Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez is taking no prisoners in the abortion debate. You are either pro-choice or you are out of the party. Period, end of discussion. In so doing, he made certain that anyone with pro-life leanings knows they are unwelcome in his party.
This is caused concern within the party as it occurs to some Democrats that voters who would other vote for them might get the hint as well. As a result, Perez may have “planted the seeds of rebellion among some Democrats and sharpened the view that the party is now primarily defined by its embrace of abortion on demand.”
So what got Perez off on this topic?
Perez’s comments came after the DNC decided to support Heath Mello in the Omaha, Nebraska, mayoral race. Mello, it was discovered, had previously voted in the state legislature consistent with his personal pro-life views.
Next, NARAL Pro-Choice America, threw a fit.
“The actions today by the DNC to embrace and support a candidate for office who will strip women — one of the most critical constituencies for the party — of our basic rights and freedom is not only disappointing, it is politically stupid,” fumed NARAL’s president, Ilyse Hogue.
As if acting on cue, Perez entered the debate with this statement.
“Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health,” Perez said, as the HuffPost reported. “That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.”
Chairman Perez has just succeed in taking a party that is still trying to get back on its feet after its shocking loss in November, and further dividing it. He has created a litmus test: You are either pro-choice, or you are against us.
Not every Democrat is thrilled with this position.
“I couldn’t disagree more with what Tom Perez said, I think it’s not correct that our party should have litmus tests about who wants to join our party,” pro-abortion rights Sen. Claire McCaskill (MO) said in response to the DNC chair’s announcement, as reported by the Atlantic. “We may disagree on various issues, and I just don’t think we should say ever anyone is not welcome in our party based on one of those issues.”
“What Mr. Perez said makes no sense to me,” objected Sen. Joe Donnelly (IN), who identifies personally as pro-life. “This is a deeply personal issue, and we should be about respecting one another.”
“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,” Donnelly added. “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.”
What Mr. Perez has effectively done is to tell traditional Democratic constituencies such as organized labor, teachers, and public employees, that if they are not pro-choice on abortion, to take their votes elsewhere. Supporting abortion on demand is the litmus test for being a true Democrat.
Perhaps this is the best summary we’ve seen of this situation: “Writing at the left-leaning Jesuit magazine America, Robert David Sullivan observed, ‘Abortion is proving that the Democratic Party can outdo Republicans in self-destruction.'”
Well done, Mr. Perez.
— NARAL (@NARAL) April 20, 2017
Image: Gage Skidmore