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To follow up on Dana’s excellent analysis of Jim Wallis’s latest bit of abortion concern-trolling, I continue to be irritated by these kinds of assertions:

Without calling for restrictions such as parental consent laws, Wallis believes that if the Democrats were to alter their abortion platform, it could help them make inroads among young evangelicals and Catholics.

“Taking abortion seriously as a moral issue would help Democrats a great deal with a constituency that is already leaning in their direction on poverty and the environment,” said Wallis. “There are literally millions of votes at stake.”

Wallis expects us to believe that there is a substantial bloc of voters who 1)care enough about abortion to vote against Democrats they would otherwise support because of abortion, and 2)will switch back despite no change in the party’s substantive positions if Democratic rhetoric just becomes even more mealy-mouthed when defending reproductive freedom. Since this is implausible in the extreme, and I’ve never seen the slightest bit of evidence to support it, I see little reason to take this seriously.

In addition, even if this mythical group of single-issue-anti-abortion-voters-who-don’t-care-about-abortion-policy existed, there are potential strategic (as well as normative) costs to Wallis’ strategy. Shouldn’t we consider the many voters who have had abortions and don’t appreciate people like Wallis implying that they did something grossly immoral? In addition, as even Amy Sullivan has conceded McCain’s entirely unearned reputation for moderation on the abortion issue seems to be worth a significant number of votes. The Democrats would be much better off emphasizing McCain’s extensive history of unpopular anti-abortion extremism (including support for the draconian ban in South Dakota) than further muddling their position to chase after unicorns.

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