Saturday, June 17, 2017

More Anti-Choice Democrats Sneaking Under The Flaps Of The Big Tent


Svaty and Perriello-- women aren't safe

Many progressives were upset the Tom Perriello lost the Virginia gubernatorial nomination— and pretty handily-- to Lt. Governor Ralph Northam, 276,734 (55.5%) to 221,777 (44.5%). During the primary campaign, Northam raised $6,465,581.36 and Perriello raised $4,089,566.22. Northam is a pretty standard conservative Southern Democrat but claims too have moved left in recent years. I can’t vouch for that; never met the guy and his record is not the record of anyone I’d ever vote for. Perriello I know better. He played the role of progressive during the primary-- and even had support from Bernie and from a gaggle of progressive groups. But not from Blue America. We learned out lesson long ago. We were one of the first organizations to endorse him when he ran for Congress in 2008. It didn’t take long before we were very sorry we did.

It turned out to be pretty weak in the knees and often buckled to vote for conservative positions that were at odds with what he had told us during the endorsement process. He ran up a mediocre voting record and proven himself to be a shady politician with an insupportable character. The breaking point came when he went back on a very specific pledge he made to us about never voting to restrict a women’s right to choice. He voted with the Republicans to do just that.

When Perriello first solicited an endorsement from Blue America, we were very wary because it had been pointed out that he opposed women's right to Choice. He insisted his position had been misrepresented. He kept calling and calling and then visited my house. On February 27, 2008, Tom did a guest post here at DWT and he addressed concerns about Choice head-on:
Confusion ...[about] my position on abortion may stem either from my public association with Catholicism as co-founder of the progressive Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good or from being badly misquoted in a New York Times article following the 2004 election. I firmly believe that abortion should not be criminalized, nor can we allow any action that seeks to coerce women by reducing access to care or making the process less safe.
The emphasis is mine. But that is exactly what the Stupak-Pitts amendment he voted for did, and quite intentionally, and Perriello was well aware of that. So we didn’t endorse him for the gubernatorial race and none of his weeped when he lost to Northam. Honesty, integrity and character are important-- more important than a label claiming “progressivism,” especially when Perriello’s actual voting record is at odds with superficial reporters claiming he’s a progressive without digging around at all. It would have been hard to imagine getting behind Perriello, not because Northam is any better on the issues-- they’re probably about the same-- but because he doesn’t smell trustworthy to me. As for Bernie, he should have known better.

And that brings us to Josh Svaty, an overtly anti-choice Democrat in Kansas is running for governor in another contested primary. Erin Heger filed a report for Rewire this week. “Former Kansas legislator Josh Svaty,” she wrote, “supported the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which defines life beginning at fertilization. He made ten anti-choice votes during his time in the Kansas house from 2003 to 2009, including voting for a bill allowing an abortion patient’s family member or partner to sue a doctor or support staff to prevent the patient from having an abortion. That measure passed but was vetoed by then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D).”
“Kansas is the wrong place for any candidate like Svaty who has consistently voted against one of the loudest majorities PPGPV has seen in its fight for sexual and reproductive health care,” Planned Parenthood Great Plains Votes (PPGPV) President and CEO Laura McQuade said in a blog post.

This is the second time this year an anti-choice Kansas Democrat has sought the party’s nomination. Dennis McKinney, a Democrat who has long opposed abortion rights and drawn support from the anti-choice group Kansans for Life, sought the Democratic nomination for the Fourth Congressional District special election in April. After outcry from activists, pro-choice Democrat James Thompson secured the nomination. While Thompson ended up losing to Republican Ron Estes, the narrow seven point margin of victory in an overwhelmingly red district demonstrates the progress reproductive rights activists have made in Kansas.

“Planned Parenthood has more than 44,000 highly engaged supporters in Kansas,” McQuade said in an email statement. “Access to safe, legal abortion is the will of the majority and a movement that represents a future our country desires. A candidate’s open embrace of abortion rights and support of Planned Parenthood is an asset, not a detriment in the state of Kansas.”

Kansas’ GOP-dominated legislature has enacted 30 abortion restrictions since 2010, when anti-choice Gov. Sam Brownback (R) took office. Kansans for Life in 2012 helped oust many rank-and-file Republicans in primary elections with aggressive campaign tactics, ensuring the legislature would be stocked with virulently anti-choice GOP legislators.

“You find more pro-life Democratic candidates in Kansas than you would perhaps other places,” said Alesha Doan, associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and Administration at the University of Kansas. “It’s not completely unique; there are pro-life Democrats elsewhere and there always have been. But in Kansas, running away from openly supporting reproductive rights is in part political strategy and survival.”

Anti-choice campaign and lobbying tactics, including flyers with vivid imagery and inflammatory language, along with the power and influence of Kansans for Life in the statehouse, have had an impact on how abortion rights are framed in Kansas. Even progressive candidates are sometimes unwilling to support reproductive rights because of this framing, Doan said.

“There’s a tremendous amount of fear because the tactics are really aggressive, and they are more so in Kansas than in other places. As a politician, it’s embarrassing and scary to deal with neighbors receiving awful flyers and your kids being asked questions at school. That kind of harassment has a really big impact on people,” Doan said. “The access anti-choice interest groups have to the governor and legislators also emboldens those groups. But an interest group is only as influential as politicians allow it to be.”

To combat this level of fear, Doan said people should talk more openly about abortion care and reproductive health and separate the stigma and shame associated with these issues.

“Women used to talk about abortion and reproductive health in the 70s and 80s much more openly than they do now, and a big part of that is connecting abortion to shame.” Doan said. “There’s a tremendous amount of silence that has fallen over this issue and as a result you hear one particular narrative.”

Although the Kansas Democratic Party platform includes support for reproductive rights, Svaty told the Kansas City Star in May that he believes he is “like many Kansans” in being “right down the middle on this issue.” However, a majority of Kansans support keeping abortion safe and legal, according to a poll conducted last fall by Public Policy Polling.

For Democrats in Kansas who hold reproductive rights as core values, the primary election is an opportunity to demonstrate what kind of candidate they want, said Burdett Loomis a political science professor at the University of Kansas.

“Svaty’s position is a very difficult one to sell among Democratic voters,” Loomis told Rewire. “Some people might look at this and say the fact that we’re talking about abortion as an election issue for Democrats is kind of unusual. That’s why you have primary elections. Kansas Democrats can express themselves and I think that primary is very much worth having.”

Two-term Democratic Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer is also running for governor, and while he hasn’t officially filed, Kansas House Minority Leader Jim Ward has also expressed interest in running. Ward has a pro-choice voting record. Brewer has not publicly stated his position on abortion rights.

“Reproductive rights are fundamental to the progress of women in Kansas... To treat the issue as anything less is to tell women they aren’t important to the [Democratic] party,” McQuade said. “Moreover, race, gender, and economic status are tied together. We would never dream of sidelining racial justice nor economic justice in our progressive movement, and neither should we marginalize reproductive rights.”
If people who are anti-Choice (or anti-gay or anti-Semitic or racist or whatever) feel for some crazy reason they’d rather be in the Democratic Party than the Republican Party, that doesn’t bother me all that much-- as long as they’re not put forward as party leaders and wind up in a position too further muddy the very muddied Democratic Party brand.

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At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You ought to consult Lakoff.

I'd suggest framing the issue as one of privacy rather than choice, that can, and is, twisted into "choice to kill 'babies'."

John Puma

At 12:30 PM, Anonymous Tom Wakely said...

We have a prolife candidate running on the Democratic party ticket for Governor here in Texas and a fellow running for Lt. Gov. who says after 30 yrs he's no longer a Republican, but voted for Romney just over 4 yrs ago. His website is vague on issues. We also just elected a republican who ran in the Democratic primary to the state legislature. Another Republican running for Congress who says Regan is the best president we ever had. Anyone starting to see a pattern emerging here in Texas?

At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Tom Wakely. I see that the pattern is now that relatively moderate Republicans are running as Democrats because they aren't radical enough to run as Republicans - and that the Democratic Party isn't lifting a finger to defend their brand - or more importantly, We the People- from such DINOS.

Just another reason to forget about the Democrats and move on to forming a new party.

At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bingo, again, 2:30.

DUH!! Tom Wakely. It's fucking texas!

JP, you could also equate anti-choice as anti-woman.

However, you won't appeal to many more either way. Everyone who created and regularly affirmed PATRIOT, FISA and a number of other bills that repudiate our 4th amendment has enjoyed a long career and many re-elections. When Snowden's whisle-blowing SHOULD have resulted in 100 million marching on DC, by contrast it ended up only making Snowden flee for his life to Moscow.

This proves that privacy doesn't mean shit to voters, or anyone really.

And as the 'abortion' issue in many elections since the late '70s has proven, nobody outside of the furthest left give one flying fuck about women either.
Indeed, this prez was elected partly BECAUSE he boasted about abusing women.


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