Home / reproductive freedom / Sure, he doesn’t believe in the right to privacy, but he’s solid on the other issues!

Sure, he doesn’t believe in the right to privacy, but he’s solid on the other issues!

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3 Views

Or – An inquiry into the potential limits of “But the other guy is worse!” as a progressive political theory.

And John Bel  Edwards’ victory over David “Depends on Me” Vitter is as good a place as any to start.

In Louisiana’s gubernatorial contest you had a rancid Republican who has a larger than normal negative impact on the environment because disposable diapers last FOREVER.

On the other you had a Democrat whose views on the right to privacy and access to health care have devolved in less than a decade. In 2006:

Edwards indicated support for the following principles regarding abortion

  • Abortion is the freedom of choice, between the appropriate parties and their higher power.

In 2014, Edwards voted Yes on a number of bills supported by the fetus protection racket, including HB1274 (amended section underlined):

When interpreting this Part, any ambiguity shall be interpreted to preserve human life, including the life of an unborn child if the qualified patient is pregnant and an obstetrician who examines the woman determines that the probable postfertilization age of the unborn child is twenty or more weeks and the pregnant woman’s life can reasonably be maintained in such a way as to permit the continuing development and live birth of the unborn child, and such determination is communicated to the relevant classes of family members and persons designated in R.S. 40:1299.58.5.
Here’s the statute prior to the amendment, if your day is not complete without a little state law.

(And if the wording of the law rings a bell for non-Louisianans, it may be they’re thinking of case of  Marlise Munoz, the Texas woman a hospital kept on life support against her family’s wishes, because she was pregnant.)

In short, when Edwards talks about his anti-choice chops, he is not idly boasting. It’s hard to imagine an anti-privacy bill that he wouldn’t sign. Yet because he ran against someone who is far worse, some people are hastening to point out that being anti-privacy, anti-health care, and – in the case of keeping women on life support so they can incubate a fetus – anti-human dignity, isn’t that big a deal.

And apparently, it will remain not that big a deal. For the foreseeable future, the “Less of a walking nightmare than the Republican Candidate” bar will be easily cleared by anyone who isn’t a convicted mother stabbing father rapist, or Dagon. (And I’m not so certain about Dagon.) If one says that being anti-privacy is an acceptable stance for a Democratic candidate, what is unacceptable?

I’m thinking now of Sen. Joe Manchin, v. 3.0 (D-Mountaintop Removal). He was greeted with cries of relief by Democratic voters, and is now greeted with loud gagging noises, and rightfully so. What a Grecian-Formula’d knob the man is. However, the Just say no to deal breaker/purity politics theory dictates that if he receives the nomination Democratic voters should line up behind Joe because … he’s not for total repeal of Obamacare? Maybe? [Fingers crossed!]

But if he gets re-elected on the basis of not being as bad as the Republican candidate (who will of course be worse, even if they have to lure Cheney to the state with a trail of newborn babies’ hearts), where is his incentive to stop fighting to allow coal companies to remove the mountains from the mountain state?

Exactly. The same place as Edwards’ incentive not to further erode the privacy rights and access to health care of half the state’s population. (And to rein in fracking, apparently.)

Where’s the progress in that?

 

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  • Nobdy

    But isn’t the answer here to support actual good candidates in the primary and then hold your nose and vote for the bad Democrat in the general if the bad Democrat is nominated?

    Not voting for the bad Democrat in the general won’t get you a good Democrat in office. It will get you a smoldering hell beast who will be worse on everything, even abortion and privacy.

    • ChrisTS

      This seems absolutely correct.

    • malraux

      I don’t know how it affects the calculus, but Louisiana doesn’t have a primary as such. Any number of candidates can from a party can run in the general. If no one clears 50% then the top two candidates have a runoff.

      • ChrisTS

        So, then you vote for whoever looks best in the … whatever they call it .. and then maybe hold your nose for the general.

    • But, I already conceded that the Republican will ALWAYS be worse. Saying that electing a Bad Democrat was OK because the Republican was worse means – or would seem to mean – that anyone who is not a SHB is OK.

      Or to put it another way – I’m not sorry the other John Edwards won, but I’m sure not happy with the fact that he’s anti-abortion and don’t think it should be hand-waved out of the conversation.

      • human

        This comment right here seems totally reasonable to me in a way that the OP didn’t. *smooths hackles down* And correct, for that matter, because I agree handwaving reproductive rights away is bad.

        Ever since Katrina — well, for a long time before, really, but especially ever since Katrina — a lot of things have happened in Louisiana that are not OK. So not OK. Something just happened that will make things a little bit better in some ways. I’m really happy and relieved about that. Is it good enough, hell no, you’re absolutely correct on that. But oh boy is it better than it was.

        • Right, and I don’t mean to pee on the parade.

          But the hand-waving of issues such as reproductive rights I’m seeing in response to Edwards’ win is not uncommon in political discussions.

          The Louisiana race gave me a chance to address why it gets on my wick using a concrete example. (And using a concrete example avoids the risk of straw manning.)

        • Ahuitzotl

          Ever since Katrina Louis XIV

        • Brian Schmidt

          Human got it exactly right. Vote for the least worse, and then work for change.

          If you don’t already know about it, search for “vote for the crook – it’s important” and Louisiana.

      • ChrisTS

        Are there lots of people saying this is good enough? Perhaps relief at having just dodged a bullet is making people happier than they should be or will be when the dust settles.

      • Ahenobarbus

        The broader problem here is that the state just isn’t pro-choice:

        From a 2014 poll in Louisiana: “When voters were asked to describe themselves, 56 percent identified as pro-life, 26 percent pro-choice and 16 percent as “in between.”

        This makes it a lot harder to run someone who is progressive on the issue. Those numbers have to change.

      • DrDick

        I would generally agree with this, but I agree with Nobdy that the real problem here (and in much of Red America) is getting actually decent candidates to run and make it to the final election.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          I think the sheer effort it takes to stick your head out and run for office- particularly as a member of the “wrong” party in your district or state- is another in the long list of things we don’t like to think about

      • cpinva

        “Or to put it another way – I’m not sorry the other John Edwards won, but I’m sure not happy with the fact that he’s anti-abortion and don’t think it should be hand-waved out of the conversation.”

        I’m sorry, but did I miss something here? who “hand-waved away” Edwards forced-birther stance, because I know I sure as hell didn’t. in fact, I made that exact point, here or elsewhere. Edwards is republican lite, vs Vitter’s batshit-crazy tea partier. the differences between them are minimal, but significant.

        oh, and please stop calling them “anti-choice”, they are, in fact, “forced birth”. put that question on the survey, and see how many respond affirmatively. my guess is it will be down in the lower double/single digits. force them to own it, and see how many will in public.

        • Colin Day

          I use the term “fetal-rights advocate”. Do you think “forced birth” is better?

          • Lee Rudolph

            I use the term “fetal-rights advocate”. Do you think “forced birth” is better?

            Yes, it’s better in at least two ways: (1) it puts primary focus on the actual person who is giving birth, not the notional person to whom “rights” (trumping the rights of the actual person) are being tendentiously attributed; (2) the secondary focus that “forced birth” puts on the actions of the person it is being used to describe is exactly descriptive—that person is actively using force against the pregnant woman, not “merely” “advocating” for a political position.

      • patrick II

        Saying that electing a Bad Democrat was OK because the Republican was worse

        I don’t think most of us think it is “OK” to elect a bad democrat, but it is preferable to electing a good Republican. 250,000 Louisianians will have medicaid extended to them and that is no small matter.

    • Scott Lemieux

      But isn’t the answer here to support actual good candidates in the primary and then hold your nose and vote for the bad Democrat in the general if the bad Democrat is nominated?

      Yes. You get the best plausibly electable candidate you can in the primary, and then you vote for the best candidate in the general.

      • malraux

        I dunno if that logic applies to Louisianas jungle primary though. I mean I remember Edwards vs Duke. Not that it’s definitely wrong but I think it needs more thinking through compared to the normal primary process.

        Though I kinda miss the old fashioned corruption of old school politics were you pick the best of your friends that can still actually do the job.

    • socraticsilence

      This. The choice wasn’t between John Bel Edwards and David “Champion of Womens Rights” Vitter it was between Edwards and David “worse on everything, possibly excepting sex worker related issues” Vitter.

  • human

    Speaking as a woman who is 1000% pro-choice, AND ALSO a woman who grew up in Louisiana and knows many people who still live there, I am happy this guy got elected.

    There is one reason for that.

    He is going to take the Medicaid expansion. That means that some of my people who up until now did not have health care, will have health care. Some of my people who would have died, will not die.

    I dare you to say that is not progress.

    • dp

      Yes. You can say that Louisiana should have elected the pro-choice candidate, but that would require you to actually find the pro-choice candidate who was on the ballot.

      • cpinva

        yes to both of you. wanting someone who checks all the boxes, vs getting someone who does, are two entirely different things. take what you can get now, and continue working on getting what you want.

  • Dilan Esper

    This post is entirely correct.

    However, Shake may wake up tomorrow with a horse’s head in the bed.

  • Murc

    He was greeted with cries of relief by Democratic voters, and is now greeted with loud gagging noises, and rightfully so.

    Manchin was greeted with cries of relief because it was assumed he would behave like Joe Biden, or Chuck Schumer; that is, he’d be wholly in the pocket of the special interest associated with his state (the banksters in the case of Biden and Schumer, coal in the case of Manchin) but with us on everything else, and even if he weren’t with us on quite everything else he’d be quiet about it, casting what votes he needed to without comment so he could brag about them locally back home during campaigns. That’s a classic formula that goes back decades for politicians of either party who are from difficult states.

    Except it turns out that Manchin basically isn’t with us on anything of importance, and when he stabs his party in the face he’s loud and proud about it.

    But if he gets re-elected on the basis of not being as bad as the Republican candidate (who will of course be worse, even if they have to lure Cheney to the state with a trail of newborn babies’ hearts), where is his incentive to stop fighting to allow coal companies to remove the mountains from the mountain state?

    The counter-argument here is going to be that the appropriate place to get rid of Manchin is a primary. The counter-counter argument is “a Democrat without Manchin’s positions cannot win in West Virginia.” The 3x counter is “but that means we can’t ever get a Democrat from WV who will vote for anything important, ever.” The 4x counter will be “a vote for a Democratic Majority Leader is still enough to make them better than any Republican.”

    But that’s not the real disagreement here.

    The real disagreement is about at what point is it legitimate for a person to declare “this person is so vile and offensive to me I will not vote for them, even if the other person is worse.”

    Scott and Erik take the viewpoint that it is almost never legitimate to take that stance, that in a hypothetical contest between Zombie Mao and Zombie Stalin you should vote for Zombie Stalin because he’ll murder marginally fewer people than Zombie Mao.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      far as I’m concerned, it would be legitimate to take that stance, but (like Manchin) you probably shouldn’t brag about it, because in the end, even if we’re talking only “marginally fewer people” we’re still talking about real flesh and blood fellow citizens & human beings

      • human

        Yes, thank you!

    • Scott and Erik take the viewpoint that it is almost never legitimate to take that stance, that in a hypothetical contest between Zombie Mao and Zombie Stalin you should vote for Zombie Stalin because he’ll murder marginally fewer people than Zombie Mao.

      Well, there’s also the fact that Zombie Hitler poses a bigger threat than Zombie Chiang Kai-shek.

    • human

      Scott and Erik take the viewpoint that it is almost never legitimate to take that stance, that in a hypothetical contest between Zombie Mao and Zombie Stalin you should vote for Zombie Stalin because he’ll murder marginally fewer people than Zombie Mao.

      I actually think there are two different issues being conflated here.

      1) Is Vitter worse than Edwards or are they both equally bad?

      Not the same question as,

      2) Is Edwards shitty enough that it is morally proper not to support him?

      This post that we are commenting on seems to be arguing that Vitter and Edwards are both equally bad because neither of them supports reproductive rights for women. Well, I’ll agree they are equally bad on that one issue, but the final line of the post is what steamed me, because YES people having access to health care is progress, YES people not DYING of neglect and hatred is progress, and discounting that because a candidate is shitty on one issue, even a very very important human rights issue, seems horrible to me. It seems like it’s only possible if you discount the value of the lives of the people who will have Medicaid and not die because he got elected. It seems like it’s only possible if you only see them as abstractions instead of real people who count.

      I guess for me this touches a nerve because I’m used to Random Online People talking about the people of Louisiana as if they were not only abstractions, but stupid low class hick abstractions who definitely don’t count because of their icky icky redneckness. I AM NOT SAYING THIS POST DID THAT but that’s been done so often it’s part of the context in which I’m reacting to it.

      I’m way off track of what I wanted to say. I used to be a Democratic Party person; I’m not anymore. I am a lot choosier about the candidates I support now, mainly looking for people who are strong on issues important to the working class (of which access to reproductive health care is absolutely one). I have been the one to say “well, you knock yourself out supporting your pro-life Democrat but I’m going to be over here spending my time on something I consider more constructive.”

      But. I would never say that it’s not progress to get that Democrat elected, if he can and will take an action that is going to save some people’s lives as a result.

      • keta

        I would never say that it’s not progress to get that Democrat elected, if he can and will take an action that is going to save some people’s lives as a result.

        YES!

        Here’s another consideration: How do you turn around a state or region that consistently votes against its own best interests and as a consequence becomes more and more mired in circumstances that make their lives miserable? I would suggest that beginning to tack in another direction is a start that absolutely needs to happen. Maybe the winds of change aren’t blowing on exactly the course you’d like to point, but any headway is distance made good compared to losing ground.

        It’s a long fucking journey, but if anyone is actually serious about getting there then positive course changes should be celebrated and built upon, not disdained for not reaching the desired landfall.

        • human

          Yes, THIS. And very well put. If someone like Edwards got elected in Minnesota where I now live, where we can do SO much better, and have — my reaction would be disgust, anger, bitter disappointment. He gets elected in Louisiana where I used to live and my reaction is relief and joy. The context, and what it means for the direction things are or could be heading in, matters SO much.

        • Pat

          It’s a long journey, and sometimes states like Kentucky get two steps forward and one step back.

    • J. Otto Pohl

      The Stalin vs. Mao comparison doesn’t work here. In so far as the US was concerned it was not the number of deaths caused by the regime that mattered in either case. The US supported Stalin against Hitler because Hitler was a greater threat to US interests not because of any number of murders. At the time a full tabulation of either Hitler’s or Stalin’s victims was impossible. Later the US supported China under Mao against the USSR under Brezhnev because it was in the US interest. At this time it was pretty clear that Mao’s China internally had a far worse human rights record than the USSR after Stalin’s death.

      I suppose on a purely theoretical level one could pointlessly discuss whether Stalin or Mao was worse. But, it would require a lot more than just looking at the total number of deaths from state policy. The term murder here isn’t completely clear cut and equal in all cases. Most of the deaths in both cases were from famine and the culpability of the Soviet government in the 1932-1933 famine is much greater than in the case of the 1946-1947 famine. Although there is definitely a strong degree of responsibility by the regime in both cases. Comparing them to the 1958-1963 famine in China is even more difficult. You would also need to note that the number of direct executions in the USSR was a higher percentage of the population than in China. Finally, the much greater Soviet accomplishments under Stalin in industrialization, education, health care, and generally improving living standards at least for the massively expanded urban population would need to be taken into account.

      • Hogan

        So you’re saying you’d vote for Hitler?

        • J. Otto Pohl

          As general rule I don’t like any type of democracy. I much prefer enlightened despots like Fredrick the Great and Catherine the Great. ;-)

          • rea

            Both of whom were very competent imperialists but god-awful rulers

  • Origami Isopod

    I am fine with the fact that JBE got in, because it means Vitter did not.

    What I am not fine with is the usual dismissive political wonkery from so-called “allies” who have decided my control over my own body is not a “bread and butter issue” and who feel free to sling around comments about “irrationality” with a blithe disregard for the extremely gendered context and the even more gendered nuances of that concept.

    And, inevitably, those who wish to wag their fingers at me for not responding “civilly” to that kind of horseshit.

    • ChrisTS

      I don’t see anything uncivil in your comment.

    • Drexciya

      What I am not fine with is the usual dismissive political wonkery from so-called “allies” who have decided my control over my own body is not a “bread and butter issue” and who feel free to sling around comments about “irrationality” with a blithe disregard for the extremely gendered context and the even more gendered nuances of that concept.

      And, inevitably, those who wish to wag their fingers at me for not responding “civilly” to that kind of horseshit.

      All of this.

      And it’s beyond irritating for people to do this while ignoring that the acquisition of healthcare (the supposedly inarguable marker of “progress” here) is now inherently gendered in unavoidable, disturbing ways by his willingness to make womens’ autonomy something that’s not in the hands of the actual women those bodies belong to. Saying Medicaid is an unalloyed good is not separable from the fact that healthcare is, in pivotal ways, out of the hands of half the state. A triumphant discussion of that is not a considerate or correctly nuanced one.

      • Origami Isopod

        Very good point.

      • ForkyMcSpoon

        Women in Louisiana don’t have less access to abortion because of Edwards than they did under Jindal or would have under Vitter. They will have more access to contraception and other healthcare because of the Medicaid expansion. That IS progress, not “progress”. I can see that this is not a huge amount of progress. There’s probably an argument that it was possible to achieve even more progress with a different candidate or that JBE could’ve taken more progressive positions. But progress towards your goals is not a synonym for achieving your goals. So I have no problem calling it progress. Unless you have an argument for the election of JBE instead of Vitter actually *impeding* the achievement of those goals then yes, it’s fucking progress.

        I’m not only pro-choice, but pro-abortion. So obviously, I would not say that JBE’s opposition to abortion is a positive. It seems it was probably not necessary for him to be quite so anti-abortion to get elected. There’s a lot more work to be done.

        But how do you move the Overton window to the left? It’s not by letting people like David Vitter get elected.

        • djw

          There’s probably an argument that it was possible to achieve even more progress with a different candidate or that JBE could’ve taken more progressive positions.

          Since he took it by 12 points, I suppose we can imagine some alternative universe where we’ve got an LA candidate who has all of JBE’s electoral strengths, but is somewhat less anti-choice, who could still win this election. But we can’t pick and choose our candidates from thousants of alternative universes, we’re stuck with this one. I’m no expert on Louisiana politics so I suppose it’s possible that there’s a just as strong but slightly more progressive candidate that could have won this year, but I certainly wouldn’t bet on it.

    • Scott Lemieux

      What I am not fine with is the usual dismissive political wonkery from so-called “allies” who have decided my control over my own body is not a “bread and butter issue” and who feel free to sling around comments about “irrationality” with a blithe disregard for the extremely gendered context and the even more gendered nuances of that concept.

      Right. I will do something longer on this, but there are two distinct issues here:

      1)There will be wankers saying this shows that Democrats should abandon mere “cultural issues” and focus on “bread and butter” issues that can attract white Southern men. This is really dumb. Reproductive freedom is a core progressive value. Edwards’s opposition to reproductive freedom should be criticized.

      2)Should reproductive freedom be a “dealbreaker”? Obviously not. Inflicting needless pain and suffering on many poor people in order to take a symbolic stance that would not even materially protect reproductive rights is an immoral and indefensible position.

      • Nobdy

        It would not only not protect reproductive rights it would likely harm them. Pro life Democrats tend to be less extreme than Republicans and less effective in restricting abortion since they are bad at working with the pro life republican caucus and have to get along with the pro choice democrats.

  • ChrisTS

    I think the concept of ‘progress’ needs some unpacking, here. Getting a crummy Dem may not be an advance’ over getting a crummier Repub, but it is better to have the former. Progress cannot be measured between two options in the same time period.

    And, since in this instance, there is actually an advance in getting a crummy Dem to replace an appallingly bad Repub – Jindal – there is some progress in the election of Edwards.

    • ChrisTS

      OOPS. Didn’t close the italics.

  • Sly

    I think its important to note that we’re talking about a state that once elected to the governorship one of the most corrupt politicians in its history – a fact everyone who voted for him knew when they voted for him – because the other guy was a Neo-Nazi. And, like Edwards v. Vitter, this also happened during a runoff election.

    The latter is especially crucial to acknowledge; runoff elections are precisely the last place where “I’ll hold my nose and vote for X” will lose its argumentative power. Pro-Choice Louisianans who had even the slightest commitment to other progressive causes had no choice because runoff elections are designed to limit choices.

    • human

      One of my favorite political jokes came out of that election.

      Edwin Edwards, David Duke, and Buddy Roemer decided to go fishing together and work out their differences. They got their fishing rods and bait and their ice chest of beer and loaded up the boat and got in. Just as the boat got out in the middle of the lake, it tipped over and dumped all three of them in the water. Who was saved?

      The state of Louisiana.

      We told that joke to each other and laughed at it and still went out and voted and elected Edwin Edwards… because he wasn’t a fucking Neo-Nazi.

    • Hogan

      one of the most corrupt politicians in its history

      Who was also named Edwards.

  • Steve LaBonne

    Personally I would have voted for Edwards if I lived in Louisiana, since despite being appalling in many ways he still will be measurably better than Vitter in some important ones. But I would neither blame nor lecture anyone who just couldn’t swallow that shit sandwich.

    • ajp

      I will. I absolutely will. And if God forbid Cuomo is ever the democratic nominee, I will castigate any self-proclaimed Dem who refuses to hold their nose. Because the alternative would be a Ted Cruz. Or Tom Cotton.

      Politics is mostly about marginal victory. As someone who cares deeply about reproductive rights, it’s a shit sandwich. But Vitter was a smellier, runnier, cornier shit.

  • RonC

    But Nader in 2000!!!!!!

  • Drexciya

    If one says that being anti-privacy is an acceptable stance for a Democratic candidate, what is unacceptable?

    This question is absolutely pivotal and one of the recurring ones that I least like trying to preempt answers to — on this topic and a number of others.

    • dl

      I propose that that’s not the relevant question.

      The relevant question is, what do you do when a DEM with some unacceptable stances is running against a REP with all unacceptable stances?

      • Scott Lemieux

        The relevant question is, what do you do when a DEM with some unacceptable stances is running against a REP with all unacceptable stances?

        The answer is, in fact, entirely obvious: vote for the former.

        If you take a “dealbreaker” position, then among other things it means no New Deal and no Great Society. FDR and LBJ did not even come close to meeting a “does not have a bad position on any core liberal value” standard.

        • dl

          Well, yes.

          I meant the question to imply the answer.

    • Happy Jack

      At one time two of the more liberal members of Congress were pro-life. I’m thinking of Kaptur and *Kucinich. I don’t recall anyone asking for a purge.

      *Yes, he changed when he ran for president.

  • Murc

    Er?

    Manchin was elected in 2010, six months after the ACA passed. He did not have the chance to vote either for it or against it.

    I mean… sure. My statement was somewhat hyperbolic. I’m sure there are a number of important issues Manchin is with us on. But on the big stuff? Anti-gay. Anti-choice. Balanced budget amendment? In favor of it. Pro-default. Pro-pollution. Climate change denier. Pro-gun. Pro-cops-murdering-people, if I recall correctly, although I’m less sure about that.

    I probably should change that, for strict accuracy, to be “most things of important” rather than a blanket denial he’s with us on nothing. You’re correct about that. But if that’s the only thing I got wrong in the entire comment I consider it a pretty good comment.

    EDITED TO ADD: What the hell, how did this end up orphaned? djw made a comment to my comment asking if by “nothing of importance” my position was that the Affordable Care Act was not important, and this was my response.

    Only his comment isn’t there anymore and so mine ended up way down here. The hell?

    • djw

      Sorry, I realized my error, thought I zapped it before it would have a chance to get seen. It was up for about a minute, you’re quick. My point, though, holds–“of any importance” is doing a lot of work for you here. His voting record is much better than a wv Republican would be.

      • Murc

        Well, it is, but I don’t feel that is directly relevant to the point I was making, which is 1) that Manchin ended up being way more right-wing than even what you’d normally expect for a WV Dem, and 2) rather than keeping it under the radar he lets his freak flag fly, and 3) these two reasons combined are why people are so nails-spittingly mad about him.

        He’d come in for a lot less vitriol if he would just quietly cast his votes and then not talk about them except when he’s at home, as opposed to running to the nearest microphone and crow about his heterodoxy, even with an identical voting record.

        • djw

          Yeah, I’d say Manchin has performed at around the 30th percentile based on my expectations from the time of his election. It’s frustrating, but what can you do?

        • Pat

          Manchin did try to push for gun control after the Connecticut massacre. Felt he was the only one who could do it. Not that it went anywhere.

  • wjts

    (And I’m not so certain about Dagon.)

    Say what you will about him, but he kept Y’ha-nthlei safe.

    • Murc

      Dagon could never get elected as a Republican, he’s pro-race mixing.

      • wjts

        Ha!

      • J. Otto Pohl

        Lots of us extreme right wingers are pro-race mixing. ;-)

  • CP

    And apparently, it will remain not that big a deal. For the foreseeable future, the “Less of a walking nightmare than the Republican Candidate” bar will be easily cleared by anyone who isn’t a convicted mother stabbing father rapist, or Dagon. (And I’m not so certain about Dagon.) If one says that being anti-privacy is an acceptable stance for a Democratic candidate, what is unacceptable?

    We’re basically back to the mid-nineteenth century in terms of ultra-polarization in this country.

    The thing is, that polarization both then and now wasn’t between the extreme right wing and the extreme left wing. It was between the extreme right wing and everyone else that they’d driven into the other party through their own extremism. In the old days, that could include people who were dedicate believers in slavery but didn’t think breaking the Union in its name was okay. Nowadays, we have… people like this.

  • Ktotwf

    It has always annoyed me that, outside of a few pockets of the Leftest parts of the country, Democratic voters have no passion for disciplining their party in the manner of the Tea Party. It allows the center-Left to be vacuous, conservative, and unfocused. It results in everyone to the Left of Obama being held in vast contempt by everyone who wields actual power in this country.

    • dl

      Did some say “discipline?” I’ve got some free time!
      –David V.

    • rea

      It allows the center-Left to be vacuous, conservative, and unfocused

      Sorry, it’s our nature.

  • Incontinentia Buttocks

    Voting for the Lesser Evil is, sadly, often the right thing to do. But it is never a good idea is such a circumstance to dress up what one is doing as anything more positive than voting for the Lesser Evil. The less bad guy in Louisiana won. As he’s not only less bad than his opponent, but less bad than Bobby Jindal, things will get better on the margins in Louisiana. That doesn’t make John Bel Edwards anything better than the Lesser Evil.

  • cpinva

    “I’m thinking now of Sen. Joe Manchin, v. 3.0 (D-Mountaintop Removal).”

    if that’s all Manchin has to offer them, his time is soon over. coal demand is so low right now, producers are selling it at a loss. when your gross profit (sales – COGS) is negative, there is a major league problem, either with you or the industry as a whole. right now, the problem is with the industry as a whole.

    • Pat

      One of Obama’s great victories was the destruction of the coal industry.

  • Gregor Sansa

    There are two important points in the OP, and I think it’s worth addressing them separately.

    First: partial victories should not be used to scold those who were left out, or to hide their issues. You really can’t deny that Edwards is better than Vitter. But that doesn’t mean that women should forget about their silly uteruses and cheer.

    Second: if two-party elections don’t work to make progress on some important issue, as often they don’t, what should we do? When you put it that way, the answers are obvious. There’s the Gregor Sansa answer: work to replace plurality voting with a better system. And there are plenty of more conventional progressive answers: primary campaigns, non-electoral activism, civil disobedience, etc. If Republicans were not quite so dangerous as today, those might include explicit spoiler campaigns. But in today’s US, Republicans are a risk we can’t take.

    • Everyone can help with the second part by entering into a monetary wager about politics with M. Sansa.

      He doesn’t gloat over his victims TOO much.

      • Gregor Sansa

        Aw. I do declare, you say the sweetest things.

  • UserGoogol

    where is his incentive to stop fighting to allow coal companies to remove the mountains from the mountain state?

    There is no incentive, and there cannot be such an incentive. Politicians will vote however they want to vote. If we have the votes to elect someone better we should, and if we don’t then all we can do is accept our own powerlessness.

  • Morse Code for J

    But if he gets re-elected on the basis of not being as bad as the Republican candidate (who will of course be worse, even if they have to lure Cheney to the state with a trail of newborn babies’ hearts), where is his incentive to stop fighting to allow coal companies to remove the mountains from the mountain state?

    Oh JFC. I have a control group for that. Her name is Shelly Moore-Capito.

    Nobody at any level of state government has an incentive to fight mine operators. If it’s not the mine operators or the chemical refinery owners, what does the southern part of the state really have other than the collection of Social Security retirement or disability? Since we did away with pork, the highway construction companies whom Robert Byrd showered with federal funds to make our roads the most pristine in the country have had it pretty rough. Of course Joe Manchin will fight the Democrats every single time on every piece of legislation which makes it harder for power plants in the U.S. to burn his state’s coal at an economically viable price. He had damn well better, because those jobs are most of the few remaining jobs for an under-educated population that pay anything like a living wage. And it’s not like the Democrats are rushing in with some sort of alternative to make West Virginia less crushingly poor in those areas.

    I can understand why a lot of Democrats don’t want to vote for him, but fuck anyone who thinks that he and any Republican in the same seat are functionally indistinguishable.

  • Sebastian_h

    Well first of all, Louisiana isn’t as pro-choice as you would like, so of course not being as pro-choice as you would like isn’t a deal breaker for Democrats there.

    Further, look at what you’re using as proof of anti-choice politics: a statute that says medical professionals when considering medical procedures must count 6th month fetuses and then consider whether or not the mother’s life can be reasonably maintained to allow for the development of the fetus.

    That is well in line with a vast majority of American’s intuitions on abortion multi-year abortion polling[fn1], and well in keeping with the state of the law in a very large number of very progressive nations who that line well before the 6th month (See Denmark, Sweden, France and Germany). The position you seem to be trying to stake out as the mainstream pro-choice position isn’t that mainstream in the US or in many other very progressive countries. Maybe it isn’t really the progress position.

    [fn1] 80% of people and more think that abortion should be generally illegal in months 6-9. The percentage of people who think that abortions should be legal in all/legal in some/legal in no cases is pretty steadily approximately 15/65/15%. The maximalist pro-choice position has about the same support level as the maximalist pro-life position. And each of those positions commands just barely double the number of people who think that moon landing was faked (about 7%) or equal to the number of people who think the US committed the 9/11 attacks (15%).

    People who think that the maximalist pro-choice or pro-life positions are much more popular than the number of 9/11 conspiracy theorists are falling for self-selection sampling errors.

    • Hogan

      well in keeping with the state of the law in a very large number of very progressive nations who that line well before the 6th month (See Denmark, Sweden, France and Germany).

      What, that again?

      • Sebastian_h

        If that link contradicted anything I wrote that would have been a better response.

        • Hogan

          If you take a strangely but conveniently narrow view of what constitutes abortion law, you might be right about that.

        • Sebastian_h

          If you want to understand why even Democrats often vote for less than maximally pro-choice laws, the fact that about 85% of people are much less than maximally pro-choice is relevant.

          The fact that we couldn’t import Sweden’s MUCH more restrictive abortion laws and mirror all their outcomes without also allowing abortion (in the 1st trimester ONLY, their rules which are more restrictive than the ones being objected to take place in the SECOND trimester) through Medicaid is worth pointing out. But that doesn’t negate the fact that the over all ‘progressive’ trend on abortion isn’t even close to as maximally pro-choice as pro-choicers in the US.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Swedish abortion law is not more restrictive than American law. Most post-first trimester abortions obtained by American women could also be obtained by Swedish women, and abortion is subsidized by the state and not subject to the other arbitrary restrictions of many American states.

            • mikeSchilling

              This conversation might (possibly, perhaps, nahh, probably still not) be productive if everyone stopped talking past each other.

              Federal law, which allows all first-trimester and pretty much all second-trimester abortions, is in fact less restrictive than most European laws.

              The laws of several states, which put arbitrary and onerous restrictions on all abortions, including first-trimester, and in some cases result in there being few or no abortion providers practicing in those states, result in a system that, in practice, is far more restrictive.

              Carry on.

              • Scott Lemieux

                Federal law, which allows all first-trimester and pretty much all second-trimester abortions, is in fact less restrictive than most European laws.

                No. See above.

                • mikeSchilling

                  I do see above. “Most” is not “all”, and the arbitrary restrictions you mention are at the state level, at the federal level.

                  But I was right about no one wanting to climb down off their perch long enough to agree on the actual facts, so there’s that.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  The Hyde Amendment isn’t federal law? News to me.

                • Denverite

                  The Hyde Amendment isn’t federal law? News to me.

                  I mean, does a rider really count as a law?

                  (If you can’t tell, I’m fucking with you.)

            • Sebastian_h

              No you’re flat out wrong about it being more restrictive. Elective abortions are only permitted through week 18 (4.5 months). That is a very significant gestational difference from the US rule. Abortions are flatly not allowed in Sweden if the fetus is viable (generally after 22nd week). Late abortions are allowed if the fetus would be born dead or would die immediately after birth (consonant with the US rules in all states) but are generally not allowed otherwise unless the health of the mother is put in serious danger (not the case in all states, and not OK by US pro-choice standards). It is perfectly clear that there are quite a few women in the US who seek non-medically necessary late term abortions–the Gosnell case alone documented hundreds with that one doctor.

              You can quibble over ‘arbitrary rules’, and that is fine to some extent. But you can’t in good faith argue that Swedish late term abortion rules are anything other than MUCH stricter than US pro-choice advocates want (and already have) here. The Louisiana law specifically complained about in the original post would represent a large pro-choice shift if enacted into Swedish law. Other Louisiana laws would be a large pro-life shift. But the one specifically called out in the post would be a shift in the pro-choice direction, a large shift for Swedish law.

              • Scott Lemieux

                No you’re flat out wrong about it being more restrictive. Elective abortions are only permitted through week 18 (4.5 months).

                Nope. Women can still obtain abortions with the approval of a panel, and approval is generally granted for women with health issues.

                Abortions are flatly not allowed in Sweden if the fetus is viable (generally after 22nd week).

                American states can ban post-viability abortions and many do.

                It is perfectly clear that there are quite a few women in the US who seek non-medically necessary late term abortions–the Gosnell case alone documented hundreds with that one doctor.

                Whether women seek them and whether they are legal are very different questions.

                But you can’t in good faith argue that Swedish late term abortion rules are anything other than MUCH stricter than US pro-choice advocates want (and already have) here.

                I can, and did. And you just can’t isolate term regulations as if they’re the only thing that restricts abortion access. Arbitrary regulations that affect the overwhelming majority of abortions that happen in the first trimester can’t be handwaved away. The Hyde Amendment is not a “quibble.”

                • Sebastian_h

                  “Whether women seek them and whether they are legal are very different questions.” Quite, and I mentioned it only to forestall the ridiculous but ubiquitous “women only seek late term abortions for medical reasons” canard.

                  “Women can still obtain abortions with the approval of a panel, and approval is generally granted for women with health issues.”

                  No, you are broadly overstating the case. If continuing the pregnancy will endanger the life of the Swedish woman or seriously and permanently alter her health for the worse, approval is granted. Which is true in the United States too, except in Sweden it has to be proven to a medical board while in most states it just needs a doctor sign off. (And like the Gosnell case I presume we can forstall silliness like “would a doctor ever sign off on something they didn’t believe” since we know that some will overprescribe anti-biotics just to shut whiny people up.)

                  In many of the United States, the law on what counts for the health exception is much broader. Further, in states like California the actual practice is broader still–California doesn’t have any oversight on the issue whatsoever, and won’t even report on it to the CDC. That’s 1/8 of the population right there (and 4x the Swedish population, so thats a lot of abortions).

                  “Arbitrary regulations that affect the overwhelming majority of abortions that happen in the first trimester can’t be handwaved away.”

                  Sure they can when we are talking about things that AREN’T THAT in order to prove that a Democrat isn’t pro-choice.

                  The complaint is that Edwards isn’t sufficiently pro-choice. He only isn’t sufficiently pro-choice from a radical pro-choice position, not one that would fit fine with all sorts of actually progressive people and actually progressive nations. He isn’t sufficiently pro-choice for people who think that we shouldn’t be concerned with a fetus “that the probable postfertilization age of the unborn child is twenty or more weeks and the pregnant woman’s life can reasonably be maintained in such a way as to permit the continuing development and live birth of the unborn child,…”.

                  But that is precisely what a huge percentage of the population, including a majority of actual progressives outside of the US thinks makes sense.

                  The quibble isn’t the Hyde amendment. He isn’t being dinged for voting for the Hyde amendment. The quibble is that voting for such a position as quoted, flirts with being almost too pro-life to vote for.

                  That is the kind of view that is informed from a radical pro-choice echo chamber.

  • geniecoefficient

    I have no comment on the topic of the post, ie. how to think about and respond to electoral victories of right-wing Democrats, but I salute S. for the (mild) trolling. My hat is off to you, Shakezula.

    Some LGM orthodoxies, moreover, deserve to be challenged once in awhile. This is one of them.

  • Ken

    I hope the problem isn’t envy of the Republicans because they can always find candidates that follow the party line. They’ll have that advantage as long as their party line is no more than “HATE” and “FEAR” tattooed across the knuckles of two clenched fists.

    (Sadly, Democratic positions don’t reduce to two four-letter words.)

    • I see that argument from time to time, but I haven’t seen it in this instance.

      And if HATE FEAR knuckle tattoos aren’t the next hot Republican fashion trend, they should be. (American flags on the backs of both hands optional.)

  • Avattoir

    Scott, I drove all the way down this thread to see if anyone else made this point, and apparently no one else has, so …

    I don’t know where you get any support from the quoted amendment you cite as having been promoted by JBE, for your point about JBE’s anti-abortion stance becoming so ‘politicized’ that it’s working against existing rights pursuant to Roe v. Wade that subsequent lower-federal court decisions which purport to follow Roe v. Wade indeed preserve.

    That’s wordy: correct, but Jeebus … I’ll put this more directly. Look to the citation right at the end of the amendment you’ve quoted: it specifically refers to “R.S. 40:1299.58.5”. Well, I happen to have that Regulation right behind this Coming Attractions sign: http://tinyurl.com/nhrmmes

    I read the Reg as having to do with “comatose and otherwise incompetent”, where the word “incompetent”, in context, doesn’t refer to ‘legal incompetence’ due to age, i.e. being under-age, and is intended to apply patients who have never previously made a ‘medical situation notification’ per another Reg dealing with the obligation to make a “patient declaration”, and also, because of being comatose or the like, are ‘currently’ unable to comply with the obligation to make that state-required “patient declaration”.

    I’m open to being convinced otherwise, but I really don’t think this amendment does anything AT ALL to abortion rights, and indeed isn’t at all about those, not even tangentially.

    • Avattoir

      Crikey, I thought this post was by Lemieux. Sorry, Scott! I should really have opened with “Shakezulu”. The rest, however, stands.

  • fermiontheclown

    OP wrote:

    The same place as Edwards’ incentive not to further erode the privacy rights and access to health care of half the state’s population… Where’s the progress in that?

    I think OP means women’s “access to (abortion) health care”, rather than “access to health care (generally)” (and AFAICT most commenters upthread read the quote that way.)

    If I am wrong, well … then the rest of this note is a tl;dr exercise in missing the point, in which case please ignore everything I’ve written here.

    That being said …

    I’d think that the only individuals who face economic and/or physical risk resulting from lack of access to (abortion) health care would be individuals who are pregnant.

    According to Guttmacher Institute (https://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/unintended-pregnancy/LA.html):

    Incidence and Outcomes of Unintended Pregnancy in Louisiana
    • In 2010, 60% of all pregnancies (53,000) in Louisiana were unintended.(9)
    • Louisiana’s unintended pregnancy rate in 2010 was 57 per 1,000 women aged 15–44. Nationally, rates among the states ranged from a low of 32 per 1,000 in New Hampshire to a high of 62 per 1,000 in Delaware.(9)

    They mean “53000 unintended pregnancies” for 2010 (see reference 9 at the link), so that’s the number potentially denied access to (abortion) health care in Louisiana in 2010. [1] Call it 60,000 in 2014.

    That’s an upper bound on the number of Louisiana women potentially lacking access to health care in the specific form of abortion every year.

    The Census Bureau gives Louisiana’s population in 2014 as roughly 4.65M. Roughly half of the population being female, the fraction of women potentially lacking access to abortion health care is about 2.6%.

    2.6%, not 50% (or 51% or whatevs.)

    Consider Medicaid expansion.

    Edwards ran on Medicaid expansion. Diapers Vitter opposed Medicaid expansion.

    Medicaid expansion will bring health care to 225K Louisianans (http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/11/david-vitter-louisiana-governor-john-bel-edwards), so about 112500 women will benefit from Medicaid expansion. That’s 4.8%.

    The number of women potentially lacking access to (abortion) health care is approximately half of the number of women who will gain access to (general) health care from a Medicaid expansion: 2.6% vs. 4.8%.

    One could argue that “(abortion) health care” and “(general) health care” are two very different animals, and that principle – specifically the right to control one’s own body – is the critical issue at stake here. One could also argue that the right to (general) health care is important, possibly even more important in this case, since free and easy access to abortion health care providers is not on offer.

    Put differently, had Vitter won, lack of access to (abortion) health care, with no change in the number of women lacking access to (general) health care. As it happened, Edwards won, so lack of access to (abortion) health care, but upwards of 112500 women gaining access to health care (and men too, but never mind that.)

    One might regard that as progress. [dryly]

    [1] these are all back of the envelope calculations; they are not intended to be precise. I have the impression that Guttmacher is regarded as reasonably reliable but no specific knowledge.

  • kayden

    So how easy is it to get a moderate Democrat in a red red red state such as West Virginia or Louisiana? I assume Manchin and Edwards are the best that we can expect in states which have a majority Conservative/Tea Bagger-like electorate.

    The bigger question is why are Democratic voters in red states selecting folks like Manchin and Edwards versus much more liberal/progressive alternatives.

  • Quite Likely

    If Democrats can’t accept anti-choice red state politicians who agree with them on other things into their midst, it’s not going to produce a surge in pro-choice red state politicians getting elected, it’s just going to mean that those states have a lot fewer Democrats.

    So I’m absolutely in favor of better Democrats competing in primaries in those states, but I’m also in favor of back whichever Democrat wins those primaries in the general even if it’s one I don’t like.

    I have less hesitation about supporting Edwards in Louisiana than I would about supporting Clinton in the general, since I have less confidence that a more progressive Democrat would have won Louisiana, while it’s clear that Sanders could win the general. But I’d hold my nose and vote for Clinton anyway, because I actually have to live in this dumb country and don’t want to hand it over to Donald Trump out of spite.

    • Gregor Sansa

      You’re right that Sanders can win in the general. But if he doesn’t win the primary, that and $10 will get you a cup of Starbucks. I know that it makes it feel worse, but it really is not worth punishing the whole country if Iowa, South Carolina, and Nevada happen not to be far enough ahead of the curve.

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