Rudy Giuliani and Abortion as Wedge Issue

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In a political science class I attended as a guest yesterday, another guest brought up the possibility that abortion is no longer a major wedge issue in American politics. She thought that Rudy Giuliani’s ascendancy in the Republican party was evidence of this development.

I can’t say I agree with this assessment. While it may be true that some Republicans believe that party has gotten off-track with emphasizing divisive social issues, like abortion, at the expense of a “true” conservative message of smaller government and tough responses to crime and international threats, I think Giuliani’s prominence, despite his support for Roe v. Wade, is based on factors unrelated to abortion. To name a few: the Republican party’s desire to have a high profile candidate to go up against Obama or Clinton; the never-ending quest to keep September 11 at the forefront of voters’ minds; and the lack of a strong anti-choice candidate who has resonated with the voters (yet).

But maybe I’m wrong and the other guest was right. What do you think? Is Rudy a sign that abortion is no longer the political issue it was in the 80s and 90s? Have other things — Iraq, gay marriage, health care — taken its place?

– David S. Cohen

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