Nicole Colson writes about the Democrats taking a less-than-pro-choice stance on abortion. Take her article at face value and accept its defense of a Democratic Party slide at first blush. Then, ask yourself, why is this happening?
I figure it happens because Democratic Party supporters have no where else to go. They’ve alienated the Greens, and Nader’s progressive independent campaign—both campaigns that might have taken their concerns seriously and worked with them. They ignore the Socialists, and other alternative parties don’t support their pro-choice stance on abortion (Constitution Party, for instance). So, they’ve pinned themselves into a corner.
When one pledges undying loyalty to a political party, one is giving that party permission to work against those values which ostensibly drove one to support the party in the first place. Two and a half years from now, we all know that pro-choice supporters will vote Democrat. Thus, the Democrats can afford to support the invasion and occupation of Iraq and the lies that go with that, running poor people out of personal welfare (AFDC) but continuing billions of dollars in corporate welfare, champion the death penalty (which also adversely affects the poor more than the rich), support stopping universal single-payer health care, and a host of other corporate-friendly ideas the Democrats back. The Democrats can afford to test the waters and see how much further they can distance themselves from a pro-choice abortion stance.
A comparable pickle exists for some of these voters right now: I hear that the so-called “anti-war” crowd is organizing another national march somewhere in the US. It’s bad enough that there have been no such marches in recent memory—the last big one was well before the election and their thunder has almost entirely been forgotten. I figure that a majority of the marchers voted from what are called “safe” states—states which have heavily gerrymandered districts making it possible to know how their electoral votes will be cast before the election. The majority of voters vote from “safe” states. Voting from a “safe” state gives one freedom to vote one’s conscience; anti-war safe state voters had no excuse to vote for Bush or Kerry (virtually every alternative party candidate was anti-war, so there’s plenty of room to be compatible with one’s economic sentiments and still vote against the war).
Given all this freedom to vote one’s values, what are we to make of a majority of anti-war marchers who voted for a pro-war candidate (either Bush or Kerry)? I look forward to the excuses which will attempt to explain how one’s anti-war sentiment can be put on the shelf when one goes to vote and then picked up again when one is comfortably away from the election.
Update: Ralph Nader takes progressive columnists to task for comparable reasons in this essay.