Forward Movement for the GOP


Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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76 Responses

  1. Avatar Ramblin' Rod says:

    It will be interesting to see where this all goes. I think his immigration proposal is whacked, though. It seems to be rewarding those that snuck in while punishing the ones that have been waiting patiently for their turn.

    And if I can be frank here, the business interests who benefit from illegal immigration aren’t going to be well-served by a policy that legitimizes that population. It’s precisely the fact that they’re illegal that makes them an attractive work-force in the first place. They can’t complain about low wages or crappy working conditions for fear of deportation.

    Nothing puts the fear of God in a Conservative’s heart like the hoi-polloi standing up on their hind legs and demanding their rights.Report

    • Avatar Scott says:

      Sure there is nothing like folks who break the law asking that they not be punished. Amnesty won’t solve the problem, it will just encourage other potential illegals. Why doesn’t Barry secure our borders?Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        Because it’s just too damned hard to keep those crazy Canadians out; they keep sneaking in to get away from their socialized medicine and steal our jobs.Report

      • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

        “Barry” has done more deportations, and has tightened border security to a greater degree than any other president in the last century, in fact. Immigration from Mexico and Latin America has been net negative for a few years now (although primarily because of diminishing economic opportunity here).Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      “if I can be frank here, the business interests who benefit from illegal immigration aren’t going to be well-served by a policy that legitimizes that population. It’s precisely the fact that they’re illegal that makes them an attractive work-force in the first place.”

      that’s the whole point, nimrod.Report

  2. Avatar M.A. says:

    Touched off by Rand Paul’s comments today, the local freakazoid ex-military traitor on our local radio has been having a discussion about how to fix the GOP’s “brand.”

    Today’s GOP mode, from Conor’s spectrum of modular GOP thinking, seems to be that the GOP/Romney campaign “didn’t get their message out” and so “people didn’t know what we really believe” during the election.

    My thought – which I might try to write into a full guest post for submission later – is that it’s not the brand that’s the problem, it’s the content. A brand can’t survive when the veil keeps slipping, and in the past 2 years the GOP veil has constantly been slipping.

    – “Let him die” chants to a question about providing health care for someone without insurance during the primaries.
    – The whole Arizona SB1070 debacle.
    – Kicking GOProud and Log Cabin Republicans out of many of their conferences while letting the John Birch Society back in.
    – The constant drumbeat of “voter ID” law pushes, with GOP representatives insisting that this was going to “let Romney win” in certain states, along with the racial rhetoric.
    – Newt Gingrich, Santorum, and the rest of the field’s comments on racial lines during the primaries.
    – Romney’s 47% comment, which he went back to right after the election, so much so that other party members (unfortunately the ones who are usually accused of being RINOs) are shouting “shut up and stop digging” at him.
    – Maine GOP chair Webster freaking out because “oh my god, black people voted in Maine, I didn’t know we had any black people.”

    It’s not the GOP brand that’s the problem. It’s the GOP itself.Report

    • M.A., you seem to highlight every thing that fits your fears instead of seeing a larger picture that is not so…black and white. Having someone shout “let him die” doesn’t mean that all Republicans think this way. While CPAC did kick GOProud out, you fail to mention that the Massachusetts GOP, with help from national, supported an openly gay candidate for Congress. As for Voter ID, I’ve never seen evidence that it has prevented folks from voting; in fact there has been some evidence that voting went up in states where Voter ID was implemented.

      This is not to say there there are no problems with the modern GOP. There are. But you impression of the party as some kind political party for the Klan is simplistic at best.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller says:

        For evidence that ID requirements prevent people from voting, check out the Brennan Center. According to them, “Thirty-six percent of Georgians over 75 do not have a driver’s license. Fewer than 3 percent of Wisconsin students have driver’s licenses listing their current address.” And yes, theoretically these people could all go out and get up-to-date licenses, but realistically, we know that a large chunk of these folks won’t obtain the IDs and will be unable to vote. Especially when the GOP explicitly admits that these laws will affect election results (google Scott Turzai, a Republican state rep), it certainly looks to me like the GOP is trying to “solve” a made-up problem in a way that will not-coincidentally disenfranchise Democratic voters. Why else would the Texas law make a handgun license count as ID while a student ID does not?Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

          You can engineer a law to produce an outcome and have it fail to produce that outcome.

          I’m waiting for the final numbers, but so far I don’t see even any preliminary indications that Voter ID laws have depressed Democratic turnout; indeed, it looks like people who intended slightly to vote got pissed, got an ID, and then really turned out to vote.

          I’m fully behind the proposition that Voter ID laws are stupid! I think it’s a terrible solution to an authentication problem. But as an attempt to cut down on Democratic turnout – statistically – it’s a bust.

          This is small consolation to those who *wanted* to vote but couldn’t.Report

          • Avatar Dan Miller says:

            First of all, I’d say to wait and see–this is the kind of issue that will take multiple election cycles to sort out, as the outrage dies down and the electorate becomes less likely to turn out due to the midterm vs presidential year dynamic. That’s especially true given that in many of the states, these laws were overturned for now, a trend that may not continue given recent trends in jurisprudence. Secondly, I’m not sure how relevant this argument is. After all, even if your nefarious plot to suppress the vote fails, it was still nefarious.Report

        • Avatar Lyle says:

          On the student issue, is the address on the drivers license their parents address? If so why not vote absentee at home, that only costs maybe $2.00 to do so in postage. Why insist on voting in the college town? Of course there are other reasons to keep the home address as it also keeps the stuff the student may have at school covered under the homeowners policy of the parents for theft (up to a few thousand dollars). Now for the folks over 65 put a clause in that was considered but rejected in Tx exempting folks over 65 from the id requirement, if needed, although most states appear to allow folks over 65 to vote by mail as age becomes a reason to not vote in person. Why not publicize this for these folks, so that then the Id becomes a non issue.Report

          • Avatar M.A. says:

            If so why not vote absentee at home, that only costs maybe $2.00 to do so in postage. Why insist on voting in the college town?

            If I’m living year-round or most-of-year-round in a certain place, I most likely have more connection to the local races there than to the ones where my parents may live.

            That’s just off the top of my head.Report

      • Avatar M.A. says:

        Having someone shout “let him die” doesn’t mean that all Republicans think this way.

        Having an entire GOP primary audience in the chamber applaud and cheer it?

        The problem is, every time the GOP twitches today the veil slips. And what’s behind the veil is ugly.

        GOP operatives like yourself saying “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” doesn’t change that.

        To put it another way, elect the GOP, and look who you’re sleeping with.

        Again, it’s not that the GOP don’t get their message out. If anything they get their bigoted message out too well.Report

        • M.A., I’m not a GOP operative. I don’t work for the party. I’m just a blogger and I’m just making a point that it’s a bit dangerous to make sweeping assumptions that if someone does something then everyone in that group surely believes this. I’m also not here to say everything is sunshine and bunny rabbits for the GOP. What I am saying is that I think it’s wrong to judge an entire group of people from the actions of a few.

          So, if the GOP is as evil as you think it is, then what is to be done with it? And what does that mean for our multiparty democracy?Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            I want a third party. With all the responsible republicans,a nd some of the more fiscally minded democrats. Let the theocrats/racists (okay, xenophobes, I’ll be polite) have their own party!

            With all due respect, I think that’s more likely than the Republicans reforming themselves anytime soon.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

        Thank you, Dennis. I’m so sick of this bottom-feeding stuff. If you have a problem with a Krauthammer or a Paul or Jindal or another conservative who can chew his food, great. But besting the dumbest MFers on the other side doesn’t make your own side any better.Report

        • Avatar M.A. says:

          So you’re saying we probably should stop engaging with you then, since you’re such an easy target.

          I mean seriously, your standard response is a no-true-scotsman “why don’t you engage real conservatives”, followed by pointing to people who nobody outside of wonkville has ever heard of and who have about roundabout zero influence on actual GOP policies, talking points, and thought.Report

      • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

        “Having someone shout “let him die” doesn’t mean that all Republicans think this way.”

        This, along with Perry proudly stating that he’d execute an innocent man (again), was never refuted or even called out by ANYONE in the GOP. They let it hang there, as a motto for their party. Romney did explain how his magic Fairy Dust was going to keep my friend April from dying.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      You forgot the part where they booed the gay veteran.

      (Note that there is a reason I’m bringing that up.)Report

  3. Avatar Dan Miller says:

    Mike, I want to push back on the idea that conservatives slow down social change to the pace that the country can accept. It seems to me that the main people who can’t accept, e.g., gay marriage are conservatives. So what conservatives are really doing is holding back gay marriage until they personally can deal with it. Which seems a lot less heroic and a lot less necessary. After all, liberals accepted gay marriage years ago.Report

    • Avatar M.A. says:

      The GOP is the party of cranky old racists and bigoted old fogies, in other words?

      Hard to disagree there.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        33% of Democrats currently oppose gay marriage. How do you explain that one M.A.?Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP says:

          Religious principles? Not understanding the implications of civil versus religious weddings? Just being old and silly and living in the past? We Democrats don’t evict our heretics, Mike, for both better and worse. The GOP does that.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            Blaise – youmake my point for me. You can’t call the GOP the party of racists and bigots and ignore 1/3 of your own members who feel the same way.Report

            • Avatar BlaiseP says:

              Well, please exclude me from the list of people who ignore the maniacs in my own camp. They’re a real problem for us and there’s no denying it.

              I did offer an explanation, though.Report

        • Avatar M.A. says:

          Regional differences are a start on that explanation. Southern Dems are more likely to be opposed to gay marriage because the entire state’s basically opposed.

          There’s also religious differences. Remember how the Republicans were trying to use gay marriage as a religious issue to peel off black support for Obama? How they went to some of the crankiest old black Baptist preachers and got them to do ads condemning gay marriage in the election cycle?

          The polling data you look at also doesn’t compare for civil unions, and doesn’t break down in the way you imply from bad headlines.

          The issue of gay marriage remains a polarizing one across the political spectrum. Among conservative Republicans, an overwhelming majority (78%) opposes gay marriage. By contrast, a wide majority of liberal Democrats (83%) favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. Views of independents, and moderates in both parties, are more mixed.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

      Dan – polling seems to indicate otherwise. Majority public support for SSM just recently crossed the 50% threshold and currently 1/3 of those idenitifying as Democrats do not support it. My point is that it’s not simply conservatives vs. everyone else. Opposition has been conservative-led, but bipartisan in character.

      When it comes to social change, legalizing SSM is pretty high up there in terms of issues likely to have a major impact that will be felt for years. As a SSM suporter myself, I’m okay with that, but you can’t just force these things on a large society. As someone else noted here recently, that was what happend with Rose vs. Wade and it still remains a very polarizing issue that is being litigated ad nauseum.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller says:

        Mike–do you honestly think that if Roe v. Wade had gone the other way, then abortion would be just as available as it is today, only with less controversy? I highly doubt it. Which from your POV is fine, but the point I’m making is that it’s not the “forcing it on society” that makes these things controversial; it’s the underlying issue itself. Scott Lemieux had a good (from a pro-choice perspective) article on this; you won’t agree with his premises, but I think his conclusions, that repealing Roe would substantially decrease access to abortion, should be uncontroversial.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

          Dan – I have always believed that abortion should be left to the states. It’s already a Red State, Blue State issue (Blue States use it with much more frequency).Report

          • Avatar Dan Miller says:

            Right, but that’s my point. From a pro-choice perspective, my goals are, in order: 1. Ensure that access to abortion is universal, followed distantly by 2. Make sure that abortion is uncontroversial. You suggest that Roe v. Wade was social change that was forced on society too fast, with the implication that if it were repealed, I could make progress on goal 2 with little serious damage to goal 1. But your own opposition makes clear that the speed at which abortion was adopted has nothing to do with the opposition to it–it’s not like you would suddenly become pro-choice if it were returned to the states. I’m quite confident that you would push for it to be banned in your own state. So there’s no evidence that “slowing down” does much to advance my social goals.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

              Dan – couple of points:

              1) I would never suggest a repeal of RvW is smart now. You can’t un-ring that bell. I’m saying if it had never gone to SCOTUS things would have been better.

              2 If abortion was returned to the states I would be fine with that. Gun laws differ greatly from state to state and I’m 100% okay with that so I feel like it’s a pretty consistent position. And if there was a ban or partial ban I don’t consider that moving backwards. Progress is when society changes, not when nine judges render a decision.Report

              • Avatar Dan Miller says:

                Things would have been better for who? Certainly not for women seeking abortions. And I disagree that “progress is when a society changes, not when nine judges render a decision”. Roe v Wade dramatically expanded access to abortion. I call that progress, even if you don’t, and it doesn’t matter all that much where it came from.Report

              • Avatar zic says:

                Slate recently reported on the problems of women who are denied abortions.

                They were more likely to live in poverty, to be on public assistance, and less likely to have a full time job. They were more likely to be in a violant relationship, and had higher levels of anxiety. The father’s of these children were no more likely to support them or be involved in their lives.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                There may be correlation here. But it seems improbable that these kinds of problems are proximately caused by state laws denying or restricting abortion rights.

                I can see how a family enlarging beyond the provider’s means might plausibly compound and prolong problems of poverty and dependency on welfare. But the lack of access to abortion did not cause the poverty and reliance on public in the first place. Restrictive abortion access laws almost certainly do not (proximately) cause the fathers to become violent or distant — much more immediate and personal issues are going to be the principal factors there.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Would you consider (absent bill of rights considerations!!) a complete ban on handguns in D.C. to be problematic? How about in New York or Cali?Report

        • Avatar M.A. says:

          Link to your article doesn’t seem to be working.Report

      • Avatar Dan Miller says:

        Moreover, Mike, I don’t think you should necessarily conflate “all Democrats” with “all social liberals”; there’s a substantial moderate wing in the party. And moreover, what you might call the social liberal vanguard–those most active in the party, bloggers, and opinion leaders–are a distinct group from the rank and file.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott says:

        Sorry Mike, but on this particular issue you have it completely backward.

        Those 33% of Democrats that oppose gay marriage? Aside from a few folks who would be republicans if the GOP hadn’t so thoroughly alienated racial minorities, most of them live in Republican dominated areas.

        It’s not that years of holding back gay marriage gave people time to accept the idea. Because the way people come to accept the idea is to actually see gay people get married, and notice the complete absence of negative consequences following from it.

        The citizens of Massachusetts didn’t support gay marriage when it was enacted by judicial fiat in that state. But once it was enacted, they became pro-marriage much faster than equally liberal states that didn’t allow gay marriage.

        Consider this: In 2009, the Iowa Supreme court legalized gay marriage. The next year, three supreme court justices lost their retention votes on the basis of that decision, but gay marriage remained the law of the land.

        Also in 2009, the Maine legislature passed a law allowing gay marriage. Later that year, it was overturned via referendum without ever taking effect.

        On election day, Maine voters approved a same-sex marriage law, while Iowa voters retained a fourth justice who supported SSM.

        In Maine which had no SSM but favored Obama by 15 points, there was an 11 point swing toward Same-sex marriage. In Iowa, which favored Obama by only 5 points but had allowed SSM, the swing was 18 points — almost double that of Maine.

        By preventing same-sex marriage, conservatives aren’t giving people the time they need to adapt. Instead, they’re denying them the experience they need to adapt.Report

        • Avatar zic says:

          By preventing same-sex marriage, conservatives aren’t giving people the time they need to adapt. Instead, they’re denying them the experience they need to adapt.


        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


          I think those are good points but I also think that people tend to resent certain things being forced on them. Massachussets is a very liberal state. It’s not surprising that they accepted it quickly. Other states are much different. They are going to hold a grudge.

          I’m a really, really big believer in states as ‘laboratories of democracy’. I think the best way to gain acceptance is to have gay marriage pass in certain states and then we can all watch and learn. For me, seeing how it came about in Vermont had a much greater impact.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            I wish all conservatives were like you. Skeptical, but willing to listen.
            And then I wish that NOBODY had tied “adoption rights” to marriage.
            Because having a family for a baby is better than an orphanage.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:


      Conservatives are Americans, too.Report

  4. Avatar zic says:

    As I have noted recently in comments around the League, a real benefit to society is served by conservatives slowing down the pace of cultural change. Sometimes society needs a counter-balance to liberal exuberance.

    Liberal exuberance? I find this so odd. Because from my liberal perspective, what we see is push back to conservative exuberance.

    To be perfectly honest, I think the GOP damaged itself most by eight years or reckless lockstep support for George W. Bush, promoting policies that increased the debt and drove us over an economic cliff. And when the country turned outside the GOP for leadership, the response was to refuse to work with others to govern. The only GOP governing policy seemed to be “Not Obama.”

    Switching positions on a few hot-button social issues will not redeem conservatives. If finding comfy niches on a few the issues that matter for folks outside the conservative media bubble is perceived as the answer, the GOP may collect some votes at the margins, but will still keep bleeding support.

    Cooperating on the day-to-day stuff is what matters. The GOP needs to stop filibustering every single bill in the Senate. Reign in the propaganda and disinformation distributed by the conservative media. Quit trying to destroy Democratic goals and leadership just because they’re from the opposition party, and start trying to build the nation. We can agree to disagree on social hot-button issues and civil liberties. We cannot govern our nation when all the GOP has to offer is “not Obama.”Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

      Zic – simply looking at voting trends Democrats are unlikely to get 4 more years after 2016. We seem to have settled into a pattern with the Presidency. Reagan,Clinton, Bush, Obama.

      The only anomaly was Bush Sr.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        The statistical sample is too small to forecast a trend. Might be, might not. (That’s actually always the problem with presidential analysis.)

        But my point isn’t about the outcomes of presidential elections, and you sort of proved it for me. Winning and losing elections are the vehicle we use to pick the people who govern. Governing is what matters. Right now, the GOP feels like a couple about to get married, all focused on the wedding and without a thought to what happens in the years after the wedding.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        I’m as guilty of anyone of starting to play the 2016 game on election night in 2012. But it’s obviously a silly game and will be for quite some time, since in terms of the political cycle that’s simply too far in the future to gauge anything.

        If the economy is doing well in 2016, if the country is more or less at peace, if whatever stumbling block comes up at the six-year blip in Obama’s Presidency is overcome, then the Democrats will have it within their grasp to build on the electoral collect possibilities just demonstrated. If there are big problems or a big scandal, then maybe not so much.

        And without the ability to forecast candidates, that’s a handicap too. Will it be Bush (Jeb) versus Clinton (Hillary)? While that may seem likely today, I’d bet against it.Report

    • Avatar Snarky McSnarksnark says:

      Interesingly, however interested conservatives may be in slowing the pace of cultural change, they aren’t willing to undertake what it would really take to accomplish the project.

      Cultural change is accelerating, largely due to the proliferation of different media, and their individual shouting to get noticed in a busy marketplace. They do this, largely, by being “edgy.” This is largely done by strategic violations of cultural norms–as with torture porn movies, nihilistic rap lyrics, increasing intrusions into realms of privacy undreamed of a generation ago, commercialization of everything (Oracle Stadium, anyone?), and substitution of brand as a marker of status and character over personal attributes and qualities.

      These are the kinds of pressures that disintegrate a culture, because they are constant, directed, and universal. Gay marriage is only a proxy fight: I think many people are thrown into a reactionary posture because they feel that the culture and world view from which their own lives were constructed are simply disintegrating. The world is no longer like the world of their childhood, and in most respects rings hollower, and less real.

      But, having handed over they reins of the culture to commercial enterprises, the modern conservative dogma does not allow restriction of businesses, or “the market.” Instead, the fights center of token markers of cultural change: primarily around immigration and sexual ethics.Report

  5. Avatar James B Franks says:

    Mike call me when Senator Rand goes against his current party with an actual public vote.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

      That’s hardly fair — our friend Mike would need a time machine for that one.

      Rand Paul voted against reauthorizing the USA-PATRIOT Act in 2011, weeks after taking office.Report

  6. Avatar greginak says:

    I know this is switching to a different topic but i’d love to see some GOP forward progress on delivering health care to all as opposed to this.

    Yes this if from a liberal site, but it matches what i am seeing here in Alaska. The GOP doesn’t seem to want to get something done, get HC to people or run a state level program. I’d note that the GOP was for state level exchanges before they were against them.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Truth be told, (and I live in one of the HC stonewalling states, Maine), I’m delighted by this. First, our Republican governor believes government is bad, so he’s really, really likely to build a bad system. Second, this is a rural and aging state, and more then 90% of the workforce works for small businesses with 50 or fewer employees. We are spectacularly lacking in the large risk pools that provide affordable insurance. Additionally, many people here make their living with several seasonal jobs cobbled together for year-round employment.

      Currently, there are only two companies offering insurance for the individual market, and we have some of the highest premiums in the country. Until September, my husband an I were both self-employed. Our insurance was a $15,000 deductible, and cost us $500/month. We’d recently switched to that from the $5,000 deductible because the cost had gone up to $1,200/month.

      With so many state exchanges run by the federal government, there’s some hope that there will be some sort of medicare buy-in, with all those folks as part of a single risk pool, and no profit motive, simply a break-even point. I’m not advocating single payer, but an option for non-profit, government-run insurance for individuals and small businesses because the market has not met our needs, it has repeatedly said we’re too old, too sick, and too few to bother with except at extortion levels.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        +1. Obamacare is a great friend to small businesses.Report

        • Avatar M.A. says:

          Not that you’d ever get Republicans to admit it. According to them, it’s a ravenous beast that will destroy every small business in the country and cause nobody to ever try to start one again.

          Or at least, that’s the talking points.Report

  7. Avatar greginak says:

    I think the Feds are likely to do a better job than AK in running an exchange. I was more pointing at GOP intransigence at making things work and solving problems for people,Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      Absolutely. In face of that intransigence, I’m thinking the Federal Governments willingness to step in is a feature, not a bug.Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      At some point we will reach the date when the federally-operated exchanges must be up and running. I am waiting to see if the feds are actually ready to go. Unemployment insurance is also a state/federal thing, with the federal government required to step in in any state that chooses not to operate their own conforming program. There’s an enormous tax “carrot” for businesses in states that operate a suitable program, so they all do. I am quite sure, however, that if your state or mine dropped UI, the feds lack the staff and the computer systems to actually do the job they would be obligated to take on.Report

  8. “As I have noted recently in comments around the League, a real benefit to society is served by conservatives slowing down the pace of cultural change. Sometimes society needs a counter-balance to liberal exuberance. ”

    I find this idea very intriguing even though I’m not sure I agree with it fully. But I do think a lot of the push back Mike has received for it is misconstrued.

    One way to interpret what Mike has said–and he can correct me if I’m off base–is that conservatives and their conservatism functions as a check upon what he calls “liberal exuberance,” and that such a check can at least sometimes be salubrious. Some people seem to be reading Mike’s statement as if he’s suggesting that, ca. 1996, a group of people who opposed same sex marriage got together and said, “we really want ssm to work, so why don’t we just postpone it to bring about a consensus so that it will be eventually passed with more legitimacy than from a Hawai’ian court decision.”

    Of course–and this is one reason why I’m not sure I agree, or at least agree fully, with Mike’s claim as a descriptive claim–others have pointed out that abrupt change can modify people’s views and bring them to support something that theretofore had been unthinkable. Someone, for example, mentioned that the Massachusetts court ruling that legalized ssm made ssm seem more acceptable to people who might not have voted for it at first.

    Mike as another example brought up my example of Roe v. Wade and the divisions it helped create (at least, I brought up that example in a different thread, and I think he was referring to me). My point then was not that the abortion issue would be resolved had Roe v. Wade not affirmed the prerogative to abortion, but that the abortion issue would be less divisive. Now, the practical result for a pro-choice person like me would be bad: abortion would remain illegal in some states whereas I would prefer it to remain legal in others. From the point of view of the pro-life person, the practical result would be good but imperfect: some states that otherwise would have to allow abortion would not be permitted to ban it. (The impact of such laws would of course be different per one’s means: the more affluent could go to other states while the less affluent who happen to be in non-abortion states would be compelled to have the child.)

    But the principal political result–and this is what I had meant to suggest in my comment in that thread–is that the parties might not have coalesced so irrevocably and, I believe, tragically, around the issue. As it is now, for the pro-choice side I’m on, every presidential election is a high stakes game that is a couple supreme court justice retirements away from overturning Roe. We should remember that if O’Connor had been slightly more conservative, Roe could have been overturned in the early 1990s with the Casey decision.

    Now back to ssm. For those of us (me included) who support ssm as a right, denying that rate, even for the “short” time (actually, not so short) of 15 years or 25 years, or more, for the sake of bringing about a wider consensus harms those who might otherwise avail themselves of that right. Those of us who see ssm as a right do rightly find such a result morally repugnant. But it appears that whatever other bad consequences of delay, we do not have two parties coalescing around appointing enough justices to overturn xyz supreme court decision that “imposed gay marriage on the states.” And now, in at least some states, we have ssm that is on firmer footing than likely would have been the case with a (in some social conservatives’ views) precipitous and wide-ranging court decision. (Of course, because it hasn’t really happened this way, I could be wrong and the opposite could have happened. SCOTUS could have affirmed a right to ssm and people might have protested for about 10 years and then settle down to welcome marriage equality. Or something in between might have happened, too.)Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      This salutation to conservatism was, IMO, aimed more at effect than intent. In that sense, I think there’s something to it.Report

      • I agree. As a descriptive claim, Mike’s point has a lot of merit. I also think it has merit as a normative claim, inasmuch the claim is that sometimes it might be a good thing to have a check on reforms.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

      Pierre – thank you for the awesome comment and I think you sum up my positions nicely. I have two points, one a minor disagreement and one an elaboration.

      “Now, the practical result for a pro-choice person like me would be bad: abortion would remain illegal in some states whereas I would prefer it to remain legal in others. From the point of view of the pro-life person, the practical result would be good but imperfect…”

      Wouldn’t the result be good but imperfect for both parties? Both sides get their way in some of the states. For pro-choice folks you get abortion in the blue states. For pro-life folks you get restrictionsi n the red states. It seems like win-win. For those people stuck in states where they disagree, they can vote with their feet.

      As a way of elaborating, I want to make it clear that I am not saying opposition was a concious delaying tactic. What I am saying is that society will always have early adopters and grumpy curmudgeons. IMO they are the yin and yang of society. On any given issue most of us probably lean towards one or more camp. Someone has to represent those interests. And both sides serve as an important check on the other. As you note, I doubt anyone thought gay marriage would be legal someday and conciously delayed it until soceity caught up. Republicans simply represented the people that thought the change could be harmful until which time as it appears most of those fears have been dispelled.

      The problem is that so many liberals believe anyone who fears a change is either bigoted or close-minded. They can’t conceive of a world where people could intelligently think through an issue and still have reservations. Or conceive of a world where change isn’t always a good thing.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        So, a win win is where more women bleed out from coathanger abortions? (or, as Faulkner might put it, turpentine?)

        Liberals can think of places where change is a bad thing. Including the dissolution of communities, which is causing more hate groups to form. (see that study on walmart and hate groups)Report

      • Wouldn’t the result be good but imperfect for both parties? Both sides get their way in some of the states. For pro-choice folks you get abortion in the blue states. For pro-life folks you get restrictions in the red states. It seems like win-win. For those people stuck in states where they disagree, they can vote with their feet.

        I think I see it differently.

        In terms of the policies actually in effect (as opposed to the unfortunate consequences arising from the zero-sum gamesmanship of presidential judicial nominations), the post-Roe world expands what most pro-choicers see as the right (and what I see as the prerogative) to legal abortion to the entire country. The “let the states decide” regime we would have pre-Roe (or post-overturning of Roe) would be a setback and would give pro-choicers the same constitutional regime they had before.

        For me the prospect of voting with one’s feet works well for a lot of things, but it doesn’t work as well for something like abortion if one starts from the premise that women have the right (or prerogative) to it. I’ll also add that it’s possible abortion is one of those things someone thinks about a lot in the abstract, but when it comes time to make a decision, one hasn’t the time or resources to do the foot-voting.

        And of course, you operate under a different set of assumptions than I do about what is the woman’s prerogative in the case of pregnancy she doesn’t wish to carry to term and about the proper role of the state in determining what she does choose and what she is permitted to choose. (About the question of when life begins, I think you and I are probably closer than my robust pro-choice position might lead one to believe.) The pro-life position, to some extent, embraces the lives that it believes might be saved from the state-level bans (and secondarily, it also embraces what the ban says about the “public sense” of the rightness of abortion in addition to the lives it believes are saved) whereas the pro-choice position embraces what it sees as the availability of the liberty to choose, regardless of whether that choice is exercised for carrying on with the pregnancy or for terminating it.

        Perhaps the distinction I’m drawing is too fine. I find it difficult to express myself clearly in this comment, a difficulty that suggests to me that my own thinking is muddy, and perhaps I ought to reconsider it.

        At any rate, thanks for engaging my comment.Report

      • Avatar Jeff No-Last-Name says:

        “they can vote with their feet”

        Can I just say how much I hate, loathe and detest this phrase. Most people can NOT “vote with their feet”. Moving, especially from state to state, is expensive and difficult at the best of times. In a bad economy, it’s pretty much impossible. Yet many libertarians (I won’t say all [grin]) seem to think it’s no problem at all.

        They make it easy for liberals like me to dismiss all their ideas.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        Mike, what you don’t get is to a liberal like me, a women having the right to an abortion is no different than a person having the right to eat at whatever lunch counter he wants. I don’t care if a state is 99.9% life at conception, if one woman in that state wants an abortion, she should be able to get it without having to travel 327.4 miles to receive that medical procedure.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          The problem with that analogy is that there are also places where there are no lunch counters for miles and miles and miles around.

          It seems silly to argue that a person who lives there has the right to eat at a lunch counter without having to get in a car and drive for half a day.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

            Has the state government passed laws that limit the ability of people to open lunch counters, because they think lunch counters are fundamentally evil things? Have people bombed these lunch counters and attacked waitresses and cooks as they’ve left the lunch counter? So yes, when things like that happen, you have to talk about why there are no lunch counters, instead of just shrugging and saying, “oh well, you get to drive for half a day.”Report

            • Avatar M.A. says:

              +1 to this.

              If there are no lunch counters because there’s such a low population (such as Loving County, TX where the total population is 82 humans), then there’s low population.

              If there are no “lunch counters” because of a campaign of harassment, attacks, firebombings, and now because of the religious bible humpers trying to make impossible-to-follow laws in order to destroy “lunch counters” in their state, there’s another problem going on.

              Your argument is like arguing that blacks driven from their homes in the South “voted with their feet” in the wake of KKK cross-burnings, Jaybird.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

              Jesse – you make it sound like state borders are some thing that is difficult to cross. What Jaybird is saying is that even today in many states you have some people where the closest abortion clinic is in another state. They drive there to get an abortion. If abortion law was kicked back to the states then people would have the same option.

              And also, keep in mind, the reason you are complaining is because you don’t like the idea of abortion being restricted anywhere. What states’ rights folks are saying is that maybe it’s okay if it is illegal in some places and legal in others. Which position is more inflexible, yours or theirs?Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            How about if a state says they can restrict the right to free speech but claim its not an issue since you can drive the next state over to speak freely. Eating at any particular lunch counter isn’t a right. Having an abortion is about personal freedom. If , through threats, violence and harassment , there are no providers needed to use that freedom then the right is useless.Report