May 16, 2017
Democrats dug themselves into quite a hole with the party's hardline social platform last summer. And climbing out hasn't exactly been easy. By almost everyone's estimation (including Nancy Pelosi's, D-Calif.), the Left's extremism on issues like abortion and transgender bathrooms cost them the White House. But months after the loss no one saw coming, the party is still struggling to rebound.
And many would say the party's disgust for pro-lifers is one reason why. The DNC made no secret of that last month in a local race that would have never become a national headline if Chairman Tom Perez hadn't intervened. After initially throwing in his lot with mayoral candidate Heath Mello (D), Perez walked back the endorsement of the Nebraska candidate because he dared to "personally" oppose to abortion. Trapped in a pressure cooker of the party's deep-pocketed pro-choicers, Perez came out swinging. "Every Democrat," he insisted, "like every American, should support a woman's right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable."
Days later, Mello lost -- another victim of the party that talks about diversity but never practices it. To most Americans, it was just another sign that Democrats never really learned anything from November. Instead, the choke-hold of groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL is even stronger now that the DNC has named former Emily's List executive director Jess O'Connell as its new CEO. Unfortunately for them, that's not where some in their party are -- and, more importantly, it's not where the country is. A whopping 74 percent of Americans (including 54 percent of "pro-choicers") support significant restrictions on abortion.
That doesn't exactly jive with the DNC's platform, which, for the first time, staked out extreme ground in its embrace – not only of taxpayer-funded abortion, but abortion on demand. Now, caught in an incredibly shrinking tent, Perez is trying to convince everyone that pro-lifers are indeed welcome (despite all the evidence to the contrary). But party moderates like Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), who's been put in an almost impossible position by the party's intolerance, aren't sure they believe him.
"What Mr. Perez said makes no sense to me. This is a deeply personal issue, and we should be about respecting one another," said the self-identified pro-lifer. "I don't know why we would want to start walking away from folks, like myself, who have a personal conviction on the pro-life issue." (And those in predominately red states who feel likewise.) "We ought to be able to include everyone, as opposed to saying 'no, we don't want these folks, even though they fight with us on jobs, even though they fight with us for economic rights, even though they fight with us on healthcare.' It just seems to me to be very, very short-sighted." Maybe that's starting to sink in at DNC headquarters, where Perez just agreed to meet with Democrats for Life of America. It's part of a broader outreach to pro-life Democrats, the office says.
But saying there's room in the party for pro-lifers and proving it are two different things. Just yesterday, Democrats couldn't accept even the mildest of conditions on global health aid, which is that our tax dollars not fund overseas groups who promote or perform abortions. Under the Trump administration's new order, an $8.8 billion pool of foreign assistance will be redirected to organizations that understand abortion isn't health care. To most Americans, that's just common sense. But predictably, Democrats lost their minds. From Reps. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) to Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), they called the decision to put more money into actual care "a cruel and unprecedented attack on the world's most vulnerable women." Using the same playbook as the debate over Planned Parenthood defunding, they insist that conservatives are somehow "threatening the lives of millions of women and children."
No, what threatens children is a procedure that actually kills them. All President Trump has done is ensure that U.S. dollars aren't a front for overseas abortion and instead provide true medical help. Still, Senator Shaheen fired back, "This administration's pathetic rebranding of this policy is a thinly veiled attempt to hide the tremendous harm it has around the world." If the Democratic Party can't even concede what used to be bipartisan ground -- that tax dollars shouldn't be used for the destruction of innocent life -- then their efforts to reconcile with pro-life Democrats is a hollow gesture indeed.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.