To see Roe as law, the left must stick together
The broad left is this close to eating itself over the Democrats’ reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe.
When I say “broad left,” I mean the full range of leftist politics. (I’m not counting communists, however. They are as unserious as they are dogmatic, violent and dangerous. I don’t care what they think. Neither should my compatriots. As for Marxists, they are dogmatic, but they aren’t dangerous. In any case, Marxism has some utility).
On the one hand are what I’ll call progressives, who are not always liberal, who say the Democratic leadership was wholly unprepared to act in the wake of the court’s ruling to invalidate federal protection of the right to privacy of women and anyone else who can get pregnant.
On the other hand are what I’ll call liberals, who are not always progressive, who say the Democratic leadership indeed prepared in the form of legislation passed in the House that codified Roe into federal statutory law. That bill stalled in the Senate. Liberals say the president is right. It’s now up to the voters to decide. If they want Roe to be law, they need to install more Democrats in the Senate.
The progressive reaction is usually this: Why are you asking us to vote more if after we voted in 2020, you didn’t use your full power to counteract a high court clearly gone rogue? Why should we do that again? If Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are getting in the way (and they are), Joe Biden should lean on them till they submit. Punting to the voters is failing to live up to a campaign promise.
I think I’m representing the sides fairly. If I’m not, let me know. My goal isn’t to take one or the other. My goal today is to establish reasonable boundaries within which the broad left can argue. More importantly, my goal today is insisting these reasonable boundaries be maintained in order to maintain solidarity on the broad left.
(Before I go on, let me say that much of this conflict is rooted in understandable and highly volatile panic. The broad left, being the broad left, tends to hold itself to a higher standard than it holds the opposition. It therefore tends to blame itself first and foremost. Though we knew the Roe ruling was coming, thanks to a draft of it being leaked to Politico in the spring, the reality of it stabbed our guts out. Emotions are high right now. They may deescalate in time).
To establish boundaries, let's raise awareness of three things.
First, some liberals, who are not always progressive, are going to shill for the Democrats no matter what. They tend to see progressives as anti-Democratic for the sake of being anti-Democratic and therefore a potential threat to be stopped. These liberals can’t see the obvious and abundant merit of the progressive complaint. For the most part, they see progressives as frenemies whose intentions are suspect.
Second, some progressives, who are not always liberal, really are anti-Democratic. Some even have capitalized on the market for anti-Democratic politics that opened up after Bernie Sanders’ failed campaigns. That market is now shrinking. These capitalists now know it. For this reason, it has been truly hard to tell the difference between good-faith criticism and cynical business interest.
Third, liberals and progressives are not arguing with each other in a vacuum. The social-media public square continues to be polluted by bad-faith actors from Russia and elsewhere who continue to deepen and widen divisions on the broad left in order to cripple it. That’s what they did in 2016. Remember that as we enter the midterms.
At this point, I want to thread the needle.
I want the liberals to concede that the progressives are right in that the Democrats must be driven into doing what we want them to do. Nothing has ever been accomplished without raising hell. That the progressives don’t know what the Democrats should do does not detract from the fact that the Democrats must act now – even if it’s just telling us that voters need to put more Democrats in the Senate to codify Roe and restore federal protection of abortion rights.
I want the progressives to concede that the liberals are right in that the Democrats are the only vehicle we have to achieve our mutual goal. This is America. Third parties are moot. The progressives should raise all the hell they want to, but they can’t cut down the Democrats in the process. We’re all in a panic over a post-Roe world. The broad left can’t afford even the appearance of hopelessness.
The importance of unity can’t be overstated. The much-ballyhooed backlash against the GOP’s stripping half the nation of half their rights is not amassing as far as I can tell. A Monmouth poll finds abortion at fifth (5 percent) behind grocery bills (6 percent). Atop the list, at 30 percent, is inflation. Expensive gas is second at 15 percent.
If we want to see Roe as law, we must stick together.
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