April 26, 2004
The huge outpouring at the pro-choice rally on Sunday should send a signal to George W. Bush that he's in more trouble than he thinks.
It's not just that 800,000 or so protesters took to the nation's capital to defend the right to choose.
They were also there to denounce the policies of George W. Bush, which have been extremely hostile to women who need abortions. From depriving family planning groups overseas of much-needed money to banning the so-called partial-birth abortion procedure, Bush has marched in lockstep with the far right on this issue.
Now he and Karl Rove may think that's a winning strategy. Rove evidently lies awake at night wondering how to get every last vote from rightwing evangelical Christians.
But my hunch is that this strategy will backfire.
First of all, Bush has galvanized the pro-choice activists as no one else has since the passage of Roe v. Wade three decades ago. These activists will drag their sisters and their mothers and their aunts and their grandmothers and their daughters and their nieces to the polls on November 2, along with any other supporters they can find.
Secondly, Bush's hostility to this essential privacy and liberty right will alienate two important constituencies that he needs: independent women and moderate Republicans.
These voters may ultimately outnumber the rightwing evangelicals that Bush somehow failed to pick up last time.
But if Bush wins on the strength of that far right base, expect more reactionary policies in the next four years--and not just on the abortion issue