Friday, August 10, 2007

Swimming in the mainstream

As anyone familiar with the ACLU knows, we are not afraid to take on an unpopular issue or position. But I'm not going to lie- it's nice being liked, too. So in an article dissecting the breakdown of conservatism and the GOP in The Economist, two paragraphs caught my eye since they touched on three ACLU issues in quick succession:
The Republicans have alienated America's fastest-growing electoral block—Hispanics—with their visceral opposition to immigration reform. Nearly 70% of Hispanics voted Democratic in House races in 2006, up from 55% in 2004. That trend is sure to have been solidified by the Republicans' recent scuppering of the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill, in a revolt sodden with xenophobia. Lyndon Johnson once noted that the Democrats' support for civil rights had cost them the South for a generation; the Republican Party's opposition to immigration reform may well have cost it the Hispanic vote for a generation.

Republicans have also whipped up a storm of opposition among middle-of-the-road voters on social issues. The religious right's opposition to abortion has always been an electoral liability: only 30% of voters favour overturning Roe v Wade. But in the past few years social conservatives tested people's patience still further over a federal marriage amendment and Terri Schiavo. Fully 72% of Republican voters opposed the Republicans' attempt to use the might of the federal government to keep the severely brain-damaged woman alive. The voters got their revenge in the 2006 mid-term elections— "bloody Tuesday" in the words of Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group. Rick Santorum, once the religious right's most prominent champion in the Senate, barely scraped 41% of the vote in Pennsylvania. Ken Blackwell, social conservatism's most prominent black champion, went down to a humiliating defeat in the race for the Ohio governorship. Social conservatives lost ballot initiatives on everything from abortion to gay marriage. (my bolds)

Now, to us, it doesn't matter who is standing up for the issues we care about, as long as someone is, so the partisan angle is unimportant here. What matters is this: The ACLU is not some radical band of wingnuts. Many of our positions, including some of our most prominent issues, are embraced by millions of Americans. Why? Because the people of this country believe in the Constitution, they believe in fairness, they believe in justice, and they believe the government should butt out of their lives.

Andy in Harrisburg

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