Saturday, August 23, 2003
short follow-up story in today's Strib and a longer article in the Pioneer Press.
Political pundits often suggest that the life issue is somehow a liability for the Republican Party, but at least a few prominent Democrats think the DFL is in political trouble on this issue. For example, according to the Pioneer Press article:
The DFL has lost the governorship and seats in the Legislature and Congress in recent years. To stop the losses, [St. Paul Mayor Randy] Kelly said the DFL must invite blue-collar, anti-abortion Democrats back to the party.
"If a study of American history teaches us anything, it (is) that to remain a viable party you must appeal to a broad range of voters, and your efforts, energy and message must be one that is welcoming, inclusive and tolerant of ideas and views," he said.
"I fear as a lifelong Democrat … that the DFL Party has become less and less hospitable to officeholders and candidates who hold the majority view that abortion is not the preferred answer for unwanted pregnancies."
However, I think some Democrats are correctly skeptical of the prospects of bringing pro-life voters back to the DFL. Once again, from the Pioneer Press:
But for years, the DFL platform has staunchly defended abortion rights, and the party has not endorsed an anti-abortion candidate for governor or U.S. senator since 1990. As a result, Democrats who oppose abortion have left the party in droves.
"The party has made it very clear that we are not welcome there," said Leo LaLonde of Aurora, longtime chairman of the DFL Pro-Life Caucus.
As recently as the 1980s, anti-abortion forces made up 45 percent of the delegates to state DFL conventions, LaLonde said. Now they compose about 15 percent of the delegates. At the urging of DFL officers, "a lot of our leaders have gone down the street" to join the GOP, he said.
LaLonde can't imagine how Democrats for Life could attract those deserters back.
Neither can Bolores McClernon, a Democrat-turned-Republican from Tintah. As an anti-abortion DFLer, she said, "we worked our heads off for our pro-life issues, but we could get nowhere." So she switched parties in the mid-1970s.
Since then, DFL abortion-rights advocates have become "much more strident," she said. "I think it (Democrats for Life) is a real boondoggle because it's never going to happen."
And it's not as if the pro-abortion forces in the DFL are going to welcome in the "anti-choicers" in with open arms.
For different reasons, some DFL leaders hope McClernon is right. Jeri Rasmussen of Shoreview, a co-founder of the DFL Feminist Caucus, said the new group will "sow strong seeds of dissension" in the party. If they succeed, she said, they will "drive women and thinking men from the party."
I'm not a liberal, but it is nice to see some of them being consistent in their claims to stand up for the rights of the truly powerless. As I suggested yesterday, though, I am with those who doubt that anything is going to change about virulent pro-abortion stance of the top levels of the Democratic Party.
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