Leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are demanding that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee abandon its support of the five remaining pro-life Democrats in Congress and allow abortion advocates to compete for their seats.
Newsweek reports that the CPC’s co-chair, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), has now said, in no uncertain terms, that Democrats who do not support the practice of ending unborn life in the womb are no longer welcome in the party, and that they should be primaried out of office by more reliable Democrats.
“I think we should allow for strong primary challenges, so that people can really put their Democratic chops on the line, if you will, and let the Democratic voters decide who they want,” Jayapal told a press conference. “You can’t say you’re a Democrat if you’re against immigrants, if you’re against abortion, if you’re against gay marriage and LGBTQ rights. I’m not sure what it means to be a Democrat if all of those things are true.”
She then issued her challenge.
“I understand that the DCCC is funded by—we are a membership organization—it’s funded by our members. And I understand that the DCCC is often going to try to protect the incumbent,” Jayapal concluded. “But I do think we have to look at all of these issues and think about what it means to be a Democrat.”
Justice Democrats, the group that championed far-left progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Coretz (D-NY) in the last election cycle and is now challenging the DCCC and DNC for cutting openly progressive campaign workers out of official directories, agreed that pro-lifers now have no place in the Democratic party and that they intend to fight for their exclusion.
“It’s hypocritical for the Democratic Party leadership to continue to protect [pro-life Dems] while claiming to fight against the attacks on reproductive rights in states like Georgia and Alabama.” Waleed Shahid, Justice Dems communications director told the Daily Beast.
There are technically only five “pro-life Democrats” left: Rep. Dan Lipinkski (D-IL), Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) in the House, and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Bob Casey (D-PA) in the Senate.
Democrats have long toyed with making abortion the central sacrament of their platform, and movement away from diversity of thought on the issue for a party that now seems to support abortion through all three trimesters of pregnancy and up until the baby is descending through a woman’s birth canal, “pro-life Democrats,” as consistent as the ethic might be, are an anachronism.
There are a couple of problems with leading a “purge” against pro-life Democrats, though. For starters, dropping pro-life people from the Democratic Party belies the insincerity of one of abortion advocates’ favorite arguments: that a pro-life position might be more “acceptable” if it were pared with support for government programs like universal health care, welfare expansion, and free college. Clearly, you can support the full Democratic platform — even to the point of being elected with a “D” after your name — and departing from the party on a single issue will cost you your membership.
It’s also ignorant of the political landscape. Progressives have been trying to oust Rep. Dan Lipinski from his berth representing the west side of Chicago and some of the city’s southern and western suburbs for nearly a decade, to no avail. In 2018, one progressive came close, but failed to recognize that Lipinski’s beliefs are in line with those of his constituents, and that he represents them, even on the issue of abortion.
This time around, challenging Lipinksi won’t be so easy. The DCCC, headed by a longtime friend of Lipinksi, has pledged to support incumbents, particularly against primary challenges from the left, and Lipinski’s seat is no exception. It’s also unlikely that either Manchin or Casey are touchable, given that they, like Lipinski, represent moderate Democrat constituencies that lean pro-life.