Retreat? DNC chair to offer fence-mending outreach to pro-life Dems
Aaaaaannnnnnnd … that’s all it will amount to being, too. The Atlantic reports on efforts by DNC chair Tom Perez to repair a self-imposed rift within the Democratic Party that just cost them a municipal election in Omaha, and might cost a lot more than that next year. After telling pro-life Democrats that they have no place in leadership or in office, Perez will now meet with some pro-life groups in an attempt to seem more inclusive — but not without making sure to check in with the pro-abortion groups that control his party first:
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez plans to meet with pro-life group Democrats for Life of America, amid an ongoing controversy within the party over whether and to what extent Democrats should pursue voters who oppose abortion. Democrats for Life advocates for pro-life Democrats and describes itself as “the pro-life voice of the Democratic Party.”
The meeting, which the DNC is setting up at the group’s request, is one of several conversations that Perez is having with pro-choice and pro-life Democrats, an aide to Perez confirmed to The Atlantic. As part of that outreach, Perez has spoken with Democratic elected officials and party leaders, and held a meeting earlier this month with women’s groups. The effort comes at a time when prominent Democrats are attempting to walk a fine line between affirming their party’s pro-choice platform and suggesting that there is room in the party for pro-life voters and candidates.
The party’s 2016 platform supports access to “safe and legal abortion,” and vows that Democrats will “oppose, and seek to overturn, federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion.” The DNC recently named Jess O’Connell as it’s new CEO, the former executive director of EMILY’s List, which works to elect pro-choice Democratic women to office.
Just how much of an opening is this? Read the entire Atlantic piece by Clare Foran to get the gist, but the answer is: narrow. Perez plans to meet with Democrats for Life of America and its executive director Kristen Day, but … the date has not yet been set. The meeting will take place at DNC headquarters in DC too, which makes this less an outreach than a grant of a schedule slot. That’s the only meeting set up for the purpose of engaging a “big tent,” which seems to indicate that Perez doesn’t plan to get out much in other areas to engage pro-life Democrats and independents. In fact, it doesn’t look like he’s getting out at all.
Foran’s piece highlights another problem, too. Other than Day and DFLA, it doesn’t look like The Atlantic knows of any other pro-life groups, either, to see how many of their members might be (or used to be) Democrats. On the other hand, Foran name-checks several pro-abortion groups, whether or not they offered any input for the piece: EMILY’s List, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and a pro-abortion lobbyist in Virginia. Needless to say, among those who do have comments about Perez’ efforts, they run to one theme: Don’t dare back down from the litmus test.
And, by the way, don’t expect this to have much impact on pro-life voters either. As Day put it to Mark Pattison of Catholic News Service, lip service isn’t going to build up any credibility:
Demanding adherence to a right to abortion “got us to where we are today,” she said, with 38 of the 50 states having Republican electoral majorities — 27 of them under full GOP control — compared to just five states where Democrats have full control. The numbers kind of speak for themselves,” she said. “And when we push pro-life Democrats out of the party, this is what happens.”
At the federal level, “this abortion litmus test has hurt us dramatically. If you look at 30 years ago in the United States House, we had 135 pro-life Democrats and a 292-seat majority. Today, we have 30. We can’t get the majority we want without electing pro-life Democrats. The number of pro-choice Democrats has stayed at about 185, 180. If we want to follow NARAL and Planned Parenthood’s strategy, we’re going to stay there” in the minority, Day said.
Basically, this is just Perez’ attempt to jolly along pro-life liberals for one more electoral cycle. Will they fall for it? Who knows, but no one can pretend any longer that the scales have not fallen from their eyes.