Democrats for Life: Part II. The Road Ahead
get pretty much into the second stage of the French Revolution, where everybody was equal, especially after they had their heads cut off."26
This does not mean, however, that NRLC has always approached the issue in the best way. Alienating congressional Democrats such as Charles Stenholm and Marion Berry was a major mistake, one that reinforced suspicions of a deep NRLC bias against Democrats. NRLC leaders should remember that one of their Republican heroes, President George W. Bush, signed the McCain-Feingold bill into law despite his reservations about its constitutionality.27 In view of their relative political power, Bush bears far more responsibility for McCain-Feingold than Stenholm and Berry do.
Needed: Another Political Action Committee (PAC)
Relations between National Right to Life and pro-life Democrats are likely to undergo more strain from time to time, but both sides realize that there are opportunities for cooperation as well. The National Right to Life PAC director attended the June 2003, Democrats for Life fundraiser—where, ironically, Mr. Stenholm received a Leadership Award.28
Yet Democrats for Life leaders know they must set up their own PAC, raise their own political money, and recruit like-minded Democrats to run for office. Their opposition within the Democratic Party is incredibly well-organized and wealthy. As noted in the first part of this series, Emily's List alone raised nearly $10 million in 2001-2002 for Democratic women candidates who supported abortion. "Many Democrats are terrified of Emily's List," Minnesota's Janet Robert remarked, adding that "until there's money available to help Democrats who are pro-life, they're going to have trouble." Former U.S. Representative John LaFalce of New York said that "we need Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals for life" to contribute to candidates who face "uphill odds" in Democratic primary campaigns.29
Democrats for Life would like to have a PAC in place for the 2004 elections; but, executive director Day explained, "We don't have any deadlines set yet. We just are working on building our membership, building our office, building our state chapters . . . when we have a good base, then we'll start a PAC." They have, in fact, very little money even for their basic organizational work. Their goal for 2003 was to have a budget of $100,000. That sum is "infinitesimal in Washington, isn't it?" asked board member Thea Rossi Barron of Virginia.30
In addition to establishing a basic operating budget, and raising money for a PAC, Democrats for Life needs to recruit more candidates at all levels. "We are going to encourage the election of credible, across-the-board, full-service candidates," said Karen Wheeler, the California activist, "ones who are pro-life and who also take the stands on other social-justice and domestic issues that have been the traditional mainstay of the Democratic Party." Might she consider running for office herself? Not yet, she said. She's taking time out from her legal career to be at home with her two small children. Wheeler also believes she needs more political experience before running for office: "I have years of working in the trenches ahead of me before that ever happens." Lois Kerschen would probably be an excellent candidate; she is articulate, attractive, and a good "people person." But, she insisted, "I am strictly a behind-the-scenes—and the further behind the scenes, the better—kind of person . . . Unfortunately, I do not have the talents to be a candidate."31 Whether from outside their ranks or within them, Democrats for Life should be able to find good candidates.
Where such candidates run in culturally-conservative areas, they may receive party support as well. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, for example, sometimes gives substantial financial aid to pro-life U.S. House candidates when party leaders realize this is their only chance to win certain districts. But this doesn't represent any change of heart on abortion. Party operatives undoubtedly realize that if the anti-abortion candidates win and help the Democrats take back the House, they can be kept off committees—such as Judiciary—which determine the fate of abortion legislation. When Democrats have controlled one or both houses of Congress, they have used this and other power plays to stop anti-abortion bills. Now Democratic leaders in the Senate are blocking consideration of key Bush appointments to federal appeals courts in order to prevent a reversal of Roe v. Wade. This is a major reason why National Right to Life is wary about supporting anti-abortion Democrats in congressional races.
Raymond Flynn and Mark Stricherz have declared pro-life Democrats in Congress "a dying breed," with "no firebrands among their ranks." They "include popular, honorable politicians," but they are "not overly courageous ones."32 While I ...
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Featured Today
- Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
- My Dad
- A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
- John Paul II as an Apostle of Mercy
- Embrace every moment as sacred time
- A Recession Antidote
- The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
- Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
- Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
- Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience