Pixel Tracker

Friday, November 16 , 2018, 5:48 pm | Haze Smoke 62º


Mark Shields: Women’s March Is Trump Opposition’s Very Wrong First Step

In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan instructed Haley Barbour — his White House political director and a future Republican Party chairman and Mississippi governor — on building a winning coalition:

“The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20 percent traitor.”

By practicing what he preached, the Gipper carried 44 states the first time he ran and 49 states the second while helping create a new electoral group, Reagan Democrats.

A successful political party is not some exclusive social club with its own admissions test that people must pass to be accepted. No, a successful political party is, by definition, a coalition of different people who come together to work to win elections in order to enact policies on which they mostly agree.

The first major event in opposition to President Donald Trump’s brand-new administration, Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington, imposed a litmus test and officially excluded the 46 percent of Americans (including 43 percent of women) who, when asked by the Gallup Poll about the issue of abortion, identified themselves as “pro-life” rather than “pro-choice.”

For the record, 47 percent in the same survey self-identified as “pro-choice.”

The event was co-sponsored by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, and its organizers made clear that — regardless of a group’s demonstrated commitment to the need for universal child care; equal pay for equal work; the rights of immigrants, gays, lesbians and ethnic and religious minorities; and fighting poverty — no pro-life group would be welcome:

“The Women’s March’s platform is pro-choice and that has been our stance from day one.” Any so-called “anti-choice” group could not be “a partner of the Women’s March.”

Organizers made clear that only one issue mattered: unquestioning belief that abortions should be legal under any circumstances. That position is supported, according to Gallup, by just 29 percent of Americans, while seven in 10 believe abortion should be either “illegal in all circumstances” (19 percent) or “legal only under certain circumstances” (50 percent).

Abortion continues, as it has for the 44 years since the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized it as an unrestricted right for a woman in the first trimester of her pregnancy but ruled that the state has an interest, after that, in protecting what Hillary Clinton — causing herself considerable grief with some liberal supporters — publicly referred to as an “unborn person.”

Clinton — who, after securing the Democratic presidential nomination last year, celebrated her victory by going to Planned Parenthood and had the all-out support of pro-choice groups — upset some ardent supporters by declaring on national television that “of course you can be a feminist and be pro-life.”

Americans are dramatically more liberal and accepting today than we have ever been on the moral acceptability of gay and lesbian relations and same-sex marriage. And by a lopsided 15-to-1 margin, birth control — once a thorny issue — is now judged to be morally acceptable.

But abortion is different. In 2001, in the first year of George W. Bush’s presidency, 42 percent of us told Gallup that abortion is “morally acceptable,” and 45 percent called abortion “morally wrong.”

In the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency, the percentages were similar. Forty-three percent answered “morally acceptable” on abortion, and 47 percent responded “morally wrong.”

Ambivalence on this painful matter endures; Americans are simultaneously both pro-choice and anti-abortion.

You can almost always gauge the health, as well as predict the success or failure, of any political movement by whether that movement is seeking and welcoming converts to its cause or whether instead it is hunting down and banishing heretics from its ranks.

By rejecting people Reagan would have called liberals’ valuable and committed allies just because they do not toe the pro-choice line, the Women’s March on Washington’s leadership flunked that basic test.

Mark Shields is one of the most widely recognized political commentators in the United States. The former Washington Post editorial columnist appears regularly on CNN, on public television and on radio. Click here to contact him, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.