Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Political Re-Allignment in PA (and the rest of the USA)

Now I don't want to jinx it, but social conservative poster boy Rick Santorum seems poised to lose his senate seat to Democrat Bob Casey Jr., whose lead in the polls seems to be widening. By itself, this is good news; but it signals even better news for socially convervative Democrats like yours truly.

You see, Bob Casey Jr.is a pro-life Democrat, like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. His pro-life stance is more widely known than Reid's thanks to his late father, who served as governor of the great state of Pennsylvania from 1987-95, and who will forever be memorialized in legal circles as the defendant in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. That case overturned Pennsylvania's abortion restrictions -- specifically a spousal notification provision -- as unconstitutional. It was the last genuine chance for the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Even without the court case, the senior Casey will forever be remembered for his fierce pro-life stance. It cost him a chance to speak at the 1992 Democratic convention. As he sat there with his family at the back of Madison Square Garden -- having not been invited to join in the group hug on the floor -- Governor Casey predicted the Democrats would rue the day they decided that pro-lifers did not have a place in the mainstream of the Party. He was right. The fact that the Democrats are just beginning to come around is evinced by Chuck Shumer's whole hearted endorsement of Casey the younger's candidacy. (He reportedly told others to get out of the race).

The reason this is even better news for the rest of the country is that Casey's election will mean Pennsylvania will be represented in the Senate by a pro-choice Republican (Arlen Spector) and a pro-life Democrat! It takes abortion off the partisan table in Pennsylvania politics. This could signal a huge sea-change in the national parties, and it's only fitting that it should begin in Philly, where the nation was born. This re-allignment is much better news for the Democrats than the Republicans, who have been winning elections as the pro-life party.

Abortion is the Democrats least popular position and Hillary Clinton is now making clear that she thinks abortion is a "horrific tragedy." This is not an abandonment of their core beliefs but a return to them. Anyone who's actually read Roe knows that it allows for regulation of abortion; it is nowhere close to an endorsement of an unqualified right to abortion-on-demand. The Democrats' endorsement of the decision started as a tentative acknowledgement of the issue's complexity (check old Party Platforms and compare them to what we have today). It only hardened into strident dogma in response to Republican attacks on Roe. It's growing less strident as more women acknowledge that it's OK to be a feminist (or whatever) and still feel squeamish about killing a fetus. I can't imagine anything less worthy of celebration than the termination of a potential human life. How much the state should protect the unborn is a tricky, sober issue. It's not something to shout slogans about on either side.