by Jason Frerichs
Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) said: “There will be no litmus tests for candidates as Democrats seek to find a winning roster to regain the House majority in 2018.” This type of statement is part of the problem. This type of thinking is one of a myriad number of reasons the Democratic Party is at its lowest level of representation in decades. Too many Democratic office holders are afraid to take a strong stance on issues. Too many are willing put women’s rights on the chopping block. Party “leaders” allow conservatives to lead them by those nose in regards to reproductive rights. They are constantly on defense instead of making the argument that Democrats are truly the pro-life party.
A recent reader poll of 28,000 people by DailyAction.org found that 86% of the people making phone calls to tell their representatives to oppose the Trump agenda were made by women. A large percentage of them are made by women aged 45-65. Obviously, that is not a scientific poll but the fact remains that women are organizing at unprecedented levels. Alienating that voting block would be political suicide for the Democratic Party. Our mothers are leading the revolution the revolution and like the saying goes, you should listen to your mother. Organizations like Indivisible are dominated by strong, progressive, female leaders.
In January 2017, 26,000 people marched to the state capital in solidarity with women’s marches all over the globe. This was the largest of protest in the history of Iowa. There were 600 other sister marches and 500,000 people marched on the National Mall in Washington D.C. Organizers of the Des Moines march originally planned for 1000 people. During the planning, that number increased to 6000. They had no idea the march would grow to 26,000 people. Our sisters are organized, committed, and ready to lead. We need to follow them.
Expecting Democratic Party leaders to treat women’s issue as a line in the sand isn’t asking someone to submit to a purity test. Democrats wouldn’t dream of putting civil rights for people of color up for compromise, so why would we consider doing this with women’s rights? What kind of message would that send to our female colleagues? Do our leaders think it makes women feel like the party values them? Reproductive rights are both a moral and an economic issue. “At the core of the Democratic Party is our commitment to a better economic future for the working people of our country. Reproductive choice is fundamental to our platform. One of the most important financial decisions a woman makes is when and how to start a family. It’s also why we recruit pro-choice Democratic women and work tirelessly to elect them — because they stand up for that critical choice,” said Leila McDowell, a spokeswoman with EMILY’s List.
“Throwing weight behind anti-choice candidates is bad politics that will lead to worse policy,” said Mitchell Stille, who oversees campaigns for NARAL Pro-Choice America. “The idea that jettisoning this issue wins elections for Democrats is folly contradicted by all available data.” Member of the Iowa Democratic Party Progressive Caucus Brian MacLaine made the following statement, “It’s regressive. Anyone who states they are “pro-life”, personally or otherwise, as far as I’m concerned, is unfit to govern because they feel it is within their power to force their will on a human being.” I agree with Brian. If a leader is willing to throw one group under the bus, how can we trust them to protect the rights of other groups?
“If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them” – Paul Wellstone.
Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Progressive Caucus