On abortion & the two-party system


Fargo Forum

February 25, 2022 09:11 AM

In a post-Roe v. Wade America, the biggest winner could very well be minor political parties.

Roe v Wade limits, but does not eliminate, the degree to which abortion law is settled by democratic mechanism, primarily elected legislators. While Democratic and Republican politicians may identify as being pro-life or pro-choice, the Roe decision gives the lawmakers sufficient political cover to appeal to voters on both sides of the abortion debate, as well as voters who are somewhere in-between the two extremes.

If Roe is overruled, then elected lawmakers, in both parties, will have no political cover for why they do not totally outlaw abortion or decree that it is a fundamental right to be subsidized by the taxpayer. The debate over abortion law will shift away from a question of regulations and funding, to an expectation that if one party wins a legislative majority it will implement the agenda of the “abortion lobby” or the “religious wacko lobby.”

Once the outcome of an election can determine the legal status of abortion, both major parties will face an impossible task; if they pledge to implement the Utopian dreams of the pro-choice or pro-life lobby, they will lose the ability to appeal to voters on both sides of the issue. Yet, if they fail to take a strong view on abortion, then they risk aiding minor political parties.

This is bad for both parties because in certain parts of the nation you cannot get elected if you linked to the pro-choice or the pro-life lobby. Major parties within our system of government must function as large, big tent coalitions of voters who have differing views on any number of issues, including abortion. Enter third political parties.

Third or minor political parties do not function as a large coalition of voters who have different, possibly even nuanced views over abortion.

Most of these types of parties are selling a particular ideology to voters, who have historically responded well to minor parties when they are really pissed off about something that elected lawmakers can fix.

The Know-Nothing Party, Prohibition Party, and the Socialist Party were all serious political parties with impressive electoral gains because they successfully sold their ideology to voters who were furious about Catholics, alcohol, and laissez-faire economics. The contemporary electorate's strong policy views on abortion could lead to more success for any number of minor political parties.

The Libertarian Party favors abortion on demand, whereas the Constitution Party believes that abortion violates God's law. The American Solidarity Party is pro-life on abortion and progressive on the environment and social welfare. These are just a few examples of the minor parties that could see more victories in Congressional and legislative elections should Roe v. Wade be overturned by the high court.

If Roe is overturned then the Democratic and Republican parties will have a tough time building a big tent coalition on abortion, and the electoral door will swing open for minor political parties to win elections based on their ideological views on abortion.

Simply put, the price for getting rid of Roe v. Wade could very well be our two-party system and all of the political stability that comes from having such a system enshrined in our laws and traditions.