Schumer is not the only Democrat to make himself politically vulnerable. Rep. Tim Ryan, the Democratic candidate for the Ohio Senate seat, dodged a direct question from Fox News host Bret Baier about whether Ryan would support any restrictions on abortion by saying that he would leave the decision to the woman and her doctor. White House press secretary Jen Psaki also swerved when Fox News reporter Peter Doocy asked about President Biden‘s position. She repeatedly refused to commit Biden to support any limit on abortion, instead referring Doocy to the president’s previous statements without giving specifics. In politics, if you avoid a straight answer to a question, it’s usually because you don’t want the public to know what it is about.
It may seem odd that Democrats are contorting themselves into pretzels to avoid saying they oppose late-term abortions. But that makes perfect sense given that about half of Democrats don’t believe in any abortion restrictions. That total rises to 60% among liberal Democrats, according to the latest ABC News-Post poll, and is surely even higher among the party’s abortion rights activists who are most passionate about the issue.
Democratic candidates and office holders must therefore tread carefully if they want to make alleged Republican extremism a problem. If Democrats voice support for their base’s point of view, they give Republicans a powerful argument to use against them. If they voice support for the view held by most Americans and nearly all swing voters, they irritate that base. Hence the abortion reshuffle played out in front of the public every day.
It just won’t fly, especially in critical runs. Republicans will force this question at every opportunity and throw every vote in favor of the Senate bill this week in the faces of Democrats. The more a Democrat tries to procrastinate, the dumber he will look. It’s pretty clear to most Americans that a child who can live outside of its mother’s body shouldn’t be killed. The fact that too many Democrats cannot say this without fear of being ambushed by the left speaks volumes about the Democratic Party today.
It’s not just me, a conservative Republican, who sees this. Matthew Yglesias, a prominent progressive writer and proponent of abortion rights, recently stated this in his newsletter. He notes that more than 90 percent of all abortions are performed in the first trimester and that Democrats could preserve access for the vast majority of women who want abortions if they sacrificed the extreme views that so many Americans abhor.
That Democrats are preparing to completely ignore this advice is instructive. They advocate an unrestricted abortion policy, either because they are afraid of their base or because they believe in it. Either way, that’s not the leadership the Americans want.
It was the same dilemma that scuttled Democrat Stephen A. Douglas’s chance to become president in the 1860 election. able to decide whether or not to allow slavery. He was caught between popular opinion in the North, which thought slavery was wrong, and opinion in the South, which supported it. Douglas tried to appease Southerners by saying he didn’t care whether slavery was voted for or against and to satiate Northerners by saying he would vote to admit a new state with a constitution banning the heinous practice. Instead, his dodge lost North and South and helped elect Abraham Lincoln.
This fall, Republicans should be as persistent as Lincoln in forcing their enemies to choose an abortion between the American majority and the Democratic base. If they do, they should be the political winners, against all odds, of the abortion debate.