What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 9, 2005

What Do Democrats Stand For?

My "I got you your "pragmatism" right here (grabbing crotch) " post garnered many comments. I believe that this one would best be answered by it's own blog entry:

At 5:36 PM, Patrick said... Maria,
As a pro-life Democrat, I identify with you as a member of a core constiuency that has been kicked in the teeth - repeatedly, to the point that many of us left the Democratic party alltogether. So in an odd way, I feel your pain.

The question we both have to ask of ourselves is are we single-issue advocates, or Party advocates? If one issue (abortion) is what keeps you from voting for Casey, then maybe you're not a Democratic loyalist, but a single issue pro-choicer. That's fine, this is America - not everyone has to be a Democrat.

You listed a lot of volunteer activities that you did for Kerry, but wouldn't do for Casey. I'm willing to bet there are plenty of pro-life Dems who are willing to pick up the slack and perform all of those tasks for Casey - tasks they may not have performed for Kerry.

My point is this: you may not have seen that many pro-life Democrats (or maybe you did, and just didn't know it, since I did all of those tasks myself), but if the Senate candidate was pro-life a whole new pool of volunteers would be available for the campaign. The little things you listed not only help one candidate, but the whole ticket - just like the GOTV work you did for Kerry helped elect Casey and Wagner in 2004. If the Democratic party is seen as open to acitivists from both sides of the abortion question, then the combination of the two will help elect people who agree a heck of a lot more than they disagree.

You say you highly dislike Casey. I think if you got to know his positions on most other issues, you would dislike him a lot less. Maybe even enough to see him as a great alternative to Santorum. And while your taking a second look at Casey, maybe some pro-lifers who are liberal on most other issues might try the same thing and could end up disliking Rendell a little less.

If we all did that, maybe we'd be a majority party again.
Just a thought.
Let me make my position more clear:

- I have certainly voted for people who are personally pro-life for religious reasons but who do not believe that they should impose their religious beliefs on others. Mario Cuomo instantly comes to mind as I lived in NYC for many years. Casey on the other hand has said that he would sign a law to make abortion illegal if it came across his desk.

- As an atheist, I have a huge problem with anyone who tries to legislate their religious beliefs on any topic when legislating that belief would take away someone else's civil rights. This includes any number of issues, such as gay rights, imposing the teaching of Intelligent Design (Creationism), etc.

- As a former Catholic, I know that the Catholic Church's position on birth control is as draconian as its position on abortion so when Casey says he opposes abortion due to his Catholic teachings, BIG alarm bells go off in my head.

- PA is a BLUE STATE with a majority supporting Roe V. Wade. You may believe that enough anti-choice folks will step up to the plate to fill in for the pro-choice folks in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh -- I do not. Furthermore, I see no reason why Republicans in the "T" would switch to vote Democratic simply by running an anti-choice Democrat so I see it as a NET LOSS FOR DEMOCRATS. A BAD, BAD TACTICAL MOVE.

- While many have stated correctly that PA has many Catholics, it has been demonstrated time and again that many of these Catholic Democrats will vote for a pro-choice candidate; otherwise Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Specter, Ridge and Rendell would not have won here.

- On a purely tactical basis, I could see (bending over backwards on my beliefs) by potentially supporting a self-described pro-life candidate in a RED area or RED State. I am saying, however, that it makes no sense for The Powers That Be to actively back an anti-choice candidate in a BLUE State and for them to try to further push for an uncontested primary (as Reid, Schumer and Rendell are doing). Morever, they not only backed Casey, they pushed him to run.

- As a Democrat, I will work to keep my party headed in the direction that I believe it should go -- that is Democrats support JUSTICE and FREEDOM. That encompasses social justice (including the right for women to control their own bodies), economic justice, environmental justice, etc. It also includes supporting religious freedom which I believe (and the Constitution backs me on this) the right to practice religion as well as the right to practice no religion and the right not to have someone else's religious beliefs imposed on you.

- When I see my party going astray in these areas, it is my duty as a Democrat to let my extreme displeasure be heard. If I don't, then I believe I am being a bad Democrat. If I don't voice my disagreement with my party then I might as well become a Dito Head-style Republican.

- I would dispute any implication that the party is not a Big Tent -- I would present Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (who is anti-abortion) as a good example of that.

If YOU had an overwhelming objection to a particular candidate and said that you would find your morals compromised by voting for that candidate, I would not imply that you are not a Democrat. That is what separates Democrats from Republicans -- the refusal to drink the Kool-Aid and march in lockstep. You, and others, have expressed that as a weakness in our party. I however, don't want to wake up one morning and find, like some Republicans have found, that their party has been taken over by one group (in their case that would be the Religious Right).

I do want my party to stand for something.

Many voters in the last election said that they voted for Bush because they believed that he was sincere in his beliefs and that they weren't quite sure what Kerry stood for. I will reassert that the way to keep PA BLUE is to continue to be the party of Justice and Freedom and that we, as a party, have always supported Women's Reproductive Freedom under that umbrella.

I repeat:

The way to beat Santorum is not to back Santorum Lite.

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