Dems mired in infighting over abortion (again)
Despite a command of the mainstream media camouflaging their decline, the Democrats are turning against one another with inward-looking fights that can only make the party smaller. The latest example is the perennial point of contention: abortion.
Bernie Sanders, the party's most popular figure, isn't even a Democrat (he's a socialist), but he managed to put the divisive issue back on the table for the hapless progressives, as Bill Scher explained for RCP:
[I]t is surprising that he [Sanders] managed to create a rift over abortion rights, since the issue has not divided Democrats for years.
Abortion did not separate Sanders and Hillary Clinton in the 2016 primaries. Abortion was not the reason Clinton came up short against Donald Trump. Intra-party debate over reproductive health policy particulars and messages was largely resolved by 2012, when Democrats embraced an unapologetically pro-choice platform.
Yet Sanders managed to re-open old wounds when he explained why he was using the Democratic National Committee-sponsored tour to endorse Heath Mello, an Omaha mayoral candidate with an anti-abortion voting record, but not Georgia congressional candidate Jon Ossoff, who is pro-choice and fiscally moderate. As the Washington Post recounted: "'[Ossoff is] not a progressive,' [Sanders] said. He was endorsing Democrats based on their economic populism; they could differ from progressives on social issues but not on the threat of the mega-rich to American politics."
NARAL Pro-Choice President Ilyse Hogue responded with force: "If Democrats think the path forward following the 2016 election is to support candidates who substitute their own judgement and ideology for that of their female constituents, they have learned all the wrong lessons and are bound to lose. It's not possible to have an authentic conversation about economic security for women that does not include our ability to decide when and how we have children."
Much scrambling ensued. Sanders belatedly threw his support to Ossoff. The liberal netroots activist site Daily Kos withdrew its endorsement of Mello. Mello started talking like he was pro-choice. DNC Chairman Tom Perez tried to defend the party's endorsement while touting the party's pro-choice platform. By Friday, he was celebrating Mello's pivot: "I fundamentally disagree with Heath Mello's personal beliefs about women's reproductive health. It is a promising step that Mello now shares the Democratic Party's position on women's fundamental rights." Perez then went further, with an ultimatum to every Democratic official and candidate: "Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman's right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state."
The fierceness of Perez's response leaves no room at all for Democrats with qualms about late-term partial-birth abortion. Fine – they should leave right away now that the commissar has declared their views "not negotiable."
Bernie Sanders continues his destruction of the Democratic Party.