Rudy’s Approach To Social Issues: Federalism

June 1, 2007

In an article entitled “Rudy’s Electoral Math,” a blogger for made the comment that, “The notion that Rudy Giuliani will…mirror the Democratic nominee on social issues is just not correct…We’re running a candidate who, while personally not conservative on many social issues, will govern as a functional social conservative on most of the big issues cultural conservatives care about.” (Click here for full article)

The drumbeat is that Rudy Giuliani is wrong on the “big issues” for social conservatives: abortion, gay rights, and gun ownership. However, consider:

On gun regulation, Giuliani has not proposed any new federal controls, and defers to the localities to determine what or whether to regulate firearms. On this, he is a solid proponent of states’ rights. So much for the “gun-grabber” charge.

The same with gay rights. Giuliani is on record saying that marriage is between a man and a woman, and that this distinction is to be respected. When he did not support the defense of marriage constitutional amendment proposal, neither did a number of conservatives who do not believe that the U.S. Constitution should be amended to address this issue. The voters in individual states – from Oregon, to California, to Ohio, to Michigan…27 states in all, so far – are stepping up to either affirmatively declare marriage as between a man and a woman, or are specifically banning gay marriage. Giuliani’s stance on states’ rights would oppose federal action to overturn the state-led initiatives on this issue.

And the same with abortion. Despite his personal views, Giuliani has pledged to appoint originalists to the federal judiciary. In the 34 years since Roe v. Wade, there has been only one major pro-life legislative victory – the passage and signing by President Bush of a ban on partial-birth abortions. One victory in over 34 years – a span of time that saw two strongly pro-life presidents in Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and 12 years of Republican control of Congress. The partial-birth abortion ban was challenged in the courts, and was only recently upheld by the Supreme Court, which indicates that it is in the courts that these issues will ultimately be won or lost. Hence, Giuliani’s intention to appoint originalists to the courts should be considered the most important pro-life impact that the next president will have. It may be that his appointments to the Supreme Court will be better, and more conservative, than Reagan’s.

Giuliani has said that he would have signed a partial-birth abortion ban which includes an exemption for the life of the mother. The pro-abortion Democrats want an exemption for the “health” of the mother. There’s a big difference. “Life” would provide an exemption where the mother’s life is in danger if natural delivery proceeds (and this should be rendered a non-factor because of cesarean delivery in the event of an emergency). An exemption from abortion prohibitions for the “health” of the mother, as favored by the pro-abortion Democrats, has been used as a catch-all exemption as “health” has come to include “mental health,” meaning that if a pregnancy or having a child might create “stress” for the mother, this is enough to fall within the “health” criterion, and would lead to aborting the child.

Mayor Giuliani also supports parental notification before minors can obtain an abortion, which is a long-time goal of pro-life organizations. His position, from appointment of originalists to the courts, to the distinction in his position on partial-birth abortion from that of the pro-abortion left, is reason to calm the fears, and rebut the hysterical charges of rightist extremists, that he’s a “baby-killer.”

Rudy Giuliani’s approach to these socially conservative issues is to de-federalize the issues, take them out of the gridlocked politics of Washington, and allow the states to decide them. Rudy Giuliani is the most pro-states’ rights presidential candidate we’ve seen in decades…maybe ever. What’s not conservative about that?

It should be clear to all that our nation is deeply divided, right down the middle, ideologically. The presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 showed a deep schism among American voters, and that schism is getting harder and deeper. This division has turned America into two camps, and has made each election a nail-biter as results of the last two presidential elections could have turned on the shift of only about 1.5% of the vote. This divide has also imposed a rigid gridlock in Washington on the whole list of so-called “socially conservative” issues. There’s no budge on either side, and consequently the chances of enacting any of the social conservative agenda is worse than slim and none.

The only way to break this political and ideological gridlock isn’t to surrender socially conservative principles, but to move these issues through a different approach. It’s been said that “Only Nixon could go to China,” because of his life-long record as an anti-communist. It may well be that only Rudy Giuliani can move this nation away from the opposing political encampments it’s become, and allow the people – not the federal government, not the Congress – to make progress on issues that reflect what is the inherent social conservatism of the American people.

Greg Alterton

2 Responses to “Rudy’s Approach To Social Issues: Federalism”

  1. Marilyn Wedel Says:

    I can not agree the states should take precedent over a Constitutional right. My right to have and own a gun is a national issue and must not be regulated by the state. I am an old “states righter”, but on this issue I can not agree. What about going after the gun manufacturers? Maybe we should go after vehicle manufacturers when someone is killed in wreck?

  2. Greg Alterton Says:

    I think the point is that regardless of Rudy’s stance on gun control in New York city, he has not, and his belief in federalism dictates that he will not, push federal controls on firearms. It will be a healthy thing, constitutionally, to have a President who places limits on what the federal government should do or get involved with, and defers to the states when that is appropriate. And if local gun control laws are unconstitutional vis-a-vis the 2nd Amendment, I’m sure the NRA will eventually be successful in overturning many of those laws, provided we have courts filled with originalist judges.

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