Scrambling to unite ahead of the midterms, Democrats' desperate efforts to come together just keep inflaming intraparty tensions. The crisis du jour involves Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Lujan's comments this week confirming that the party would support pro-life candidates.
The conflict had been simmering since Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., campaigned for pro-life Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello last spring. Democratic leaders from Sanders to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have since confirmed they believe the party should leave its gates open to people with pro-life views.
Pelosi's reaction in May was especially poignant. "I grew up Nancy D'Alesandro, in Baltimore, Maryland; in Little Italy; in a very devout Catholic family; fiercely patriotic; proud of our town and heritage, and staunchly Democratic," she told the Washington Post. "Most of those people — my family, extended family — are not pro-choice. You think I'm kicking them out of the Democratic Party?"
But that sentiment proved unpersuasive.
Lujan's comments on Monday inspired another round of outrage from feminist activists, including EMILY's List and NARAL. The National Network of Abortion Funds, which has been compiling signatures for a letter to Pelosi from women who've had abortions "to push back against the dangerous rhetoric coming from Progressive leaders like Bernie Sanders and Democratic Party leaders like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer," doubled down. "Rep. Luján's comments directly contradict the perspective of women who have had abortions," they said.
Meanwhile, the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List's president Marjorie Dannenfelser pointed out in a statement, "According to Gallup, 32 percent of rank and file Democrats consider themselves pro-life. Even more support compassionate, common ground policies like a limit on abortion after five months."
But Mitchell Stille of NARAL probably had the reaction that best represents and encapsulates the position of Democrats who believe excluding pro-lifers from the party is non-negotiable. "Economic security isn't possible without reproductive freedom. Gender equality isn't possible without reproductive freedom," he argued.
If you believe that legal abortion services are a prerequisite to basic sexual equality, then you believe anybody who opposes abortion is an enemy of equality. And who doesn't support equality? This is why it's almost impossible to build a bridge between party leaders and the radical abortion activists who make up a vocal component of the Democratic base. Those who subscribe to the philosophy that abortion is a prerequisite to equality cannot morally support a party that aids enemies of abortion, as they are also enemies of equality.
By extension of that argument, Nancy Pelosi's pro-life Democratic family members are enemies of equality and, by allowing them to remain in the party, so too is she. The more people on the Left buy into this argument, the more bitter the conflict will become.
Unfortunately for Democrats, this philosophy is en vogue among its base right now, a trend that's deepening the divide amplified by the 2016 primary contest between Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Substitute abortion in the argument outlined above with supporting a federal $15 minimum wage or transgenderism or simply opposing President Trump at all costs, and you'll see how the far-Left is distancing itself further from average Democrats to the point where they're almost incapable of bridging the gap.
(The proliferation of the radical progressive concept of intersectionality, by the way, is driving these divisions.)
Just as Republican efforts to reconfigure after losing the presidential election in 2012 exposed intraparty rifts, so too will the Democrats' current campaign to build unity. But the radical Left has planted its roots firmly and deliberately in conflict with the party's mainstream, making the task of healing divisions between Democrats nothing less than Herculean.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.