Choose Progress

I want to engage something Ed Kilgore says in a much-larger post on Southern politics:

While there may be exceptions in states like Louisiana and the border-state Missouri where there are extraordinarily high concentrations of both fundamentalists and Catholics, I don't believe there is a popular majority in any southern state for overturning basic abortion rights. But there are almost certainly big majorities supporting the contrived agenda of anti-abortion incrementalism: bans on "partial-birth" abortion, parental notification, restrictions on sex education in public schools, etc., etc. But in most cases, this stuff has majority support all over the country. So the smart pro-choice, not to mention Democratic, position in the South isn't that different from what we should be doing nationally: relentlessly, endlessly, redundantly focusing on the basic right to choose, and refusing wherever possible to be drawn into fights that label 70% of voters "pro-life" when they aren't in any meaningful sense.

I think that's a trap. So long as we're talking about the right to abortion, or even the right to the basic choice, we're on the losing end of this debate. According to the zealot across the screen, we're defending the basic right to terminate a potential child, and so long as we're that deeply on the defense (and since the right to choice is constitutionally-enshrined, we're eternally defending something already won), we're always the net losers. As a general rule, whenever one side is repeatedly pushing a symbolic confrontation, you can bet they, and not their opponents, are benefitting from it.

Democrats need to move that debate forward and refuse to engage on those terms. We need, as in so many places, to reemerge on the offense. But how do you break the impasse? I think Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics, has the right idea: