Democrats Still Backing Anti-Choice Candidates

A few days ago the NY Times published an article about the unusually high number of anti-choice candidates the Democratic Party is running this election year:

In fact, Mr. Bright is one of a dozen anti-abortion Democratic challengers the party has recruited to run for the House this year and has aggressively supported with millions of dollars and other resources in culturally conservative districts long unfriendly to the party.

That is the highest number of anti-abortion candidates the party has fielded in recent memory to run either for open seats or against Republican challengers, according to party strategists and a leading anti-abortion organization. It is a strategy that that has received little attention in an election year dominated nationally by a grim economic picture and an unpopular president.

But Democratic Party strategists contend that in Congressional races, in which local sensibilities and attitudes often play as a big a role as national trends, candidates like Mr. Bright could potentially deprive Republicans of the one realm where they have enjoyed a significant advantage: social issues.

The Democratic effort to seek out candidates like Mr. Bright has not been without tensions, given the party’s reliance on abortion rights groups for fund-raising and get-out-the-vote efforts. And there is the fundamental reality that the Democratic Party’s platform explicitly embraces abortion rights.

As the article notes, this is an ongoing strategy for the Dems since 2004 and it seems to be slowly expanding.  So while I’m not hugely surprised by the development, you better believe that I’m pissed off.

Are reproductive rights the most political issue at the moment?  Well, no.  We’re dealing with lost jobs, a lack of health care, and global warming.  These are big.  And it would be irresponsible to drop them all for one single issue.  But the fact remains that all of those problems would only be exacerbated by a loss of abortion rights.  (No job to pay for the unplanned children, no health care for the children or their parents, dwindling food supply and shelter . . .)  And the fact also remains that those of us who believe in reproductive rights are a big part of the Democratic Party’s base.  And they’re taking us for granted.  They know that our other options look grim.  They’re trusting that we’ll accept an anti-choice Democrat as better than a Republican and counting on our vote anyway.

Now, the Democratic Party is probably thinking that we don’t mean a hell of a lot to them as a base in a district where we can’t push them towards victory.  I’d like to remind them that the Democratic Party doesn’t mean a whole lot to pro-choice people when they’re not protecting us by voting against “partial birth abortion” bans and anti-choice Supreme Court justices.

I’m tired of being sold out and I’m tired of having our cause sold out.  And that means I’m tired of having my bodily rights sold out.  I’m tired of watching (or helping) reproductive rights organizations work their asses off for Democratic candidates only to be patted on the head by the men in charge and told “sorry sweetie, that’s politics.”

It may be politics, but it’s particularly shitty politics, and it’s not even necessarily all that smart.  As National Institute for Reproductive Health president Kelli Conlin pointed out, most Americans are pro-choice.  Many Republicans are pro-choice.  And there really aren’t that many places across the U.S. where anti-choice voters decide the election on that single issue.  Maybe they should let those districts go and fight in ones they can win without having to sacrifice core principles.

Are the Republicans pouring tons of money and effort into winning districts in the San Francisco area? I don’t know, but I’d be surprised. And sure, pro-choice Republicans exist, but when was the last time that the GOP sought out those candidates specifically because they’re pro-choice and dumped millions of dollars into their campaigns? Republicans are true to their base, while Democrats often act like they don’t have one at all. Republicans try to convince us that they’re right and we’re wrong, and Democrats just keep on moving closer to the center. The Democrats could be putting that money towards educating voters, changing hearts and minds, and talking about middle ground.  They could be using that money to attack the record of Republican opponents and lay out economic plans rather than running “pro-life” advertising. They could be building up majorities that will be true to the party’s stated ethics rather than winning a majority just for the sake of it.

The Dems are looking really good this year.  They’ve already got a majority and are expecting to pick up more seats.  They don’t have to do this.  They are — and I use the word deliberately — choosing to.  And for that reason, and in this political climate, I can say that if I was in one of those 12 districts, I’d be sending my own tiny little message by voting third party.

0 thoughts on “Democrats Still Backing Anti-Choice Candidates

  1. SunlessNick

    And that means I’m tired of having my bodily rights sold out. I’m tired of watching (or helping) reproductive rights organizations work their asses off for Democratic candidates only to be patted on the head by the men in charge and told “sorry sweetie, that’s politics.”

    Sends mental hugs.

    They don’t have to do this. They are — and I use the word deliberately — choosing to.

    It’s as if they’re buying into the narrative that anti-abortion/anti-choice is the value, and pro-choice the lack of a value. And they want to be able to say they have values.

    But pro-choice is a value; I’d go further, and say it’s a moral imperative. They can go on about respect for life all they want, but how hollow is respect when it’s built on a foundation of forcibly appropriated women’s bodies? How true can respect for life be if they have to ignore real, present lives to express it?

    Reply
  2. Ouyangdan

    Nope, not surprising at all.

    But is sure pisses me right the fuck off.

    I might be ignorant (who knows?) but I didn’t realize that it was that bad, as far as how many anti-choicers are in fact being backed by Dems.

    And to SunlessNick, damned straight being Pro-choice is a value. I am tired of this use of the “values voters” to mean people who have no regard for equality or women’s lives. Last time I checked, hate is not a family value.

    I demand we take back the term “family values voter”.

    Reply
  3. Paul

    Well, apparantly once again the Democrats are proving to be just as willing to resort to gay-baiting tactics as Republicans in order to win.

    http://pageonekentucky.com/2008/10/31/breaking-more-anti-mcconnell-campaign-material/

    AFSCME also produced a similarly homophobic radio ad attacking McConnell. For people who don’t know what AFSCME is, it’s the largest union in America and one of the major backers of the Democratic Party.

    Here’s a copy of the flyer which sparked the outrage.

    I can’t help but wonder who is responsible for the flyer.

    I hear 150,000 copies are being distributed at churches across the Commonwealth this Sunday.

    Reply
  4. Aunti Disestablshmentarian

    It’s pretty clear that a lot of progressives are willing to go with Obama — or just about anyone– to stop Bush’s legacy. However this is a winning strategy for the Dems ONLY THIS YEAR. By 2010 or 2012 they had better have been coalition building like crazy with the likes of us or they are going to be screwed. The party can only move so far to the “center” (read: Right) before the lefties give up totally. Wise up, Democratic party– if the Repubs can have a happy household full of -ahem- diverse interests and control much of the government for decades years, well… figure it out, dems!

    Reply
  5. Neon

    Jimmy Carter spoke a few years ago that the democratic party could never be the party of abortion and the party in power. They must run somewhat anti-abortion candidates to win even if it means they sacrifice their core values of keeping the procedure safe and accessible. The Dems have to back away from this issue, gun control and social justice. To remain in power every election they must act like moderate republicans.

    Reply
  6. Neon

    I think at best this upcoming congress won’t pass anymore limitations on abortion but they will not make it more accessible. At the moment the right wingers still have enough people to filibuster pro-abortion legislation. And there are actually enough anti-abortion democrats to swings legislation against choice. It’s not wise to assume that democratic mean pro-abortion.

    Reply
  7. Cara Post author

    It’s not wise to assume that democratic mean pro-abortion.

    Which is why I didn’t do it, and instead said pro-choice and mixed-choice. Bob Casey is a Democrat and is anti-choice. And Republican Olympia Snowe is pro-choice.

    Reply
  8. Neon

    The link you posted makes a good case for my assumption about abortion legislation. To stop a bill all they would need would be the anti-abortion people and half of the moderates. Legislation concerning this issue is largely up the air. If they do pass radically pro abortion legislation then they will lose their near majority in the senate in 2010.

    Reply
  9. Cara Post author

    There is no such thing as “pro-abortion” legislation. At least not that any pro-choice person would support. Pro-abortion legislation is providing initiatives for women to have abortions rather than give birth, or forcing them to. What we’re looking for is legislation that is pro-abortion rights.

    Reply
  10. Neon

    Pro-abortion is a bad term, I’ll give you that, but I don’t buy into the terrible choice/anti-choice language. Let’s say that the congress wanted to make parental notification illegal, I don’t think it would pass. That bill would be pro-abortion rights, correct?

    Reply
  11. Neon

    I have problem with the language involved in the abortion issue. You can’t phrase in a neutral sense. People (other than myself) aren’t going to say that they are pro abortion just like they aren’t going to say they are anti-choice.

    The states are quickly adopting the parental notification issue one by one, it seems to be the one area in this debate where consensus can be reached. Some states go overboard on regulations though, specifically, requiring the mother to see the embryo/fetus before it’s aborted.

    Reply
  12. SunlessNick

    I’ll give you that, but I don’t buy into the terrible choice/anti-choice language.

    Why? You’re either for the woman having the right to make decisions about her body or you’re against it. Pro-/anti-choice is the only accurate term.

    Reply
  13. Cara Post author

    No it’s not. Parental notification laws are laws which promote forced birth and put teen girls lives and health at risk. If you want o learn more, you can search “parental notification” on this blog.

    As for the language, I use language that is accurate. I don’t care what the other side calls themselves, except that it’s false advertising. You can’t call yourself “pro-life” when your policies result in untold deaths of women when implemented. I’m more or less fine with them calling themselves anti-abortion, though. I don’t think it’s entirely accurate, but it’s a huge improvement.

    Reply
  14. Neon

    I’m not for notification but the majority of people are. That’s why most states have them. If a minor is over sixteen then their medical records are their own business but under sixteen it’s a different issue altogether.

    It’s still not neutral. People on the right count the life inside the mother as a person so, as they see it, it’s genocide. By stopping it they would be saving “lives”. Pro choice to them is pro death. It’s all perspective.

    Sunless, it’s nowhere near that clear of a distinction. Half of the country would describe you as pro-choice and the other half would describe you as pro-murder.

    Reply
  15. SunlessNick

    By stopping it they would be saving “lives”. Pro choice to them is pro death. It’s all perspective.

    And their perspective is wrong. And yes, on this issue I am a moral absolutist. As I said in my first post, any claim to respect for life is hollow when it has to be built on the appropriated bodies of already real and living people.

    Consider that no living person has the rights that anti-choicers wish to grant a foetus. Does a foetus have a right to live? Actually, yes I think it does. But does it have the right for another’s body to be placed at its disposal regardless of her wishes? No. I have a right to live to, and a right to receive blood should I be traumatically injured. But that right does not extend to another’s blood being forcibly taken to ensure my survival, even in quantities so small as to not harm them. And if that means, I die, I die.

    That’s how it is with a foetus. Its right to life does not give it greater rights over a woman’s body than she has herself. And if that means it dies, it dies.

    Deny that, and you don’t have a pro-life attitude, you just have a cult of the foetus.

    Reply
  16. Pingback: What is the Future of Abstinence-Only Sex Education? : The Curvature

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