The Waffling On Abortion Isn’t Sanders, It’s Coming From The Democratic Party

And that’s troubling to say the least. Put another way, what is good for the gander is also apparently good for the goose (boldface mine):

Top Democratic leaders said Sunday that their party welcomes people who are pro-life, despite the party being strongly defined by its support for abortion rights.

“Of course,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive, my family would say ‘aggressive’, position on promoting a woman’s right to choose,” she said. “But what you asked… was about what unifies Democrats. Our values unify us. We are unified with our commitment to America’s working families about job creation, about budget policies that invest in the future, good-paying jobs.”

Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said it’s fine if an elected Democratic official personally opposes abortion, but from a policy standpoint, he or she must support a woman’s right to choose.

“When it comes to the policy position, I think we need to be clear and unequivocal,” Durbin said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “As long as they are prepared to back the law, Roe vs. Wade, prepared to back women’s rights as we have defined them under the law, then I think they can be part of the party.”

…Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) went to Omaha last week to rally for Heath Mello, who is trying to unseat the city’s current GOP mayor. He said Sunday that he didn’t think the intraparty scuffle was that big of a deal.

“I have a 100 percent lifetime pro-choice voting record,” Sanders said on CBS’ “Face The Nation.”

“But if we are going to become a 50-state party, if you’re going to go to Omaha, Nebraska, which has a Republican governor, two Republican senators, all Republican Congress people, Republican legislature, you know what?” he continued. “If you have a rally in which you have the labor movement, and the environmentalists, and Native Americans, and the African American community, and the Latino community coming together, saying, ‘We want this guy to become our next mayor,’ should I reject going there to Omaha? I don’t think so.”

Sanders pointed out that Mello’s opponent is also anti-choice.

This isn’t Sanders, it’s coming from the Democratic Party (and one should note Democratic National Committee chairman Perez didn’t jump in and critique or disagree with Sanders*).

Before I continue, I want to make clear that what follows is an explanation, not a justification or an excuse. Personally, I think this is another doomed attempt by Democrats to play eleven-dimensional chess–or for that matter, two dimensional checkers–and it will blow up in their faces like Wiley E. Coyote with some Acme dynamite. But it’s essential to try to figure out why the Democratic establishment thinks this is the smart move, despite anger from a significant rank-and-file (including yours truly).

Every so often, Something Happens that forces us that requires us to have another National Conversation About Race (that we typically don’t behave less racist as a result is an entirely different topic). But one would be led to believe that the Great Dividing Line is racism. Yet that’s not the case: as I’ve noted multiple times, Democrats get about a third of the white racist vote.

Re-read that last sentence and mull it over.

If you look at where the Democratic and Republican Parties are in 2017, that one out of three white racists would vote for the party that would, however imperfectly, attempt to weaken the effects of racism, is kind of amazing. While racism is important to many whites, opposition to racism is not a deal-breaker for many racists.

So how does this relate to the politics of abortion? I think the Democratic establishment believes that the red line for many voters isn’t racism, but abortion. Does anyone really think that one-third of voters who are strongly anti-abortion would support a pro-choice candidate? I would be surprised if ten percent of these voters would abandon their anti-abortion beliefs. What I’m guessing is that the Democratic establishment thinks there’s an advantage in downplaying abortion in order to entice some anti-abortion voters to switch to voting Democratic. At the national level, this might backfire, but, as Sanders noted, if the local Democratic-aligned groups like an anti-abortion candidate, should the national party interfere? How else do you win in white, conservative areas, when, at the state and local levels, the demographic advantage that Democrats might enjoy nationally simply doesn’t exist?

Like I said, I don’t agree with this. I think it’s bad political strategy and bad policy, but this is why I think the Democratic establishment is adopting this line.

*That Clinton’s vice-presidential running mate Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia went out of his way to support the Hyde amendment has been studiously ignored by Sanders’ critics. One might conclude that something else is going on with the Sanders-specific criticism.

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