Look who’s waging the culture war

Christian conservatives and Republicans in general have been criticized for waging the so-called “culture wars,” making political issues out of  abortion, gay marriage, and other divisive moral issues.  But now it’s the Democrats who are raising those divisive issues.

At the Republican National Convention, hardly anything was said about abortion or gay marriage.  But at the Democratic National Convention, speakers wouldn’t shut up about the goodness of abortion and gay marriage.

It sounds like both sides believe being pro-life and pro-traditional marriage are losing propositions.  The Democrats apparently think they can win voters by emphasizing the Republicans’ official stance on these issues.

Are they right? Have conservatives lost the “culture wars”?  Or are Democrats over-reaching?  Should Republicans be more assertive about their usual pro-life, pro-traditional-family stand?  Or would that doom their chances and put the Democrats in power?

The Democrat’s abortionfest

Washington Post columnist Melinda Henneberger marvels at how the Democratic National Convention turned into such a celebration of abortion.

Never have I heard as much talk about abortion as at this convention, where speech after speech highlights how wrong I’ve been to wince every time Barack Obama is referred to as “the abortion president.”

Supporters hoist signs as the President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund Cecile Richards speaks to the audience at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, on September 5, 2012 on the second day of the Democratic National Convention (DNC). With America so divided on this issue and most people somewhere in the middle, MSNBC’s First Read observed on Wednesday that “perhaps the most surprising part of last night was that it had more talk about abortion rights than in any Democratic convention since 1992, the first of many self-described “Year of the Woman” campaign years….Four years ago, it seemed the Democratic Party was going out of its way to feature pro-life officeholders, like Tim Kaine or Bob Casey Jr., as a way to set a different tone on culture. Fast forward four years later and it’s clear Democrats and the Obama campaign were sending the not-so-subtle message that they believe the secret formula [is] capitalizing on the gender gap: talk about women’s rights and women’s choices.’’ . . .

And it isn’t only abortion-rights lobbyists like Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, who’ve preached on it from the podium; Julian Castro, Deval Patrick and Michelle Obama all did, too.

For those still not sure where the party stands, a young mom named Libby Bruce told delegates how Planned Parenthood treated her endometriosis 12 years ago. One-time Republican Maria Ciano assured them that if voters give the president a second term, “our right to make our own most personal decisions will be safe for another generation.” Sandra Fluke claimed that if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are elected instead, we’ll wake up in “an America in which you have a new vice president who co-sponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms.”

After hours, delegates could attend their choice of parties hosted by pro-choice groups. And in the street in front of the convention center, women in pink Planned Parenthood t-shirts argued with protesters holding fetal photos I could have lived a long, happy life without ever glimpsing. If you didn’t know better, you’d swear this was the issue dividing the parties. . . .

Even the tribute to Teddy Kennedy, who for many years considered himself pro-life, was used to drive home the ubiquitous abortion rights theme, via footage of the ’94 senatorial debate in which Kennedy called Romney “multiple choice” on the issue. A tireless advocate for the dispossessed, Kennedy was so much more than that — and his party used to be, too.

via ‘Abortion-palooza’ in Charlotte: Did we mention we support a woman’s right to choose? – She The People – The Washington Post.

Cardinal Dolan’s prayer for the Democrats

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, gave the closing prayer at the Republican convention, so, in an act of political balance, agreed to give the closing prayer at the Democratic convention also.  But look what he said!

We beseech you, almighty God to shed your grace on this noble experiment in ordered liberty, which began with the confident assertion of inalienable rights bestowed upon us by you: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thus do we praise you for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it, life, without which no other rights are secure. We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected. Strengthen our sick and our elders waiting to see your holy face at life’s end, that they may be accompanied by true compassion and cherished with the dignity due those who are infirm and fragile.

We praise and thank you for the gift of liberty. May this land of the free never lack those brave enough to defend our basic freedoms. Renew in all our people a profound respect for religious liberty: the first, most cherished freedom bequeathed upon us at our Founding. May our liberty be in harmony with truth; freedom ordered in goodness and justice. Help us live our freedom in faith, hope, and love. Make us ever-grateful for those who, for over two centuries, have given their lives in freedom’s defense; we commend their noble souls to your eternal care, as even now we beg the protection of your mighty arm upon our men and women in uniform.

We praise and thank you for granting us the life and the liberty by which we can pursue happiness. Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature’s God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you have given us for the nurturing of life and community.

See the whole text of his prayer here:   Cardinal Dolan Admonishes Democrats on Abortion, Religious Liberty | LifeNews.com.

Pro-life, pro-religious liberty (alluding to the controversy about mandated birth control and abortifacient coverage, which he has been crusading against), anti-moral relativism, anti-remaking institutions (as in gay marriage)!

Cardinal Dolan is a jovial guy, as I remember when he was Archbishop of Milwaukee.  (I actually met him.  Interesting fact:  He is the brother of Bob Dolen, a comical radio talk show host in that fair city.)  But what a strong and fearless witness, rebuke, and prayer for repentance.

Democrats fight over “God”

The Democratic Party Platform (see our post about that) cut out language from earlier platforms referring to “God.”   Paul Ryan and other Republicans jumped on that omission, so party leaders introduced an amendment putting “God” back in.

But the convention chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, had to call for three voice votes from the floor.  It appeared that most of the convention voted “nay.”  Nevertheless, the chairman gavelled it through, ruling that the “ayes” had it and that “God” would be put back into the party platform.  Whereupon the floor erupted in boos.

Also put back in was language affirming Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

See this for details and a video.  Also  Democratic National Convention 2012 platform altered to add God | World | News | National Post.

The Democratic Platform

The Democrats have entitled their platform “Moving America Forward,” employing a classic progressive metaphor.  (Maybe it’s just trying to win over Wisconsin, whose motto is “Forward.”)  Read the whole thing.  (This is the Platform Committee version, without the references to “God” or “Jerusalem.”)  From the introduction:

Four years ago, Democrats, independents, and many Republicans came together as Americans to move our country forward. We were in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the previous administration had put two wars on our nation’s credit card, and the American Dream had slipped out of reach for too many.
Today, our economy is growing again, al-Qaeda is weaker than at any point since 9/11, and our manufacturing sector is growing for the first time in more than a decade. But there is more we need to do, and so we come together again to continue what we started. We gather to reclaim the basic bargain that built the largest middle class and the most prosperous nation on Earth – the simple principle that in America, hard work should pay off, responsibility should be rewarded, and each one of us should be able to go as far as our talent and drive take us.
This election is not simply a choice between two candidates or two political parties, but between two fundamentally different paths for our country and our families.
We Democrats offer America the opportunity to move our country forward by creating an economy built to last and built from the middle out. Mitt Romney and the Republican Party have a drastically different vision. They still believe the best way to grow the economy is from the top down – the same approach that benefited the wealthy few but crashed the economy and crushed the middle class.
Democrats see a young country continually made stronger by the greatest diversity of talent and ingenuity in the world, and a nation of people drawn to our shores from every corner of the globe. We believe America can succeed because the American people have never failed and there is nothing that together we cannot accomplish.
Reclaiming the economic security of the middle class is the challenge we must overcome today. That begins by restoring the basic values that made our country great, and restoring for everyone who works hard and plays by the rules the opportunity to find a job that pays the bills, turn an idea into a profitable business, care for your family, afford a home you call your own and health care you can count on, retire with dignity and respect, and, most of all, give your children the kind of education that allows them to dream even bigger and go even further than you ever imagined.
This has to be our North Star – an economy that’s built not from the top down, but from a growing middle class, and that provides ladders of opportunity for those working hard to join the middle class.
This is not another trivial political argument. It’s the defining issue of our time and at the core of the American Dream. And now we stand at a make-or-break moment, and are faced with a choice between moving forward and falling back.

How would you parse this?  What else do you find in this document?  (Check out what it says about abortion, how it defends the state of the economy, etc.)  As a piece of political rhetoric, how persuasive is it?  (We’ll give the Republican platform the same scrutiny.)

The Democratic National Convention

The Democratic National Convention got underway and on television yesterday in Charlotte, N.C.  I do intend to watch what I can, but I couldn’t tune in last night.  Could anyone report on what transpired?  What themes do you expect to see?  What arguments or what feelings will the Democrats use to keep Americans from concentrating on the usual determining issue, that it’s the economy, stupid?  Are you finding their appeals at least rhetorically effective?


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