Two political phenomena occurred within the last two weeks, and no, I am not referencing Newt Gingrich’s attempt at moral salvation. The first involved the public’s reaction to SOPA and PIPA while the second involves the potentially more impactful conflict between The Komen Foundation (KF) and Planned Parenthood (PP).
When historians and political scientists look back on the 2012 Presidential election, this week’s battle between KF and PP could very well be seen as a tipping point in Obama’s bid for re-election. During the last decade anti-abortion activists, who focused on legislative restrictions on a woman’s right to choose along with clinic protests, decided to bring the debate into every conceivable realm of our country’s social and communal structures. Previously non-political and non-partisan organizations become ripe targets to move the anti-choice agenda such as African American college student organizations subject to a campaign entitled, “abortion is Black genocide.” Coupled with guerrilla- style activities such as sending anti-abortion activists into women clinics with hidden cameras and publishing online databases that list every abortion clinic and abortionist in the United States, the anti-abortion movement makes clear its intention to interject the issue into our daily lives as much as possible.
But till this week, when perhaps the best known, beloved and until recently non-partisan women’s issue non-profit interjected the choice debate into its allocation process, most people took little or no notice of these new tactics.
The dramatic public reaction to KF’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood clearly illustrates that people are now keenly aware of the anti-abortion strategy and this fact can only help Obama’s re-election campaign which has been slow to motivate politically independent women as well as partisan democrats.
The battle over the passage of SOPA and PIPA illustrate as well a public awakening to political machinations. Never before did kids come home referring to legislation by its acronym till Congress attempted to screw with their access to internet content or previously politically agnostic web sites include anti-SOPA and PIPA messages. How far this awareness leads to consistent political activism remains an open question but the swiftness of the debate, as with Komen, reveals an electorate prepared to respond when its core values are publicly threatened.
Democrats typical do better in races with large turnouts and political engagement. If that stays true in November, we may very well look back on early 2012 for the reasons why.