Democrats Seize on Social Issues

Tuesday, 05 Aug 2014 07:00 AM

By Elliot Jager

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Democrats are exploiting fundamental shifts in societal values by touting their support for abortion, same-sex marriage and birth control, The New York Times reported.

While Republicans in general elections play down their opposition to same-sex marriage and contraceptives, their Democratic opponents are pushing these issues to portray Republicans as radical. In Colorado, Republicans say that Democratic Sen. Mark Udall is running heavily on social issues. "All they talk about is birth control, 'personhood,' abortion,"Brad Dayspring of the National Republican Senatorial Committee told the Times.

This is not a new tactic. President Barack Obama in his 2012 re-election campaign emphasized social issues to make up for the troubled economy, the Times reported.

The transformation in societal values has been stunning leaving the Republican base out of sync with majority opinion.

In the 1960s, Republicans could use sexual permissiveness, drugs, crime, and welfare as hot-button issues. In one way or another these topics have been neutralized.

"Now the values wedge cuts for Democrats," John Harwood of the Times wrote, largely because America has significantly changed. There are more interracial and interethnic relationships. Same-sex relationships are more accepted. Marijuana has become increasingly accepted for medicinal purposes.

"That's why people are voting for us these days," Democratic pollster Mark Mellman told the Times, "not for our economic prowess. They all reflect an underlying attitude. It's openness, it's tolerance, it's respect for others and who they are."

In contrast to the general electorate, the Republican base as reflected in the tea party places greater worth on church attendance, traditional marriage and family, and gun rights. While a majority of Americans say the planet is warming, the Republican base does not agree with some saying global warming is a hoax.

"Those attitudes complicate the party's ability to forge a new majority coalition as education levels rise and attitudes change," according to the Times.

Even veteran Democrats are astonished by the shift in values. "I still wake up in disbelief at the transformation that's taken place," pollster Stan Greenberg told the Times.

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