The Plight of the Democratic Party

by Matt Tuman

Today’s front-page article of the Washington Post discussed the enormous electoral losses Democrats have taken since President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009. Since then, Democrats have lost 13 Senate seats, 69 House Seats, 913 state legislative seats, 11 governorships and 32 state legislative chambers.

The natural question that follows is, “How did this happen?”

Pro-life Democrats have been alienated from the Democratic Party. The 2012 Democratic platform stated the party “strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade” and “opposes any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.” With this uncompromising stance, the party excludes over one third of all Democrats. In a CNN/ORC poll released last year, 36 percent of Democrats said that abortion should be illegal before the fetus is viable. The Democratic Party cannot thrive when it ostracizes such a large part of its membership.

During the debate over the Affordable Care Act, 64 House Democrats voted for the Stupak Amendment in late 2009. This amendment prohibited the use of federal funds to “pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion.” The Republicans exploited the Democratic Party’s radicalization of their position on abortion and tied even the most pro-life democrat to the perceived “abortion to the 9th month for any reason” philosophy. Of those 64 Democrats, 50 are no longer in office, and Republicans now control 44 of those 50 seats.

Losing those pro-life Democrats has cost the Democratic Party their House majority. If Democrats want to retake not only Congress, but also state legislative chambers and governor’s mansions, they need to create a big tent to work with pro-life Democrats. Without electing pro-life Democrats, we would not have been able to pass the Violence Against Women Act, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Affordable Care Act. No group can function to its fullest potential without the sum of its parts. It is for this reason that we believe the path forward to new and continued Democratic majorities is to open the big tent to Pro-Life Democrats. Only by working together can the Democratic Party strengthen and thrive.