There was a great scene in the all-time classic movie “The Bad News Bears” where Amanda (Tatum O’Neil) turns to coach Buttermaker (Walter Matthau) and says, “I know an 11 year old girl who is already on the pill!” This is followed by a death stare from Buttermaker, who replies, “Don’t you ever say that word again.” Back then, it was taboo to talk about birth control, and it seems that Republicans still don't want to talk about it today. But that won’t be good enough this election cycle.
If Republicans lose the general election this fall, it won’t be because they were beaten by President Obama, it will be because they beat themselves.
Needless to say, the election this November is an important one. It is a fight for the survival of the pre-Obama America, and a chance for the Republican Party to halt, and then possibly reverse, the Europeanization of the country. However, it seems that some conservatives aren’t up for this fight, or any other for that matter.
On issues such as the economy Republicans clearly have a chance to hit the President hard, as the President’s approval rating on the economy is hovering around a pathetic 30%. On this issue, it seems that many conservatives are more than willing to take an aggressive stance against the President; but on other things, like social issues, the Republican Party cowers in a corner.
President Obama thought that he could rope the Republicans into a debate about contraception by bringing it back onto the national stage. A smart move by the President, but only if Republicans choose not to take him on. It isn’t just about Republicans “taking the bait,” it’s about whether or not they are willing to fight Obama on the issue.
If the Republican Party isn’t going to even respond to the claims that the American left is making, then it will make it clear to one and all that by choosing not to respond, the Democrats have won the issue.
Many are claiming that by speaking openly about the issue of contraception Rick Santorum is handing President Obama a political victory. Quite the contrary, since Santorum is getting the chance to explain to the American people exactly what this issue is about; that more freedom is being taken away from the American people.
Obama would like to make contraception a national debate only because he thinks that the Republicans will respond by opposing, and then the President, along with the media, will label the GOP as women haters living in the “Leave it to Beaver” era. This would be the ideal scenario for the White House and the Democrat Party.
However, this is as big a chance for the Republicans to score political points as it is for Obama, if they would only dissect this policy to its core intention, which is more government power.
Even before the issue of freedom and states' rights, on the issue of contraception the Republican Party has the support of about…well…half the country. While Bill Maher’s audience may think the Republican stance on contraception is completely idiotic, they are on the fringe of American political thought. There are a large number of Americans who completely agree with Santorum on this particular issue, and the number of voters in particular states that care about social issues are enough to put the Republican nominee over the edge.
But even if the Republicans were in the minority on this issue, that does not mean they have to back away from it and wave the white flag. As conservative columnist Ann Coulter pointed out in her latest column, the contraception issue is about freedom, not just the drug.
Whether or not contraception is right or wrong is a debate that will go on long after the election is over. If President Obama wants to have that specific argument, Republicans should be willing to have it since they have half of the American people on their side. But this debate isn’t about contraception; it is about government control.
Like many other liberal policies, at their face they seem to be moral issues that are up for debate with respectable points on each side. While the media may be pushing for Republicans to voice their opinion on contraception in general, yet again, they are asking the wrong questions.
The real question is: Should the government be able to demand that the church provide contraception? Or should the government be able to demand that states pay for contraception? The answer is no to both of these questions, and Republicans should not be afraid to say it.
President Obama has thrown this issue into the political arena with the hopes that the Republicans will both be afraid of it, and not answer at all, or they will choose to spark a controversial debate that will divert attention away from the economy. What he is not expecting, is for the Republican candidates to take on the policy at its heart, and that is yet another mandate. The government getting bigger, and demanding individual Americans provide and pay for something that goes against their personal or religious morals. This is the real issue at hand, and it is an issue that is winnable if approached in the right way by Republicans.
When Piers Morgan asked Rick Santorum about the issue, he responded by saying "How do I feel about the issue of contraception? It should be available. I object to it when the federal government says that religious organizations that feel the way the Catholic Church feels should be required to provide it. I think that's an infringement upon their religious liberties." That is the perfect answer, since this is a debate about government power, not about whether contraception is right or wrong.
Mitt Romney has labeled the Obama policy as an attack on religion, which he will fight against as President. While the policy is a subtle attack on the Catholic Church, its intentions are more totalitarian than they are secular. Romney believes that if he can label the President as being “anti-religion,” the Republicans could manage to come out of this scuffle on top. This could also be a winning strategy, considering there are more Americans who call themselves Christians than not. Tim Tebow is not more popular that Romney, Santorum and Obama for no reason.
The problem is that the media, with the exception of Fox News, is in the tank for President Obama yet again this election season, and will push this debate as the “contraception debate” not the “government power debate.” On both issues, Obama loses; but on the latter, Obama loses big. They will do all they can to make sure that everybody thinks Republicans hate conception and want it banned. Oh, and they hate women too.
The Democrats are hoping that the Republicans take their bait, but they are also afraid that they are going to play political jujitsu, and turn the issue back on the Democrats in a way that would be tough to defend. An argument about government control is not one that Obama wants to get into. The debate about contraception would be a lot better, since he will have the media on his side to make the Republican party look like the Caveman party.
Behind every liberal policy is government control, even when it comes to social issues. This is where they are most vulnerable, and this is where the Republican candidates need to hit the current President the hardest. The American people are sick of being told what to do. They are sick of big government, and they want someone to untangle the Obama spider web that has left them with ropes and chains instead of hope and change.
The candidate that is able to point that out is the one who will be most successful not just in getting the nomination, but winning the White House.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of The Prince Arthur Herald.
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