By Colleen O'Connor
After Alabama passed its draconian abortion law, there is no way the Democrats can win the White House without a woman on the ticket.
By passing a bill making it a felony — punishable by up to 99 years in prison — for any doctor to perform an abortion—even in the case of incest or rape, and even if the mother is a child—Alabama has probably delivered the Democrats a better chance of winning the White House and possibly taking back the Senate.
The path to both those victories threads through Alabama, and specifically through black women.
The four leading Democratic women candidates immediately jumped into the fray. Kamala Harris called it an “attack on women’s health;” Elizabeth Warren dubbed it “an attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade;” Amy Klobuchar and Kirsten Gillibrand echoed those sentiments.
And, Alabama’s new Democratic Senator, Doug Jones, who faces re-election in 2020, joined the backlash by damning the bill as “unconstitutional and shameful.”
The GOP politicians have remained mostly silent.
However, evangelical leader Pat Robertson seemed to agree with the Democrats. He protested that the Alabama bill “has gone too far. It is an extreme law.”
This culture-war issue was specifically designed to energize Trump’s base, as with the wall, the trade war with China, and the latest saber-rattling over Iran.
However, these chaotic, Trump-fueled dust-ups are now producing diminishing political returns. In each instance, Trump has failed to deliver the desired victory.
His polls numbers lag, the Midwestern farm states are turning on him, and his go-to fundraising NRA gun lobby is engulfed in financial scandal. Even the Trump hotel brand is now in decline, and the Congressional and legal investigations are multiplying.
Thus enters the Alabama bill designed to overturn the landmark, nearly half-century-old Roe v. Wade case. Conservatives see a potential win, but it’s more likely a huge unforced error.
Trump is already losing women voters. More will bolt. And the Democratic base is now rejuvenated—bigly.
The Women’s March on Washington, the growing #MeToo women’s movement, and the mass defection of college-educated, suburban Republican women to the Democrats in 2018 portend a disaster for the GOP in 2020. Here’s why:
- The anger women feel is real. The anger is directed against all elites. And the white-male dominated Alabama legislature just became a clueless elite in the culture war versus women’s health that no longer favors the GOP. All the polls show major opposition to the bill.
- The demographics have changed. Women have increasing clout in American politics: young women, women of color, college-educated women, suburban women and, most importantly, women in elective office.
There’s widespread belief that a women’s right to choose is hers to make. Or as one Catholic politician explained, “The right to an abortion is between a woman and her God.”
Few, if any, American women think a victimized child—who is pregnant via rape or incest—should be forced to carry a baby. “Extreme” isn’t a harsh enough judgment.
As for the women in the Democratic race, each is better educated, more experienced in government, a better negotiator, and less prone to vitriol and vulgarities than Trump.
And they are probably better at preventing wars than starting them, at negotiating settlements than tearing them up, and at listening than bellowing.
For all those reasons, there will be a woman on the Democratic ticket. Which slot—President or Vice President—no one knows.
Harris for her part has confidently affirmed her willingness to accept Joe Biden as her running mate.
“I think Joe Biden would be a great running mate,” she said in New Hampshire on Wednesday. “As vice president he’s shown he can do the job.”
Watch the debates and watch it happen. History will be made. A woman will be on the Democratic ticket.
Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.
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