Last week, DNC Chairman Tom Perez made headlines for a statement suggesting pro-life Democrats ought to be ousted from the party, so that Democrats could maintain a single message. Some responded with outrage, like former pro-life Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak, who said that the chairman should “take a hike” and that he “has no business being the head of our party.”
But the real surprise came by way of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s reaction to Perez’s mandate. In an interview with The Washington Post, Pelosi directly contradicted Perez’s statement and said not only that the Democratic Party should not have such a rigid line drawn when it comes to the issue of abortion, but that Democrats’ radicalism on social issues, including abortion, were part of the reason they lost in 2016. “This is the Democratic Party. This is not a rubber-stamp party,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi reminisced on her Maryland hometown and her family, which she described as devoutly Catholic, fiercely patriotic, and mostly anti-abortion, despite being staunchly Democratic. “You think I’m kicking them out of the Democratic Party?” Pelosi remarked.
“You know what? That’s why Donald Trump is president of the United States — the evangelicals and the Catholics, anti-marriage equality, anti-choice. That’s how he got to be president,” she said. “Everything was trumped, literally and figuratively by that.”
And Pelosi is exactly right. While many have suggested that Democrats lost in 2016 purely based on economic issues, Democrats have been quite reluctant to admit that social issues played a large part in Trump’s victory as well.
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National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL) President Ilyse Houge responded by bashing Pelosi’s comments on Twitter, asserting she was wrong to imply that Democrats should soften their stance on the issue of abortion:
No Leader Pelosi, we cannot and will not win elections by sacrificing women’s fundamental rights. https://t.co/9b1y6Ecdkf
— ilyse hogue (@ilyseh) May 3, 2017
Nevertheless, it seems as though some Democrats are finally coming to terms with the real reasons they lost big in 2016, and the answer isn’t Russia.
The Democratic Party has lost social conservatives who, while sympathetic to Democrats on many issues, have been turned off by the extreme positions candidates have taken on abortion and LGBT issues. However, with the DNC chairman now trying to shun pro-life party members, Democrats clearly still have a long way to go if they want to come out on top in 2020.
Photo credit: US Department of Labor via Flickr, CC BY 2.0