The central issue in American politics today

If I had to pick the central issue in American politics today, it wouldn’t be the economy, it wouldn’t be national security, it wouldn’t be immigration, it wouldn’t be environmental concerns, and it wouldn’t be gay marriage.  The single most divisive issue is abortion.  I can’t tell you the number of people I’ve heard say “Well, I agree with so and so on this and that, but I can’t vote for him because of his position on abortion.”  I’ve never heard anyone say, “Well, I agree with so and so on this and that, but I can’t vote for him because of his position on national security.”  Everything, it seems, is forgivable except being pro-Life or pro-Abortion.

Roe v. Wade is the central issue in American politics today.  It’s like a knife in the wound that’s slowly killing us — and we know that, if we pull the knife out, we can still die.

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  • Charles Martel

    I have to disagree with you for a couple of reasons, Book. 
    First, the terrible economy and the sense that the country is heading off a cliff is pervasive and foremost in most people’s minds. Abortion is like malaria—its symptoms flare up periodically—but for now, other maladies are taking front stage.
    Second, most of the people you hear from are Marinites or people much like them. Ours is not a county known for the high caliber of its thinking or meme-free lifestyle. If anything, we in Marin have pulled a Thomas Frank (“What’s the Matter with Kansas?”) by making the “right” to abortion more important than the destruction of the U.S. economy and our children’s futures. Who would have figured that the Enlightened Left would elevate silly sexual-cultural values over the bedrock Marxist truth that the most important thing about us is our lives as economic animals? 
    If/when Romney is elected, the anti-abortion movement will certainly have fresh wind in its sails, but there will be other things that take precedence for awhile, such as mending the economy, undoing Obama’s worst acts, restoring Pax Americana, finishing the take-down of the mainstream media, reforming the education system, etc.

  • Libby

    Maybe it’s because it was the feminist support for Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal that convinced me to leave the Democrat party, but I feel that the Left has finally overplayed it’s hand on abortion. The combination of the 2012 DNC abortion fest and the avalanche of campaign ads claiming Romney will deny women contraceptives is repellent. The middle east is a nightmare and I’m supposed to be more concerned about Georgetown coeds paying for birth control? Obama has amassed $16 trillion national debt and I’m supposed to care about Planned Parenthood’s funding? Obamacare is much more expensive than we were promised, and will lead to rationed care, but I’m supposed to be excited about a mandate for free breast-feeding supplies? No.
    Obama’s primary appeal to women is that he cares about their reproductive organs more than Mitt does. Please, that’s just gross. Women have families, jobs, expenses, investments – and Obama offers us nothing for these things.

  • Mike Devx

    I agree with you, Book, when you say the single most *divisive* issue is abortion.  Those who have spent time seriously thinking about it arrive at a position – whatever that position is – and there’s little to no room for compromise from that position.

    Here in Book’s domain, most of us would agree that abortion as it stands today is part of a “culture of Death”, and that our current approach to it is wrong.  Those on the left would view us as having merely minor quibbles among our “right wing extremist” positions.

    Yet even here, intense verbal disagreement will break out if we should detail our heartfelt positions with specifics.  What are mere quibbles to those standing far away are crucially important distinctions even within conservative debate.  There’s just so little room for compromise when you are talking about sacred life; and when you add The Law into it, and to what extent The Law should be used to enforce a view toward sacred life.

    Divisive?  Yes.  But will it be *central* to the political scene over the next few years?  Hard to say.  Certainly the social issues do matter.  ObamaCare’s assault on religious freedom and dissent from certain government programs have driven a wedge between many Catholics and Obama; the gay marriage debate has driven down black support for Obama in some cases.  There’s every reason to believe that social issues, and especially abortion, will continue to drive politics both between the parties and within each party.


    The issues haven’t changed much in 150 years. Economic and social differences between the North and the South [insert demographics]
    States versus federal rights.[no insertion needed]
    The fight between Slave and Non-Slave State Proponents.[insert right-to-work state]
    Growth of the Abolition Movement [insert abortion movement]
    The election of [insert candidate of your choice]
    Civil War: 620,000 – 700,00 deaths 1861-1866
    Abortion: 55,000,000 deaths 1973-2012
    The Civil War never ended.


  • Ron19

    Dear all of the above:

    The most divisive issue is abortion.  However, the choices between the credible presidential candidates is Abortion or Abortion Lite.   Neither candidate is likely to change their position, in spite of the electorate.

    So, we talk and debate about other issues, because it looks like there is some possiblity for movement and influence.  

    We do what we think we can do, and don’t do what we don’t think we can do.  Or as Paul put it, I do what I don’t want to do, and don’t do what I desire.  I’ve always thought that he was talking about something else, but it seems to apply here, too. 

  • 11B40


    One of the things that I don’t understand about the abortion issue is the failure of the “pro-life” groups to present any kind of serious statistical case.  Abortions are occurring at a rate of over a million per year for the last couple of generations and yet no one has ever compared that number to actual statistics for the alleged “wire-hanger” abortions references to which the public is routinely abused.  Would the number of casualties pre-Roe v. Wade be so significant as to justify anything near the current rate of abortions ?  Alternatively, I would offer my “Abortion– a permanent solution for a temporary problem” for those who prefer sloganeering.

    In a somewhat similar similarity, recently a scientist from UCSF got a Nobel prize (of the hard science variety unlike our current President’s) for his work in developing stem cells from regular adult cells.  It was kind of interesting to see the mainstream media tip-toeing around the embryonic stem cell issue.  It struck me as a bit of karmic payback that his work was done at the University of California in the state that led the charge off the embryonic stem cell cliff by ordering up and approving hundreds of millions in state bonds supposedly to protect all those damaged lives that could only be saved by extracting stem cells from viable embryos and thus destroying them and hopefully cornering the market in the embryonic stem cell research industry.  The media, while never masterful, did step up to the plate and take its whiffs. One SF Chronicle (aka Commicle) article of some seven paragraphs managed to hold off mentioning embryonic cell until the, you guessed it, seventh paragraph and totally ignored all those government bond that California’s taxpayers will be paying for until who knows when.

    While I certainly can’t agree that abortion is the central issue in American politics today, that’s because America has been so propagandized by those who would rule us.  It’s certainly the central issue in American morals today and until it is corrected.  While many Americans seem determined to enter and enjoy the wonderful world of bread and circuses and loans that never have to be repaid, I’m not totally without hope that there may be a future correction.  As I understand it, our medical technicians can now deliver pre-mature infants of mid-twenty week gestation.  At some point, hopefully after President Infanticide’s departure, some obnoxiously aggressive conservative legalist will find a way to force the Supreme Court to rectify its abortion abortion.

  • jj

    I suspect that abortion is the most divisive issue, for a variety of reasons that go beyond the act itself.  The main reason for this is because we have one political party that has attached itself to the issue, like a limpet, and made it a central – perhaps the central – tenet of their existence.  Does the democrat party really stand for very much else?  Of anything at all?  Not anything, I’m afraid, that you can see without a microscope.  They are first, last, and always the party of free-range abortions: abortions at any time, in any place, under any circumstances.  And, for the sake of their continued existence, they’ve broadened this single issue – or tried to – to include birth control, and the nebulous catch-all of “women’s health.” 
    (And, to digress just a moment, purely on a personal note: f*** you, ladies!  Nobody but me ever bought me a condom; nobody but me ever paid for my prostate to be annually prodded; nobody but me ever paid for a PSA; and that was me who wrote the check for the vasectomy when the time came for that some decades back.  So don’t come whining to me with your problems!  What the hell makes you so special that anybody but you should pay for your crap?)
    So the democrats have to be focused and divisive about this, and as strident as possible, because without it they have nothing.  An interesting and – to them – wholly unexpected thing seems to be in process of happening, too: the country no longer clearly favors it.  All the polls I have seen over the past couple of years indicate either that the American people are pretty evenly split, or that abortion is in fact favored by rather fewer of us than are opposed thereto  Unexpected, and cause for great concern: evidently the democrat party has hitched their very existence to an issue that appears to be losing traction, and falling increasingly into disfavor.  This is of course an existential disaster waiting in the wings for them, and it therefore has to be opposed as energetically as possible.  Thus spectacles like the recent convention; thus efforts to invent a wholly fallacious “war on women;” thus Sandra Fluke.  I doubt if any of this will work.  I don’t think women are nearly as stupid and easily led as the democrat machinery seems to think they are – but time will tell on that one.
    Because it’s an issue that has almost unique power to blow the democrat party apart, it will remain central for the foreseeable future: they have to keep it there.  Is practically everything else we could talk about as Americans more important?  Yes, of course.  But it doesn’t matter, because that’s where one of our two parties lives and breathes.  The democrat party has failed economically; they have failed educationally; they have failed socially; they have failed philosophically: everything they have touched has turned to excrement.  But by God they got abortion through, passed, and confirmed by nine retired ambulance-chasers: it’s policy!   It’s the law of the land!  And they did it!  And it’s all they have, their one success.  So it’s never going away as a hot topic to discuss and fight over.  Not ever.  It’s all they got, and their conventions, their election races, their whole act is one long celebration of it, and ginning up of straw men and cardboard enemies thereof, so they can scare halfwits like the aforementioned Ms. Fluke.  Really, what choice do they have? 

  • Danny Lemieux

    And, speaking of Sandra Fluke, her political career appears to be coming on strong right out of the gate….er.. 

  • Wolf Howling

    The Supreme Court made a huge error when they federalized what should have been a strictly state issue – abortion.  It stands today as the poster child for why our Courts should leave issues of social policy not clearly within the ambit of the Constitution to the individual state legislatures.  And do note that if Roe were overturned today, it would not make abortion illegal.  It would merely kick the issue back to the individual states.  Having said that, how long til the Supreme Court finds gay marriage a Constitutional right.  I am guessing with five years at the outside.  

  • Caped Crusader

    Please allow a few random and perhaps disconnected thoughts regarding abortion from a 78 year old medical doctor.
    I don’t think you can truly know your position until you see someone you have known since junior high rolled into the ER deader than hell from an aseptic abortion, as I have experienced. In 1960, while working the ER as a intern, a medical student 3 years behind me in school was rolled into the ER for me to pronounce dead. I had known her since junior high and worked with her on the school paper, and we actually interviewed and I photographed Forrest Tucker when he was an up and coming movie star at the time in the 1950’s. She was into arts and drama at the time, and I was more of a scholastic jock, but we were friends of a sort nevertheless. An experience I would wish on no one.
    There is NO doubt that life begins at conception, but no one knows when we become a soul. I have read that Muslims believe that ensoulment occurs on the 120th day after conception, and until that time you are not a human being in the fullest sense; they may have this right or they may not, for I myself do not know. In the 1950’s one of my obstetric professors was a Catholic who believed that very early first trimester abortions should be permitted. In this time frame this could get you in big trouble not only with the Church, but with the law in general. He had a very down to basics reasoning. In that era we had our babies, or 10% experienced a spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). NO ultrasound, amniocentesis,etc.; you took what came out and it was a complete surprise until the moment of birth. When someone had a miscarriage they would call the doctor and ask what to do, and the answer was, “flush it down the commode”. His reasoning was that as human beings we had a sixth sense as to when a fetus became a human being and although we did not know the exact time, we would not flush a human soul, (or a very elderly granny), down the commode and he knew of no better method, and since the Church did not perform matchbox funerals, or disapprove of this action, they must also have some sense of when we become human beings with a soul. Somewhat bizarre reasoning but in the intervening years I have never forgotten or heard a better explanation, that would satisfy everyone or even no one.
    I have always been puzzled as to why the Dems are so hell bent on this as it is their future voters who are primarily being eliminated. The have truly become a party that celebrates DEATH for the innocent while being protectors of all that promotes the worst in life. I believe that Savage has it correct and that liberalism IS a mental disorder.
    There is no doubt but that abortion is totally out of control at the present time, but this is a cat that is not going gently back into the bag. I believe birth control and the day after pill should be freely available, making legal first trimester abortions rare; but under correct supervision, and parents should know what the state is doing with their children. Any person voting to support Democrats is approving of deeds that would make Dr. Mengele wince. And anyone approving last trimester abortion is a monster and God help anyone coming under their domination. If they will do such a horrible thing to an innocent child, what would they do to you?

  • Mike Devx

    This is somewhat off topic, but the *central* issue at this moment is actually likely to be tomorrow night’s debate.

    For many who tune in, the fact that it will be about foreign policy won’t matter a lick.  Not at all.  What will matter for them is that it is their last chance to get a good look at these two men who would be president for the next four years.  

    For these voters, there will be only one goal: They want to “take the measure of the man” one final time.  For them it won’t matter at all how they answer any specific question (unless they royally screw up, and THAT is simply not going to happen).  For them it will be a more holistic judgment.  “Which of these two men do I actually want to choose as my president for the next four years?”

    I finally got to see the first debate.  From start to finish.  And I don’t understand what most people are saying.  I thought Obama was completely his normal self.  I didn’t think he was off his game at all.  If there was a problem, it was with their strategy going in, not with his performance. In fact, I thought he did BETTER than his usual public appearances without a teleprompter.  I thought he was better than in his McCain debates.

    If Obama flubbed anything, it is that his strawman arguments, usually so obvious (and utterly ridiculous) were oddly muted and conciliatory.  But that’s a strategy problem of what tone to set in the debate, not a performance issue.  And Romney was not passive on each attack Obama threw out there.  Romney responded to each.

    No, for me there was only one difference, and it was HUGE:  Romney the man, that people saw in front of them on their TV screens, was not the evil, scheming, uncaring monster that they had seen in all the negative TV advertising and that the media had been peddling.  For the first time they got their OWN unfiltered view of Romney.  For many, it was a complete shock.  The Obama disinformation campaign fell completely apart.  They’d painted Romney as a monster for months.  Romney was masterful in dispelling all of that – and in a way that I thought was entirely truthful and in sync/in touch with himself.  He was REAL.  He was Presidential, he was warm, he was empathetic, he was persuasive.

    Add to that that Obama stuck to policy disagreements.  Obama did not demonize Romney, as those months of steady negative advertising of “Romney the monster” did. In its own way that, too, refuted and collapsed the disinformation campaign. 

    For me, that accounts for what appears to be a big shift in Romney’s favor.  They got their first unfiltered, fair look at the man himself, and they liked it.  They liked HIM.

    So in this foreign policy debate, no specific policy point, not even the Benghazi cover-up, will matter at all.  Foreign policy itself is not going to move undecided voters, nor soft voters.

    I don’t think Romney is done with the job of tearing down that disinformation campaign.  I think many will tune in for the reason I said above: To take the measure of both men one final time.  All the logical arguments have been heard.  There’s nothing Obama can say that would be any more persuasive than anything he’s said or done in the last four years.  Romney’s case is clear.

    It will come down to this choice:
    “Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and give Obama another four years.  I’ll give him a chance.”
    “I’m going to go with Romney.  He’s not at all what I’ve been told.  I actually like him, this man I see on TV. I trust this man.  I think he can do the job better, and I’m going to let him have his turn now.”


  • Ron19

    Danny’s link at #8 didn’t work for me.

    This one from Mark Steyn at National Review Online might be the same event:

  • Ron19

    Caped Crusader # 10:

    I believe birth control and the day after pill should be freely available, making legal first trimester abortions rare

    Chemical birth control pills have several ingredients that prevent conception, one way or another. If they fail, which happens often, there is another ingredient that directly causes abortion. (Wouldn’t that be a first trimester abortion?) The end result of all these ingredients is a 90 to 95% effectiveness. Which means that it fails, causing a pregnancy 5 to 10% of the time when the woman is having intercourse during her fertile period. I no longer remember the exact numbers, but I know I’m in the right ballpark. Condoms are the most effective artificial birth control method, and they are only 95 to 98% effective, and less effective against STDs. All of this is on the supposition that these are used correctly. 
    Birth control pills prescribed in the US contain the usual document called the “insert.”  This is the narrow multifolded strip of paper in 2-point font that comes in the box, or is offered by the pharmacist at time of purchase.  For birth control pills, the insert you automatically get is known as the short form insert.  (This is not the case with most of your medicines; they come in one-size-insert-fits-all.)  If you specifically ask your pharmacist for the long form insert for your birth control medication, you’ll see a description that looks more like one for a chemo-therapy drug.  You should be able to read both forms on-line.

    Natural Family Planning, such as the Billings Method, is 99% effective when used correctly. It also requires the co-operation of both partners, so it is not as effective for totally unexpected one night stands, but definitely works for loving, co-operative couples. However, it probably would not be able to keep up with the likes of Sandra Fluke (rhymes with f*** as she herself pronounced it before Pelosi’s phony Congressional Committee interview/press release). And since couples often work on this together, the actual rate is usually 99 to 100% effective.  It can even work in reverse, for couples that do want to conceive.  It is not the old “Rhythm-and-Blues” method.
    My daughter eventually decided that she didn’t like what she found out about what all the artificial birth control ingredients were doing to her body, and talked her husband into switching to NFP.  They’ve used it both ways, and it has worked well for them both ways.

  • Caped Crusader

    Ron19  #13
    I believe that ANY method used correctly is nearly 100% effective and failures are nearly always due to patient failure and/or incorrect usage. We were married in 1960, the same time that oral contraception became available. My wife, also a physician, did not wish to take these drugs, and that proved wise, for the original pills had many worse side effects than today’s pills. My wife always knew when she was ovulating. We used a combination of other methods available at the time, along with rhythm, and had NO problems with this method of birth control. When we desired children we knew the proper time and we batted 1.000, hitting a grand slam homer the very first try with each child. Had we been baseball players we would have been enshrined at Cooperstown the first year we would have been eligible, and would have definitely have chosen a career in baseball.

  • Ron19

    11B40 # 6:

    One of the things that I don’t understand about the abortion issue is the failure of the “pro-life” groups to present any kind of serious statistical case. Abortions are occurring at a rate of over a million per year for the last couple of generations and yet no one has ever compared that number to actual statistics for the alleged “wire-hanger” abortions references to which the public is routinely abused. Would the number of casualties pre-Roe v. Wade be so significant as to justify anything near the current rate of abortions ?  

    Actually, statistics of various kinds go back several decades: why then have I heard time and again that between 5,000 and 10,000 women died annually from illegal abortions?    

    If that doesn’t work, try Yahoo! search:    actual back alley abortion rates statistics  
    and then the search result that came up second for me:

    Abortion StatisticsAbortion and Death.
    Abortion information, statistics, charts … and the actual numbers. Ectopic Pregnancies and Their Occurrence Rate After Abortion: … Year with Back Alley Abortions: ……
    and then down near the bottom,

    Didn’t 5,000 to 10,000 People Die a Year from Illegal Abortions? A look at the numbers and quotes from those who publicize them.   




  • Ron19 has lots of infomation on the culture of death vs. the culture of life, such as pro life articles, news, and statistics.  You can get the free newsletter from ; I only spend about two minutes a day going through the emailed newsletter, plus the time to read an article or three that looks interesting.  Try it for a few months, and you will get a lot of information that you don’t get from the MSM.  It’s published in Canada, but it seems most of the articles are about the USA.  There’s lots of articles about Canada, and other parts of the world.  It’s like Rush or Brietbart about those who are unable to defend themselves.

  • Ron19

    I’ve done lots of comments since I sat down at the computer this evening.

    I would like to thank Ymarsakar for setting the example of posting several shorter comments rather than one long one when you’re really fired up about something.  
    I also want to thank Bookworm for providing a forum for intelligent discussion of a wide range of issues, from both sides, and her readers for contributing.

  • Ron19

    11B40 # 6:

    My reply to your question still hasn’t shown up on my RSS list, but it is at #15 on this web page.  

  • MacG

    Since this year’s Dem Con they took the word rare out of ‘safe, legal and rare’ it is a finger in the eye of the Prolifers adn it will continue to be a divisive issue until Peter SInger has his way.

    Caped Crusader, not only are they losing a good portion of their potential base but a lot of taxpayers too.  Since RoeVWade we have aborter over 10% of our current population.  Perhaps that’s where our deficit came from.

  • Caped Crusader


    I doubt seriously that future Dems being aborted would become tax payers, but rather tax consumers.

    Also in the first paragraph of my first comment that should be septic abortion, rather than aseptic. Guilty  again of poor editing! 

  • MacG

    Come to think of it your posit is exactly what I have heard friends in Church say but that the person is not prolife.  To be fair I have also heard what you post in Church as well.

    The term Prolife and Evolution have the same issue, they are polarizing terms that when used pigeon hole someone.  I was asked with a tone of confrontation “You, you Pro-life ” seeing that this was a 2nd term college kid enrolled in UC Santa Barbara I threw him a curve “I’m Pro innocent life.”  He took a breath to start his rant but realized what I had said “Pro innocent life? What’s that?”  “Virtually every abortion stops a beating heart with a different blood type of the mother, functioning kidney and liver and detectable brainwaves.  Call it what you will, what was once alive is now dead.  I also believe that those guilty of a capital crime get the death penalty”.  It was pretty quiet after that because it was not the definition that he was expecting and it was not so crazy and idea as Prolife afterall. But because pro-innocent life is not a buzzword we have to choose from prolife or prochoice we will never close the gap.  

    Let me say that I harbor no judgment for those who have had this heart wrenching procedure.  The truth is that most people on both sides of the fence believe that after the first trimester it has gone too far save for the life of the mother, rape and incest.  How far are they willing to go is another thing.  Peter Singer would have no problem waiting until 5 days after delivery.  The vast majority would reject this as well.

    Are we so far apart?  I really do not think so but when the argument gets honed for so long we are unable to see the similarities are greater than the differences.

    Pick Emo Phillips at @ 2:05 to illustrate my point 

  • Ymarsakar

    The Left never once gave a damn who died as a result of their policies. That would be the case whether their policies savored eugenics based abortion or not.

    To fight their propaganda, never mistake their true intentions and nature. Else victory will never be in sight.

  • David Foster

    Here’s an example of the kind of thing circulating on the feminist left…this one from the site known as Jezebel.



  • Ron19

    David Foster 23 embedded link:

    I don’t understand why women who hate men that much are so worried about getting pregnant.

    About twenty years ago, at the company I worked for, I occasionally had to go to a diferent department in another building to get a signature.  The middle-aged woman who did the signature had a sign in her cubicle: “If they can send a man to the moon, why can’t they send all of them?” 

    About the fifth time I went there for a signature I couldn’t get it just then, because she was on a honeymoon.    

  • Earl

    Ron19: Living things are not machines.  I endorse NFP, but 99% efficacy is dependent on a woman being pretty predictable, and not all of them are.
    My daughter and her husband have never used artificial birth control (not from religious conviction) and their first daughter was a surprise; three years later the second was planned, and planned to be the last.  For some reason (and I’m SO thankful) he neglected to get clipped, and recently (10 days before her fertile period began) our third grandbaby was conceived. 
    I’m a biologist, so the variability doesn’t surprise me….but even knowing that the baby is what it is, I still find myself praying for a little boy.  It would be good for everyone in the house, I’m convinced. 
    G*d knows those prayers are just (sort of) fake ones — the real prayers are for another healthy and whole little being.  When I was younger, I used to stand bemused watching a grandparent with the grandchild….what was THAT about!?  Now I understand that no one without grandchildren knows completely the fullness of love.

  • MacG

    One of the reasons that the left can support their position is that they think that life in general was a happenstance, a lucky roll of the cosmic dice but then most have never seen the complexity of a single cell much less a trillion of them to make a human.
    How a ‘simple’ working single cell came to be on it’s own is beyond me.

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