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Why Focusing on the Presidency Is Bad Politics

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em121718b/a/From left, Maryann Maestas, with the ACLU, Susan Sattell, with Santa Fe National Organization of Women, and around 30 others listen as Rep. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces, right, announces her bill to repeal an old law criminalizing most abortion. The announcement was held at the State Capitol, in Santa Fe, Monday Decemeber 17, 2018. Monday was the first day to pre-file bills for the 2019 legislative session. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

As I stated last week, this obsession by people with presidential politics is a real problem and has led to lower turnout for Democrats in 2019 because they are already focused on the primary, even though it is 10 months away. Moreover, as I’ve stated many times, primarying bad Democrats is good. What I have not stated is that the DCCC wanting to punish any firms that work with candidates who are challenging incumbents is really disgusting. Primaries are really, really important and being a politician is not a lifetime sinecure that allows you no accountability with your voters. It’s awful. One reason you need to oust incumbents is because they may well not have values that reflect their voters. Take these New Mexico Democrats:

A group of state senate Democrats sided with Republicans to prevent the repeal of a 50-year-old law that makes abortion a felony.

New Mexico lawmakers last week were inches away from eliminating some of the most archaic state anti-choice language in the United States.

Today, New Mexico remains one of a handful of states with a dangerous pre-Roe v. Wade law on the books banning abortion care, thanks to a group of state senate Democrats joining Republicans to defeat the repeal effort. In the past two years, voters have elected Democratic majorities in New Mexico and made clear the importance of reproductive health-care access. This awakening has led to unprecedented voter turnout, especially among women. One has to wonder why this group of Democrats would openly ignore facts and turn their backs on their constituents.

The repeal was defeated despite the work of Respect New Mexico Women, a powerhouse coalition of organizations that has worked tirelessly toward providing, protecting, and expanding access to reproductive health care. (Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, where I work, is a member of the Respect coalition.)

It was a simple piece of legislation. In 1969, New Mexico legislators passed a law making abortion a felony, mandating that a provider who performed the procedure be charged with a crime, except in limited circumstances. The 1969 law only allowed for abortion if the pregnant person’s life or health were at serious risk, if the fetus would be born with a significant “defect,” or if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. Disturbingly, a pregnant person who was raped was required to sign an affidavit and assure a special hospital board that she would report the rape to law enforcement.

Obviously Congress is not the New Mexico state legislature, but the precedent set by the DCCC is a dangerous one. These anti-women legislators need primary challenges. There are lots and lots of Democrats who need them at the state and congressional level. They should be encouraged. Everyone obsessing about the presidency, both in terms of national politics and in terms of this particular presidential primary, is missing critical organizing opportunities within the party structure and in the electoral realm that so many liberals think is more important than protest movements. If you think elections are all that matter, then fine I guess, but organizing within the electoral process is a way better use of our time than whatever the later primary gossip is.

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