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Run on Your Beliefs

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Pro-choice demonstrators gather outside the house of US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in Alexandria, Virginia, on May 9, 2022. – The US Senate will vote on May 11 on a national abortion rights bill — a process likely doomed to fail — after a leaked draft decision signalled the Supreme Court’s readiness to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade decision. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

It’s not really that surprising that Dobbs would lead to a Democratic boost in the midterms. What is surprising is that Democratic advisors were actually surprised by this. Now, there are tons of ads promoting abortion rights. That’s great. The question is where was this for the last thirty years? The entire construction of “safe, legal, and rare” was garbage. Like the rest of the Democratic Party since the 1980s, it was a symbol of a party scared to run on your actual beliefs. On issue after issue after issue, Democrats ceded rhetorical ground to Republicans. Moreover, abortion became an individual right rather than a collective right. “My Body, My Choice” is horrible framing, because it makes it about me as the individual than us as the society and thus allows people to co-opt this in terrible ways, such as using the term to reject the Covid vaccination. In fact, the only way to protect all rights is to think of them as collective rights and act that way.

The bigger issue here though is that the Democratic leadership, including the advisors, are often still living in the 90s, believing that you can’t just say you want to run on universal health care, gay rights, abortion, and all the other things that Democrats often run from for discussions of tax cuts and the middle class. But you can run on what you believe. People like it when candidates run on what they believe. This is part of John Fetterman’s secret. His politics aren’t that special or anything–he will be a left-leaning liberal but not more than that and he’s not great on race. But he knows that his brand is simply not giving a shit what people think about him. And that works! It’s not gold of course. He wouldn’t win if this was Alabama. But for decades, Democrats have run Conor Lamb types statewide and gotten their asses kicked, in part because the milquetoast candidates don’t inspire anyone.

Just run on what you actually believe in. It’s probably the best route forward, even if the policies are supposedly controversial. Turns out people want abortion to be legal. Who knew!

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