Missouri Representative Todd Akin is still feeling the heat from his remarks that there should be no exceptions for abortion since women “rarely if ever” get pregnant from rape. Some of the heat has even come from leaders in the Republican party who want Akin to step down in the coming election. That’s a pretty surprising opinion for the GOP to express because the party just changed its platform to include a Constitutional amendment banning abortion in the United States with no exceptions.
Building a Platform Out of the War on Women
Apparently unsatisfied with the rate at which women were being alienated and disenfranchised from the Republican Party, the draft of the 2012 GOP platform calls for a Constitutional ban on abortion, with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Following the Akin backlash, Mitt Romney’s campaign stated that his ticket supports exceptions in cases of rape – presumably this will change so that Romney toes the platform line. That line currently reads,
Faithful to the ‘self-evident’ truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed…We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.
Clearly, the party that is allegedly so concerned about the Constitution has realized that their position has no basis in the document itself. The only solution for Republicans to continue to push this extreme agenda is to change it entirely – not that such an amendment would ever succeed: it’s unlikely that even half of states would ratify such a backwards piece of legislation, let alone the three-quarters needed for an amendment.
Looking beyond the absurdity of restricting medical choices by way of federal law – the exact big government that the party claims to abhor – how on earth is this platform going to win Republicans this election?
Doubling Down… And Down… And Down…
Undeterred by the wave of successful Democratic fundraising that Todd Akin’s extreme position inspired, the GOP has doubled down on their outdated and unpopular stances. Only 17% of Americans believe that abortion should be illegal in all cases, which is exactly what the GOP platform endorses.
The Romney campaign, at the very least, has broken with the party and Todd Akin on this matter. After Akin’s remarks put Republicans in the hot seat, Romney released a statement saying that his ticket – despite including Paul Ryan, who also does not want any exceptions for abortion – supported exceptions for victims of rape and incest. Of course, this position is as subject to change as all of Romney’s positions, and presumably will change in order to be in line with the party he belongs to.
It’s clear that the Republicans are alienating more women with each passing day. President Obama and the Democrats have seized a valuable opportunity, and turned it into campaign cash, attack ads, and sound bites. Women already prefer President Obama to Mitt Romney by an 11 point margin, and none of the GOP’s actions since then can be helping.
It’s unclear how the GOP will proceed from here. What is the strategy in alienating more than half of the population? What is the goal in launching an attack at every level on the fastest growing voter bloc in the country? If the Republican party thinks they can hold onto the House – let alone win the Senate and the presidency without the support of women and minorities – they are sorely mistaken.
The party’s foray into conservative fringe territory has yielded the same results as a cautionary fairy tale. By tapping into the momentum of the likes of the Tea Party to win the 2010 election, the GOP has narrowed its base to a sliver of the general population at the expense of the rest. And the fruitlessness of the 112th Congress has made it unlikely that that trick will work twice.
Romney’s campaign in this desperate primary season seem like the last gasps of a dying party. This new platform is the GOP’s death rattle.
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