The Spectacle Blog

Who’s Pushing Social Issues Now?

By on 9.20.10 | 4:30PM

Americans are preoccupied with an ailing economy, so what do Democrats do? Fire off another mortar round in the culture wars — even while claiming that Republicans are the party side-tracked by social issues. What better way to distract voters from unemployment and the Dow than bring up abortion?

U.S. Sen. Roland Burris (D-Blagoville) has introduced an amendment to the defense authorization bill that would upend a long-time ban on abortions at overseas U.S. military hospitals. Soldiers would have to foot the bill for the abortions, but the procedures would be provided at taxpayer-funded facilities. Regardless of the logistics, it’s another way for Congress to give its stamp of approval to the destruction of unborn human life.

Unlike Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, I’m all for debating and acting on social issues, even in a poor economy. Especially in a poor economy, since social policy invariably impacts economic policy. And I’m not arguing Republicans are above using social issues as a political bargaining chip with conservative voters. But the timing could not be more ironic or more indicative of Democrats’ desperation.

Efforts to lift the military abortion ban — or, similarly, the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military — are nothing more than Democrats’ grasping to turn out the socially liberal base in a nightmare election year. Trouble is, turnout in the base isn’t what they need. Instead, they need that slice of independent voters rallying to Republicans because they’re weary of “stimulus,” budget binges, and near double-digit unemployment. Even though these independents trend more liberal on social issues, they don’t care as much this year. Like other voters, the fiscal crisis dominates.

So, it’s worth a try on the part of Burris, et. al, but it won’t work. If anything, bringing social issues into the mix will energize the Republican corps even more.

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