Should Republicans take Mitch Daniels’ advice and declare a truce on abortion in order to garner a larger coalition on fiscal issues? Not according to Tim Pawlenty, who dismissed the notion in a Real Clear Politics interview on Wednesday. The outgoing two-term governor of Minnesota makes a case for multi-tasking:
RCP: Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has called for a “truce” on social issues such as abortion for the next few years that would allow Americans who agree on fiscal but not social issues to work together to fix the nation’s financial problems. Do you support that?
Pawlenty: I’m not sure what Mitch had in mind there but there’s a whole coalition of people and interests and issues that comprise the conservative movement and the conservative perspective. I’m a fiscal conservative as well as a social conservative, so I don’t think it’s an either/or. I think it’s both. And right now the economy is a pressing issue for the nation, and we’re all primarily focused on that and jobs and the like, but that’s not to say there isn’t space to discuss other issues.
I’m not sure Daniels knew what he had in mind. It didn’t take him long to jump back into the abortion debate after insisting on calling the truce. And then after that, Life News notes that Daniels called a truce again.
There is a case to be made on prioritizing economic issues in 2010, given the crisis facing the US. While social conservatism has a large base of support, fiscal conservatism has a wider reach. The next two years in Congress will have a lot more to do with the economy and jobs than it will with abortion, where Congressional action is limited to the question of using federal funds for subsidies — and that is more of a secondary issue (although galvanizing) in repealing ObamaCare. With majority control, we have an opportunity to reverse the damage done by the radical Democratic agenda and get America back to work, which will not only benefit the US but also restore some credibility to the concept of Republican leadership in time for 2012.
That said, Pawlenty is right in that conservatives don’t need to unilaterally disarm on any point in their agenda. While abortion doesn’t have to be a prime topic in these elections, we don’t want to signal that we’re giving up on it just at the point where Americans have finally become more pro-life than pro-choice. We can put the issue in its proper perspective in the middle of the current crises in economics and leadership afflicting the US without the declaration of truces — or retreats.