CBS News came out with a new poll last weekend, this one about who Americans would consider voting for as President.
Compared to February, Jeb and Rand and Ted and Marco and Scott are up, and so on. Hillary is unchanged and Martin O’Malley is up. But that sort of data will change a gazillion times before it matters.
More interesting is that the poll found two litmus tests among Republican voters. In politics, a litmus test is a “my way or the highway” statement: either the candidate agrees with me on X, or I look elsewhere.
Culture of life advocates should be encouraged by the litmus tests found in this poll: abortion and ISIS. Clearly, Republicans are against random and senseless death.
In the words of CBS: “Sixty-one percent of Republicans would not consider voting for a candidate who disagrees with them on dealing with ISIS, and half (51 percent) would not vote for someone with a different position on abortion.”
And what is that position? Fully 75% of Republicans said abortion should either be available but under stricter limits (39%) or not permitted (36%). Nearly half (46%) of Democrats said abortion should either be available but under stricter limits (28%) or not permitted (18%).
No, that isn’t “repeal Roe v. Wade.” But it means we’re winning, all the same.
The pro-life movement should not make those words a litmus test either. I’ll talk about that in another column.
Check Your Calendar
In case you enjoy a media-free existence, the CBS poll should have ended your innocence: 2016 has begun.
Right now there are 14—count ’em—14 people who are mentioning themselves or being mentioned as Republican presidential candidates. One, Ted Cruz, is now an official candidate. There are also three Democrats whose names are being mentioned, but none of them is the least bit interested in the pro-life issue, so the questions are different for them.
If you’re a news junkie, you can spend hours every night watching every item that pops up from now until November 8, 2016. If you want to do it, do it just for fun. It won’t go far to make you an educated pro-life voter. You have to work to become that.
You’ve got to figure out who’s really pro-life, who’s electable, who can win, and where do they stand on your other personal litmus tests. The mass media will continue to just swarm around the issue du jour and buzz like a hive of bees. They won’t tell you what you need to know.
You have to develop a samizdat mentality. Listen to what you’re *not* hearing as well as to what you *are* hearing. Know the context of what you hear. Know the source: Who’s telling it to you? That will tell you if you need a grain of salt, a tablespoon, or the whole shaker.
Things you want to know about all candidates: Who’s funding them? Who’s advising them? Who’s managing their campaigns? A savvy investor asks questions like this about companies before investing in them. Pro-lifers should ask behind-the-scenes questions like this before investing time, treasure, talent—or their vote!—in a candidate.
Here’s a first lesson in samizdat-style reading, thanks to the Susan B. Anthony List. SBA List scoured public records and sought letters from all 14 candidates about their views on the 20-week abortion ban.
What don’t you hear in this one:
“America is one of just seven countries that permits elective abortions past [five months]. We can do far better than this. I urge Congress to take swift action on this important issue.”
This was written a month ago. The fact is true: “America is just one of seven countries.” The sentiment is nice: “We can do far better than this.” But this man is running for President! If he were President, would he sign it? He happens to be the sitting Governor of his state. Would he sign it in his state? He leaves the careful reader wondering.
Compare that with what you do hear in this quote, from another sitting Governor:
“I will sign that bill when it gets to my desk and support similar legislation on the federal level. I was raised to believe in the sanctity of life and I will always fight to protect it.”
Hear the difference? That promises to take a specific, objectively verifiable action. Either he signs it or he doesn’t— you’ll be able to find out . . . if you do the research. That will lead you to a useful data point.
So now practice. Go to the SBA List website, find “Where do they stand?” and see what you hear when you read with samizdat skills.
Welcome to the next 20 months!
* * * * *
Connie Marshner organized her first pro-life meeting in 1971, among Capitol Hill staffers who sensed a drift toward legalizing abortion. She’s worked in the movement in one capacity or another ever since.