Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Moral Absolutism

Libby Sternberg has a very interesting piece up about how the Democrats have become the party of moral absolutism. It sounds counter-intuitive, but I think she's right.

If you go down the list of values issues from the last election--gay marriage, abortion, stem-cell research, affirmative action--the Republican party really was the big-tent party. There are prominent Republicans who disagree with the party line in every instance.

This heterodoxy gives Republicans a two-fold benefit. First, as Sternberg makes the case, it presents a show of tolerance to voters who aren't comfortable with moral absolutes on these complicated issues. Second, it allows Republicans to have a vigorous, internal debate on the issues--something the Democratic party hasn't had since welfare reform.

I've long suspected that one of the keys to Democratic revival is for the party to drop its all-or-nothing stance on abortion. The Democratic shunning of Bob Casey was a seminal moment, and one which needs to be righted.

Democrats don't need to become a pro-life party. But as a party, they need to countenance and be able to embrace pro-life Democrats. This would be a first, and healthy, step towards reentering the political mainstream.

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