There’s an interesting review of Stricherz’s book at Amy Welborn’s blog:
….The assumption behind the questions about anti-abortion activity and the GOP is often strained and incorrect, though, because the assumption is that, absent a 3rd-party option, that the anti-abortion movement actually has a choice regarding its frequent alignment with the GOP. That the Democrats are just, you know, waiting to welcome them with open arms, but the stubborn, unthinking, loyalists just won’t budge. Because it’s really not about abortion for them – it’s about the Republican party. Which they love, blind to the possibilities of the Dems.
Forgetting the inconvenient truth that in 1972, the Democratic party embraced the abortion rights cause as its own, and hasn’t let go since.
Mark Stricherz tells the story – which is about more than abortion – in his excellent book Why the Democrats Are Blue.
Amy’s blog posting has this insightful comment by Dennis Martin:
I too used to think that a third-party was the only way to force the other parties to take us pro-lifers seriously. But I’ve changed my mind about that, partly as a result of learning from people who have been in the ground game, tirelessly putting their lives on the line for pro-life causes since 1972. We have a two-party system and it has advantages and disadvantages. It’s not going to change. Instead of hoping for what will not happen, we need to take a deep breath and do what some very courageous Catholics (the Evangelicals were not yet aboard, but joined in the late 1970s) did in the early ’70s carve out an indispensable role for our cause within one of the two parties. The Democrats could have had the prolife block if they had wanted it. They didn’t The Republicans welcomed it.
Ever since that time there’s been condescension and animosity toward pro-life Republicans from various streams of fiscal-focused or country-club old Republicans. It seemed for a while in this cycle that they were winning the upper hand.
Then came Palin. Or rather, then came the realization that without us pro-lifers, they were doomed in this election. McCain chose Palin, not merely because she is pro-life, though that was part of it. He chose her because she was her own person, courageous, effective, willing to take on entrenched but deadened power blocs.
In so doing, he jumpstarted a repeat of 1972-1980 when the anti-life or merely nominally pro-life and politically mushy Establishment Republicans (Ford) were routed by the upstart movement conservatives, for whom pro-life was a major but not the only issue. Politics is about coalitions of this sort. With Jindal and Palin on the horizon and the obvious failure of the weak-kneed “reach out to the moderates and liberals” wing of the party (many of whom are now jumping ship, showing their true colors, as they think McCain is doomed–which may happen but is not yet absolutely certain), the stage is set for a shifting of the party back toward the conservative and pro-life wing.
Palin is the only thing that’s keeping McCain in this race. Smart politicians know that. She and other like her will be forces to be reckoned with. Will the anti-life Republicans yield the party ship without a fight? No. But that’s why (1) for pro-life Catholics there’s still only one game in town and (2) they will have to fight for a dominant role in the party. It won’t be handed to them without a struggle.
But that’s all the more reason not for tut-tutting about how all parties are tainted and wrong and abstractly dreaming of a 3rd party solution but rather for rolling up sleeves and fighting for one of the two parties, as was done between 1972 and 1980 and without which Roe v Wade would have gone unchallenged and pro-lifers would have been boxed into a corner and eventually shunted off to prison as crackpots.
Finally, to return to Wolf Paul’s advocacy of a parliamentary multi-party system. What people don’t seem to grasp is that we have a multi-party system of coalition building and compromising to get things done, but we do it within each of the two parties, not among three or ten parties.
The Democrats since 1972 have been pushing one huge segment of their original coalition out the door. Ironically, Hillary Clinton, herself a Saul Alinsky radical, was backed by the remnants of that segment (Catholic, blue-collar etc.), who now feel excluded by the Soros-funded MoveOn types. So the Democrats are becoming a dinosaur because they are destroying their internal coalition structure. (If Obama wins, especially with a 60-vote Senate, they won’t have to worry so much about being a dinosaur in traditional party politics terms; the stage will be set for the end of American constitutional politics altogether, for the final triump of the one-party bureaucratic state.) The Republicans still have an internal coalition, creaking along, confused, beaten down in many ways. But it’s still there and can be rejuvenated if McCain wins. And if he wins, if the MoveOn dominance leads the Democrats to defeat, perhaps they two can rejevenate their coalition. Perhaps not.
But for prolife Christians, right now, the Republicans, for all their flaws, are the only game in town. Choosing Palin was an acknowledgment that their pro-life base is in fact indispensable and that even those not part of that base know it is indispensable.
Therefore, to all those who say, the Republicans are merely using the prolifers, I say, no, not MERELY using them. They have a recognizably indispensable place within the party. It’s up to them, using the human, this-worldly wisdom of political struggle, to make the most of that place within the coalition instead of turning up their noses at the whole structure.