Republican senator reverses position

16 March 2013

Here’s what I’d like to see.

Washington, D. C., 12:55pm:

Within hours of Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announcing that he had reversed his position on gay marriage after his own son came out of the closet, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave a press conference announcing a new stance on abortion.

“During my career in Texas and my first coupla months here in the Senate, I’ve taken a position against abortion, rooted in part in my faith and my faith tradition, and also because the ladies can be selfish and irresponsible,” Cruz began. A senator known for his extreme far-right views (called by some of his GOP colleagues to be “wacko, but in a good way”), Cruz stunned his own caucus with his revelation:

I listened to my colleague talk about his change of heart after learning that his own son was gay, and I was very moved by his Christian love for his child. I’m sure we were all moved.

But then I thought, why is it that so many of my colleagues only change their minds about social issues when it strikes their own family? 

So I began reading about the issue of abortion and realized that approximately 1/3 of all American women have had abortions in their lifetimes, and that 1 out of 5 women is raped in her lifetime. I read about families destroyed when a  woman died during pregnancy because she felt morally obligated to carry the child. And I realized the simple contradiction between my firm belief in smaller government, and my insistence on monitoring women’s bodies regarding abortion and birth control.

Thus, I change my position today not because someone in my family needs an abortion, but because my entire position was wrong and morally inconsistent with my own political values in this great nation.

Well, you can’t blame me for wishing, right?

Don’t get me wrong: it’s great Portman changed his mind. But dammit, why do they only change position when suddenly their own family has a need? I’m sorry, folks, but this should not be how policy works.

19 Responses to “Republican senator reverses position”

  1. Becky Says:

    Agreed! I was furious when that story broke yesterday. It’s a good thing, BUT……Why do these Republicans seem to always do the right thing for the wrong reasons? Why do they have such a lack of empathy for anyone that is outside their own families? It was that way during Roosevelt’s Freedom from the Four Fears speech. Not one Republican applauded. Party affiliation seems to be indicative of the level of empathy one innately possesses. If that is the case, we will never bridge the divide between us. Have you watched the documentary Happy?

    • Didion Says:

      I swear, it’s only a matter of time until they find a way to make personal exceptions for certain issues. “No one can have an abortion, except my daughter.” “No one can be treated for cancer, except my father.” Argh.

      I watched a little bit of Happy but then got interrupted, and somehow never returned to it. Should I finish it? I wasn’t sure there was going to be a big payoff.

      • Becky Says:

        Well don’t give them any ideas! They probably just haven’t thought of that yet.

        Happy did not have a lot of new information in it, but I found the people who were examples of those who are happy in spite of circumstances really incredible, especially the beautiful lady who lost her beautiful face and the rich man who now works in the Hospital for the Destitute and Dying in India. They also interview the author of Flow, and I read that book back in the 80’s, and I was really changed by it. So, to answer your question (finally), I think it is worth the watch. I’d love to hear your take on it. In light of your recent post on documentaries, I suggest that for your new movie marathon. And I was the one who said that documentaries weren’t my thing! I am trying to broaden my views with your encouragement. See? You are a great teacher!

      • eteokretan Says:

        Yep, I bet the personal exceptions are coming. They’re already here in a covert way. DesJarlais in Tennessee being the pro-life poster boy for that.

        The Onion featured the Portman switch in their American Voices. One of the responders summed it up pretty well:

        “Let’s hope his kid has a tough time finding affordable health care.”

      • Didion Says:

        Now that’s something I would love to see: anti-abortion radicals realizing that women in their own families had had abortions.

        There used to be a great website collecting information on women who picketed women’s health clinics one weekend, then utilized the clinic’s services the next. I can’t seem to find it anymore. But it was just terrifically smart, discussing how such women could rationalize to themselves the notion that abortion is absolutely wrong except when it comes to them.

  2. RAFrenzy Says:

    As a libertarian and as a Christian, I’ve long thought the government should not be involved in these decisions. I’d be really happy if the government would back off in lots of areas, but that’s another discussion.

    • Didion Says:

      I appreciate the fact that you commented, RAFrenzy (and I love love love your site, BTW) — and I would be the first to admit that the Democrats aren’t consistent on lots of questions either. I still don’t understand the Dems’ attitudes toward eminent domain (giving local governments the right to take lands for public and even sometimes private use). One thing I do believe is that both government and religious freedom will be enhanced if we don’t try to wrap them up together.

  3. Thank you for writing about this, Didion! Yes, why is Portman’s reversal so narrow? Why does he not reflect upon how we govern? I fear that Cruz is just a very sad and pathetic man that can see beyond his penis. What happened to the philosophy of always doing for the greater good, rather than: “oh, now that my family is affected, I will change my mind.”

  4. RAFrenzy Says:

    I think a significant number of anti-abortion radicals do realize their own families have been affected by unwanted pregnancies. So I don’t think this was about convictions. It’s was about politicians continually manipulating a segment of Christians to do nothing more than maintain power, and now that they see it’s no longer working, many of them are changing their stance. Yep, I’m jaded. As far as I’m concerned, no matter how heart felt the speech sounded from the good senator, it’s suspect to me.

  5. Tried to find Cruz shift on abortion but could not. Twitter thing? Where did you see it?

    Read your post after talk in my retirement community by first term Dem state legislator, Jennifer Williamson, very smart, trying to drill in on hard issues. Supported by Emily’s List. Oregon might actually move ahead on a few things.

    Though not much on gun control (she supports) which you might have seen about in NY Times op-ed–

    Scary here in Portland.

  6. Servetus Says:

    Pesky and I had a long talk about this yesterday. He agrees with you, essentially, with the additional wrinkle that he thinks it’s about the privilege that the majority always wants to attribute to itself (“my white male son cannot be disadvantaged, so this has to change”). This is what I can’t get past, as a child who has a significant dispute with her parents over an identity issue: that I hope that Portman’s relationship with his son is helped by this (in whatever way), that I hope his son sees it as loving, and not cynical. Because if my mother, who is not a political representative, would ever say, “My daughter is a Jew and that’s okay,” I would probably cry in relief episodically for six weeks, I’d be so grateful …

  7. Flo me la Says:

    I read the quote and thought it was real. Thought “Hey, that’s really cool!”. Now I feel sad. I wish it had really happened. And that it would be the start of a wave of realizations, like a huge bigotry-and-ignorance-crusher rolling over all the conservative politicians in the US.

    …And that’s what my day dreams are like. Kind of.

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