When Republicans nominated the most unpopular candidate for president since Barry Goldwater, pundits believed it was a sure thing that Democrats would retake the United States Senate. Rather than appeal to independents and soft Republicans, Democrats continued with a losing strategy.
They nominated a slate of U.S. Senate candidates – many of whom lost their own re-elections just six years ago – who believe in late-term abortion and taxpayer funding of abortion. The national Democratic message stressed the importance of nominating pro-choice Supreme Court justices and repealing the Hyde Amendment. It once again backfired in purple states.
Our party should not be content being a coastal party and needs to recognize that the bi-coastal messaging does not play in the heartland. Candidates matter. And if the Democratic Party continues to run radically pro-choice candidates in pro-life states, we will never win a majority of seats in the U.S. Senate.
During the Democratic National Convention, Democrats for Life of America issued the “Open the Big Tent” report, which lays out the correlation between the decline of the pro-life Democratic members of Congress and the total number of Democratic members. We thought these numbers could not go any lower, but this election cycle produced three more Republican governors, giving Republicans their highest number in history.
The Democratic Party needs to win again so that a united party can fight for the party’s key economic issues that sustained it in the past: the right to organize labor, the minimum wage, and Social Security. Pro-life and pro-choice Democrats can work together to achieve these goals.
But we cannot do that as a minority party. We must do three things to win again:
- Change the party platform to acknowledge our pro-life members and to protect religious conscience
- Resurrect the “fifty state strategy” while recruiting candidates who reflect their districts’ values
- Eliminate the litmus test for pro-life candidates.
The last four election cycles have taught us this:
It is time for the Democratic Party to return to its economic and human- rights roots as exemplified by former pro-life Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, who said, “The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadow of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.”
There were 6 million fewer Democratic voters in 2016 than in 2012. Many of those voters were people I spoke with or have heard from over the past few months. They are concerned that our party has lost its way. They expressed hesitancy about supporting a candidate who supported late-term abortions. They were looking for other options.
We call on our Democratic Party to be representative of the one-third of our members who define themselves as pro-life and to open the big tent to every American who feels politically homeless after this divisive campaign. If we bring pro-life Democrats home in 2020, we can take back the White House.