Pro-life Democrats remain optimistic through struggle
The Democratic Convention was heavy on pro-abortion messaging, to put it mildly. Pro-life Democrats attempted to moderate the party platform and push a “big tent” strategy on abortion, but were rejected at every turn. In light of that disappointing experience, various commentators have wondered where, if anywhere, pro-life Democrats can go from here.
Kristen Day, the president of Democrats for Life (disclosure: I know her personally) responded to these rumblings in a recent email to supporters:
When I read an article about the alleged “death of the pro-life democrat” following our event at the Democratic National Convention, I chuckled. It is wishful thinking by Republicans, but not the truth. Pro-life democrats are not dead. In fact, we are more alive, more motivated, more united, and growing!
There are 21 million pro-life Democrats, and we have only scratched the surface of bringing this large coalition together to bring change to our party. The momentum from our convention event has not brought death, but re-birth. We had a historic number of hits on our Facebook page, increased activity on Twitter, an increase in the number of inquiries, and a record number of new memberships!
This convention has given us the energy and the legitimacy to advance the cause of life consistently, effectively, and proudly as pro-life Democrats.
I think that the article she refers to is this one, by Dan McConchie (who I also know personally). Although McConchie is a good deal more conservative than Day, I do not consider McConchie’s article to be “wishful thinking”– on the contrary, I believe that he is genuinely saddened by the plight of pro-life Democrats. He fondly remembers the good old days, when “in 1992, five anti-abortion governors addressed the Democratic convention.” That would be unthinkable now.
McConchie is particularly concerned that “anti-abortion Democrats in state legislatures complain that the national
party actively blocks their efforts to move up the ranks, instead
favoring those who toe the party’s radical line on abortion.” Day shares his concern, insisting: “Pro-life Democrats cannot and will not be marginalized or silenced by our party.”
In light of pro-life public opinion trends, I agree with McConchie that the Democratic Party is shooting itself in the foot with its unyielding loyalty to the abortion industry. Day and others like her are the solution– but will the party leadership ever embrace them?
It has always been strange to me, that the party that shows relatively more care and concern for the marginalized, the party that, relatively more so than the GOP, sees each individual as worth of the opportunities of life and recognizes that current institutional flaws favor the privileged, would not be more pro-life. I understand that poor women who have unexpected children usually have little social and economic mobility, however wouldn't it make more sense to attack that problem (female poverty and social support structures for women, their children and/or foster children) rather than cling to one violent strategy that only addresses one contributing factor?
I think both Day and McConchie would respond to your question affirmatively. Here is a sentence from the McConchie article: "But this is a trend that cannot be maintained."
I think that, right now, both parties are underestimating the importance of the right-to-life voting bloc and pro-life politicians. The Republicans are taking us for granted and the Democrats are dismissing, without consideration, any attempts at gaining our support. We need to make clear to the Republicans that they must address our concerns with useful policies to gain our support and the Democrats must know that we will reward them for even small efforts on behalf of the unborn.
Here in Minnesota we have had a rich tradition of pro-life Democrats. One reason for that history was the effective leadership of Jackie Schwietz. When she was a leader of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life and the National Pro-Life Democrats Committee, most Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (the DFL Party is, effectively, Minnesota's state Democratic Party) legislators were pro-life.
If it wasn't for the fact that Democrats are very pro-life and becoming more hostile to people of faith, I'd probably be a Democrat. As it stands, I'm just independent.
If it wasn't for the fact that Democrats are very pro-choice and becoming more hostile to people of faith, I'd probably be a Democrat. As it stands, I'm just independent.