Transpartisan Matrix: A Lens that Offers Hope

Transpartisan Note #133

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

New York Times writer, Joan C. Williams, in her op-ed The Case for Accepting Defeat on Roe reminds us to look to the Transpartisan Matrix for hope in times of political conflict. Ms. Williams, a right-to-abortion-choice advocate law professor, shares this interesting, arresting observation:

Often forgotten is that R.B.G. herself had decided that Roe was a mistake. In 1992, she gave a lecture musing that the country might be better off if the Supreme Court had written a narrower decision and opened up a “dialogue” with state legislatures, which were trending “toward liberalization of abortion statutes” (to quote the Roe court). Roe “halted a political process that was moving in a reform direction and thereby, I believe, prolonged divisiveness and deferred stable settlement of the issue,” Justice Ginsburg argued. In the process, “a well-organized and vocal right-to-life movement rallied and succeeded, for a considerable time, in turning the legislative tide in the opposite direction.”

Note the convergence she suggests once the Supreme Court’s role in abortion decisions is removed by a solid majority to reverse or effectively reverse Roe v. Wade.

I’m still reluctant to embrace the “overrule and move on” strategy, but moving on may be our only choice. And if abortion stops playing such a role in presidential elections, then Democrats may fare better with the 19 percent of Trump voters who have bipartisan voting habits and warm feelings toward minorities; we know 83 percent of them think the economy is rigged in favor of the rich and 68 percent favor raising taxes on the rich.

Once their presidential vote is not driven by Supreme Court appointments, how many might decide to vote on economic issues?

The article is a reminder that the Transpartisan Matrix offers an opportunity to see even the most impacted issue through a lens offering hope for positive resolution to both sides of the contentious partisan-political conflict.  Read and reflect on what might have been… and on what might come. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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