there are many reasons why murder is bad that are not based in religion). Anarchists, of course, are a different story.
posted by rich at 11:26 AM on August 13, 2002


Because government has grown so large, we inevitably ask the taxpaying and voting public to fund other people's moral choices. So, we argue about what the moral position of the government should be, instead of, how large the government should be.
posted by paleocon at 11:43 AM on August 13, 2002


I like Dennis Kucinich for saying things like this, but I probably wouldn't vote for him due to his economic policies. He seems like a decent guy though, something which is so rare in politics today.
posted by insomnyuk at 12:04 PM on August 13, 2002


Who would want the guy who was ranked the seventh-worst big city mayor in history to run our country? According to the book:

Only thirty-one years old when elected, Cleveland's "boy mayor" had failings that were not the sins of venality or graft for personal gain, but rather matters of style, temperament, and bad judgement in office. Kucinich earned seventh place the hard way: by his abrasive, intemperate, and chaotic administration. He barely survived a recall vote just ten months in office, then disappeared for five weeks, reportedly recuperating from an ulcer. When he got back into the political fray, his demagogic rhetoric and slash-and-burn political style got him into serious trouble when he stubbornly refused to compromise and led Cleveland into financial default in late 1978 - the first major city to default since the Great Depression. That led also to Kucinich's defeat and exit from executive office. Out of office, he dabbled in a Hollywoodesque spirit world and once believed that he had met Shirley MacLaine in a previous life, seemingly confirming his critics' charges that he was a "nutcake." After that, he experienced downward mobility, losing races for several other offices and finally ending up with a council seat; but more recently, he climbed back up to a seat in Congress. Bad judgement, demagoguery, and default also spelled political failure in the eyes of twenty-five of our experts, who ranked Dennis, whom the press called "Dennis the Menace", as seventh-worst.

Um, no thanks.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:06 PM on August 13, 2002


Umm... that last couple of presidents we had came from states that ranked near the bottom, or at the bottom, for most rankings - from schooling to economic to environmental.
posted by rich at 12:13 PM on August 13, 2002


He was defeated by Jennifer Granholm, the current Attorney General...

Folks, remember the name Jennifer Granholm. She very possibly could become the first female candidate for President of the United States. She's sharp and charismatic, and is climbing the political ladder very fast.

(on preview ... rich, Kucinich wasn't ranked seventh-worst solely because his city (not even a state, mind you) did poorly, but rather because his own political skills and personality were so damaging that Cleveland went bankrupt)
posted by pardonyou? at 12:18 PM on August 13, 2002


Give me two pro-life candidates to choose from, and I won't be a single-issue voter any more.

I've got a better idea. How about we give you two pro choice candidates and let's keep our religion out of politics?
posted by nofundy at 12:29 PM on August 13, 2002


I've got a better idea. How about we give you two pro choice candidates and let's keep our religion out of politics?

Ah, bullshit. People make political choices based on their own personal beliefs. The origin of those beliefs -- whether from religion or one's own sense of what's "right" -- is irrelevant. In the abortion context, a person who votes pro-life is not using the issue as a way to inject Catholicism (for example) into politics, he or she is simply acting consistent with their belief that life begins at conception, and that taking a life (thus defined) should be prohibited. By your logic, any position that happens to coincide with the position of religion should automatically lose. That's not what church/state separation is about.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:02 PM on August 13, 2002


She very possibly could become the first female candidate for President of the United States. She's sharp and charismatic, and is climbing the political ladder very fast.

um. not till they overturn that nitpicky "born in the US" thing.
posted by judith at 1:06 PM on August 13, 2002


In the abortion context, a person who votes pro-life is not using the issue as a way to inject Catholicism (for example) into politics, he or she is simply acting consistent with their belief that life begins at conception, and that taking a life (thus defined) should be prohibited.

pardonyou?, that too is bullshit. Ask any hard-line conservative who thinks Bush is too much of a moderate and they'll eventually go off on how the liberals and the godless heathens of America are removing the rightfulplace of God in the government. The 2000 GOP debate proved this; Gary Bauer and Alan Keyes could hardly NOT mention abortion without using the word God.

And give me a break here- John "cover the heathen carvings" Ashcroft and George W. "My personal role model is Jesus Christ" Bush aren't tryng to inject their religion into government? To say that there aren't people out there who vote to get their religion enforced, and to say there aren't people out there who vote to ban abortion because they think God approves is ridiculous.

I mean, what's the entire Pledge of Allegiance debate about? You mean to tell me you didn't see a single person on television go apeshit over that ruling and go off on a tangent about how the country's going to hell because we won't allow God in our nation's daily life?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:17 PM on August 13, 2002


Mario Cuomo was opposed -- personally, as a Catholic -- to abortion. But he always said that he would never have acted against women's rights as a politician
Worked for him in NY State races.
His real chances on a national race of course, are anybody's guess since he never actually ran for president

Btw, on the abortion debate: there's only one thing that could actually turn American politics into something interesting: that is, if the Supremes ever manage to overturn Roe vs Wade -- and if W. gets another 4 years, it will probably happen.
Unless of course he nominates one of those damn closet liberals
Sometimes Republican presidents make those mistakes
posted by matteo at 1:25 PM on August 13, 2002


XQ, I'm not talking about Bush or Ashcroft or the Pledge of Allegiance. I could care less. What I objected to was nofundy's insinuation that peeping_Thomist's statement that he would prefer a pro-life candidate was the equivalent of trying to inject religion into politics. And that's simply not true. He's trying to inject his beliefs into politics (as is nofundy -- as are you). The fact that he may have derived those beliefs from religion just isn't a church/state separation issue.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:27 PM on August 13, 2002


judith: um. not till they overturn that nitpicky "born in the US" thing.

Oops. Well, she'll just have to be a damn fine governor then. And isn't British Columbia part of the United States?
posted by pardonyou? at 1:37 PM on August 13, 2002


I'm pretty sure it's part of Canada.

And Matteo- half the SC justices that oppose abortion were appointed by a Democrat President and/or put in power with Democratic Senate support. Al Gore voted to put Clarence Thomas on the bench, and there's not a damn thing he can do to spin that around for me.

In other words, don't think it's just because of Bush that the overturn can happen. The outcome of the 2002 elections will definitely determine how the debate will go, though.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:42 PM on August 13, 2002


I will vote only for pro-choice candidates and basically every other issue is negotiable.

My problem is IF you believe that abortion is wrong because of your belief in God, then that IS injecting your religion into politics and, more importantly, into MY life. If you believe that it's wrong and you've arrived at that conclusion through your own independent thought processes rather than spoon fed dogma of your religion, then I have a much less hard time with it.

As for this guy, I sincerely hope that the Democratic party will never nominate a pro-life candidate because that is the day I switch from being a life-long Democrat to an independent. Secondly (and entirely off subject,) I sincerely hope that the Democratic party isn't stupid enough to nominate Al Gore again, just because it's "his right." Bah.
posted by aacheson at 1:45 PM on August 13, 2002


The rule is in the Constitution is that one must be a "natural born citizen" to be elected. While all people born in the United States are natural born citizens, not all people born outside the United States are not.

For example, any biological child of a woman United States citizen born anywhere in the world is a "natural born citizen." I believe, but am not sure, that a child of a non-citizen wife of a U.S. citizen husband is also a "natural born citizen." (I believe that the rule for illegitimate children of U.S. citizen men and non-citizen woman is that they are NOT natural born citizens, but must be naturalized upon their father's petition.)
posted by MattD at 1:56 PM on August 13, 2002


XQUZYPHYR (nice name btw)
The Rehnquist-Kennedy-Scalia-Thomas axis is Republican nominated, XQUZY: they oppose abortion and are all republican nominated. By Reagan and Bush senior
BUT Thomas aside, not many of them seemed worthy of a Bork-like treatment -- you know, those wars tend to get ugly and cost political capital in the Senate. Senators just vote yes if the justice is not a total freak, and move on -- not ther problem, ever unless in Gore's case (his Scalia vote) the politically motivated decision comes back to bite them in the ass
Nixon had two right-wing Supreme Court nominees shot down in the 70's and had to choose safe Harry Blackmun as a third choice out of desperation. Old Harry from Minnesota who a few months later gave him Roe vs Wade

Now you have O'Connor, Reagan nominated, who seems to have doubts. We'll see if she stays on the Court much longer (she's been sick in the past)

It's the prochoice justices (Breyer Ginsburg Stevens and Souter) who are split between Democrat and Republican-nominated -- Stevens and Souter being the "traitors"
posted by matteo at 2:04 PM on August 13, 2002


a person who does not understand why abortion can never be legal is not fit to hold public office.

Dude, it IS legal and has been since 22 January 1973. Meanwhile, I’m trying to think of under what circumstances I could vote for an anti-choice candidate. Hmmm. That’s really hard. Hey — was that dead guy that beat John Ashcroft for Missouri senate seat pro-life?* Well, maybe if those were my options...


*Sorry, no disrespect to the Carnahans. Merely an extra tomato in the direction of JA. PS: Hi, Carnivore and Eschelon guys! Have a good day! (Under God!) And how do I get the small font?
posted by mimi at 2:07 PM on August 13, 2002


Mimi: you use the <small> tag.
like this.

(View source is your friend)
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 2:11 PM on August 13, 2002


was that dead guy that beat John Ashcroft for Missouri senate seat pro-life?
Zombie movies aside, I believe most dead people would be.

(that was a joke)
posted by thirteen at 2:19 PM on August 13, 2002


There is that odd little group of vegan lefties who are opposed to abortion. I've got admire their consistency, if you think killing a shrimp is murder, I guess blastula-stage pregnancy isn't too far off.

Though anti-choice vegans are consistent, the same can be said of pro-choice vegans for two reasons: 1)most vegans are not campaigning to make eating meat illegal; they make a personal choice not to consume it themselves but are not forcing their moral decisions on others, as anti-choice voters wish to do; and 2)the degree of what you sacrifice is wildly different. Not eating a shrimp has far less impact than being an alien pod for 9 months to create a new person who will be your responsibility for the rest of your life, and therefore one has greater flexibility in ethical decisions (like killing in self defense vs. just for fun)
posted by mdn at 3:20 PM on August 13, 2002


Why is this still an issue in the USA? Why is it, for so many of the posters to this thread, the issue that determines whether someone is worthy of receiving a vote? The only time abortion enters British electoral politics is when the Pro-Life Alliance gets its proposed electoral broadcasts kept off-air on taste and decency grounds. Like homosexuality and capital punishment, abortion is no longer a political issue in this country: it's one to argue amongst ourselves.
posted by riviera at 3:57 PM on August 13, 2002


My problem is IF you believe that abortion is wrong because of your belief in God, then that IS injecting your religion into politics and, more importantly, into MY life.

That's a pretty broad definition of "injecting religion" into your life. By that same definition, anyone who came to any political belief through sunbscription to any ideology (X) could be accused of injecting X into your life.

If you believe that it's wrong and you've arrived at that conclusion through your own independent thought processes rather than spoon fed dogma of your religion, then I have a much less hard time with it.

The assertion that a person of faith could not think independantly, or arrive at a conclusion that wasn't spoon fed dogma, is just ignorant.

Also, I have anarchist friends who subscribe to dogma more ridiculous than many religions; should their views be discounted too?
posted by Ty Webb at 4:06 PM on August 13, 2002


A couple of noteworthy links on the man for those that want to dig deeper on him. I hope he throws his hat in and gives a nice shakeup to the demo primaries...

a recent(ish) speech made in seattle by kucinich that appeared in The Nation...

Studs Terkel's essay in support of a Kucinich presidential run.
posted by mantid at 4:57 PM on August 13, 2002


I don't know... abortion was always a weird one to me. On the one hand, I can't say I'd be in support of it. But if I was ever put in the situation where I'd have to arrange one, I probably would.

I'm just not buying the whole "life begins at conception" argument. I mean, I don't think 8 1/2 month old fetuses should be aborted, because (as many premature births have shown) they are living beings and can survive. But there's a line somewhere that determines that something is a living organism, and I don't know where it is. Or maybe there's no line, just a long blur.

Also, I can't stand one-issue voters.
posted by nath at 5:32 PM on August 13, 2002


riviera: Why is this still an issue in the USA?

Well, it could be optional as opposed to compulsory voting, but the UK has it too. So that's not it. Maybe it's a different way of viewing the option to vote. In the USA it seems to me that a very large amount of 'drumming up' goes on, ie anti-choicers, civil rights activists, home-schoolers, etc (all of whom are more or less single issue voters, on their issue of choice) drop flyers, run buses, organise church and association members to vote, etc etc. So in response to this, wise politicians emphasise their chosen single-issues. I don't get this impression from the UK election news, where voting seems to be somewhat more about party platforms than personality (as it is in Australia, where voting is compulsory).
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:17 PM on August 13, 2002


Avogadro: I guess I am more inclined to believe that people generally choose their religion based on their beliefs.

But how often do people choose their own religion? It seems to me that most accept their parents' without a struggle.

The assertion that a person of faith could not think independantly, or arrive at a conclusion that wasn't spoon fed dogma, is just ignorant.

That really isn't what aechaeon said at all.

Ty Webb: By that same definition, anyone who came to any political belief through sunbscription to any ideology (X) could be accused of injecting X into your life.

Only if they are trying to get a law passed that forces X into my life.

Also, I have anarchist friends who subscribe to dogma more ridiculous than many religions; should their views be discounted too?

Yes.
posted by bingo at 1:13 AM on August 14, 2002


The assertion that a person of faith could not think independantly, or arrive at a conclusion that wasn't spoon fed dogma, is just ignorant.

That really isn't what aechaeon said at all.


Actually, it was a clear implication.

By that same definition, anyone who came to any political belief through sunbscription to any ideology (X) could be accused of injecting X into your life.

Only if they are trying to get a law passed that forces X into my life.


Or trying to have something banned that they find objectionable, like slavery for instance. Under aacheson's definition, and apparently yours, anyone who came to an abolitionist position on slavery through religious faith would be "inserting religion" in others' lives, rather than acting on a political principle, however arrived at.

Also, I have anarchist friends who subscribe to dogma more ridiculous than many religions; should their views be discounted too?

Yes.


Oh, sorry, I thought you were being serious.
posted by Ty Webb at 8:38 AM on August 14, 2002


Actually, it was a clear implication.

aacheson said: If you believe that it's wrong and you've arrived at that conclusion through your own independent thought processes rather than spoon fed dogma of your religion, then I have a much less hard time with it.

Ty Webb said: The assertion that a person of faith could not think independantly, or arrive at a conclusion that wasn't spoon fed dogma, is just ignorant.

There really is no implication there that people of faith can't think outside of their religious beliefs. His statement allows for religious people who oppose abortion for non-religious reasons.

Under aacheson's definition, and apparently yours, anyone who came to an abolitionist position on slavery through religious faith would be "inserting religion" in others' lives, rather than acting on a political principle, however arrived at.

Yes, that's absolutely right. And if nobody could come up with a better reason to outlaw slavery than "God said so according to my religion," we would be living in some sort of alternate universe.

Oh, sorry, I thought you were being serious.

I was being completely serious. The fact that you asked the question with an obviously snitty rhetorical intention doesn't change the fact that I have the right to answer it.
posted by bingo at 10:55 AM on August 14, 2002


There really is no implication there that people of faith can't think outside of their religious beliefs. His statement allows for religious people who oppose abortion for non-religious reasons.

Again, i think it'a pretty clear, but not worth arguing over. As far as his "allowing" for religious people who oppose abortion for non-religious reasons, that's just presumptuous. How much of an ingredient in one's political views does religion have to be for you to consider those views illegitimately gotten?

And if nobody could come up with a better reason to outlaw slavery than "God said so according to my religion," we would be living in some sort of alternate universe.

Understood, but this ignores the fact that religious faith was one of the primary motivaters behind the abolition movement. Millions of Americans "inserted" their religion into the lives of millions of other Americans, and thank goodness for it.

I was being completely serious. The fact that you asked the question with an obviously snitty rhetorical intention doesn't change the fact that I have the right to answer it.

Where did I say you didn't have that right? Not only do you have the right to answer, you have the right to answer with complete nonsense, just as you chose to. Do you really think that someone's views should be discounted based on some perceived adherence to particular dogma? If so, who decides how much dogma is too much?
posted by Ty Webb at 11:55 AM on August 14, 2002


How much of an ingredient in one's political views does religion have to be for you to consider those views illegitimately gotten?

Enough of an ingredient such that the person in question would not hold those views at all if it weren't for their adherence to the religion.

Understood, but this ignores the fact that religious faith was one of the primary motivaters behind the abolition movement. Millions of Americans "inserted" their religion into the lives of millions of other Americans, and thank goodness for it.

I would argue that most of those people were not motivated by their religion. They used their religion to justify what they were doing. But the same religious text, more or less, had been in use for many centuries of slavery beforehand, in many countries. And many slaveowners believed themselves to be religious people, both during the civil war and in the centuries leading up to it. And was the North a "more religious" culture than the south? Do you think that the emancipation proclamation was motivated by religion? Or the war itself, for that matter?

Do you really think that someone's views should be discounted based on some perceived adherence to particular dogma? If so, who decides how much dogma is too much?

This is a strange question. Seriously. "Perceived adherence"? "How much dogma"? Whose perception are we talking about? Your anarchist friends? Bible-thumping pro-lifers? It seems to me that in both cases, the adherence to the dogma is being flaunted, leaving little room for misperception.

And if you mean the question "How much dogma is too much" seriously, then we must have different definitions of "dogma." Adherence to dogma is not something that can be experienced in degrees. That's what's wrong with it.
posted by bingo at 12:16 PM on August 14, 2002


How much of an ingredient in one's political views does religion have to be for you to consider those views illegitimately gotten?

Enough of an ingredient such that the person in question would not hold those views at all if it weren't for their adherence to the religion.


Wow, with due respect, your presumptuousness is astounding, and your reasoning here is circular, pretty much discounting any political belief which is derived through religious reflection. You also show a deep misunderstanding of the intrinsic role that the spiritual plays in many people's political positions.

I would argue that most of those people were not motivated by their religion. They used their religion to justify what they were doing.

That the majority of abolitionists arrived at their position through religion is a pretty well-established historical fact. Politically, from the point of view of federalist gov't, they were in the wrong. Morally they were in the right.

But the same religious text, more or less, had been in use for many centuries of slavery beforehand, in many countries. And many slaveowners believed themselves to be religious people, both during the civil war and in the centuries leading up to it.

I understand that, but that really doesn't address any point, other than religious texts can be made to say what you want them to say. I certainly wouldn't argue otherwise.

And was the North a "more religious" culture than the south? Do you think that the emancipation proclamation was motivated by religion? Or the war itself, for that matter?

No, I never claimed any of those things.

"Perceived adherence"? "How much dogma"? Whose perception are we talking about? Your anarchist friends? Bible-thumping pro-lifers? It seems to me that in both cases, the adherence to the dogma is being flaunted, leaving little room for misperception.

In the extreme cases you mention, yes dogma is being flaunted. But there are many religious people who arrive at their positions through religious reflection and wouldn't be called bible-thumpers, and their views shouldn't be delegitimized any more than someone who came to a position after contemplating Bakunin or Hayek. Were they overly influenced by the power of the writing? Perhaps, but it's not for you or me to dismiss their views because we don't like how they were gotten.

Adherence to dogma is not something that can be experienced in degrees.

That's simply incorrect. Many catholics, for instance, depart from Church dogma regarding full rights for homosexuals, but oppose abortion. I don't consider one view or the other illegitimate simply because one departs from dogma and one doesn't.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:10 PM on August 14, 2002


Wow, with due respect, your presumptuousness is astounding, and your reasoning here is circular, pretty much discounting any political belief which is derived through religious reflection. You also show a deep misunderstanding of the intrinsic role that the spiritual plays in many people's political positions.

Despite my ignorance, you haven't taught me much with this paragraph. What am I presuming that is so astounding? How is my reasoning circular? What is the role of the spiritual that I misunderstand so much?

That the majority of abolitionists arrived at their position through religion is a pretty well-established historical fact.

How is it possible to document the means by which the maority of abolitionists arrived at their convictions? Did they all keep diaries? Besides, I'm not saying that religion had nothing to do with it. I'm not even saying that some of them weren't claiming that it was all about religion.

Politically, from the point of view of federalist gov't, they were in the wrong. Morally they were in the right.

Don't you mean the confederate government? And if you don't, what are you talking about?

And was the North a "more religious" culture than the south? Do you think that the emancipation proclamation was motivated by religion? Or the war itself, for that matter?

No, I never claimed any of those things.


Yes, I know you didn't claim that those things were true. My point regarding the last item is that there were slavery advocates who believed that they were good Christians. In fact, many saw the slaves as either soul-less creatures who fell outside the biblical rules of how to treat one's fellow human being, or as savage heathens who were in effect being saved by their bondage, which sometimes included religious training. So it seems to me that it could be argued, with the same logic you're using, that such people came to their acceptance of slavery through religion. Would that be correct?

Were they overly influenced by the power of the writing? Perhaps, but it's not for you or me to dismiss their views because we don't like how they were gotten.

The point in this tangent that I was arguing, made my aeschon above, is that I don't want others legislating my activities solely based on their adherence to a religious dogma that I do not accept.

Adherence to dogma is not something that can be experienced in degrees.

That's simply incorrect. Many catholics, for instance, depart from Church dogma regarding full rights for homosexuals, but oppose abortion. I don't consider one view or the other illegitimate simply because one departs from dogma and one doesn't.


What you said is: Who decides how much dogma is too much? Yes, there are people who extract certain tenets from a dogma, and follow only those tenets. But such people are not following a dogma. The whole point of a dogma is that you aren't supposed to deviate from it. If you believe that you are allowed to deviate from a system, then you do not see that system as a dogma.
posted by bingo at 2:50 PM on August 14, 2002


Why are you people assuming that anyone holds the views they hold for any rational, let alone good, reason?

In my experience rationally held beliefs are extremely rare. Even smart people who make an effort in that direction (yeah, I do put myself in this category) can't be sure that all, or even most, of their beliefs are based on anything more substantial than the lamest prejudice of the dumbest moron in the crowd. It's a 'knowability of truth' problem, and there is no perfect solution.

All you can do is try.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:10 AM on August 15, 2002


Why are you people assuming that anyone holds the views they hold for any rational, let alone good, reason?

Yes! Precisely.

Though I'd go farther and say that truth is knowable, and that you can do more than just try. All you have to do, it seems to me, is choose your presuppositions carefully. (By presupposition, I of course mean those propositions that you believe to be self-evident and irrefutable. Everybody has them, because there's no way to not have them.)

There are only two main rules: First, you must accept your senses as generally true (otherwise there can be no knowledge at all). Second, you must choose presuppositions of method rather than presuppositions of substance. (ie, you must presuppose that "knowledge is based on the application of reason to observed facts" rather than "Christ did/didn't die and rise again, because that just does/doesn't make sense".)

Observe those two rules, and you get over the epistemological problems rather easily, I think.
posted by gd779 at 7:53 AM on August 15, 2002


Why are you people assuming that anyone holds the views they hold for any rational, let alone good, reason?

Everyone thinks everyone else is just like them. Human nature.
posted by kindall at 8:36 AM on August 15, 2002


I don't.
posted by bingo at 4:20 PM on August 15, 2002


« Older US Catholics soften their position on Jews.   |   Phil Spector is working again! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments