RMC Responds: A Dangerous Political Path

ImageThis week on RMC Responds, we would like to look at one commenter’s observation that “a critical issue is that political discourse has been shifted so many yards to the right.”

It is true that in the right is currently more conservative than it has been in years, and we are beginning to see some of the side effects of this dramatic shift.  Public opinion on social issues has largely moved left or remained the same, yet the GOP is splitting with the majority and continuing right.  As a result, our political rhetoric has become absolute and uncompromising, and voters are finding the party’s message more difficult to swallow.

The debate over abortion is one illustration of this ideological divide.  Since the decision on Roe v. Wade, public opinion on legal abortion has remained steady.  Over 60% of people oppose overturning the decision, and, when polled, over 50% of people indicate that they think abortion should be legal in all or most cases; these numbers have shifted very little in the last 40 years, and they are likely to remain steady in the future.  The overall picture is that the nation is divided in a way that will not be resolved by any political debate.

As the public remains set in their division, however, the Republican Party insists on shifting to the extreme right on social issues.  Social conservatives have commandeered the party and without ever looking back are steering us towards destruction.  The problem lies not in extreme conservatives expressing their opinions, after all, we welcome all to join us in the big tent, but at issue is that these opinions have become the standard talking points for the party and a short-sighted mission for conservative politicians.  The abortion debate is not one that will be resolved on the public stage; it represents a deeply personal issue for those on both sides, and the only thing that the GOP is accomplishing by targeting this debate is a steady decline in popularity.  If we do not steer away from the extreme right soon, there will be no party left to represent the real Republican ideals ideals of small government and personal liberty.

There is a way for us to handle abortion as a national issue and revive the party.  Instead of rallying around hostile discourse, we must unite on common ground and work together to eliminate the need for the abortion debate itself.  Everyone would like to see the number of abortions reduced, but abortion as a national debate is benefiting no one and needs to be removed from the political arena.  It is time to refocus on what is truly important, the root of this social ail: prevention.

All Americans, no matter their political views, want to see the number of abortions reduced.  Neither side, however, is taking the appropriate steps to ensure a healthier and more promising future for our country.  It is time that we, as a nation united, turn our attention not to the consequences, but to the causes; the only way to resolve the debate is to eliminate the need for it.

Instead of emphasizing the social divide between our political parties, we as Americans should call on our leaders to find the common ground that will improve our health and our country.  The solution to our problem is found in a combination of abstinence plus comprehensive sex education, increased access to birth control, and smart investments in healthcare.  If Texas, North Carolina, and other states across the nation actually want to end abortion, then instead of targeting women they need to set their sights on creating comprehensive sex education and lowering barriers to accessing birth control.  Both parties claim that they are looking out for women; well, it is time that they all live up to their promises and work together to improve the lives of women and families everywhere.

And who knows, if we unite our nation for prevention we may even find ourselves working together on other critical issues.  Beginning with this one small step, we can build a road to the future, a path carefully constructed with common ground.

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