Joe Rogan on Roe reversal: I support a woman's right to choose 100%, but...

I mentioned him yesterday in the Dave Portnoy post so it’s only right that I give you his take on the leak heard ’round the world.

Unlike Portnoy, Rogan isn’t a Trump fan. He supported Bernie Sanders in 2020. But like Bill Maher, he strikes me as someone who’s now so disenchanted with the left that his vote *could* be in play for the right kind of Republican running on the right kind of platform. Most of Rogan’s defenders in media nowadays are right-wingers, after all; it wasn’t MAGA populists who were boycotting Spotify because of his interviews with anti-vaxxers or compiling videos of all the times in the past that he’s said the N-word. The American right, broadly speaking, is certainly less hostile to him than the American left is. The question is whether they can get close enough to his preferences on policy to turn him into a swing voter.


Watch this clip and tell me whether you think the coming abortion wars are more likely to help or hurt in that effort. Language warning, of course:

Unsurprisingly, Rogan seems to be exactly where the average American voter is on abortion. He can’t stomach laws like Texas’s, which effectively ban abortion so early in a woman’s pregnancy that she may not realize she’s pregnant until after the legal window of opportunity has closed. But the longer a pregnancy goes on, the more squeamish he gets about aborting. He never says that he’d ban it after a certain point but he’s expressing the same moral intuitions here that most Americans share. Early abortion is okay, late abortion is … “weird.”

“We’ve gotten to the point with the JRE where I just sorta expect Joe to have the worst takes imaginable. This was a pleasant surprise,” wrote one Redditor in a thread that was apparently full of support for Rogan’s position.

The irony is that while most of the country is where Rogan is on abortion, neither of the two parties are. Kat Rosenfield wonders if the chief virtue of overturning Roe will be forcing both sides back towards the center in trying to find a political accommodation. For 50 years, Democratic pols could take the most atrocious maximalist positions on abortion rights while Republican pols could advocate for the most severe restrictions, and neither side had to worry much about being held accountable by voters since everyone knew that it was only the courts’ opinion that mattered. That’s all set to change very soon. If Dems want abortion up to the moment of crowning and the GOP wants a ban at the moment of conception, they can take that debate to the Rogans of the world and hope that their side seems just a bit less extreme to him than the other’s.


Or, of course, they could moderate.

[W]ith the fate of Roe no longer hanging in the balance, with the binary question answered, maybe we can have a more nuanced conversation than we’ve had for the past 50 years. Imagine if, rather than endless back and forth shrieks of “Woman hater!” on one side and “Baby killer!” on the other, we started on the common ground shared by a substantial majority of citizens — and actually began the difficult but important work of codifying abortion access into law…

A successful resolution requires pro-choicers to confront the unpopularity of later-term abortion and be willing to compromise by allowing restrictions on it — perhaps in exchange for easier access to early-term medical abortions, and definitely in exchange for free, over-the-counter access to hormonal birth control.

Pro-lifers, similarly, would need to abandon their quaint obsession with sexual moralising, and support family planning and other policies that make it as easy as possible for women to avoid unwanted pregnancies. Everyone would need to reacquaint themselves with the concept of compromise for the sake of the common good.

It’s a sweet thought. Imagine an America where the two sides cared about compromise for the common good rather than obsessing about routing their enemies in the culture war.

Far more likely than Rosenfield’s scenario is red states and blue states engaging in a legal arms race, each passing laws to try to disrupt the other’s policies. Missouri will attempt to make blue-state abortion providers civilly liable for performing abortions on Missouri residents, for instance, while blue states will counter by barring their own agencies from cooperating in discovery ordered in any such lawsuits. The dispute will end up back in front of SCOTUS, which will have to figure out whether it should be easier for blue states to thwart the pro-life designs of red states or easier for red states to thwart the pro-choice designs of blue states. Cultural divisions will turn more bitter. Eventually, one side or the other will amass enough federal power to be able to enact some sort of federal abortion policy. But instead of following Rosenfield’s advice on give and take, the ruling party will simply try to bigfoot the debate by passing a federal law that overrides the preferences of state governments controlled by the out-party. Democrats are trying to do that right now by codifying Roe, in fact, although they’re a few votes short of being able to do so.


But someday they, or the GOP, won’t be. And then that dispute will end up before SCOTUS, which will have to decide whether Congress has the constitutional power to set a one-size-fits-all policy on a subject that’s rightly supposed to be the province of state legislatures. Or so we were told for 50 years.

In America 2022, no matter the subject, always bet on the future becoming less socially harmonious, not more!

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