Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Democrats & Their Big Tent Platform - Worried?

The blogosphere and news reporting web sites have been abuzz and atwitter this week over proposed changes to the Democratic Party Platform concerning women and reproductive rights. (see entire proposed platform here)

The first thing I read was Linda Hirshman's insightful
article on Slate. I got excited reading that the hated Clintonian language concerning abortion (safe, legal and rare) had been cast onto the garbage heap of history and replaced with very strong support for Roe and a woman's inherent capacity for moral decision making. I admired Hirshman for calling out Senator Obama and other self-described progressives for having ceded the moral high ground by insinuating that abortion is morally wrong . "Why," Hirshman writes, "did the Democratic candidate for president...invoke the image of the "middle-aged feminist who regrets her abortion" in The Audacity of Hope?' She continues, "...It is time to revive the moral argument for protecting a woman's right to choose: Abortion is about the value of women's lives."

And so it is. Unequivocally.

Hirshman concludes by saying, "The Democratic platform of 2008 offers an opportunity to put an end to this self-destructive cycle of safe, legal, and rare, otherwise known as regret, depression, and self-denigration. In its place, it can finally argue for the value of women's lives."

WORD! And, BTW, I vote for Linda Hirshman getting a speaking role at the convention.

The next thing I read tilted to the effusive. Calling it a "remarkable feminist document," Dana Goldstein, blogs about the platform on
The American Prospect. Goldstein credits female members of both Obama's and Clinton's staff for having moved the language of the platform to be more explicitly pro-woman. She also admirably runs the 2004 and 2008 platforms together so you can make your own decision about shift in language and intent. She concludes though by saying that she, "...[doesn't] see this as a modification of the party's pro-choice stance. Rather, it's a strengthening of that position and a re-articulation of the commitment to helping low-income expectant mothers."

I wanted to believe that to be true. But as I read the next article the story morphed right before my eyes. ABC News asserted that the "
Democrats Soften Edges on Abortion."

What's Up? I was just starting to believe that miracles really could happen, when I'm slapped back to reality with the lead sentence, "The Democratic Party is planning a convention designed to soften the edges on the party's support for abortion rights..." And then the article goes on to say that pro-life Senator Bob Casey will be given a prime-time speaking gig in Denver in 2 weeks.

Uh-oh. Something going on here I don't get?

This is followed by more breaking news that pro-life Virginia Governor Tim Kaine is on a very short list for Vice President. And that pro-life Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and pro-life religious leader Jim Wallis and other pro-lifers are applauding the platform and in some cases taking credit for it's creation.

This is the point where I start to get nervous.

I read the post from David Brody, the senior national correspondent for the Christian Broadcasting Network. Brody
writes that "the Democratic Party is going to add and change some abortion language in their platform as an attempt to bring more moderate Evangelicals and pro-life Catholics into the party." He continues, "The Brody File is told that people like Pastor Joel Hunter (registered Republican), Jim Wallis (President of Sojourners), Pastor Tony Campolo,
and conservative Catholic legal scholar Doug Kmiec all helped in the drafting of this new language."

By now I haven't a clue about what is really going on. And I begin to have doubts about this fast moving, ever nuanced story of the proposed changes to the Democratic Party platform. Who knows who created it and why? Or even if it will pass muster in Denver. And if it does, if it will be further nuanced and/or compromised by a vice presidential pick that may not support a woman's inherent right to make a decision about when or whether to become a parent.

What worries me and what really makes me nervous is that I don't trust that all of this has gone down without serious questioning by those with so much at stake. I'm just not a blind follower. I am too much of a cynic when it comes to politics to simply drink the Kool Aid without asking why. I want to win elections as much as the next guy, but I have worked too long trying to assure that women can control their own destinies to just accept everything at face value.

And I'm all for the Big Tent in theory, but if in practice it brings people within a heartbeat of controlling my and my daughter's future - then I demand to know what's up.
I demand reasonable assurances for my loyalty and support. Is that too much to ask?

What do you think? Am I only only one feeling this way? Let me know.

Here's what all the buzzing and twittering is about...

The new proposed language:

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre and post natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.

The current Democratic Party platform:

Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman's right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay. We stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine that right. At the same time, we strongly support family planning and adoption incentives. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.

1 comment:

Anne said...

I think I will actually be at the Convention in Denver, so I will send you updates on the conversation around this language...