Abortion as a Wedge Issue - Why are Republicans Attacking Sarah Davis and Not "Windy" Davis?

Which Davis?  Sarah or "Windy"Last week, my fellow TexasGOPVote blogger David Bellow wrote an article attacking the Republican Party of Texas (RPT) and Texas State Representative Sarah Davis (R-134) over the Party's support of Davis in the 2012 general election. Sarah Davis is a moderate Republican in a swing district.  The reason for the attack? Davis was the only Republican to vote against the anti-abortion bill now before a second special session of the Texas Legislature. This is a distraction and a misdirected attack. Should we be focusing our attention on Republican Sarah Davis, or would our time and attention be better spent on Democrat Senator Wendy "Windy" Davis?

Note: The reference to "Windy" Davis in in reference to Sen. Wendy Davis' eight plus hour filibuster on the floor of the Texas Senate attempting to kill SB5 in the last special session.

There are a couple of issues in this article I would like to focus on. First is the contention that the RPT violated the 2012 RPT Platform by donating money and providing support for her re-election in a hotly contested State Rep race. The second, and perhaps more important issue, involves the language we use in discussing wedge issues like abortion and immigration reform.

The first issue is easy. The RPT did not "violate" the platform as stated by Bellow. The plank of the platform in question states the following:

We implore our Party to support, financially or with in-kind contributions, only those candidates who support protecting innocent human life.

The plank says "implore" not "requires."  It is a strongly worded suggestion or request, not a command. It allows for discretion in making decisions about the weight of this plank versus the threat of losing a Republican seat in the Texas House. You may say I am picking at a technicality. Perhaps, but I have sat through debates in the RPT Platform Committee hearings and through floor fights on the convention floor, and I can tell you words like "implore" are carefully chosen and hotly debated. If they wanted to say "require" or "command," they would have said so. Words and even punctuation are hotly contested in plank debates.

Sarah Davis' race was one of the ones targeted by the Texas Democrat Party as a vital seat to take away. Just four years earlier, Davis had replaced one of the most liberal Democrats in the Texas House, Ellen Cohen. The Democrats were pumping a lot of money into the campaign of yet another liberal, Ann Johnson, to unseat Davis. The RPT wisely decided to support Davis and keep the seat as a Republican seat knowing that, while Davis is not with us on the issue of abortion, she is with us on most other conservative issues. Her vote against the bill had zero impact on the bill, but on other more closely contested issues, her Republican vote could be critical.  

Bellow makes the argument that Sarah Davis had plenty of money for her campaign and that those donations could have been better spent in other campaigns. How do you know that David? Davis' re-election was by the closest margin of any Republican State Rep in the Houston area. It looks to me like she needed every penny she could get to keep the seat Republican and that, after all, is one of the main objectives of the state Republican Party. Chairman Steve Munisteri's main job during an election is to get as many Republicans elected as possible, and he did a fine job of that in the 2012 election.

Republican Infighting

My bigger concern, and the main reason I am writing this post, is about how some Republicans talk about wedge issues. Issues like abortion, gay marriage and immigration reform are good examples of these wedge issues. I call them wedge issues because the way we talk about these issues often drives away many voters who might be predisposed to voting Republican were it not for the tone of the arguments made by many. Often it is not the issue, but the way we discuss them that drives away the youth vote, the women's vote and the vote of conservative Hispanics. It is the demonization of someone who disagrees with you on a specific issue that drives the wedge between Republicans and our conservative voters.

For example, because someone is pro-choice does not mean they are pro-abortion. Just because someone supports someone's rights does not mean they support the choice someone makes in exercising that right. Many otherwise conservative voters believe that "choice" is a right - that reproductive decisions are between a woman and her doctor. But that does not mean they like or even approve of abortion. I believe in the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms. I support your ability to exercise that right. That does not mean I support your decision to go out and shoot someone who is not a threat to you. I support your right, not your decision.  

Sea of Orange Protesters on South Steps of Texas Capitol

The same standard can be applied to the 1st Amendment. I certainly did not agree with much of what I heard last Monday in the sea of orange on the steps of the Texas Capitol, but I do believe in their right to protest the actions of the legislature.

In Bellow's article and subsequent comments, he claimed that Sarah Davis is pro-abortion and that "she is for killing babies". That is not only a lie, it is the kind of distortion that drives away a voter who is a conservative but believes in limited government and the role of government in the reproductive process. Comments like these are how Democrats get away with the "War on Women" attack.

While I know Bellow is a good Christian man, his statements are not a Christian act. It is the kind of judgmental statement that stops people from listening to your argument and drives them away from our party and candidates.

Conservatives often like to quote Ronald Reagan. Well here is one of my favorite Reagan quotes, "The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20 percent traitor."

Sarah Davis probably agrees with most Republicans on way more than 80 percent of the issues. She is certainly an ally and a friend. She is not the enemy. The Davis we should be fighting is "Windy" Davis, not Sarah Davis. "Windy" Davis has been elevated to a national star in the Democratic party.  Whether she listens to the voices calling for her to run for governor of Texas or she seeks re-election to her senate seat, "Windy" Davis should be the target of our debates, not Sarah.

Today, thousands of Republicans will stage a "Sea of Blue" protest on the south steps of the Texas Capitol in support of the pro-life bills before the Legislature. I hope we, as Republicans and conservatives, can maintain civility in our discussions and win the battle of ideas through polite conversation and logical debate. We have "Right" on our side, we don't have to be mean about it to win. There is plenty of ugliness coming from the left. Let's let them own that.

I look forward to seeing many of you in Austin tonight and tomorrow morning.

Issues: 

Comments

wow, I have heard it all. Bob says I am unchristian for saying Sarah Davis should not get party money because she is in favor of killing babies?? and killing babies is christian? How did I even say anything unchristian except to say that the party should not give money to a pro abortion candidate? And the only other people I have ever heard try to say that being pro choice does not mean you are for abortion are liberals trying to make it sound better that they are for killing babies.... and it seems hypocritical that Bob says attacking a fellow republican is wrong but he has no problem writing an article attacking me? oh yeah and it is funny that he says I am not attacking Wendy Davis because the article on Texas GOP VOTE right before his attacks Wendy Davis... but I will save my breath for the article I will be writing in response to this exposing bob's hypocrisy and explaining how abortion is not just a wedge issue and it important because killing babies is horrible, even though I suppose bob does not think it is horrible enough to not give money to a candidate who is for killing babies.....

Bob, Your article with respect to Sarah Davis v. Wendy Davis was incredibly well-written, well reasoned and right on point. Mr. Bellow absolutely behaved in an un-Christian-like manner by telling falsehoods about Sarah Davis, including claiming that she was in favor of Texas legalizing late-term abortions, which he knew when he said it was not true, and that she is a "baby killer," which he also knows is not true. The fact that someone may believe that there are situations where a woman and her family should have the right to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, before fetal viability, for example in cases of rape, incest or health of the mother, rather than have the government dictate that decision for them, sounds to me like something right out of the conservative Republican playbook.

People like Mr. Bellow screamed about the government controlling our healthcare when Obamacare came along, (and so did I) but they're all about government controlling healthcare when it comes to very personal, private and often tragic circumstances involving women and unintended or forced (i.e. rape, incest) pregnancies. Bob, your comments about the way we as Republicans often talk about immigration, the fact that some human beings are gay, and other similar social issues, were right on point. Republicans have too often discussed these issues in an un-Christian like manner, and just as importantly, have all too often made our party sound like a bunch of haters who view with contempt anyone who doesn't look or sound just like us, and like a bunch of liberals who want to control people's personal lives through government intervention in our privacy. I'm pretty sure that God doesn't hate, and he doesn't want us to hate either. I’m not sure Mr. Bellow got that memo.

Speaking for myself, I appreciate the care with which you wrote your article, the truths which it conveyed, the good and practical advice you offered our party, and quite frankly the nice words you spoke about the most dyed-in-the-wool, free market, limited government, believer in personal freedom and individual responsibility Republican I have ever known, … my wife, State Representative Sarah Davis.

Thank you sir, Kent Adams

West University Place, (Houston), Texas

When Republicans start to act like democrats they ALWAYS lose.  I mean ALWAYS.  It never fails, but the Republicans never learn. 
Sara will lose her seat over this, and it wont be our fault.  
Shame on her.  Shame on you for writing this horrid piece, and shame on the Republican Party of Texas.  
If they have their way, Texas will turn blue.  I am more disappointed by the GOP everyday.

Brilliant, Kent.  I believe that put Mr. Bellow back in his box.  Thank you too, Bob for your fine article. 
 

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