Kristen Day holds one of the most thankless positions around. She’s the Executive Director of Democrats for Life of America.
What that means in real life is that she gets to be treated like a pariah among the Democrats and then she’s shoved aside, regarded with suspicion and generally dissed by other pro life people. She’s also forced to do a lot of hand-holding and supporting of pro life Democrats around the country as they get whammed around, attacked and abused by both political parties.
It’s hard to describe the loneliness of being a pro life Democratic officeholder. The abuse from other Democrats is heartbreaking, the disregard from most pro life Republicans is … cold. There aren’t many places a pro life Democrat can go to find an ally. Pro life Democratic office holders are pretty much on their own; disrespected, disliked and mistrusted.
Kristen Day and Democrats for Life of America is one of the few, perhaps the only, political ally that a pro life Democrat has inside their party. There was a time when Kristen had succeeded in building a new and growing pro life presence in the Democratic Party. There were a number of pro life Democrats in Congress, enough of them to be felt in negotiations behind closed doors, where things really happen.
Then, along came President Obama and the Affordable Health Care Act. It’s a long story and not the topic of this post, but President Obama made promises to pro life Democrats which were lies. He betrayed them with his invidious HHS Mandate. The pro life world, which had always regarded pro life Democrats as alien interlopers, decided that they wanted to attack them.
It was the usual, old, story; a replay of history from the 1980s. Both pro life people and pro abortion people attacked pro life Democrats and worked to get them kicked out of office. Both sides preferred the political simplicity of Rs and Ds that split the issue down the middle and line up against one another as pro life or pro abortion on either side.
Movement organizers liked the ability to concentrate their donations and support on one party. It was easier to organize and easier to run without having to deal with the competing concerns of two political parties. It only required them to sell out their morals on other issues once, to one party. Both sides liked the convenience of being able to “brand” the two parties. It made it easy to demonize the other side and use hatred to drive the vote.
This has worked so well that America itself is now divided into two crazy-as-Crackerjacks warring camps, each of whom is convinced that everyone on the “other” side is the spawn of satan. Our whole country is breaking down, and we just keep on attacking one another.
A lot of people on both sides have obviously become addicted to the juice of self-righteous hatred. They enjoy it. It makes them feel significant and powerful.
Pro life and pro choice people will believe and repeat any lie about one another. They hate each other so much that they can’t think straight. The interesting thing to me is that both sides are right. The nasty nuts on both sides of this argument are, in truth, bad people. They are every bit as mean and uncaring, as willing to harm and hurt others, as their opponents believe they are.
The tragedy in this is that most pro choice people (as opposed to those few who are actually pro abortion) and pro life people (as opposed to those few who are merely anti-abortion) are motivated by exactly the same impulse. They both feel such concern for the suffering and pain of other people that they are willing to work and sacrifice to help them. They are good people, acting from the best motives, who have arrived at diametrically opposed positions on one issue.
I’ve always thought that it should be possible to find common ground if we would stop the name-calling and focus instead on truly being pro life and pro woman both. But that requires a lot more than making a placard and waving it around. It means actually caring about people, which is the most costly and exhausting thing you can do.
Kristen Day has spent decades of her life walking the treacherous and disrespected fine line of the pro life Democrat. She heads an organization that honestly tries to support the basic right to life of all people, and that tries earnestly to be pro life and pro woman both.
This pushes her away from simplistic answers to complex problems. It leads into the cross-currents of compromise, which is something that the right to life movement has disavowed completely. She has stuck with this difficult path for decades now, and has suffered what can only be heartbreaking abuse from both sides with a gentle patience that I could never muster on my best day.
A few days ago, she showed up at Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s front door and confronted him with the way that the Democratic Party excludes its pro life members. The Mayor gave her honest question a wishy-washy, mumbly answer. But the message was loud and clear anyway, right there in the question she asked.
Now, Kristen’s confrontation with the mayor is the pro life story du jour, not, I think, because the pro life movement has decided to work to build a pro life presence in the Democratic Party, but because her actions give them another meme with which they can demonize the Democrats. The stories I’ve read have focused much more on the Democrats’ evil than Kristen’s courage.
The irony is, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe and Casey this year — which, unless we’ve been lied to these past decades, they should — we’re going to need people like Kristen Day really badly. I don’t think pro life people are prepared for the backlash that’s coming when we overturn. We will need people who can help us find solutions that address the needs of both the baby and the mother. Otherwise, we’ll be facing an overturn of the overturn that would almost certainly be permanent.
Meanwhile, Kristen Day just keeps on keeping on. Democrats for Life of America really is “pro life and pro woman.” They fight for the lives of unborn babies and they also oppose sexual predators and rapists. That has come to mean a lot to me in this time of Trump.
I’m proud of Kristen for speaking up. I agree with her wholeheartedly. I’ve had enough of the abuse of pro life Democrats by the Democratic Party. I got my full fill of that a long time ago.
I’ve also had enough of being told by Republicans that I have to support sexual predators and abusers of women in order to be pro life, that racism and cruelty to little children is ok if the person doing it is against abortion. That is not true.
If you would like to learn more about Democrats for Life of America, go here.
From Catholic News Agency:
Washington D.C., Jan 27, 2020 / 10:30 am (CNA).- Pro-life Democrats are “fed up” over the party’s staunch support of abortion and need to let the presidential candidates know it, the leader of Democrats for Life of America said on Monday.
“We’ve had enough,” Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, told CNA.
Day spoke to CNA after Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg told her at an Iowa townhall event on Sunday that he would forego the support of pro-life voters to maintain his absolute support for legal abortion.
Pro-abortion presidential candidates “are so afraid of the abortion lobby, and even making any inroads to Democrats for Life, pro-life Democrats, they’re afraid that they’re going to lose all their money and support,” Day said.
Pro-life Democrats throughout the country are frustrated over the party leadership’s increasingly staunch support of abortion, she told CNA.
“We need pro-life Democrats all over the country to go to these [presidential] candidates and ask the question: Do you want pro-life Democrats in the party? Because if not, we won’t vote for you,” Day said.
On Sunday evening, Day asked Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, about the party’s tolerance for pro-life Democrats, at a Des Moines, Iowa, townhall event moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace.
“I am a proud pro-life Democrat. So, do you want the support of pro-life Democrats—pro-life Democratic voters?” Day asked. “And if so, would you support more moderate platform language in the Democratic Party, to ensure that the party of diversity, of inclusion, really does include everybody?”
Buttigieg responded that “I am pro-choice. And I believe that a woman ought to be able to make that decision [on abortion],” to applause from the audience.
He said that public officials should not be making decisions for women on abortion, and that if Democratic voters would not support him for his stance, “I understand.”
“The best I can offer is that if we can’t agree on where to draw the line, the next best thing we can do is agree on who should draw the line. And in my view, it’s the woman who’s faced with that decision in her own life,” he said.
Day told CNA on Monday that she hadn’t actually asked Buttigieg about his abortion stance because “I know where he stands.”
In May 2019, when asked by Fox News’ Chris Wallace if there should be any limits on abortion at any stage of pregnancy, Buttigieg responded “I trust women to draw the line.”
Day said on Monday that “I just wanted to know if he [Buttigieg] thought there was room for us in the party. And he doesn’t.”
She told CNA that pro-life Democrats have been asking his campaign staff since December for a meeting, but no meeting has been offered. Instead, she decided to ask him in person at the townhall. (Read the rest here.)