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September 06, 2012

DNC Happy to Exclude Female Dissenters In Its Ranks

Grim notes the surreal (and extreme) positions of both parties with respect to abortion:

The Republican platform on abortion calls for a total ban in all circumstances, even when the mother would otherwise die (and the child with her). The only way it could be purer would be to call for punishing abortionists as murderers.

The Democratic platform, by contrast, goes so far as to call for free abortions ("regardless of ability to pay") in all circumstances whatsoever, presumably right up to the moment of birth. Not only shall we permit any woman who wishes to kill a perfectly healthy child that is two minutes from birth, we shall require Catholics and Mormons and Muslims to help pay for it. Everyone will contribute to this national sacrament: we will all be accomplices, we will all provide material support for it. It's not clear that any greater purity is possible; I suppose we could endorse infanticide after birth.

... There is no wide public support for either set of propositions. The actual politicians who are running rarely adhere to these pure positions themselves, and might well not vote for a bill brought before them that attempted to enact these rules. The voters would probably punish anyone who actually attempted to enact either set of rules.

The DNC's abortion plank is particularly amusing in light of the Obama campaign's current messaging on "honoring women's voices" and how women don't support candidates who espouse "extreme" positions:

"The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right." So reads the 2012 Democratic National Committee platform.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi likes to attack "the extremism of the Republicans." But in that plank, the Democrats have shown themselves to be out of touch with not only the American people -- 72 percent of whom oppose public funding to pay for abortions, according to a Quinnipiac poll -- but also Democratic voters themselves.

As we noted the other day, for all their talk of inclusiveness, the Democrats only honor "women's voices" when they dutifully follow the party approved talking points. Dissenters - even female ones with talking ladyparts that inform their public policy preferences! - are, contra the usual progressive twaddle about dissent being necessary to a vibrantly inclusive democratic process, simply ignored. They might as well be completely invisible:

If anyone is trying to silence women's voices, it's Albright (who seems to be unaware that the pro-life movement is full of real, live women). Failing to acknowledge this fact amounts to ignoring these women; acting as though they don't matter. This is something we thought only The Patriarchy was guilty of. Apparently, we were wrong: as far as the DNC is concerned, dissenting female voices might as well not exist. They can be safely disregarded; marginalized.

We've all heard quite a bit over the past few years about the importance of The Base. But what does it say about both parties that The Base has managed to cow both parties into positions that are completely and totally inconsistent with not only the majority of voters, but with the majority of their own party members? What are we to think when, as one female Democrat points out so eloquently below, the base pushes the party into an official position that is deeply and fundamentally at odds with its own professed values?

A 2011 Gallup poll found that a minority of Democrats -- 38 percent -- believe that abortion should be legal under any and all circumstances. That puts the majority of Democrats on the wrong side of what the administration likes to call "the war on women.

Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life, doesn't get why her party continues to marginalize her point of view. "This is what the Democratic Party historically has fought for -- the vulnerable, the needy and the unborn," she told me.
Politically, it doesn't make sense. The party needs anti-abortion Democrats to leverage a majority of the House.

Deeply, deeply weird stuff.

Posted by Cassandra at September 6, 2012 07:53 AM

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Comments

Party planks, and for that matter platforms are, IMO, nothing more than devices seeking to pander to all subgroups of the particular party in question. As you very properly note, they neither reflect what any candidate actually thinks nor do they predict how that candidate will govern if elected. A perfect illustration is the recent nit wit moment at the Democrat convention first stripping out references to God in their platform and then reinstateing those references over the objections of many if not most of the delegates. This makes sense how exactly?

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at September 6, 2012 11:53 AM

"Reinstating" No spell check...fingers..brain.

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at September 6, 2012 11:55 AM

Really not weird. People may want to split the difference, but this is really a binary issue. Either you are murdering children or you are not. Any attempt at "compromise" will go down in flames like they did with Slavery, an issue which was much less binary. The people writing the platforms have, of course, thought more about the issue then the rank and file, so of course they are more "extreme". Ah, it could be worse. They could formalize the current unspoken rule, "Abortion only if it's a girl"......

Posted by: Robert M Mitchell Jr. at September 6, 2012 12:25 PM

...the Democrats only honor "women's voices" when they dutifully follow the party approved talking points.

But this really shows how inclusive the Democrats are: they do this to everyone, of every group.

Dissent is not allowed at all, to the point they're wholly incapable even of hearing it. Just ask Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at September 6, 2012 01:00 PM

I would only comment on Grim's usage of 'surreal' and 'extreme' as being not at all equally applicable to the Party platforms.

With respect to abortion, both Parties may be extreme but in only in one platform – the Democrats' - does the irrational juxtaposition of devalued life and exalted convenience pass the test for 'surreal'.

And even in the event of both positions being extreme, not all extremes are qualitatively or quantitatively alike; nor does a de facto moral position suppose a legal desire; nor does an absence of language allowing for exceptions suppose no exceptions will be made.

And that's it... as far as persnickety is concerned.

Posted by: George Pal at September 6, 2012 02:24 PM

I think that some definition of the word "extreme" is in order here :)

The sense the Democrats are using it in, is in the context of representativeness, i.e., how widely the position is held, how many other people support the policy.

Regardless of the moral merit (or lack thereof) of a particular policy, it is "extreme" in the sense the Dems are using the term, if it is not widely supported among the electorate.

By this definition, both party platforms wrt abortion are therefore "extreme": only a very small number of Americans support criminalizing abortion (or prohibiting it) across the board, in all cases, to include rape, incest, or situations where not terminating the pregnancy would mean that a mother - possibly with other children who need here - would die.

We are talking about forcing one person to give her life for another. Not asking her, not trying to persuade her, but FORCING her. If that isn't extreme, I don't know what is.

Now let's take the other position, which is much easier for me to pick apart since it is so far removed from what I believe. The Dem platform doesn't have room for ANY limits to abortion. That is clearly extreme - I loved Grim's example of aborting a viable baby two days before term....and forcing other Americans to pay for it.

I know I don't need to explain what is extreme about this position to anyone here.

That said, I generally agree with George's comment here:

With respect to abortion, both Parties may be extreme but in only in one platform – the Democrats' - does the irrational juxtaposition of devalued life and exalted convenience pass the test for 'surreal'.

My use of "surreal" was meant to convey the odd willingness of both parties to adopt an official position that isn't supported by the majority of the party. And I think that's true for both parties here. It's surreal, not from a moral standpoint (though Grim might disagree with me here), but from a practical/political one. Consensus positions generally imply... consensus.

And in both cases, the party's official position on abortion does not reflect the consensus of most of the party.

Posted by: Cass at September 6, 2012 03:11 PM

Consensus positions generally imply... consensus.

Yeah, but in both cases consensus is what the capo di tutti capi says it is.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at September 6, 2012 03:40 PM

...Grim's usage of 'surreal' and 'extreme'...

As Cass noted, that was her framing of what I said. The way I described them at the linked post was "purely principled."

What I mean by that is that you can understand exactly what their principles are; and their stated positions follow naturally from the principles they adopted. There's no exception made, nor special pleading: everything follows from the adopted principle.

I don't actually agree with either position. I think that the Republican position is wrong because it ought at least to permit an exception in a case where the mother will die and the baby too -- in that case, we are dealing with a tragedy that is no one's fault, but we ought to save the life that we can save.

In cases where the mother's life is in danger but the child might live, I think Cass raises a good point about the possibility of other children. Since at least one death is certain, we're not here in the position of "saving life" but of choosing which death occurs. That's very different, morally, from creating a death where one would not otherwise occur.

So, I think the right moral position is to consider those two cases separately. Even then, you have to consider the question of how much you want the law and the state to be the enforcer of this moral code.

Morally, then, I think the proper principle is saving innocent life. The baby is always innocent; a mother whose life is endangered by the facts of her pregnancy is also innocent. Even then, there's a separate question of whether the law is the right tool -- once I didn't think so, but more and more it seems hard not to accept that the law may be required if we are to limit the massive number of abortions that our nation has come to accept.

Posted by: Grim at September 6, 2012 03:48 PM

And when there is no compromise middle of the road possible within a party, the odds of inter-party collaboration is non-existent.
Word-play, snippets, gotchas and snark while inefficiency, waste, fraud, ineptitude and payoffs lay waste to our future.

Its like the latest Geico ad in loonytoons land:
"What a strange place"

Posted by: tomg51 at September 6, 2012 04:06 PM

I think Cass raises a good point about the possibility of other children. Since at least one death is certain, we're not here in the position of "saving life" but of choosing which death occurs. That's very different, morally, from creating a death where one would not otherwise occur.

And there really are those "either/or" cases - either the pregnancy is terminated (and the baby dies) OR the mother will die. No matter which decision is made, someone will die. The mother's life would not be at risk at all in many cases, but for the pregnancy. Add in a situation where the mother was raped, and now we're talking about FORCING a woman who never consented to have sex in the first place, let alone bear a child, to give her life for the child's. That's just not right, and I don't trust the State to make those decisions. I don't want government to have that much power.

This is what bugs me so much about the "either you're murdering a child or you're not" viewpoint expressed by Robert. I'm not trying to pick on you, Robert, but I do want to address your comment because it interests me and I think there's a vitally important distinction or two to be made here. First, Robert's comment:

People may want to split the difference, but this is really a binary issue. Either you are murdering children or you are not. Any attempt at "compromise" will go down in flames like they did with Slavery, an issue which was much less binary.

The term "murder", aside from being emotionally charged, is not accurate. Murder is a legal term - it's not strictly synonymous with "killing" and can't be used interchangeably. Murder is unlawful killing, with malice - another legal term. So long as abortion remains legal, it cannot accurately be called "murder". It can be called "killing", because killing is merely the ending of life, and that's what occurs during abortion. So if we amend the statement to use "killing" rather than "murder", I accept it.

Now to the next troublesome part: "children". I believe this is also inaccurate. A "Child" is usually defined as a human being between birth and adolescence. There are clear distinctions between the various stages of human development, and they exist for a reason.

A fetus can't really do anything on its own. At the very beginning, it is really only a fertilized egg. It can't survive outside the womb, and the law generally recognizes this by distinguishing between a viable fetus - one that can survive on its own (but not for long - it is still relatively helpless) and one that is not yet viable. Likewise, people who use the word "child" to refer to a fetus (and I have) almost always use a qualifier: an unborn child. Leave it out, and we get the wrong mental image.

Once it's born, it's a baby or an infant. Less helpless than before - a baby can breathe on its own, for instance - but it can't do much else. If you don't tend it constantly and protect it, it will die. Once a baby learns to walk, we call it a toddler. Toddlers are more independent. They can, for instance, open the refridgerator and get a snack, but they can't drive to the store or make split pea soup. They also can't distinguish between Drano and food that's safe to eat. But in another year or so, you'll be able to take the latches off the cabinets. At about 3-4 years of age, toddlers pass another developmental milestone - they gain enough mastery of language to communicate with strangers and enough control over their emotions to separate some from their mothers. They know enough not to eat Drano or suck on electrical outlets (we hope). This is a child.

Eventually the child reaches adolescence, and now we call it a teenager. Teens think they're adults, but they still lack judgment and self control. They're not quite self sufficient, but they're pretty close... at least until you take away their allowance, in which case they regress with astonishing speed and you've got temper tantrums any toddler would be proud to call his own :p Some day the teen separates from its parents and provides for him- or herself. Since the teen has now assumed "adult" responsibilities, we call him or her an adult. He doesn't come around looking for handouts any more because he takes pride in being independent. He no longer sees himself as someone who needs taking care of... unless his name is Julia or he's been listening to too many Obama speeches, that is.

These are real distinctions. At each stage, they are all human but they are not all the same. We don't let babies vote. We don't let children drive cars on the interstate. We don't expect adults to suck their thumbs or babble or wear diapers or run around naked in public.

I understand that many people believe that human life begins at conception. The position of some churches is that even preventing conception from happening (using birth control, IOW) is a sin. I'm fine with that, but if you seek to have the government enforce that belief on me or anyone else against their will, you'll find a determined opponent here ...and I suspect many other conservatives would join me. I won't seek to prevent you from living by your values, but just as I don't want our government enforcing Muslim religious values on me, I will fight to the death to keep the government from coming into my marriage or bedroom and ordering me to conform to someone else's religious doctrine.

Now the 2nd part of Robert's comment:

The people writing the platforms have, of course, thought more about the issue then the rank and file, so of course they are more "extreme".

Do you think the folks who wrote the DNC plank have thought more about the issue of abortion than the 62% of Democrats who don't support unlimited abortion? I don't. Likewise, I find it hard to believe that anyone who would outlaw all abortion with no exceptions - even a true lifeboat exception where you could have two deaths (mother and baby) or only one death - has "thought more about the issue". That strikes me as more of a refusal to think carefully about the issue than anything else.

But I understand this is a fraught topic. I'm just trying to explain my reasoning, not make converts.

Posted by: Cass at September 6, 2012 05:36 PM

Yeah, but in both cases consensus is what the capo di tutti capi says it is.

You betcha, bub! The Mighty Oz has spoken... As some random Phrench Dude once said, "Le Parti, C'Est Moi"! And as my SpokesMouth DWS has said at my direction (or not, if it doesn't play well in the polls): "The party platform reflects the presidential candidate - he can't disassociate himself from it or disown it b/c he had the chance to insist those dirty peasants submit to his will".

Gosh - I sure hope I don't have to eat those words.

Posted by: Barack Obama at September 6, 2012 07:21 PM

I don't entirely disagree with the use of the term "murder" to describe the outcome of an abortion. Murder is an act with moral, as well as legal, aspects.

A legal abortion is not legally murder, but it may well be, still, morally murder. Convenience abortions, however legal, are still morally murder.

The grey areas are broad, though, not narrow. A pregnancy from rape? On what basis do we legitimize killing (to use Cassandra's neutral term in its intended neutrality) the baby here? Certainly the mother had no input into her pregnancy, but neither did the baby. Or fetus. Or embryo.

Incest? The same questions apply. There is the added aspect of the increased potential for genetic failures of varying degrees of severity from the inbreeding, but is this sufficient to kill the baby/fetus/embryo? We can extend this to situations where, due to medical technology, we can know the extent of genetic damage. Sarah Palin's grandson and Rick Santorum's daughter, though, are strong arguments for not terminating the pregnancy--killing the issue--just because of the realized genetic failures.

Yet there are situations where the genetic damage does justify termination. Where do we draw that line?

Life begins at conception? Whose conception? Test tube babies indicate that at least sometimes life does begin at conception, when humans do it in a lab.

We hire governments to set the boundaries of our morals only in vary narrow areas: murder of born humans, for instance, and lying. For the most part, though, free societies limit government's access to society's, and individual's, morals. I'm with Cass on this. Government has no need of prescribing morals to the free society for which it works.

But this demands far more vigilance on the part of the members of that society than we've been willing to effect until lately. Plato and Pericles both were right.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at September 6, 2012 07:29 PM

Now to the next troublesome part: "children". I believe this is also inaccurate. A "Child" is usually defined as a human being between birth and adolescence.

There are a number of usual definitions for child: I am still my mother's child, though I am not in fact still a child. The use of the technical term "fetus" tends to obscure the fact that the child is really a human being with significant capacity -- it may not be able to do much "on its own," but that will be true for a long time after birth. (This is one reason capacity is a terrible standard, if you wish to avoid licensing infanticide.)

As you know, the child begins to respond to its mother's voice (and its father's, if he gets close enough) while it is still in the womb. But more than any of that, the child has a purpose and an end of its own from conception. Its body is doing something essentially human: it is absorbing matter, and ordering it into the form of a human body with a unique, individual genetic code. Long before it begins to think and talk, it is a life and an individual.

Actually, the point you raise about teenagers is one I would read just the other way. There is substantial cultural difference between how adult people are at a given age, and substantial difference within cultures across historical periods. There are indisputable physical and hormonal issues, but they play out very differently if they are treated one way or the other: a young man can be ready for substantial responsibility at 15, and can be ready to undertake the duties of a Marine at 18, and can rise to an early level of commanding fellow Marines in the field by 19. Yet in cultures where there is no such responsibility imposed, or permitted, often a twenty-something acts much like an early teenager would here.

Posted by: Grim at September 6, 2012 07:32 PM

Hm. OK, my understanding of the official RC position( and I am not of that faith) on the mother vs child dilemma is that if the child can be baptised into the faith it is therefore saved and thus will not be damned even though it dies immediately. Therefore, if it is a choice between the mother( who has already been saved) or the child's life, one must choose the child. I personally do not agree with that position, but it is logically consistant,

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at September 6, 2012 09:12 PM

Eric, I think you meant to say Sarah Palin's son, rather than her grandson? Unless you're channelling Andrew Sullivan today, Heaven forbid.

Posted by: Texan99 at September 6, 2012 10:07 PM

Eric, I think you meant to say Sarah Palin's son, rather than her grandson?

Yeah, that's the one. Thanks

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at September 6, 2012 10:18 PM

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