Clinton and Roe
Some of you may have noticed that this blog was started on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It was not a coincidence. While I had hoped to put together a good list of examples from the past few months about the misguided understanding that many in the political and media elite (and not so elite) have of values voters and how to connect with them, this week presented its own set of stories relating to values issues, so let me address those first.
As you probably saw, Senator Clinton made some comments to a crowd of abortion rights activists. She prefaced her remarks by stating her support for Roe v. Wade, and then moved on to address opponents of abortion.
"There is an opportunity for people of good faith to find common ground in this debate - we should be able to agree that we want every child born in this country to be wanted, cherished and loved."
"'We can all recognize that abortion in many ways represents a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women,' Mrs. Clinton told the annual conference of the Family Planning Advocates of New York State. 'The fact is that the best way to reduce the number of abortions is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place.'"
It was a good try, Senator. I actually think making the effort is a good decision. The problem was the delivery.
To give you an idea of what I mean, contrast this speech with comments President Bush has made over the past couple months.
Bush regularly uses phrases like "culture of life." He speaks about Roe in contrast with Dred Scott. He says "even the unwanted have worth." This terminology speaks to the pro-life movement. Those outside the movement may question the meaning, but the language is what we hear in our churches, at our rallies, and in our conversations with friends.
Senator Clinton's comments do not come from the same place. "We want every child born in this country to be wanted, cherished and loved" sounds to our ears an awful lot like "every child a wanted child." We know that there are two million couples waiting to adopt - the children who are never given a chance at life are wanted. We also know that since Roe, the level of child abuse has not decreased, rather it has risen several hundred percent.
"Common ground" is another phrase that doesn't resonate well with pro-lifers. We know that Roe is the law of the land, and has been read so as not to permit banning even the most extreme abortion practices. When you say common ground, we hear, "Abortion will always be legal, even the most extreme forms. Accept that, and we'll stop taking tax dollars to directly fund abortion (if you fight hard enough)."
"[A]bortion in many ways represents a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women." Well, Senator, I agree. But why is it? If you can understand why pro-lifers find this so tragic, you will be well on your way to understanding many values voters, and you might just learn how to speak to them.