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.