By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics
Former Instructor St. John's University, New York City
Similarly, before Roe v. Wade half the states had already legalized abortion. Women simply crossed state lines to get abortions. So like the Kim Davis case, the issue was not legality. Nor, as is often argued, was safety an issue in Roe v. Wade. Like the Kim Davis case, the issue was convenience.
If Roe were reversed it seems likely that one or two conservative states would outlaw abortion. Women from those states that wanted an abortion would cross state lines, just as they did before Roe. Women today are even more mobile than they were in 1972. The percentage of households without a vehicle is much lower, so even in the few states that outlawed abortion, the inconvenience would be even less that it was in 1972, before Roe.
Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who believe their eternal salvation is in danger if they were in any way involved in an abortion could move to those conservative states that outlawed abortion. Perhaps those states would find the cost of medical services reduced. Women would still have the freedom to have abortions, but medical professionals would have more freedom to avoid involvement in abortion.
In the Kentucky gubernatorial election that followed the Davis trial a conservative Republican, Matt Bevin won an election that centered on social issues. When Bevin was running he said he wanted the discussion to be about economics, but instead social issues dominated. I suspect that the Kim Davis case was central to those social issues as the trial and jailing of Kim Davis was in the two months before the election. The Republican winner, Bevin, supported Kim Davis, his Democratic opponent was the attorney general who refused to defend Kentucky's law against gay marriage in court.
The new Republican governor promised during the campaign to take Kentucky out of Obamacare. As I understand it, he did not go through with this once in office, but essentially the liberals put the healthcare of a huge number of people in Kentucky at risk so they could save a few gay couples the inconvenience of driving a few extra miles.
No doubt there are a number of factors, but the religious voters are a large part of the story. From about 1830 and the rise of the anti-slavery movement to until about 1970 and the rise of the anti-abortion movement the religious vote was predominately a liberal vote. Conservatives complained bitterly about the clergy preaching politics from the pulpit. Since 1973 the religious vote has become a largely conservative vote, and the liberals are making much the same complaints the conservatives used to make.
I have focused on abortion, but a more general version of the same story would be that in the sixties there was a sexual revolution and the Democrats became the party of the sexual revolution, because of this they lost the religious vote, and that is one of the major reasons that the income distribution has become progressively more unequal.
Statistical studies published in peer-reviewed journals of political science repeatedly confirm what reason tells us, religion is one of the most powerful, maybe the most powerful, determinants of how people vote.
Furthermore, religious people are far more likely to vote. One peer-reviewed journal article showed that among the relatively uneducated the regular church attenders were twice as likely to vote. This is no doubt a key reason why the Republicans do so well in the off-year elections when the voter turnout is so low. This is no big mystery. Many religions teach that voting is a duty and failure to vote will be punished in the afterlife. As the chance of deciding the election is so small the selfish secularist has little or no reason to vote, but the religious person, whether generous or self-interested, does.
In a referendum, they would be right. You can win a referendum with weak supporters. A vote is a vote. If the majority support gay marriage or abortion then gay marriage or abortion will become the law, unless overturned by the courts.
Many studies have shown that most people who say that abortion is an important in determining their vote are pro-life. Many people who used to vote a straight Democratic ticket now vote a straight Republican ticket because of the abortion issue. This has been a major factor that changed American politics.
It is common to see a bumper sticker, "I am pro-choice and I vote." But that is not the issue. The issue is, did the voter vote Republican and then switch to the Democratic party because of the pro-choice issue. The honest answer in almost all cases would be no. On the other hand, a huge portion of my religious friends switched from Democrat to Republican largely because of the abortion issue.
Similarly, many of the supporters of gay marriage do not feel strongly about it. It has been pointed out that the supporters of gay marriage are frequently anti-gay. They say, Sure if the gays want to get married, let them. Frequently when they say this they will use a far more negative term for the gays. The votes of these homophobic supporters of gay marriage will help gay marriage winning a referendum, but it is unlikely to cause many voters to change parties.
On the other hand, religious leaders, including those of my own Catholic faith, are threatening hell fire and brimstone for gay marriage supporters or even those that vote for politicians that support gay marriage.
Furthermore, many African Americans are furious that their race is being compared to homosexuality.
The Republican party is to a large degree a coalition of various groups, libertarians, gun-rights supporters, religious voters, and others who frequently fixate on one or a narrow group of related issues. Democrats try and fail to reason with these groups, Republicans cut a deal.
In the sixties and before the Democrats were the party of the deal and income equality was increasing. Since the Democrats threw away that role in the late sixties and early seventies the income distribution has become progressively more unequal. Of course the income distribution in other high-income, developed nations has also become more unequal so there are a number of issues.
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Last updated July 16, 2020