Democrats for Life: Part II. The Road Ahead
believe this is too grim an appraisal—and Flynn himself sounds more optimistic on other occasions—it is true that pro-life Democrats in Congress need to be bolder. They especially need to demand seats on the Judiciary and other key committees. And activists who are looking for new candidates need to find people who, as Joseph Barrett said, "understand that there's a brawl going on."33 They need candidates who are willing to take on pro-abortion incumbents in primaries. Defeating a few of them would challenge the aura of invincibility that abortion forces have acquired within the party.
This is not to say that pro-life Democrats should have a chip on their collective shoulder. As shown in Texas, Michigan and New York, some party leaders believe in free speech and fair play and do not want to lose party members. But there are also areas where pro-life Democrats will encounter great hostility from party leaders. They will need firm support systems and real courage to deal with the hostility.
They might look to athletics for good role models. Ray Flynn, who was a sports star in his college days, once said that his experience as an athlete was a great preparation for politics: "You practice, sweat, there's pain. You go out on the court and lose. And you pick yourself up. You look for the next game. You don't dwell on the losses. You move forward. . . . you get hit in the nose with an elbow, you take the towel, wipe away the blood, and get back out in the field.34"
Or, as tennis great Serena Williams once told her sister Venus when the latter was hurt during a match, "You are a champion; now fight." Venus made a gallant comeback, leading another Williams sister to say that "after seeing what she did, I feel like I can do anything. I am never going to quit at anything again."35
A Presidential Candidate?
In early 2003 Michael Schwartz—a Democrat, longtime anti-abortion activist and Washington, D.C., lobbyist—said he would like to see a pro-life Democrat run in the 2004 presidential primaries. There is "nothing like a presidential campaign," he said, "to bring people out, to get volunteers identified, to get them some experience, and to build those networks." He thought there would be money to support such a campaign. But, he added, he was not speaking of a "George Bush, gilt-edged campaign. After all, the objective is less to win the nomination of your party, or to win the general election, than it is to organize a constituency. . . . And a people-intensive campaign can achieve wonderful things at a very low cost."36
Former Representative LaFalce, noting the "principle of divide and conquer," ventured that if there were ten candidates, and only one committed to the pro-life cause, and if that one were "consistently pro-life . . . he would not be against gun control, for example, and therefore frighten off the Democratic base—then I think that candidate could do quite well."
Joseph Barrett suggested that a conservative or moderate Democrat could make a serious fight for the nomination if he had a few million dollars in funding guaranteed at the start. Barrett realizes, though, that it's hard to raise money for candidates at any level.37
Democratic officeholders generally were reserved about the idea of a challenge in the presidential primaries. But Representative Ken Lucas of Kentucky, who believes "pro-life Democrats have to be more outspoken in the party," thinks a presidential campaign "would help raise awareness of the commitment of pro-life party members and help advance a grassroots movement." Nebraska's Senator Ben Nelson said "a credible candidate, I think, would be helpful," but warned that "a non-credible candidate would do our cause harm."38
"I'd do it myself," declared Ray Flynn. "The problem is, I just don't have the money . . ." If he had been in the presidential race at the time, he claimed, he would have shown up at the NARAL Pro-Choice America fundraiser in Washington, D.C., in early 2003. Instead of "pandering" to NARAL, as he believes Democratic presidential candidates did then, Flynn would have told them "what I'm saying to you. I'm saying I'm pro-life, and I'm proud of it, but I'm a Democrat as well . . . and we have to give people a broader choice in the Democratic Party. We can't continue to drive working-class, blue-collar, pro-life people out of the party."39
In the absence of a political professional to do the job, Philadelphia pro-lifer William Devlin was planning, in the fall of 2003, to run in the Democratic presidential primaries. Devlin, who works for the Urban Family Council in Philadelphia, is focused mainly on pro-life and pro-family issues. He has served as a Democratic precinct committeeman, but has never held public office. Although he had no money for a campaign when interviewed in the early fall, he hoped to raise enough to make a formal announcement in ...
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