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Fix Picks: Abortion vs. Gay Marriage

To understand modern American politics, you must grasp the profound influence that fights over cultural issues have on voters. No one better understands this intersection of politics and culture than Jonathan Rauch, a writer for Atlantic Monthly magazine.

In the magazine's April issue, Rauch documents the differences in the long-running debates over the legalization of abortion and gay marriage. The piece is our Fix Pick of the week.

Abortion, Rauch argues, was mishandled by the Supreme Court when it decided Roe v. Wade in 1973 because the ruling "short-circuited" a debate that was only beginning in the country. "By doing that, it moved abortion out of the realm of normal politics, which cuts deals and develops consensus, and into the realm of protest politics, which rejects compromise and fosters radicalism," writes Rauch.

By contrast, the fight over same-sex marriage has remained largely a state issue with attempts to pass a national ban on it coming up short, writes Rauch. "The issue will remain controversial, producing its share of flare-ups and fireworks; but it will become more tractable over time, as the country works its way toward a consensus," Rauch adds. "As a political issue, gay marriage will be around for years, but as a catalyst for culture war, it has already peaked."

Rauch's hypothesis is a fascinating one. But is it right? Will abortion linger as a hot-button issue while gay marriage recedes? Use the comments section below to offer your own opinion.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 14, 2007; 5:30 AM ET
Categories:  Fix Picks  
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