Friday, March 10, 2006

S for Serious

Slight change of focus.

Digby and Michael Berube both point out a simple fact about "theocons", one that should serve as a warning to those who think that the "I didn't think about the women" argument will solve things by itself:

They really mean what they say. They really want to do what they say. They really do want to get rid of abortion and birth control and everything else they say, and while moderates can be embarassed by the details, on a fundamental level they simply don't care.

First Berube, then Digby.

The idea is that an actual abortion ban would go too far: the first back alley death, and the Republican Party is in deep trouble. Well, maybe and maybe not, folks. You might think, along similar lines, “the first hideous death by torture in the War on Terror, and the Republican Party is in deep trouble,” or “the first unconstitutional power grab by the executive branch, and the Republican Party is in deep trouble,” or “the first data-mining program of domestic spying, and the Republican Party is in deep trouble,” or “the first systemic corruption scandal involving Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham and Tom DeLay, and the Republican Party is in deep trouble,” and you’d be, ah, wrong, you know. Besides, there’s a nasty time lag between that first back-alley death and the repeal (if any) of a state’s draconian abortion law, and in that time-lag, that state’s Republican Party might or might not be in deep trouble. It’s hard to unseat incumbents in this jerry-built and gerrymandered system, after all. So there’s no guarantee that popular outrage against back-alley deaths would jeopardize a state’s elected GOP officials en masse. But we can be pretty sure that women with unwanted pregnancies would be . . . how shall we say? in deep trouble.
This is a vital point that is often missed by the "strategists" out there: embarrassment is not necessarily going to stop someone from doing something. If you truly believe that what you do is right, and don't care about how you're perceived by those who disagree, then you aren't going to relent when you've done something embarrassing in their eyes. Besides, with news being what it is, embarrassing and extreme acts by people in "safe" positions are actually a hidden bonus, because the drive to create a "balanced" narrative will lead to your act having moved the goalposts of acceptability.

(We've already seen this happen. Even 10 years ago, something like South Dakota's proposal would have had the entire country screaming bloody murder. Now....)

They really mean it. This is no bullshit. There is no downside to overturning Roe for them --- and if there is, they don't care. If they want to overturn Griswald, they'll do that too. They fought the gun control fight when people were freaking out over crime in the streets and political assassinations. Conservative absolutists don't give up just because liberals get up-in-arms. They certainly don't care if we think they are shrill.

I believe that this fight is going to have to be fought on a number of fronts. We must make some decent people who have not fully explored the ramifications of their stand take a good hard look at it from a moral and logical standpoint. They need to be shown that their leaders (in the mode of Jack Abramoff and Ralph Reed) are very cynical and deceitful. What they say to their flock is very different from what they believe...

....But more than anything else we must accept the fact that these people are serious. They want to outlaw abortion and they want to curtail people's access to birth control. They aren't lying. And as they've shown with gun rights, they are in it for the long haul. We must be just a stubborn as they are and seek to wear them down rather than let them wear us down.

This is not an issue for tweaking. Let's tweak on the Ten Commandments or public funds for parochial schools or something else if it is necessary to adjust for this family values crap in order to win elections. State mandated forced childbirth and denial of access to birth control cannot be negotiated or finessed. This one's going to have to be fought out head to head, day to day to a final reckoning. That's what they are going to do and if we don't recognise that and act accordingly, we will lose.
Similar words, but from a somewhat different standpoint. It speaks to the core problem that Dem strategists have: that it is not all about who is the best steward of the economy, and it is not all about the relative spending on entitlement programs, and it is not about how many times you try and fail to change the subject. At some point, you have put the polls away and actually believe in something.

They sure as hell do.

Edit: that said, I do disagree with the idea that Thomas Frank had totally ignored this in what's the matter with Kansas... one of his points that is often overlooked is that while the "money Republicans" had sought to simply exploit the religious conservatives, the latter have been slowly taking over the party due to their greater dedication and numbers. I don't think Frank was ignoring the threat they posed, just emphasizing the situation as it was. That situation is changing, and the means of that change was something that he did predict.

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