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How Democrats Can Win When Republicans Don't Self Destruct

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Message Lawrence Fiarman
My hometown newspaper usually has an editorial board meeting once a week. On my way there I pass a church that has a display of 4000 little white crosses on their lawn. The message is clear. They're against abortion.

In about two weeks America will vote. Perhaps the tiny crosses are a reminder to voters that the electoral choice is clear. Republicans would outlaw abortions, and Democrats would not.

Commenting on a recent report that more than 600,000 civilians may have died in violence across Iraq since the start of the war in 2003, General George Casey, commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, said that estimate was "way, way beyond any number I have seen. I have not seen a number higher than 50,000."

So General Casey has seen credible reports as high as 50,000 Iraqi civilian deaths. Funny, but I don't see 50,000 Islamic crescents on the lawn.

People feel strongly about some deaths but not others.

America now realizes something is very wrong in Iraq. Most Americans admit what we are doing there is not making things better. By all measures, things are getting worse. There are indications that even President Bush realizes this, too. He's appointed a commission, headed by former Secretary of State James Baker, to advise him on what to do. According to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's newest book, Bush has regularly sought advice on Iraq from former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who oversaw the withdrawal without victory from Vietnam.

For this election, voters have probably already made up their minds. We can start to think ahead to the next election.

In the 21st century, Democrats lost three important elections because many voters cannot support a national leadership that appears insensitive to the issue of abortion. Democrats may win this election, but Republicans have shot themselves in the foot this time. Both feet. Maybe all eight feet. On a level field, there is little reason to think this 2006 election would have been any different than the last three.

Here is what will change things for Democrats - those tiny white crosses on the lawn. Ultimately, we are in a mess in Iraq now not because of Osama Bin Laden or even Saddam Hussein. We fight the forces of terrorism the way we do today, rather than some other more effective way, because of the abortions those tiny white crosses represent. They swayed elections to George W. Bush.

It's time for Democrats to leave behind the policies of the 20th century and to become 21st century Democrats. Wild government spending used to be associated with liberal Democrats. Now it's just as associated with Republicans. Republicans now own growth in government and huge deficits as well. And Republicans added personal greed, corruption and hiding the truth to protect colleagues. Let the Republicans keep all these labels they have now so rightfully earned. Democrats should not arm wrestle them back.

As for abortion, it's the mother issue of our time. Democrats must level the playing field. Democrats must take a moral stand and be strongly against abortions for birth control. Democrats should work visibly to promote programs to discourage abortions for birth control, while protecting reasonable exceptions for medical prudence and necessity, rape and incest.

The label "Democrat" should come to stand for reasoned morality on the issue of abortion. Democrats should suffer the same pain suffered by Republicans -- that abortion kills an unborn person. Regardless whether one believes in God, certain deaths are immoral. Democrats who object on moral grounds to civilian casualties in war and terrorism, and some or all instances of the death penalty, should have no trouble adding abortion for birth control to the list.

The only significant difference that can remain between Democrats and mainstream Republicans on abortion is that Democrats would not make additional laws to regulate what medical procedures a woman may choose for her own body. That is her right and freedom. Democrats protect freedoms; somebody has to. But Democrats can recognize that freedoms can be abused, and strongly discourage abuses.

This won't satisfy the most extreme anti-abortion voters, but the sails of their ship will have less wind. Democrats can add tiny crosses on the lawns of churches, too, joining hands with Republicans to discourage thoughtless deaths.

If Democrats don't level the playing field on the issue of abortion, in order to have a chance, Democrats will have to hope Republicans shoot themselves in the foot every election. That's not realistic. Democrats need to emigrate into the 21st century. Republicans have left it wide open for the taking.
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Lawrence Fiarman is a freelance writer and former columnist for the local newspaper in his midwestern hometown.
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