American politics is turning into Starbucks

Supporters attend a rally held by Planned Parenthood in Sacramento. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

On the evidence of an October 2017 vote — concerning legislation that would have restricted abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation — there are three pro-life Democrats in the House. On the evidence of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s decision not to endorse one of those representatives — Daniel Lipinski of Illinois — many Democrats wish the count were zero.

This is not, of course, the official Democratic position. When Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez declared last April that support for abortion rights was a litmus test for Democrats, some elected members of the party pushed back, forcing the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to say, “There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates.”

But this is done with a theatrical wink and nod. According to a January count by Vice News, there isn’t a single serious pro-life Democrat running competitively in the 91 House districts that Democrats hope to flip to their column this year. The 2016 Democratic platform called for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funds from paying for most abortions. And there are only three Democratic senators — Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin III and Pennsylvania’s Robert P. Casey Jr. — who have less than a 100 percent lifetime score from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund.

Does this pro-choice orthodoxy hurt Democrats politically? In some places, surely. It is a safe bet that a pro-life Democrat running in the recent Alabama Senate election would have beaten the epically tainted Roy Moore by a healthier margin.

But Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report points out two complicating factors:

First, the heterodoxies of local candidates seem to matter less and less in the way Americans make political choices. Increasingly, Walter says, “all politics is national.” Voters believe that support for any…

Leave a Reply