It's been thirty-eight years since the Supreme Court made abortion legal throughout America.
The Republican Party has bellowed continuously since then that it is opposed to abortion and it would work to destroy it.
Republican presidents have been in power 24 of those 38 years. Their allies have included powerful church leaders such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, the Catholic hierarchy, and millions of the rank and file of the Protestant and Catholic Churches -- many of whom viewed abortion as the single key political issue. Five of the current Supreme Court Justices were appointed by Republican presidents.
There has been much nibbling around the edges of abortion, but it is still legal and still a powerful political rallying cause.
It was also in the 1970s that conservatives took on a second vital cause: To make the business and financial community much more powerful in American political life and to free the power elite from government regulation or standards while at the same time providing substantial government support when needed.
Ronald Reagan was elected President in 1980 and immediately began deregulation of the economy. An assault also began on the Progressive Income Tax that had worked so well for the nation since the post World War II years. Reagan, Bush 1 and Bush 2 all promoted the same pro-business, trickle down economic theories. They were strongly supported by Reagan's nominee to head the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, who believed that the hidden hand of the market would keep the American economy strong. Even liberal Democrats such as Clinton and Obama took their economic advice from Wall Street veterans.
The consequence has been that business and the American economic elite has prospered since 1980. Deregulation has been the de facto law of the land; the top 1 percent of the American economic elite now have more assets than the bottom 90 percent.
Why is it that one goal -- support for the American corporatism-- has been so successful for American conservatives and a second -- eliminating abortion-- so unsuccessful?
The answer is pretty obvious. The Republican Party sincerely supports the American economic elite. It fits their philosophy, and that elite supports them politically with billions in campaign donations.
But Republicans have never really wanted to eliminate abortion. It doesn't fit their political goals.
The Republican Party has used abortion as a political tool to raise money and rally millions of average men and women to vote against their own economic interests. The abortion issue has been the reason Catholic and Protestant church leaders have put aside their stated social justice goals to support Republican candidates who pledge opposition to abortion but never seem to accomplish anything toward reducing, much less outlawing, abortion.
The Republican Party has played a clever and cynical sleight of hand on millions of religious Catholics and Protestants from the hierarchy to the simplest believer.
Follow Fred Rotondaro on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PapaRaspa