Can the Middle Be Claimed? pt. 1

Thomas Groome argues for a broader understanding of the abortion issue among Democrats. The hard line of the platform and of current orthodoxy makes it impossible for Catholic sympathizers to get on board. The key issue here is that of building a centrist coalition. The righteousness of opposing the President appears to remove any necessity of claiming the center. However this path of orthodoxy only feeds the polarization of the present, long-term growth demands a broader, more inclusive stance.

The Purple Republic

Monkey Cage explores the post-industrial landscape of the Heartland. Not surprising to those who live here, the political story is mixed (and for the cities, more Democratic).

Clinton lost crucial Midwestern swing states in large part because of a significant collapse of Democratic support outside of major city centers.

Author Jonathan Rodden goes on to conclude

One of the clearest lessons from 2016 is that the Democrats cannot win the crucial swing states just by running up the score in the biggest cities. They will need to reinvest in understanding the heterogeneous areas beyond the city limits.

‘Red’ America is an illusion. Postindustrial towns go for Democrats.

Lost Wedge

Mollie Hemingway at Get Religion is a bit irritated by the absence of tough questions to “pro-choice” candidates. Abortion, it seems, is not playing a role in the election.

that last debate showed us that neither candidate disagrees with each other on the U.S. policy of using drones to target terrorists. Does that mean that since it’s not a campaign issue, it shouldn’t be covered? Hardly. I think the press can rightly judge certain topics of importance meriting coverage even if votes aren’t being won or lost on them. But, again, that’s not even the case with abortion coverage.

The answer may lie in cold-hearted  political reality: abortion has lost its edge as a wedge issue. That is, most of the votes that would be dislodged by it have already been dislodged. The 20 percent who absolutely opposed are not likely to vote Dem in any case. So functionally, then attention to abortion and life issues in an electoral context are more a matter of base mobilization, of getting true believers out to vote. The question of mobilization was touched on by the WSJ earlier on Oct. 22, Romney Supporters Make Push for Evangelical Voters.

Several other observations may be in order. If questions about abortion are no longer a wedge, then the Dems of course, have free reign on the issue — for them, as for evangelicals, the issue may best serve as a base mobilization tactic. Second, if the question of abortion itself becomes old hat, then the news stories naturally want to migrate to the extremes — this would explain the coverage of Akin and Mourdock. In focusing on extreme cases, the Left here is following a similar path to that laid down on late term abortions by the Right.

And last, the lack of attention on abortion generally may be governed by the dynamic of the Republican campaign itself, where Gov. Romney is at best an imperfect carrier of the pro-life cause. The framing of this election as one centered on the economy and fundamental philosophical differences degrades the role of abortion, if for not other reason than such approaches muscle out such social concerns.