The Democratic Party has charted a path forward and it’s a mess. First, the unity tour Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez took with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) was odd, given that Sanders isn’t even a Democrat. It was peppered with boos and heckling of Perez, with the two wings of the party definitely not ready to reconcile. Then, to make things worse, Perez drew his red line on abortion: the DNC will not support any pro-life Democrats. While this was happening, Sanders supports the mayoral candidacy Heath Mello, who is running on Omaha, Nebraska. That caused some heartburn since Mello voted for an ultrasound bill while serving in the state legislature.
Democrats need to regain ground in rural America, and selecting candidates of the EMILY’s List mold certainly isn’t going to help them win back Congress. For Democrats who live in these areas, they know pro-lifers are key in sealing the deal. The Washington Post noted how this abortion drama was a self-inflicted wound, which seems to be starting to fester. Perez said that 25-30 percent of the party really welcomed into the tent. On paper, he’s now the de factor leader, though we’ve had Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) give different remarks on pro-life Democrats, which makes you wonder who is really in charge of the party. And speaking of Pelosi, the Post noted that if Democrats want to ever put her in the House Speaker’s office again, they’d have to reach out to pro-life Democrats [emphasis mine]:
This seems to be mostly a Perez flub. His line in the sand was a highly questionable political strategy from the moment he drew it. Regardless of how you feel about abortion, the fact remains that many Democrats describe themselves as "pro-life." Pew Research Center polling has generally showed about 3 in 10 Democrats say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases (though it ticked down to 18 percent in October). A Fox News poll last September put the figure at 27 percent.
And African Americans and Hispanics are particularly conservative on this issue, with a Pew poll in January showing 35 percent of blacks and 49 percent of Hispanics saying abortion should be mostly illegal. A Public Religion Research Institute poll in 2015 showed 32 percent of black Democrats opposed abortion in most or all cases.
Perez was basically declaring that a position held by 1 in 5 or 1 in 4 Democrats and lots of blacks and Hispanics is not a valid position in his party. "Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health," he said.
Pelosi knows drawing that line is not helpful. She became speaker, after all, in large part thanks to Democrats running candidates who were conservative on social issues like abortion in Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina and along the Rust Belt. Without winning in those areas, Democrats can't win the House, and she can't be speaker again.