The Corner

“Mainstream” Positions

Over at RedHot, they’re debating whether Giuliani or Huckabee has more “mainstream” views on social issues.

It seems to me the beginning of wisdom in this matter to reject the idea that there is a single mainstream view on most of these issues. Which is not to deny that certain positions can be seen as non-mainstream.

Ronald Reagan’s position on abortion–rejecting its legality even in the case of rape and incest–was not mainstream; only something like 15 percent of the population supports it. Hillary Clinton’s position–which amounts to keeping abortion legal at any stage of pregnancy and providing taxpayer funding for those who can’t afford it–is not mainstream, either; something like 10 percent of the population supports it. A range of positions between these views can be described as mainstream. I’d say that Giuliani’s current views on abortion policy, to the extent they can be determined, are mainstream; so are some views to his right.

The debaters discuss a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, too. Over at, the latest result on it I find is from last year. It finds 43 percent support for an amendment and 53 percent opposition. Both views thus, it seems to me, are mainstream.

Opposition to human cloning, even for the purpose of stem-cell research, is well within the mainstream of public opinion. The question of taxpayer funding for stem-cell research on embryos taken from fertility clinics is trickier, but there are plenty of polls suggesting that opponents are within the mainstream, too. In May CNN asked, “Do you think the federal government should or should not fund research that would use newly created stem cells obtained from human embryos?” I don’t like the wording–I’d prefer a reference to the fact that the embryos are destroying in the process of the research, which is, after all, what makes it controversial–but the result wasn’t an overwhelming majority for the funding. It was a 53-41 percent split in favor of funding.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


The Latest