Recently, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Chairman Ben Ray Luján announced that the Democratic Party would no longer enforce an ideological “litmus test” for abortion. This political about-face enables the otherwise long endangered species of pro-life Democrats to now receive party-sponsored campaign funding. While this reversal of long-enforced party dogma may seem anachronistic when set against the rising tide of far left progressivism that animates much of the Democratic base, it may, in fact, be a clear admission that despite President Donald Trump’s continued below-average approval, the likelihood of a Democratic majority re-emerging in 2018 will require a reinvigoration of the Blue Dog coalition strategy that was championed under Rahm Emanuel during the administration of George W. Bush. Ultimately, however, this was decimated by the Obama Coalition which saw the greatest reduction in Democratic national and statewide officials in over 100 years.
This policy has obviously come under much duress by the extremely progressive, pro-choice movement that has been backing the Democrats. Chairman Lujan said in response, “We will have to win in very tough, diverse, swing, Republican-held districts across the country. Ultimately, the people in districts across the country will determine who will take on the Republican incumbent.”
By taking such an extreme stance against any reasonable restrictions on abortion, Democrats have alienated much of their base and only appeal to the more progressive areas of the United States such as urban areas and college campuses, thus costing them a majority in the House and Senate.
While on the opposing side, National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL) National Campaigns Director Mitchell Stille said, “The idea that jettisoning this issue wins elections for Democrats is fully contradicted by all available data, A small minority of voters vote strictly on an anti-choice platform. Those same voters just aren’t going to vote for Democrats anyway.” These opposing ideas represent the greater identity crisis facing the nation’s Democratic party and the continual fallback from the collapse of the Blue Dog Coalition during the Obama Administration.
When President Obama came into office there were forty House members who identified as pro-life Democrats, and who in turn put up a fight during the Obamacare vote due to lack of Hyde Protections in the bill. Currently, there are only two Democrats in the House who identify as pro-life. Rep. Dan Lipinski being one of them, who notoriously voted against the Obamacare bill, is currently being targeted in his 2018 midterm by the Planned Parenthood- and Emily’s List-endorsed candidate. This reversal of the litmus test will allow for members such as Lipinski to receive funding, which is one of the reasons why pro-life Democrats have been greatly set back. A clear example of this is that in the 2016 election cycle, the Democrats for Life PAC spent a grand total of $363.00 compared to Emily’s List PAC which spent $45 million. There is an extreme lack of funding for these centrist Democrats, but if the thirty- eight pro-life Democrats were to be re-elected, the Democrats would be able to retake the House by five seats.
By taking such an extreme stance against any reasonable restrictions on abortion, Democrats have alienated much of their base and only appeal to the more progressive areas of the United States such as urban areas and college campuses, thus costing them a majority in the House and Senate. This strategic move by the DCCC could assist Democrats in reclaiming Congress if people within the party are willing to move more to the center and reinstate the Blue Dog Coalition to appeal to a broader base.