Pro-Life Democrats Push Anti-Litmus Test, ‘Big Tent’ Strategy in DNC Meeting

Yesterday, a group of leading pro-life Democrats—current and former elected officials, candidates, and activists, including Millennial editor Robert Christian—met with Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez and Deputy Chair Keith Ellison at DNC headquarters to discuss why and how the Democratic Party should once again become an inclusive, big tent party.

The Atlantic offers details of the meeting and Democrats for Life of America’s requests to the DNC:

Democrats for Life of America delivered a list of requests to Perez that the group wants the DNC to fulfill in order to reach out to, and welcome, more pro-life Democrats into the party, according to Day.

A copy of the list shared with The Atlantic calls for “a public statement on the Democratic National Committee website and a letter from the chairman to all state and local party chairs explaining that the party does not support an abortion litmus test and pressuring people to change their position on life” as one in a series of actions the pro-life group wants to see from the DNC. The group also wants the party to drop the section of its platform opposing the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding of abortion in most circumstances….

In addition to ​a request for a statement direct from Perez that the party does not ​​have a litmus test, Democrats for Life’s ​list calls for t​he party to make resources available to support pro-life Democrats. The list asks for “the establishment of a Democratic Pro-Life Political Action Committee to be used specifically to support pro-life Democratic candidates.” It also requests that the 2020 Democratic Party platform be “inclusive to Democrats who oppose abortion,” and calls for eliminating language currently in the 2016 platform “opposing the Hyde Amendment.”

In an interview on Wednesday, Day emphasized that she hopes Tuesday’s meeting will be just the start of a broader conversation within the party over how to expand its coalition to include more pro-life Democrats.

“I think it’s fair to say that we still have a lot of work to do to educate people within the party on what it means to be a pro-life Democrat, and how to win races as a pro-life Democrat,” she said, adding that the meeting was “productive” and that the DNC “heard our concerns on the DNC platform and the DNC message on abortion.”

At Crux, Charles Camosy writes:

The meeting featured a number of voices traditionally muted in our public discourse, including those who take a Pope Francis approach to care of, and protection for, the most vulnerable. This approach not only includes the refugee and immigrant, but also the prenatal child and her mother. All these vulnerable populations have the face of Christ as the least among us.

Perhaps most significantly, the meeting saw two “case studies” presented which emphasized the importance of a big tent for the party.

The first was offered by Jonathan Swinton, who ran for the 2016 Democratic nomination for Senate in Utah. He was actually within 10 points of very conservative Republican incumbent Mike Lee, after starting 30 points behind, and easily got the most votes at the Utah Democratic convention. But big abortion-rights money got behind an extremist named Misty Snow, who made the entire race about abortion.

The state party was too afraid to resist, and Snow won the nomination. But in an epic 50-state strategy failure, she lost the general election by an embarrassing 41 points – the second-worst showing of any Democratic candidate running for a statewide seat in Utah in history.

The second case study offered at the meeting provided a happier example. Former Tennessee pro-life Democrat Lincoln Davis explained that he ran for Congress before enforcement of the current abortion orthodoxy. Nancy Pelosi supported him, because she thought he could actually win. And with good reason: Davis had polled his district and a whopping 87 percent of registered Democrats there identified as pro-life. NARAL spent three million dollars to defeat him, but with the support of the party he won the nomination and ultimately his district.

It was a 50-state strategy win.

This meeting comes in the midst of discussions exploring why Democrats are struggling so badly right now and a recent op-ed from Joe Scarborough who argues:

The party has been on a historic run over the past eight years — all in the wrong direction. Since Barack Obama’s breathtaking victory in 2008, Democrats have been wheezing their way through one political defeat after another. They have lost more than 1,000 state legislative seats and governorships and now control only one-third of the country’s legislative chambers. And it is not just in red or purple states where Democrats’ fortunes have collapsed….

Across the country, Democrats are weaker on the state level than at any time since William McKinley was president. They control fewer governorships than at any time since Woodrow Wilson was in the White House and have forfeited more seats to Republicans in the U.S. House than at any time since Herbert Hoover was elected….

Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006 when their views were out of step with all of New England and most of the Midwest. In that election, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), then the leader of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was canny enough to put aside ideology and recruit pro-gun, antiabortion candidates to pick off conservative seats that would have otherwise been out of reach. Today, the situation is reversed, with many Democratic leaders and activists more focused on ideological purity than on regaining political power.

Continuing on that course will lead to even more Democratic defeats, and to what Democrats fear most: more support in Congress for Trump.