In The Trump Era, Democrats Still Cannot Afford To Compromise On Abortion
What do the Democrats need to do to retake the House or Senate in 2018? A variety of theories exist across the party, including the new "Better Deal" action plan revealed by Senator Chuck Schumer earlier this week, but some members of party leadership seem to believe that new compromises are necessary.
In an interview with The Hill on Sunday, Rep. Ben Ray Luján, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, stated that the committee will not withhold campaign funding from potential candidates who oppose abortion rights, breaking with years of party recent. "As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district, that can win in these districts across America," posited Luján.
With a 24 seat deficit in the upcoming midterms, conventional wisdom might point towards marginal compromise, but Luján's brand of compromise cannot be allowed to stand.
A Democratic party that compromises on Women's rights is not the modern Democratic party, and I seriously doubt that any donor to the DCCC would appreciate their money being used to fund the election of candidates who might vote for defunding Planned Parenthood or restricting access to abortions.
Abortion rights have always been a contentious issue in the United States and the trend in polling has been undeniably inconclusive. According to Gallup polling since 2000, the percentages of Americans who consider themselves "Pro Choice" or "Pro Life" has fluctuated inversely right around 50% without exception. The country has not become particularly more liberal or conservative on the issue in 17 years.
Notably, the percentages of Americans who believe that abortion should be legal under any circumstances or illegal under any circumstances also fluctuate around 22%, while the percentage of Americans who believe that Abortion should be legal under some circumstances remains around 52%.
With this data in mind, it seems unlikely that suddenly supporting candidates who reject a woman's right to chose would harness some sort of hidden trend in the American electorate. And the DCCC's decision smacks of a hurried response to Trump's unexpected level of popularity with white working class voters in the 2016 election.
So many were intensely critical of the GOP approach to 2016, citing their apparent unwillingness to court hispanic voters or cater to the African American vote. But as we've seen over the course of the Obama presidency, there is certainly something for to be said for a Tea Party-esque return to party rallying cries. The DCCC's decision to weaken it's stance on abortion rights is the exact opposite, suggesting that Democrats must capitulate to their ideological opposites to win votes instead of attracting them with a more positive message.
As a Democrat, I expect that there should, in fact, be a litmus test for receiving money from my party, a test which should include mandatory support for a woman's right to terminate a pregnancy within a reasonable and healthy window. Democrats must not tolerate candidates who support the abandonment of the millions of women who rely on pro-choice advocacy to keep their local Planned Parenthood's funded and receive potentially life saving procedures any more than Conservatives should tolerate candidates who favor expanding government or business regulation.
Simply put, being pro-choice is one of those values which Democrats must continue to espouse in order to keep their integrity and identity as a party. Not only does Luján's bold decision promise no significant electoral gains from the Right, but it abandons a progressive Democratic party that the moderate wing badly needs.