By Matthew Sutton of Medford, Oregon. Matthew is an attorney practicing law in Medford, Oregon and is the group administrator of Oregon South for Barack Obama. He was recently elected as a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention from Oregon's Second Congressional District.
As a first time Delegate to the Democratic National Convention, I am still learning about my role. I often ask, "What else will I be doing in Denver other than having balloons drop on my head?" I don't have all the answers yet, but my hope is that I can contribute in a positive way to what could mark a meaningful and historic transition for our Nation.
This new role has also piqued my interest in the formation for the Democratic platform. If indeed Barack Obama will be the leader of the Democratic Party, will the platform reflect his political philosophy that has energized so many of us? That we can make real progress in the U.S. by finding common ground with others without sacrificing our core principals? That solutions are more likely when we discuss them in earnest without demonizing our opponents? That we can disagree without being disagreeable?
One testing ground for these questions will be the proposed "abortion reduction plank" that made the news last week. In case you missed it, Rev. Jim Wallis highlighted how he will push for this plank aimed at reducing abortions, by enhancing women's choices rather than infringing upon the right to choose. This plank would seek to make adoption easier, provide support for lower-income women, and increase pregnancy prevention efforts.
Although such a plank is a potential "win win" for pro-choice and pro-life advocates, it has set off vigorous debate in progressive circles such as Daily Kos and in the reproductive health community. Is the "abortion reduction plank" a legitimate policy proposal that Democrats can rally behind? Or is this an election year gimmick aimed at attracting more conservative "values" voters who are disenchanted with Senator McCain? Is it both?
What do I think? You are asking the "rookie" delegate? I believe that this is a meritorious proposal worthy of our serious consideration. For far too long, both sides of the abortion debate have failed to find common ground due to the vehemence of the heated discussion. This has been a big factor driving the tiresome "Red States, Blue States" mentality that has driven so many voters to not even consider our ideas or our candidates. In this way, it has become more difficult for us to make progress on issues of war and peace and environmental protection.
And isn't this is the right time to find common ground on this issue? Our nominee has been a consistent and firm supporter of preserving the right of a woman, rather than the government, to make her own reproductive choices. Yet he has also fought the canard that we hear every election cycle that "pro-choice" means "pro-abortion". He has stated that "No one is pro-abortion" and was an original co-sponsor of the Prevention First Act. If we can join him in finding common ground on this divisive issue, perhaps we will be in a stronger position to move on and make progress on other critical issues of our day.