Recently there was a bit of a pow-wow in Salt Lake City among conservative pro-life Christian big-wigs. Basically, they’ve finally come to accept the reality that Sam Brownback isn’t going to get the Republican nomination, and that all the likely winners are far too close to pro-choice for comfort (so was W., but these guys are a little slow). After some media speculation, Dr. James Dobson, of Focus on the Family fame, wrote a column in yesterday’s NYT. In his letter, Mr. Dobson throws down the gauntlet: if neither party nominates a pro-life candidate, Mr. Dobson and almost anyone else at the meeting pledge to vote for a minor-party candidate. This is landslide news, if Mr. Dobson, his allies and their followers actually carry through on their threat. I’m not sure they can, but I would love to see them try. Many of the leaders in the pro-life movement are dedicated 1-issue voters (or k-issue, where k<5, if you add euthanasia, gay marriage and human cloning). However, many of their followers are died-in-the-wool Republicans who cafeteria-pick these issues as an excuse to always vote Republican (and ignore, say, the “inconvenient” social justice issues often brought up by religious Democrats). So if Dobson et al. carry out on their threat, we’ll see if pro-life voters are pro-life first and which ones are Republicans first. If most of them are pro-life first, then not only is the strength of the movement shown with substantial support for some third-party candidate, but the Republican candidate gets annihilated (President Clinton redux, anyone?). If they are Republicans first, then perhaps the pro-life movement will get its head out of the sand, break with the Republican party and go up for bid to the party that’s responding to their needs. I’d imagine that pro-life Democrats, like Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania will be very happy indeed.

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