"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Core Principles 

In general, I find Democrats marginally less appalling than Republicans (and remember - generally speaking, all generalizations are inaccurate).

The party faithful are up in arms because NARAL Pro-Choice America (formerly, the National Abortion Rights Action League) had the temerity to endorse Lincoln Chafee, a pro-choice Republican, over anti-abortion Democrat Jim Langevin. Here's Kos:
Nevermind that Langevin would've crushed Chafee and gotten us one seat closer to a Democratic-led Senate. And a Democratic-led Senate wouldn't ever let any abortion legislation see the light of day. But NARAL, myopic fools that they are, think Chafee is a better bet, despite his vote for Trent Lott, Bill Frist, and their allegiance to the James Dobson, American Taliban agenda.

NARAL, and many people here, whined and cried about Langevin, the way they whined and cried about Harry Reid, because of those Democrats' personal opposition to abortion. Didn't we know, they demanded, that choice was a core principle of the Democratic Party?

To which I have a simple answer: The hell it is.

Mark A.R. Kleiman is of like mind:
As far as Senate candidates go, there's no such thing as a bad Democrat or a good Republican. This is all about counting to 51. NARAL needs to learn that.

Liberalism is a minority faith; we can't afford intolerance, even if it weren't an ugly thing in itself.

In fairness, Kos goes on to offer a bit more nuanced position than might be inferred from the rather inflammatory language I have excerpted here (Kleiman, on the other hand, I have quoted in his entirety). The bottom line, however, is clear: All allegiance must be to the Party, and no principle may ever take precedence over loyalty to the Great Donkey itself.

Bollocks.

I wonder if Kos will recognize the rank hypocrisy of his position as he inevitably excoriates the "moderate Republicans" for choosing party loyalty over principle when they join in to pull the nuclear trigger later this week. Viewed from the Kossian perspective, the Republican backbenchers are merely doing the same thing that Kos would have abortion rights activists do in similar circumstances - setting aside fundamental values for the sake of partisan gain. After all, adherence to Senate rules is no more a core principle of the Republican party than choice is a core principle of the Democratic party. It's all about counting to 51, right?

Now, I understand Kos' (and Kleiman's) point - a Democratic majority Senate is likely to be more sympathetic to the pro-choice cause, generally speaking, than a Republican majority Senate. That point may be valid; then again, it may not. There are a lot of progressive causes - abolition of the death penalty, equal marriage rights for all Americans, free access to cryptographic technology, decent publicly-funded health care as a matter of right, an end to the War On the Fourth Amendment Drugs, etc. - that have received no more love from the Democrats than from the Republicans. To date, the Democrats have been generally dependable on the question of reproductive rights, but there is reason to doubt that such will always be the case - especially if, as Kos declares, choice is not a "core principle" of the Democratic party.

It has perhaps escaped the attention of the loyalty police that NARAL is, as an institution, dedicated to the extension and preservation of reproductive rights. That is the sum of NARAL's focus - reproductive choice is absolutely a "core principle" for NARAL. If one does not share this principle, one should not join NARAL; it's as simple as that. Likewise, the Democratic Party is dedicated to the election of Democrats. The Democrats must decide what they will, and will not, do to get themselves elected. If they want to have an absolute lock on NARAL endorsements, they will have to adopt choice as a core principle (and consequently risk losing support from certain voters). If they are unwilling to do so, they have no right to be outraged, and should not be surprised, when NARAL occasionally (very occasionally, by the way) leaves the fold. The interests of NARAL and its members is generally aligned with those of the Democratic party, and that alignment allows the two organizations to work together more often than not, but that doesn't mean that the Democrats are entitled to view NARAL as a wholly-owned subsidiary.

A cautionary postscript, from the AP (via Political Wire, emphasis supplied):
Former [North Carolina] state Democratic Party chairman Lawrence Davis has switched his affiliation to the Republican Party, saying his personal position on issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion differed from those of Democrats.

"Basically, it's an effort to bring some coherence between my beliefs and my actions," said Davis, who was regarded as a conservative said. "I felt my (former) party was on the wrong side of right-wrong issues."

It's all well and good to count to 51, but only if you can count on the people you're counting.

 

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