Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland told the Democratic convention that Barack Obama was an “economic patriot” and blasted Mitt Romney for being an “outsourcing pioneer.” That is certainly the theme of the Obama campaign in the industrial Midwest. Any television left on in Ohio for more than 15 minutes is likely to broadcast an attack on Romney’s record of outsourcing at Bain Capital. But the actions of Barack Obama and his administration evince no desire to challenge the bipartisan consensus in favor of global free trade, a consensus that made possible all the outsourcing at Bain and elsewhere and that has resulted in an economy where 97 percent of all new jobs are being created in sectors not subject to foreign competition.
We’ve been down this road before. In 2008, Barack Obama told audiences during the Ohio Democratic primary that he intended to renegotiate NAFTA. Shortly thereafter, Obama economic advisor Austan Goolsbee scurried off to Canada to reassure our neighbors to the north that Obama was lying in order to win votes from credulous Ohioans. (Obama rewarded Goolsbee by naming him chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.) Indeed, President Obama has signed similar free-trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. And we learned what Obama really thinks of opposition to free trade when he scorned working-class Pennsylvanians for “cling[ing] to . . . anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations” at a fundraising event in San Francisco. The Democrats’ choice of Bill Clinton to make the economic case for Obama’s reelection underscored how phony Obama’s quadrennial worrying about free trade really is. Bill Clinton, of course, is the president who signed NAFTA and surrendered American sovereignty to the World Trade Organization.
But there is another side of the Democratic campaign that is deadly serious, even though it isn’t getting much airtime in Ohio. In 2008, Obama surrogates and supporters argued that their candidate would end the culture war by bringing Americans together. Instead, it is clear that Obama hopes to end the culture war by winning it for the left. There were signs of this at the Democratic National Convention, which featured such speakers as Nancy Keenan, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who claimed her 15 minutes of fame by complaining that the school she freely chose to attend was unwilling to jettison Catholic teaching and buy contraception for her. Fluke told the Democrats that Romney’s election would result in an America “in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it.” Of course, birth control is legal and readily available in all 50 states, but that’s not what Fluke and the Democrats mean by “access.” To them, an unwillingness to pay for something someone else wants is tantamount to outlawing it.
That was made clear by the Democrats’ platform on abortion, which states that “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay.” This means, of course, that the Democrats want taxpayers to pay for abortions. The Democrats also affirmed their support for gay “marriage”: “We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples.” Finally, when someone noticed that there was no mention of God in the Democratic platform, Ted Strickland (an ordained United Methodist minister and chairman of the 2012 Democratic platform committee) was brought back on the floor to make a motion to insert a pro forma mention of God and an equally formulaic recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Strickland’s motion was put to a voice vote and passed on the third attempt, even though all three times large numbers of Democrats shouted their disapproval.
This is an area where Obama’s actions match his convention’s words. Obama has never wavered from his support for abortion, and he has now endorsed gay “marriage.” There is no doubt that the two justices he named to the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, will vote to uphold Roe v. Wade. His administration ended restrictions on homosexuals serving in the Armed Forces and has refused to defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act, which passed by a vote of 85–14 in the Senate and a vote of 342–67 in the House. Obama’s Department of Justice chose to pursue a lawsuit against a small Lutheran congregation over how it disciplined one of its ministers and argued before the Supreme Court that there is no ministerial exemption to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an argument consistent with the view that churches that refuse to ordain women should be liable for employment discrimination under Title VII. Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services issued regulations under the Affordable Care Act that will require most religious employers to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, including contraceptives that can act as abortifacients, to their employees by 2013, with no charge to the employee, even if the employer has religious objections to contraception or abortion. The logic behind this regulation would equally support a requirement that employers pay for employees’ surgical abortions. Never before has the federal government sought to tell mainstream Christian denominations how they should govern themselves, and Obama’s refusal to back down in a close election year tells us how serious he is about using federal power against Christian institutions. Anyone voting for Obama to stop global free trade will be disappointed, but voters choosing Obama because they want to see the federal government advance leftist positions on social and cultural issues will be far happier.
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