The old guard of the Democratic Party is at it again. Once again these Democrats feel it is copacetic to make parts of their base expedient to win voters they are unlikely to win for another generation or until their decimated financial reality enforces a vote that supersedes their irrational prejudice towards the Democratic Party.
Democrats stand for values that are non-negotiable because they are human values and policies which provide opportunities for all. So why is the old guard of the Democratic Party hedging its bets with an already failed position?
Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) appeared on Meet the Press and pretty much threw women under the bus. He sucker-punched women who fought to ensure that the Democratic Party understood that women's reproductive rights were both a moral and an economic issue.
The following exchange was hard to listen to especially from a Progressive icon.
Chuck Todd: Well, there you have the rub, and I say this because what do you do? How do you tell the Democratic base that says, "Look, sometimes you've got to compromise." So, for instance, the issue of abortion. We talked about culture. You've got some inside the Democratic Party, some major Democratic leaders from a senator in New York, Kirsten Gillibrand, to others who think, you know what? The Democratic Party, should not support -- abortion should be a litmus test, should not support Democrats who are not pro choice on abortion.
But you have people like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer who say, "You know what? The Democrats need to be a big tent." And sometimes you have Democrats that will say they love what you say when you announce, but, "Wait a minute. Why are you working, with the other side and compromising some of your principles?" How do you square those two? How do you tell the Democratic base, "You've got to learn to compromise"?
Governor Jerry Brown: Well, first of all, I don't know who this Democratic base is. It's shifting. The segments of our party are highly differentiated. There are environmentalists; there are gun owners; there are pro choice people; there are religious fundamentalists, not very many, but they're there.
So I'd say, look, even on the abortion issue, it wasn't very long ago that a number of Catholic Democrats were opposed to abortion. So the fact that somebody believes today what most people believed 50 years ago should not be the basis for their exclusion. In America, we're not ideological. We're not like a Marxist party in 1910. We are big tent by the very definition. We're not ideological in the European sense of what political parties used to be. Even in Europe now, they don't have that same ideological purity.
America is not one place. Alabama is not San Francisco or California. To come together, as a great Jesuit once said, everything that rises converges. So we have to rise above some of our most cherished ideological inclinations and find a common basis. And the economy has often been that common basis, or security in the world could be a part of that common basis. But you can't let these hot button issues, that work great in particular congressional districts one way or the other, to be the guiding light for a national party that covers a very wide spectrum of belief.
Chuck Todd: So you don't believe there should be a litmus test on abortion? Or is there an issue there should be one on, for the Democrats?
Governor Jerry Brown: Well, the litmus test should be intelligence, caring about, as Harry Truman or Roosevelt used to call it, the common man. We're not going to get everybody on board. And I'm sorry, but running in San Francisco is not like running in Tulare County or Modoc, California, much less Mobile, Alabama.
If we want to be a governing party of a very diverse, and I say diverse ideologically as well as ethnically country, well, then you have to have a party that rises above the more particular issues to the generic, the general issue of making America great if I might take that word.
Replace "abortion issue" with some "male specific issue" or to a lesser extent "race issue." There would be an uproar. The old guard of the Democratic always attempts to appease a certain sect of voters by publicly doing something to diss another sect in some symbolic manner. One must not forget Clinton's Sista Souljah episode. It did not win Bill Clinton the election. A third party candidate ensured that he had a plurality.
Americans do not vote for Republican Lite. If they want to vote for Conservative values, they vote for the Republican. The goal must be to sell the better ideas of the Democratic Party Platform as opposed to appeasing those whose vote one seeks. Republicans never give up on their bad ideas. They double down with conviction. People kind of like that and would tend to vote for that strength because they know where said politician stands.
Jill Filipovic's CNN article "Democrats' disastrous mistake on abortion" is evident.
(CNN)The chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Ben Ray Luján, said in an interview this week that his party intended to support candidates who can win, regardless of their position on abortion rights. There will be no abortion "litmus test" in the Democrats' drive to win back the House, he said. His comments echoed earlier ones from Nancy Pelosi, Charles Schumer and Bernie Sanders. That's not just an insult to the women (and men) who make up the Democrats' base. It's a fool's errand.
Much of the left has learned all the wrong lessons from Hillary Clinton's defeat. They could focus on increasing turnout among their base -- women and African-Americans -- but Democrats have instead taken a rhetorical page from both Donald Trump's sexism and Bernie Sanders's populism by trying to appeal to disaffected white guys. This pivot to the right on women's health is particularly insidious, reflecting an anti-feminist backlash across the political spectrum.
Democrats may say they are trying to field the most competitive team of candidates they can to win a majority in Congress, and in some districts that candidate might be anti-abortion. But this treads a dangerous path: ceding to demands that the entire political system cater to the perceived values of a group that largely stopped voting for Democrats in the 1960s, when the party pushed the Civil Rights Act and equal rights for women.
Many are concerned that criticizing the Democratic Party will make winning more difficult. Not stopping the insanity, not stopping the party from doing the same thing and expecting a different result ensures a loss. Now is the time for corrective action. Now is time to grab the bull by the horns to ensure candidates willing to fight for Democratic values run, persuade, and earn the majority of votes. Every Democrat and Progressive Independent must speak now.
Also published on Medium.