Planned parenthoodlums.

Opposing illegal immigration and gay marriage proved such successes for Republicans that they moved on to defunding Planned Parenthood. There certainly is an argument that can be made that “life begins at the moment of conception” and that abortion takes far more lives each year than do guns. I agree with the argument. Certainly, I would never have an abortion. It would violate my moral principles. On the other hand, I’m a 61-year-old white man with a Ph.D., steady work, a house in the ‘burbs, and two kids done (or almost done) with college. I’m not willing to shove my ethics up the ass of a 15 year-old black girl from a single parent home in North Philadelphia who wanders off to what the “City of Brotherly Love” is pleased to call “the public schools.” Probably has to skip school to go down to visit one of her relatives in “Riverside” from time to time.[1] Kid’s got enough troubles and adding a baby isn’t got to solve any of them. Same thing goes for white kids like the one portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone.”[2]

That said (or ranted), opinion polls show that 22 percent of people think that it would be worth shutting down the government to force an end to funding of Planned Parenthood. In opposition to that, 71 percent of people think that the government should stay open, regardless of conservative outrage over Planned Parenthood.

In 2014, 43 percent of Americans self-identified as political Independents, 30 percent as Democrats, and 26 percent as Republicans.[3] However, it appears to be an article faith among political observers that most “Independents” are actually reliably Republican or Democratic voters who just refuse to declare their party affiliation. Clearly, de-funding Planned Parenthood captures almost all self-identified Republicans. However, the tide has been running in favor of Republicans in recent elections. If 30 percent of voters self-identify as Democrats and 26 percent self-identify as Republican, then at least another 25 percent voted Republican in recent races in order to provide the Republican majorities. That’s why they control both houses of Congress. If that back-of-the-envelope calculation is correct, then almost as many—or more—Republican voters oppose shutting down the government as support it.

This suggests the existence of two or three Republican parties living inside the shell of “The Republican Party.”[4] There are the Evangelical-Culture War Republicans. There are the National Security Republicans.[5] There are the Economic Growth/Opportunity Society Republicans. Obviously, these groups can over-lap. However, Republicans risk alienating half of their own voter-base by doing what the activists want with regard to shutting down the government. Doubtless, this reality is causing John Boehner and Mitch McConnell nightmares.

[1] Which is not the same thing as the “River Walk” in San Antonio.

[2] See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdrhoE8_BQc

[3] “Noted,” The Week, 23 January 2015, p. 16.

[4] The same goes for the Democrats, where Bernie Sanders (and—implicitly—Elizabeth Warren) pose a challenge to Hillary Clinton. The Democrats are still trying to recover from the McGovernization of the party in the Seventies. If Hillary Clinton is seen to be failing and about to blow a huge advantage once again, then Joe Biden will be drafted regardless of his own feelings. Worse things could happen.

[5] They are probably fed up with Sergei Lavrov being the only adult in the room during negotiations with Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.

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