This afternoon we get the standard misuse of language (nobody is pro-abortion), Bob and Steve talking to themselves, and then someone goes off the rails, commenting that "Witchcraft, paganism, and the goddesses doomed the fate and destiny of babies and women in South Dakota in November."
What twists their righteous knickers today is an article in Politics Magazine by Connie Lewis and Nathan Peterson explaining how they built the coalition and campaign that beat South Dakota's retread abortion ban in 2008. They lay out the key points of their winning campaign:
- Focus on the law's consequences.
- Exercise extreme message discipline.
- Develop a broad coalition.
- Use grassroots communications to fill in the gaps.
But the campaign strategy is nothing folks couldn't figure out, and Hickey's response is nothing Lewis, Peterson, and the rest of us haven't heard before. Reading this article, one can almost hear Lewis and Peterson saying, "Bring it. We know how Hickey and Unruh will respond, and we don't care. We won, and we can win again. This strategy works, and this message makes sense."
"Avoiding debate over the morality of abortion" was exactly the right strategy. South Dakotans weren't being asked to vote on a declaration of morality. They were being asked to vote on a poorly written, impractical law that would not achieve its purported aims. People voted the ban down because, even if they don't like abortion (and again, nobody likes abortion), they recognized that the law on the ballot was bad public policy. Sometimes a childishly simple morality isn't enough to formulate practical, effective laws.
Alas, our neighbors in North Dakota are now refighting this battle. Defenders of women's rights in ND, take your cues from Lewis and Peterson. We don't get to dress up our crusade in Morality and Scripture. We have to settle for rationality and plain old practical government.
Fortunately, as Lewis, Peterson, and the 2008 South Dakota election prove, that sometimes complicated but always rational message does indeed resonate with a healthy majority.
For a view from the other side, read the