The biggest dividing issues in American Politics have been Gay Rights and Abortion. These issues sparked a major political power struggle that has come to be known as the culture wars. These issues were the major platform for the Republican Party helping it eventually gain control of both the White House and the Congress. With The Election of President Obama it was the first time in 8 years a democratic presidential nominee was able to address these issues successfully. So how did President Obama present these two politically volatile issues to the voters in a way that they could accept and understand the Democrat’s positions?
President Obama first has presented himself as a pragmatist. He used his significant communication skills and conveyed common sense approach to social issues that most voters could agree with. In the case of Gay Marriage he pushed the argument that Gay marriage was a private matter between two consenting adults. He also agreed with the policy of letting each state decide on the issue. The success of this approach has been proven by approval of gay marriage in Maine Iowa, New Hampshire, and Vermont. With the momentum provided by the state greater political support has grown for Gay right and full marriage rights.
In the case of Abortion President Obama used a situation that was filled with controversy to strengthen his position. When President Obama was invited to speak at Notre Dame University, there was great controversy considering that the school is a Catholic institution and the Church opposes abortion and the president supports a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. The controversy intensified as the day of the speech approached with major American clerics and cardinals deciding to boycott the commencement. President Obama took the controversy head on saying that the debate was necessary but appealed to a more civil discourse and that both sides work towards the common goal of reducing unwanted pregnancies through education and preventative measures. The President used the fact that neither side actually likes abortion and used that point of agreement as a foundation for cooperation.
Finally, the President is attuned to the times. In both cases popular sentiment has shifted from previous positions. This has given the president the political will to find a middle way where none of his predecessors could. Using common sense approaches and civil language President Obama has mostly defused the impact of the culture wars on modern politics in the U.S.