John McCain appeared on Fox News on Sunday and offered his advice on how the GOP can recover from the defeat they suffered earlier this month (see below). In short, he says that the party needs to leave the abortion issue alone. He’s says that it’s fine to state your convictions on the matter, but don’t take any action to restrict the legality or accessibility of abortion. As far as I can tell, his position is indistinguishable from that of Mario Cuomo. You can be personally opposed, but you shouldn’t do anything that would undermine a woman’s so-called right to choose.
This advice is mistaken on a number of levels. The abortion issue is not like the gay marriage issue. The electorate is moving away from the social conservative position on marriage, but such is not the case on the issue of abortion. Polling shows that the electorate has become more pro-life over the last decade, not less so.
It may look like social conservatives lost the “abortion” debate in the last election cycle, but appearances can be deceiving. Yes, when the focus was on contraception and some unfortunate remarks about rape, conservatives lost the debate. But in the main, a substantial majority of Americans still favor restrictions on abortion. They do not support the unlimited abortion license that Roe v. Wade unleashed upon our country.
You don’t punt on first down. Likewise, neither would you shrink back from contending for life when there’s still ground to be taken in our culture’s ongoing battle over abortion. Senator McCain is now advising those in the struggle to lay down their arms. He’s advising the party to embrace a position that a majority of the country rejects. Not only that, it’s also a position that is rejected by many in the Hispanic population, many of whom are conservative on social issues. That means that Senator McCain’s position is not only immoral, it’s also bad politics.