August 03, 2017
When the GOP stumbled on its biggest priority of the year, most people thought they'd handed the Left a huge political opportunity. Unfortunately for Democrats, they're too busy fighting over abortion to seize it. While the Republicans walk a rocky road after the health care collapse, it's not exactly a picnic at the DNC, where a civil war is brewing over the party's decision to back 2018 pro-lifers.
Ben Ray Lujan, who has the unenviable job of trying to win back the House from the GOP, knows that picking up 24 seats means a major reboot on the party's social agenda. November should have been proof enough, but, like most liberals, Lujan didn't really get the message until pro-life Democrat Heath Mello lost a mayoral race in Nebraska -- the casualty of a fierce inner-party squabble over abortion. Not anxious to repeat that mistake, Lujan's Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) may as well have detonated a bomb when he announced, "There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates... 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."
Feminists, abortion groups, and celebrities blew a gasket, demanding that Lujan walk back the diversity their party was supposedly built on. An outraged Rosie O'Donnell tried to start a grassroots rebellion on Twitter, calling on women to leave the Democratic Party. "Fight the men who want to take away women's rights IN OUR OWN PARTY? [Expletive] them for even considering it. Seriously." Lujan, meanwhile, insisted that toning down the extremism that cost Hillary Clinton the White House was the only path to victory. "To pick up 24 [seats] and to get to 218, that is the job. We'll need a broad coalition to get that done. We are going to need all of that, we have to be a big family in order to win the House back."
Abortion zealots like Lindy West disagree. In a shrill column for the New York Times, she ranted about the White House being run by "19 hyenas and a broken vacuum cleaner," then turned her attention to "indefensible" pro-lifers, whose cause, she insists, kills women. On that we agree. Abortion has destroyed the lives of tens of millions of unborn girls, who will never have the chance to write surly op-eds about the "virtues" of a procedure that most Americans (including abortion supporters) consider "morally wrong." Then, with the same ideological condescension that turned off voters last year, she insists, "Abortion is normal. Abortion is common, necessary and happening every day across party lines, economic lines and religious lines. Abortion is also legal and, contrary to what the pundit economy would have you believe, not particularly controversial."
Abortion? Normal? The American people don't think so. Overwhelming majorities on both sides want the procedure significantly limited. And that includes 80 percent of millennials, who support the GOP's push to ban abortion at the 20-week mark, when babies feel pain. That's a far cry from Hillary Clinton, who talked about the dismemberment of babies like she was discussing a routine colonoscopy. Her party eventually followed her down that dark path, approving a Democratic platform of over-the-top extremism that not only wanted no limits on abortion -- but demanded Americans pay for them!
For the first time in history, Democrats called for overturning the Hyde and Helms amendments, a position so radical that even President Obama refused to endorse it. If you thought the last two Democratic platforms alienated moderates, the 2016 edition was an eviction notice for anyone in the party not pledging allegiance to Planned Parenthood. And that's no empty threat. As experts from Stephen F. Austin University noted in a blockbuster study, parties vote in line with their platforms 80 percent of the time.
The incredible shrinking tent ended up having a major effect on the base, which let Democrats know in no uncertain terms on Election Day that the country is nowhere near its fanatical approach to abortion. "'Safe, legal, and rare' is so far away at this point that we'd need the Hubble Space Telescope to catch a glimpse of it..." Alexandra DeSanctis wrote on NRO. "Can Democrats be pro-life?" she asks. Not when they're under the thumb of women like West, who, she says, are losing their marbles over Lujan's "big family" agenda. It's a delicate dance for Democrats. "If they lighten up a little, they will incur the wrath of the death industry. Just ask Rep. Luján. If they don't lighten up, they may wind up unemployed," the Catholic League's Bill Donohue argues. "Just ask Hillary."
One thing's for sure: the Democrats have a major platform problem on their hands in 2020. Despite the Supreme Court's insistence that its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision would settle the abortion issue, the issue of life is at the center of American politics now more than ever. The Left will have to decide whose support matters more -- voters' or Planned Parenthood's.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.