Magazine article The American Conservative

GOP Loses Its Life: A Pro-Abortion Nominee Would Shatter Reagan's Coalition

Magazine article The American Conservative

GOP Loses Its Life: A Pro-Abortion Nominee Would Shatter Reagan's Coalition

Article excerpt

1980 WAS A WATERSHED YEAR for the Republican Party. The importance of social conservatives to the coalition Ronald Reagan was assembling was such that George H.W. Bush had to renounce his pro-choice past to become Reagan's running mate. Since that time, every presidential and vice-presidential nominee of the GOP has been pro-life. There is room for debate about what social conservatives have gotten from the GOP; many now complain that they are consigned to the back of the Republican bus. But there is no doubt what the support of social conservatives has brought the GOP: electoral victory after victory, including the re-election of George W. Bush in 2004. Without the support of social conservatives in Ohio for Bush, we would now be approaching the end of John Kerry's first term. In fact, in the 28 years since the elder Bush became pro-life to become Regan's running mate, the GOP has controlled at least the White House, the House, or the Senate--and often several of these--in 26 of those years.

All of this may be about to change: polls indicate that Rudy Giuliani is the frontrunner to be the next Republican presidential nominee. If Giuliani becomes the party's standard-bearer and is then elected, the informal prohibition against pro-choice candidates within the GOP will be shattered, and the power of social conservatives within the party will inevitably decline. The bar for future candidates will be set not by the Gipper, but by the former mayor of New York who proudly told CNN in 1999, "I'm pro-choice, I'm pro-gay rights."

Giuliani's self description was accurate. As mayor, he marched in gay-pride parades and proclaimed "Out in Government Day." In 1997, he signed a bill providing to city employees in "domestic partnerships" the same benefits enjoyed by married employees. Giuliani described the legislation as a "significant step forward in the human rights continuum."

With respect to abortion, Giuliani opposed all efforts to provide legal protection to the unborn. He spoke out in opposition to requiring minors to obtain parental consent for abortions and favored taxpayer funding. When asked on "Meet the Press" in 2000 if he supported Clinton's veto of a partial-birth abortion ban, he responded, "I would vote to preserve the option for women," positioning himself to the left of many Democrats. Giuliani told Phil Donahue in 1989, "if the ultimate choice of the woman--my daughter or any other woman--would be in this particular circumstance to have an abortion, I'd support that. I'd give my daughter the money for it." He went so far as to proclaim Jan. 22, 1998--the 25th anniversary of Roe v. Wade--"Roe v. Wade Anniversary Day."

There is no reason to expect anything substantially different from a President Giuliani. Whatever grudging concessions Giuliani may make to social conservatives to get elected will not result in a president willing to speak out in defense of traditional morality or in support of innocent human life. And the compromises Giuliani has offered so far are meager. His principal concession to social conservatives has been his pledge to "appoint strict constructionist judges." But waiting for judges to win the culture war has not been a successful strategy, which explains why some social conservatives have begun to wonder what they have earned by steadfastly supporting Republicans. After all, David Souter, Sandra Day O'Connor, and Anthony Kennedy were all presented as "strict constructionists" to the GOP electorate, and they are the reason the Supreme Court reaffirmed Roe v. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.