The organizers of the Women’s March convened a Women’s Convention in Detroit this weekend. At first, it appeared that Sen. Bernie Sanders would be the “keynote speaker,” and outrage ignited the internet faster than a Sonoma brush fire. (Too soon, Green!)
Some very-offended partisans, who had supported Hillary Clinton, still blamed Bernie for her landslide popular vote victory, albeit the wrong landslide. I saw social media chatter about how Bernie is clearly a witting agent for the Kremlin.
He wasn’t headlining, and went to Puerto Rico instead, so the issue is moot.
Clinton loyalists argued that Bernie is bad for women, because in April he supported pro-life Democrat Heath Mello to be mayor of Omaha. This raises the question, why does Omaha exist? Sanders defended his efforts by saying, “We have got to appreciate where people come from, and do our best to fight for the pro-choice agenda. But I think you just can’t exclude people who disagree with us on one issue.”
In general, people still grouchy about the Mello endorsement didn’t notice that Sanders’ Medicare for All legislation includes abortions and women’s health. This would effectively end the Hyde Amendment ban on federal funding for abortions and be the biggest expansion in reproductive rights in a generation.
What’s more, Sanders’ reluctance in April to make abortion a litmus test for Democrats is not unusual.
In May, DNC chair Tom Perez met with Democrats for Life of America, an organization of pro-life Democrats, and the only political group with as empty a name as the United Democratic Club. This was after Perez said Democrats should not “demand fealty” on every issue. Then, he walked it back, which is political speak for changing your opinions with the winds, before he walked it forward again.
Also in May, our own Nancy Pelosi told the Washington Post that Democrats should not impose support for abortion rights as a litmus test for candidates, because she’s an Italian from Baltimore, which apparently means she lives in the past.
In July, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told The Hill that support for abortion rights would not be a litmus test.
Then, in August, current governor and forever Jesuit Jerry Brown told Meet the Press, “The fact that somebody believes today what most people believed 50 years ago should not be the basis for their exclusion.” With a 50-year cutoff, then, by Jerry’s logic, people who deny the existence of Jacuzzis should be given every right to govern, since the Jacuzzi was invented 49 years ago.
We’re up to our ears in litmus!
Recently, Gov. Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 569, the Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Act, which would have banned workplace discrimination due to a woman’s personal reproductive health choices.
Current law protects workers from discrimination for being pregnant. The law the governor vetoed would have extended those protections to discrimination for other reproductive choices, like having a child out of wedlock, having an abortion or IVF. This would have directly rebutted the right-wing agenda of imposing puritanical gender values in the name of religious freedom.
Our liberal governor thinks it should be illegal to fire someone for getting pregnant but not for giving birth to the bastard Jon Snow.
Most Californians don’t know their “liberal” governor just vetoed a pro-choice bill, at the behest of the Chamber of Commerce and the religious right. Being pro-choice should be a litmus test for Democratic candidates. Not because there is any real debate among Democrats about litmus tests, but because supporting choice is not actually controversial. Anti-choice patriarchs take up more than their fair share of oxygen in political debate about the issue. But, in fact, 70 percent of Americans support a legal right to abortion — even those who don’t support it for themselves.
It’s not only a moral stance but also politically safe. What good are politicians if they won’t even be cowards properly?
Nato Green is a San Francisco-based comedian and writer. See him live riffing over “Star Trek IV” at Riffer’s Delight at the Alamo Drafthouse on Monday, at the San Jose Improv on Wednesday and Verdi Wild Things Are at the Verdi Club on Friday.