The Democratic Party has been in the midst of a prolonged identity crisis since the devastating loss of the 2016 presidential election and four special elections for Congress, and the latest numbers show it is hurting them financially. According to news reports, the Democratic National Committee has raised just half the amount of money raised by its Republican counterpart for the first half of 2017, a difference of 37.2 million dollars.
Big donors and strategists float several theories to explain the shortfall. Some blame party leadership for being slow to block President Trump’s agenda. Others claim that being understaffed is the problem.
None of them address the massive elephant in the room: the widening rift over the Democratic Party’s extreme platform on abortion.
Pro-life Democrats have faced open hostility within the Party for decades. The late Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey Sr. was barred from speaking at the 1992 Democratic National Convention for his defense of the unborn.
In 2010, pro-life Democrats caved to pressure from the White House and cast votes for Obamacare, thelargest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade. They were swept out of office after having betrayed their constituents, and Republicans have held a majority in the House ever since.
Over the course of the 2016 campaign, a new audience of voters had their eyes opened to just how stridently pro-abortion the Democratic Party has become, with nominee Hillary Clinton promising abortion on demand up to the day of birth, paid for by taxpayers, and candidate Donald Trump memorably calling her out for iton the debate stage in front of 71 million viewers.
Some very loyal, longtime Democrats are tired of the “Abortion Party” and have already fled. Even so, polls still show that one-third of rank-and-file Democrats identify themselves as pro-life. Alienating them any further is politically unwise – but that’s exactly what some influential Democrats would do.
Recently, billionaire megadonor Tom Steyer stated that his organization wouldn’t work with any candidate who isn’t one hundred percent on board with the extreme abortion agenda. Democratic Congressional Campaign spokesperson Meredith Kelly also said that “The DCCC has no interest in working with Democrats for Life of America.”
That must have been news to her own boss, DCCC Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, who only late last month declared, “There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates.” California Governor Jerry Brown subsequently was asked about it on Meet the Press, telling host Chuck Todd that pro-life Democrat candidates should not be cut off from Party support and that “America is not one place. Alabama is not San Francisco or California.”
While Democrat leaders can’t get on the same page about these incredibly modest suggestions, the abortion lobby has been apoplectic over them. Recently Politico Magazine revealed that Lujan’s phone calls have been getting the cold shoulder from Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion business. Last week, unambiguously pro-abortion NARAL President Ilyse Hogue had an op-ed in The Hill laying down more ultimatums for Democrat leaders.
Hogue’s piece earned a swift rebuke from one commenter: “I’m a Democrat, but both of you are fanatics. The job of the DCCC is to support those candidates for the House than the Democratic primary electorate nominates. It is not for the two of you to demand the national Democratic Party refuse to support those people nominated by the local party membership. Get off your elitism and Washington power broker status.”
The voice of the grassroots is speaking, but is anybody listening?
Slamming the door in the faces of voters you desperately need is a recipe for failure. However, the answer is not simply having a slightly “bigger tent.” The Democratic Party has utterly lost its way when it won’t stand up for the most vulnerable and defenseless among us and protect unborn children and their mothers from having their very lives destroyed. Grudging toleration of pro-lifers without any meaningful policy change won’t cut it. Both parties should stand for life on principle.
This means embracing and championing legislation like the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban cruel late-term abortions after five months, when science shows unborn children can feel pain. More than two-thirds of Americans – women in higher numbers than men – support this bill. Twenty states have passed their own Pain-Capable bills, and in those states, approximately one third of Democrat legislators voted for it.
It means redirecting tax dollars away from the abortion industry and investing in community health centersthat provide comprehensive care to better serve women and families. Two-thirds of voters in 2018 Senate battleground states say they would be less likely to vote for a Senator who opted to fund Planned Parenthood, which controls over 35 percent of the national abortion market, instead of community health centers that outnumber the abortion giant by an average of 20 to 1 nationally.
It also means ending the senseless war on the Hyde Amendment, longstanding policy that prevents taxpayer funding of abortion through Medicaid, a policy that has saved more than 2 million lives. A large majority of Americans oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortions.
These are compassionate, uncontroversial, common-sense initiatives with broad popular momentum across demographics that traditionally tend to vote Democrat. Party leaders must allow members of Congress to vote their conscience. If they can’t even do that, but would rather cater to a minority of pro-abortion extremists, they deserve to lose…and lose, and lose.
Marjorie Dannenfelser is president of the national pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List, which has a network of more than 600,000 members nationwide. Previously she worked for Rep. Allan Mollohan (D-WV) during his time as leader of the bipartisan Congressional Pro-life Caucus.