The GOP’s big tent collapses
THE TODD AKIN controversy over “legitimate rape” and faux biology has done more than just give the Republican Party an acute case of campaign collywobbles.
It has also pulled back a flap to provide a revealing peek into the party’s “big tent.” Surely you remember that time-honored rhetorical tarp; it was supposed to be roomy enough for a variety of different viewpoints on abortion.
Now, truth be told, the big tent was always something of an artificial construct. What it really seemed to signal was not a party-wide recognition and acceptance of differing viewpoints on abortion, but an uneasy accommodation: Prochoice Republicans would be welcome in the GOP as long they didn’t put up too much of a fuss about the party’s antiabortion stance.
Still, there at least used to be discussion of the different points of view. Some past GOP platforms made a nod to disagreement among Republicans on the subject, and past conventions certainly saw dissent on the issue.
Bill Weld, for example, spoke out for abortion rights at the 1992 convention and even pushed for a floor debate on the platform’s antiabortion language. Weld wasn’t allowed to speak about abortion rights at the 1996 convention. But as a concession to dissenters, the GOP platform that year did include an appendix including the views of prochoice Republicans.
But this year, as in the last several cycles, the GOP’s proposed platform position is for a complete ban on abortion. Under the “human life amendment” it supports, there would be no exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother.
In other words, for the exceptions presumptive nominee Mitt Romney says he favors.