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September 15, 2005

Walking Away is No Answer

Trish Wilson is declaring that I'm Not Going To Be A Dem Much Longer because the Dems are not defending abortion rights and defeating John Roberts.

What can be done to defeat Roberts is dependent on holding any potential defecting conservative Dem Senators, not on what most Dems wants, so it seems like an odd test. I agree that abortion rights are crucial and they have been argued over extensively in Roberts hearings, but I wonder why "wooing women" is reduced to that issue alone? Roberts has a terrible record on equal pay and other discrimination issues.

And frankly, basic issues of the minimum wage and labor rights are crucial to women who make up much of the working poor, yet I continue to hear even liberal feminists extolling Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, despite her absolutely horrible record on workers' issues?

I'm all for kicking the Dems to be more aggressive, but I wonder what folks who talk about "walking away from the Dems" really mean?

Does Trish mean she is abandoning the labor folks, gay activists, poverty organizers and others still struggling to win primaries to elect better people? Does it mean she will support pro-choice Republicans who will vote to kill labor rights, as a Lincoln Chafee has repeatedly?

This is not a question of subordinating reproductive rights to other issues, but recognizing that NO progressive issues are getting much traction at the federal level these days.

But I might note that if you want to measure what the Democratic position on reproductive rights is, look to states that have had full control of the government by Democrats, like California before Arnie took over. Look at this list of legislation passed by Dems then, including on abortion rights:

• Addressing the increasing shortage of trained providers, it became the first state in the nation to require that all accredited medical schools offer abortion training.
• To protect providers from violence, the state passed tough new privacy protections for the personal information of providers.
• Medical professionals are now required to provide any female rape victim emergency contraception upon request and, more generally, nurses as well as doctors have the right to prescribe the abortion pill mifepristone.
• To guard against any ruling by the Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade was written into law in the state.
I think Kos's language attacking the Human Rights Campaign and NARAL for their political judgment is overly abrasive but there is truth that the progressives can't win on any issue consistently unless they control the government.

And walking away because the party out of power can't exercise power is not a punishment to the elected leaders, who will keep receiving their paychecks.

Walking away is a punishment of the rest of the progressive activists who need help winning more elections so that the assault on all our communities is ended.

Posted by Nathan at September 15, 2005 03:49 PM