I’m Not a Single Issue Voter, And You Shouldn’t Be Either
If there is one thing I am tired of as a young, female, non-religious Republican voter, it is the fact that a politician’s stance on abortion has somehow become the ultimate litmus test of one’s devotion to conservatism.
While this may be because I’m one of the few, anomalous, Republicans who is actually -gasp- pro-choice, I also think it is genuinely ridiculous to boil down anyone’s record or political standing to any solitary issue, regardless of what that issue may be.
Look, I get it. Abortion is a values issue, and as such it spurs the most heated possible responses from proponents of either side. But can anyone truly argue that it is fair to reduce the complexities of Conservatism, or of Liberalism, to one single issue?
Speaking personally, I can fully test to the fact that it is in fact possible to believe in the ideals of Traditionalist Conservatism (like limited government, responsible spending, individual liberty and low taxation) while also being pro-choice. Assuming otherwise is not only ignorant, but dangerous.
The greatest modern example has to be the first Republican presidential debate in which each candidate was asked point blank whether or not they support abortion for any reason, including int he cases of rape/incest or danger to the mother’s life. For many, if not all, of the candidates on stage, giving any answer other than a resounding “no” could be seen as an early end to a complain that barely even started.
Forcing candidates to pass this sort of litmus test not only perpetuates this idea that conservatism doesn’t fall on a spectrum, when it very much does, but also keeps candidates who may not be totally against abortion from saying so as they fear being labeled a “RINO” by their fellow Republicans.
How, as a party, are we to ever breach our differences, of which their are many, when we are too busy vilifying each other over singular issues? If we want to change the narrative of the GOP being a divided party, the first place to start is with ourselves.
Of course, this is not an inherently Republican problem, either. In fact, this election cycle also brought scrutiny on the Democratic side to Senator Jim Webb for being “too Republican” because of his stance on homeland security. Webb received vilification of his own not only from the media, but from voters for being “basically a Republican” simply because he disagreed with his base on a particular set of issues.
What we must remember as a populace is that there is an inherent difference between ideologies and political parties. Ideologies will always continue to exist, and always exist in varying degrees, with or without the formal framework of a party around it.
Instead of looking for “the perfect candidate” and discounting members of our own parties for disagreeing on singular issues- even if they’re important ones- we must instead take a step back and look at the bigger picture. If we continue to create an environment in which we refuse to compromise with our elected officials, how can we expect our leaders to compromise with their peers across the aisle?
Being a hard-line, no compromise Republican or Democrat may be great for winning primaries, but it is terrible for actually getting things done.