Rebecca Hamilton is a former pro-abortion activist and leader. As the Oklahoma Director of NARAL, she helped establish the first abortion clinic in Oklahoma, and she continued her activism after being elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. After experiencing a profound conversion to Christ, voters returned her to office as a pro-life Democrat and she spent twelve years defending life and families in the Oklahoma Legislature. Rebecca left her political career in 2014, and along with the National Catholic Register, she writes at Patheos on her blog Public Catholic.
Recently, Democrats for Life sent me an email asking for money to help a pro-life Democrat who was in a run-off in Louisiana for the United States Senate. I donated money to the guy. It wasn’t much money, but it represented my best wishes and fading hope that we can one day reclaim the Democratic Party for life.
I didn’t pay attention to what happened after that, so it was a while before I learned that the Democrat lost to the Republican in this race, and it was a while after that before I looked into it to see what happened. It turns out that the Democrats practically abandoned their own pro-life candidate — which is emblematic of why so many Christians turned out at the polls in November to vote for a presidential candidate whose moral life might have disqualified him in another era.
These Christians felt compelled to vote for what was essentially the lesser of two evils. The reason they ended up backing Donald Trump was that they honestly (and with good reason) felt that Hillary Clinton was bound to continue the invidious attacks on them and their ability to practice their faith without government harassment that was so aggressively promoted during the Obama administration.
The behavior of the national Democratic Party leadership in the election in Louisiana underscores and upholds that fear.
The United States Senate is almost at a tie, with the number tipping by what before the election was a slender balance of one or two votes in favor of the Republicans. What that means is that there is a lot of raw power swaying first one way and the next in every single electoral battle for every single seat in that legislative body.
The election in Louisiana did not stand to tip the balance decisively. It would, rather, have narrowed the margin to one vote, instead of two. The Democrats, if they had gone to bat for the pro-life Democrat on the ticket in Louisiana, had the chance to run up their total to 49 senators.
But winning that senate seat would not have helped them oppose defunding Planned Parenthood. If the Democrats had gained that Senate seat, they would not have gotten a vote to buttress their war on the unborn.
Rather, they would have gotten a vote to strengthen the war they should be fighting, which is for the safety of America in the face of legitimate concerns about treasonous activity. They would have gotten another vote to keep the social programs such as Social Security and Medicare together. They would have gotten another vote on committees and the floor in key situations involving the breadbasket issues that the party should be focused on.
But, sadly, the Democratic Party is not focused on those breadbasket issues. It has become an outpost for those who equate abortion with feminism and claim that legal abortion is all there is to women’s rights. It has also, due to the direction in which President Obama has taken the party, become the think tank and the political leadership for official, governmental attacks on religious freedom in general and the Catholic Church, in particular.
A pro-life Democrat, even in a closely-balanced United States Senate, was so unwelcome, so antithetical to the true focus of the leadership of this once great party, that they did not lift a finger to help one win this important election.
The Republicans plowed into that senate race intending to win it. They put their money and their mouths behind their candidate. The Ds, at least the Ds at the DNC, sat the thing out.
They folded their hands, sat on their wallets and watched while the Democrat lost. It seems that they, to paraphrase Milton, would rather reign in the hell of being out of power than serve in the heaven of a truly inclusive party. If the price of narrowing the margin in the United States Senate was that they had to support a pro-life Democrat, they evidently decided that they would rather lose the seat.
A United States Senate seat is valuable property. Given the power of the United States in today’s world, it is easily one of the most powerful positions on this planet. A United States Senator can tell anyone, from generals, to foreign heads of state, to the President of the United States, to take a walk, and mean it.
I am not saying that the power of the office is unlimited. Far from it. But I am saying that no one interested in American politics, much less one of the two ruling political parties, throws away a United States Senate seat for trivial reasons.
That underscores what we all know. The connection between the national Democratic Party and the pro-abortion forces is not casual. It is fundamental. It evidently determines whether the party will support one of its own candidates in a key race that stands to nudge the balance of power a bit their way at a critical time.
The party stood back and watched while the Democrat lost, and I think they did it because, to them, a Republican was better than a pro-life Democrat.
Well, because a pro-life Democrat threatens the thralldom they hold on the party structure. Not all Democrats are pro-abortion. A lot of rank and file Democrats disagree rather vehemently with any number of positions the party has taken in the past decade — especially its monolithic support of abortion.
However, the faceless monolith of groupthink that we call the Democratic National Committee regards abortion as a key party position from which elected Democrats may not deviate. I want to emphasize that this has nothing to do with the rank and file. Louisiana Democrats are a case in point.
What it has to do with is the silo thinking of the silo politics that has overtaken all of our political activity in Washington. The election just finished is a deplorable example of the devil-or-the-deep-blue-sea choices that this kind of thing forces on the American people. More than anything else, that election was a manifestation of the logical outcome of too much control at the top in both the political parties.
The Republicans revolted and got their man. The Democrats had a candidate foisted on them by party leaders. We the People were forced to choose between the two, and chose Trump.
Still, the Democratic Party had a real chance to nudge the balance in the U.S. Senate in their direction with the important race in Louisiana. But instead of fighting for their candidate, the DNC went back to that same old hardcore anti-Christian, pro-abortion claptrap that put it behind the electoral eight ball in the first place.
Who but a political idiot would sit out that race? Who but a party that is so mindlessly determined to purge every blip of pro-life sentiment from its ranks would fail to dig in and fight for their candidate?
The DNC, that’s who.
I’m not going to call them the Democratic Party, because they aren’t the Democratic Party. Or, at least, they’re not my Democratic Party. I’ve walked the lonely walk of a pro-life, Jesus-loving, woman-supporting, Catholic-from-the-heart Democrat for a long time now. I know, far better than most people, just how much abuse walking that road involves.
I thought about changing parties a long while back. But when I prayed about it, I learned that I had to stay put.
That meant getting thoroughly drubbed from both sides of the political spectrum while I was in office. But it also opened the way for me to do things for the unborn and the cause of Christ that I would have been unable to do as a Republican.
I am not surprised that many pro-life people feel the DNC version of the Democratic party is the party of abortion. I think their judgment is well taken. They would be fools to think otherwise.
But this is crucial: There are people who are alive today because pro-life Democrats stayed to fight in the Democratic Party.
That’s how important it is for us to have a pro-life voice in both parties. From a simple, tactical viewpoint, it is imperative if we want to build a culture of life.