November 30, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) - President Barack Obama told ABC’s Barbara Walters in a recent interview that he is “extraordinarily proud” of the new national health care reform. Perhaps he is also proud that his signature initiative led to an enormous disaster for Democrats nationally – a veritable “death panel” for pro-life or conservative-leaning ‘Blue Dog’ Democrats.
Most pro-life, conservative caucuses within the Democratic Party have been effectively purged from Capitol Hill. Those that remain have far less clout than before. Once the health care bill was passed, these majority-making groups, many of whom were recruited by Rahm Emmanuel to defeat Republicans in 2006 and 2008, lost their usefulness to Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The pro-life Democrats and Blue Dog Democrats proved an irritating obstacle in the wheels of the “reform” sought by Obama. The fiscally conservative Blue Dog coalition folded first, leaving it up to pro-life Rep. Bart Stupak to keep the pro-life Dem vote together for months – that is until the Catholic Health Association, together with a bunch of leftist nuns, and the Obama-Pelosi machine finally combined forces to splinter it to pieces days before the final vote on March 21.
Less than eight months later: the pro-life and/or conservative Democrats made up more than half of the 62 seats picked by the GOP in November’s midterm elections. The Republicans now control the House, and with it comes arguably the most pro-life Congress to date.
But the pro-life movement should prudently consider that Obama or Pelosi made a calculated gambit to lose control of the House. Politics is played like chess – the moves, the traps, and the path to checkmate are planned and weighed many turns in advance by a skilled player. Both Obama and Pelosi are adept at this game, and did not rise to the top by mere accident.
I think it very probable Obama and Pelosi made a short term sacrifice of the House in exchange for an ideologically purer party; a new party that would be ready to take over when voters sour on the GOP. A party with a transformational agenda unencumbered by pesky Dems – whether pro-life or conservative, or both.
Stupak’s pro-life GOP colleague Rep. Joe Pitts (Penn.) made a prediction along these lines back in April, when Stupak suddenly announced his retirement.
“Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders are creating a party that no longer has room for moderates or pro-lifers,” Pitts warned.
And what a prediction: the Blue Dogs were politically neutered in the election. They lost over half their caucus (only 23 members out of its 54 member caucus were re-elected) and two leaders, Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (S.D.) and Baron Hill (Ind.) At least 23 pro-life Democrats have been numbered among the casualties, including 8 members of the Stupak 12 that held out for so long against passage of the Affordable Care Act, until they caved on March 21. Even Stupak’s seat (Mich.-01) – a safe pro-life, working class Democrat district – went to the GOP.
The big winner in November was the Democrats’ Progressive Caucus, which lost a comparative few. Rep. Heath Schuler could only wage a token campaign to replace Pelosi as minority leader, and admitted the votes he needed were lost in the Nov. 2 GOP wave. He failed to unseat Pelosi by a whopping 43 – 150 margin.
I honestly do not know what makes a pro-life Democrat like Heath Schuler feel he has anything in common with a pro-abortion, radical leftist like Nancy Pelosi. But if conservative, pro-life Democrats are to survive in that party, they had better assert some strong independence now or begin to organize a massive leadership coup to take power away from the party’s national pro-abortion, leftist leaders.
The pro-life movement should be thinking now how to avoid checkmate at the hands of the most pro-abortion U.S. president since Roe v. Wade. Obama has sacrificed some 62 pawns this time, but it is likely a tactical defeat for the sake of an overall strategic victory. Pro-life fortunes have been too closely tied up with the fate of the GOP, and they sunk disastrously in the 2006 and 2008 elections as voters became angry with the GOP over the U.S.’s prolonged involvement in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and especially the economic crisis.
The National Rifle Association drew a lot of flack this election cycle for endorsing pro-gun Democrats running for national office. One of them is newly-elected Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia (who is pro-life, although some pro-life advocates have questioned the depth of his commitment). But the NRA explained that they wanted to diversify the ranks of supporters in both parties and avoid the situation where they could not defend their issues, because their political fortunes were tied with the fortunes of the party that fell.
The NRA has grasped that GOP majorities do not last forever. The pro-life movement had better realize that and act on it. And something must be done, even if it starts with rebuilding the Democratic Party from the bottom up to break the financial grip of the party’s major pro-abortion donors. A new grassroots pro-life Democratic leadership starts by getting pro-life members to step up and run locally in everything from the PTA board to the local dog catcher.
No doubt the solution requires a serious amount of thought and effort. But it’s imperative. State pro-life leaders need to find ways to recruit and support local pro-life Democrat leaders who will throw down the gauntlet to the Nancy Pelosis in their party and fight to bring their party back to its original pro-life soul.
Some pro-life advocates said in the emotional aftermath of the Stupak deal and subsequent health care law’s passage, “there is no such thing as a pro-life Democrat.” That did a great disservice to the hard work by many strong pro-life Democrats in state governments authoring and enacting pro-life legislation, especially in the South. Additionally, a number of pro-life Democrats on Capitol Hill stayed true to their principles, and voted against the bill, and against Stupak, well aware that the executive order he obtained from Obama didn’t stop the bill’s ticking time bomb of abortion funding.
Planned Parenthood and company is waiting for the Affordable Care Act’s abortion money bomb to go off with the stroke of a pen cancelling Stupak’s executive order. The pro-life movement can give itself some more insurance if they can prevent Obama (and Pelosi) from saying of the next Democratic Congress, “there is no such thing as a pro-life Democrat.”