2018 1st Place - by James White
“Democrats believe that we’re greater together than we are on our own – that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.” --The Democratic Party Mission Statement
The Democratic Party has long been the party of the downtrodden, the disadvantaged, and the voiceless. Its mission is to lift up the powerless to give them a fighting chance. Being Pro-Life is not inconsistent with this Party’s mission, but rather taking it to its natural conclusion. The unborn are the most vulnerable and voiceless population in our country today, and because of this they have suffered immensely at the hands of Pro-Choice policies. Conservative studies estimate 45 million legal abortions since Roe v. Wade, and the United States performs about 13,000 late term abortions yearly. When faced with these horrific statistics, how can the party which led the fight for civil rights and immigration reform, which opposes wars abroad and capital punishment, which has for decades had its focus on the dignity and inalienable rights of all people, regardless of religion, race, age, nationality, gender, or sexual orientation, turn a blind eye to this horrific injustice happening within its own society?
Far from being hypocritical or contradictory, Pro-Life Democrats are simply living out their party’s ideal of supporting and uplifting the disadvantaged. However, in an age of polarized politics, principled nuance, especially on abortion, is becoming less welcome. DNC chairman Tom Perez’s ultimatum that Democratic candidates must support abortion on demand was not about party solidarity, but rather ideological tyranny of the party elites. Recent rhetoric and pressure has led to a sharp decrease in elected Pro-Life Democrats, in spite of evidence showing that a majority of Americans would support restrictions on abortion, and that many who identify as Pro-Choice would support limiting abortion to the first few months of pregnancy. Far from the big-tent party identity past Democrats have worked so hard to uphold, there is now a robust, concerted effort to exclude Democrats who fail the Pro-Abortion litmus test, making a future where the ideology of the party rules over the individual morality and judgement of the candidates. In our viciously divisive political climate, it is now more important than ever before to articulate the idea that one can be Pro-Life and a Democrat, and that it is a consistent and principled position to take. Abortion is the defining social justice concern of our time, as slavery and segregation were in the past. It is not going away, and growing polarization on the topic is not leading to a peaceful resolution. Reaching across the aisle to show that the abortion question transcends blue and red to a human rights concern is part of the healing process that will keep the dialogue peaceful and progressive.
A Pro-Life Democrat is someone who consistently supports the inalienable rights of all people guaranteed from the time of this country’s founding. He or she recognizes that the purpose of government is to protect these rights, whether in the form of welfare programs, immigration reform, or laws protecting the right to life of those not yet born. He or she will hold these beliefs firm, even when compromising them would garner more political support and increase the chances of being elected. A Pro-Life Democrat is exactly the type of person who would have the integrity and nuanced perspective to help bridge the divides that plague our politics and society today. Their message is one of hope and power: that no person, whether immigrant, refugee, or unborn, is an inconvenience; that society is capable of supporting women through difficult pregnancies; that one can and should hold onto principled beliefs in the face of political pressure; and that political parties do not define American politics. They are defined by us, the American people, and whether Democrat, Republican, Pro-Life, or Pro-Choice, a dialogue of ideas, rather than ideological tyranny, is the path to progress and healing our society.