Friday, September 7, 2012

Jobs or Abortions? The Dilemma of the Independent Voter

There’s a subset of independent voters who reason as follows:

“I know that Obama has done a lousy job on the economy. As we saw in today’s monthly report from BLS, we’re not creating enough jobs to keep pace with population growth. Incomes have fallen and food stamp participation is at an all time high. Romney, with his business experience, could probably do better. But I’m worried that if he got into the Oval Office, he would outlaw abortion. I’m going to vote for Obama.”

Jobs or Abortions?

These voters have my sympathy. I might hang out with conservatives, but I’m pro-choice myself. And jobs or abortions is a crappy choice to have to make. Maybe someday we’ll see a political re-alignment and a viable candidate who supports freedom in the boardroom and the bedroom. Sadly, that’s not reality in 2012. So we have to prioritize.

One thing to take into account is whether Romney can do anything about abortion. Roe v. Wade says a woman has a right to an abortion; that’s the Law of the Land. For that to change, Romney would have to nominate enough justices to the Supreme Court to overturn that ruling — and get the Senate to confirm them. Since the Democrats will either control the Senate next year, or have sufficient votes to mount a filibuster in a Republican-controlled Senate, this seems unlikely. Even if Romney got past the Senate and the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, all that would accomplish is turning the decision over to the state legislatures. Abortion would continue to be legal in most states.

Of course, I pointed all this out when independents raised the same concerns about George W. Bush — and I was proved correct. In eight years — six of them with a Republican Senate — Bush couldn’t pack the Supreme Court with anti-abortion zealots. Why do we think Romney can?

So the choice is between the reality of a stagnant economy — with 12.5 million officially unemployed, and millions more settling for part-time work or dropping out of the labor force entirely — and the possibility — IMHO remote — of overturning Roe v. Wade. The families of those 12.8 million unemployed are hurting. It seems unfair to hold them hostage to a chimera.

I know what some of you are thinking. “You’re a guy, Mike, you don’t understand how important abortion is to women.”

Perhaps. But aren’t employment – and the comfort, independence, and self-esteem that come with it – important as well?

Michael Isenberg is the author of Full Asylum, a novel about politics, freedom, and hospital gowns. Check it out on

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