Casey, Discussing Abortion And "Faith" Issues, Seeks To Close The "God Gap"
Since the 2004 presidential election, in which voters who attend church weekly voted 2 to 1 for President Bush over Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Democrats have sought to close what some call the "God gap."
Bob Casey Jr., increasingly looking like he will upset Sen. Rick Santorum to represent Pennsylvania, is one of several Democrats who are openly talking about "faith" and related issues. Consider him the poster child for closing the "gap."
In the battle to be inclusive, Democrats need to be a party that has room for anti-abortion candidates like Casey, just as Republicans who want to be inclusive need to make room for the beliefs of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who favors abortion rights as well as gay rights. The party that does a better job may have a leg up on wooing the Reagan Democrats/Clinton Republicans who will likely decide the 2008 presidential election.
Casey, speaking this weekend at Catholic University in Washington, gave Democrats a refresher on how to be inclusive.
In truth, Casey was advocating many of the ideas supported by President Clinton and Vice President Gore in the 1990s -- reducing the rate of abortions, supporting programs that aid women and children.
Casey discussed at length his "understanding of the common good." In effect, he was talking about what it meant to truly be a "compassionate conservative" on social issues.
It's not enough to just say that you oppose abortion rights and to pass restrictive laws. That doesn't end the reasons some women seek abortions; it just causes unnecessary suffering.
A common misconception -- promoted by the conservative noise machine -- is that Democrats who favor abortion rights favor abortions or want "abortion on demand." It's the same mindset that suggest that Democrats think abortion is a "lifestyle choice," or that Democrats support women coming up with any old reason to have late-term (or as conservatives call it, "partial-birth") abortions.
Another misconception pushed by conservative ranters is that favoring abortion rights increases the number of abortions. Statistics show otherwise -- the rate of abortions dropped in the 1990s. (In the current decade, the rate continues to drop, but at a slower pace.)
While arguing that all Americans should "unite ... behind the understanding that the common good requires us to value all life," Casey cited legislation proposed by House Democrats that would target "the underlying factors that often lead women to choose abortion."
He added: "If we are going to be pro-life, we cannot say we are against abortion ... and then let our children suffer in broken schools. ... We can't claim to be pro-life at the same time we are cutting support for Medicaid, Head Start or the Women, Infants and Children's Program."
Casey took a swipe at those who simultaneously consider themselves religious conservatives, but who fail to support programs that are built on a "foundation of social justice."
"Justice demands our understanding that the hungry, the impoverished and the uninsured in this country are not statistics; they are children of God," he said.
Hard to argue with that.