In too many recent races Democratic candidates backed away from supporting liberal positions on social issues. This hasn’t kept conservatives from voting against them, and I wonder how many potential Democratic voters saw no reason to vote Democratic as a result of this. I was pleased to see a report that this year many Democratic candidates in tight races are raising abortion rights. The New York Times reports:
Abortion rights is the flash point, being wielded by the left in hard-fought races from New York’s contest for governor, to Senate races in Florida and California, as Democratic candidates or groups try to rally their base and attract moderate Republican or independent women — a slice of the electorate that is even more coveted than in years past.
It used to be Democrats who feared “wedge” issues; they allowed Republicans to cleave off conservative Democratic voters. But this time around, Republicans want to talk about economic anxiety — widely shared by voters, polls say — rather than narrow social issues that might frighten off moderates.
The Democratic strategy is at least drawing the attention of voters. But it comes with a risk, too: Does selling the idea that Republican fiscal warriors are social zealots in disguise send a shiver of fear down voters’ spines, or make Democrats look like they are avoiding the subject on most voters’ minds?
It definitely makes sense to point out to voters that there are important issues beyond the economy (not that voting Republican on economic issues makes any sense). Highlighting the opposition to abortion rights by most Republicans shows a fundamental difference between the parties. The belief by Republicans that the government has the right to control an individual’s body also helps show that Republican talk of small government is all talk designed to obfuscate the real beliefs of the authoritarian right.