It’s Not the Economy, Stupid: Why I Think a Civil Rights Issue Will Determine the Election

There is a lot of talk about the economy in this election. It overshadowed the content of the Presidential debates. Even when asked about foreign policy, the candidates, especially Romney, shifted the discussion to the economy’s anemia. Every time an employment rate update hits the news, both sides try to spin the numbers to their advantage. From all appearances, this election will be won or lost depending on who Americans believe to be the most competent in handling the finances of the country.

While that will certainly factor into the decision for many voters at the polls, I do not believe that economic policy is what is driving this election. Instead, I would argue that the underlying foundation for each American’s vote is a civil rights issue, and I believe that issue is abortion. Even though both candidates have been sort of mum on abortion this cycle, it is, nevertheless, the elephant in the room in most voters’ minds–including mine.

It is no secret that the Republican platform, as it relates to the unborn, is more pro-life than the Democratic platform. I think that both parties take their stance on this as a given. Their positions are polar, and it seems, they are permanent. This is THE civil rights issue that is on the majority of voters’ minds, one way or the other.

If you believe that personhood begins at conception, your odds of voting democratic in this election plummet. If you believe that the rights of a woman trump those of a fetus, then your likelihood of voting Republican plummet as well (to reiterate: odds. There are exceptions). I believe this single issue gives us more ‘confirmation bias’ than any other issue currently at play in American politics.

Let’s take the unemployment rate. I think it is currently at 7.8%. We are due for an update in a couple of days, but let’s grant for the sake of argument that this is true. I ask you: Is that good? Does that mean that 92.2% of Americans have a job? What if it is worse and only 87% of people have a job. That means that at least 87% of Americans who can work are currently working. It does stink for 8-13% of Americans. I understand that. But really, do you understand Obama’s or Romney’s plans good enough to be certain of the best candidate for getting and keeping you employed?

Here’s another thought experiment for you. If tomorrow, President Obama said, “I have had a change of heart. Like a conversion experience. I now believe that personhood, and all the rights of personhood, begin at conception. I am going to do all I can to ensure the rights of Americans still in the womb as President of the United States.” Would that have an effect on your vote? Major or minor? What if Romney came out with the opposite statement. That is, he announced, “I believe that a woman has the right to determine what to do with her own body. I now believe that abortions should be safe and legal for a woman who wants one.”

Whether or not the candidates are talking about abortion during the debates or on the campaign trail; abortion is the largest issue on the minds of many Americans, especially evangelicals. And rightly so. I would go so far as to say that if the Republican party became Pro-Choice, it would be the impetus for creating the first viable 3rd Party in American history.

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  • ed ross

    Nope. I would hold my nose, grin and bare it if Obama went pro-life, but I’d still vote for him, assuming the erratic behavior itself didn’t turn me off. Same for my hardcore pro life Christian friends in Texas and their anti-Obama vote. For some voters its a single issue, for other voters its a cult of personality, for other voters its vitriolic hatred of the opponent, and for others it’s the gestalt of dozens of carefully weighed issue stances; but the majority of people don’t look at policy stances as criteria but as tests to see what kind of judgement, character, and vision the candidate displays.

    Most people know that government is a huge, complicated, important thing that deals with thousands of issues that they can’t possibly fully understand, and so they try to pick the candidate with the intangible qualities they can trust to handle things they can’t realistically make the decisions on themselves. If your doctor says to another patient “I don’t think you need your feet, saving them isn’t worth my time, you’ll be good as new after the amputation” you probably won’t go back to him, even for a chest cold or an ear infection, because on the issue of foot-care he displayed a set of qualities that you wouldn’t trust with any part of your health. Most voters don’t just want a candidate to get 1 certain issue right. They want a candidate with the judgement to get MOST issues right, even the ones they don’t know about.

  • Reed Benzo

    Over the last couple of elections, abortion has become a non-issue for me. I’m just convinced that no one is going to do anything about it even if they have the power to. During the Bush presidency, there was a time when Republicans controlled pretty much all of the necessary parts of the federal government to make abortion illegal, but they didn’t. Perhaps they wanted to keep it legal so they can exploit it as an issue in future campaigns, I don’t know. Whatever the reason, I’ve lost faith in it ever being banned.

    Of course, I’ve also switched to the camp that believes that banning abortion won’t solve the problem.

  • Rick Middleton

    The pro-life stance is to make abortion illegal once again, right? Do pro-lifers, when they aren’t accusing Obama of secretly building re-education camps, articulate how that works out, practically? Suzy becomes a teen mom, which is hard, but because conservatives have also gutted the safety net along with passing pro-life bills, Suzy can’t exactly count on WIC and food stamps to help support the baby (her paycheck from Wendy’s only goes so far, and her mother isn’t thrilled about babysitting). And because conservatives have also repealed Obamacare, her shot at health insurance is gone as well. I suppose a generation of Suzies will be living on the streets of America. While we would like to say “they should have not had premarital sex in the first place,” we all know that people are doing the deed, and in fact there are prominent Christian families where, out of the blue, someone gets pregnant before marriage. If it’s happening in the Church, heaven knows its happening everywhere else.
    I am also disgusted by the idea of abortion, but I vote Democrat. Basing your vote only on this one issue means you end up voting for the pro-life candidate who may, on all other issues, be a scoundrel.

  • Steve

    @Rick Middleton,

    I once told a friend of mine that I would vote for the more pro-life candidate no matter what. He was astounded, and began mocking me as a single-issue voter. So I proposed to him the following situation:

    “Imagine yourself as back in the year 1840. It is a presidential election year and you’re deciding who to support. There is one candidate who has an impressive resume’, he is articulate, he is highly respected, and you agree with him on almost everything… except for slavery. He supports slavery.

    The fellow from the other party is the polar opposite. You think he’ll do a miserable job in office. You disagree on almost everything… except for slavery. He is a staunch opponent of slavery. In fact, he is so extreme that he fights for slaves to have the same rights as white people.

    Who do you support?”

    My friend stopped mocking me because he realized the truth. There are some issues that outweigh all the others on their own. If we’re willing to be honest (a big if), we’ll see that abortion is one of them.

  • I used to have a hard time voting for Democrats because of this issue. But no more.

  • Frank

    It’s in direct opposition to the Christian faith to vote for a party that has abortion on demand in its platform. How wonderful that some people won’t consider the over 21,000 unborn innocent children killed each week, 97% due to reasons of convenience.

  • Frank, how does a vote for Republicans do anything to change the fact that 1.2 million abortions occur in this country per year? Show me one person who is alive today because we banned partial birth abortion. i’m glad the procedure is illegal, but it’s like giving a crumb to a dying man – completely pointless. The Republicans are no more interested in doing something about Roe v Wade than the Dems. In some ways they are even worse because at least the Dems are honest about their lack of concern for the unborn.

    it’s not pro-life to vote for the politician who claims to be pro-life and then does nothing to actually address the problem. Pro-life means helping men, women and children in your own life, family, home, community, church, state, world. it doesn’t mean the meaningless gesture of marking Republican on your ballot. Jesus would be disgusted that we’ve turned to the ways of power and Caesar to deal with this issue. Want to save the unborn? Stop kidding yourself that voting a certain way does a damn thing for them, roll your sleeves up and get to work. So, no, I won’t consider all the unborn children who are murdered today when I go to vote. I’m pro-life, not pro-political manipulation.