Friday, August 12, 2005

Keeping your hand in play

Digby has a good recent post supporting NARAL in its single-issue activism, despite recent criticism (see here) that its endorsements may undermine its interests in the long run, as by keeping a generally anti-choice party in power. Digby counters that interest groups that "play along" with a generally sympathetic party end up being taken for granted, and thus losing any power to keep their interests on the agenda.
[quoting Brad Plumer] Parties always pander towards groups that are in danger of defecting; they know they can screw over the loyal core somewhat, so long as there are no consequences. Unless NARAL shows that there are consequences, such as endorsing a pro-choice Republican in a blue state, they'll get taken for granted. Maybe that's due to sexism on the part of the Democratic leadership, but mostly it's just the way coalitions work.

[back to Digby] I understand that we all need to stick together, but if I were NARAL I'd be getting very, very concerned about some Democrats' willingness to "soften" their stance on the issue of choice because it's allegedly hurting the party --- you know, moral values and all that. I might just think it's smart to show some muscle. There is no way I'd blindly trust anyone in this environment to fight this battle for me.
I'll admit, there's increasing willingness among Democrats to support pro-life candidates if they seem "the most electable." It's easy to support that strategy in individual cases (as in my own state of PA, where getting rid of Santorum is a huge concern), but it might not be the best place to make compromises -- letting up on gun control, for example, has even more appeal in "red states" out west and could be a better place to change positions. (In fact, Digby thinks that the NRA is a good example to look at for how sticking to principle has in fact ended up giving a group big weight within a party that they didn't mindlessly support.) There just seems to be a quickness to let women's issues slide in these discussions . . . Fight on!

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