Call me crazy, but something tells me that the issue of abortion is going to matter a whole lot in the 2020 presidential election.
While Americans as a whole have been fairly consistent, the Democratic Party has become more and more pro-abortion since Roe v. Wade. Republicans and independents, however, have become more pro-life. This trend has been going on for decades, but 2020 might be the first presidential election where abortion will be a significant issue—in favor of the Republican Party. And it all comes down to these extreme abortion bills that are being considered or passed in Democrat-controlled states.
In my state of New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that allows for babies to be aborted up until the moment of birth. The signing of this bill was celebrated with landmarks such as One World Trade Center being lit up in pink.
In Virginia, Democrat Kathy Tran of the Virginia House of Delegates proposed her own bill that would allow for abortion up until the moment of birth, and Governor Ralph Northam (who’s also got other problems now) basically admitted that the bill being considered would essentially allow for the killing of babies after they’re born.
Whether Democrats want to admit it or not, these radical abortion bills being taken up by various states are not a good look for the party. Because abortion is a sacred cow of the Democratic Party, as the 2020 Democratic Clown Car fills up, Democrat presidential hopefuls will have to position themselves even farther to the left… and these bills are undoubtedly going to force them to take a position on unrestricted abortion.
Forget euphemisms like “choice” and “reproductive health” or “women’s health care.” America may be a country that supports abortion rights, but for years polls have said that a sizable majority of Americans, even Democrats, believe in reasonable restrictions on abortion—restrictions today’s Democratic Party simply don’t believe in. Gone are the days of “safe and rare.” Democrats today oppose anything that might restrict the ability of — or change the mind of — a woman (or child) having an abortion.
What exactly do the polls say? According to a recent Marist poll, 75 percent of Americans believe abortion should be restricted to the first trimester. Fewer than one-third of Americans believe abortion should be legal under any circumstance. Americans may want abortion to be legal, but they want it to be rare, and only in certain circumstances. Today, Democrat activists are so far to the left that they fight tooth and nail to protect Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, and want women to proudly “shout your abortion” — as if having an abortion is an achievement worthy of a blue ribbon and a cash prize. Make no mistake about it, the recent abortion bills popping up are going to put Democrat presidential hopefuls on defense on the issue of abortion by putting them in a position of taking a side on these state bills. And some in the party recognize this as an opportunity for the Republican Party.
Casting Democrats as a scary and radical force is giving a fractured Republican Party a common thrust at a time when Trump’s standing even within his own party has started to dip. And it is giving Democrats a bit of the heartburn that Republicans have been grappling with for more than two years.
“There is legitimate concern among Democrats about policy and rhetoric that comes out of the very far left,” said Ed Rendell, the former governor of Pennsylvania and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. “Yes, they hurt. It gives Republicans fodder to continue this train of thought that Democrats have become a socialist party. . . . They pounce on anything someone in our party says and make it seem like it represents the whole party.”
Abortion, taxes and health care have long been among the most combustible political topics. But in the context of the energetic field of 2020 candidates and amid coarsening political rhetoric, they have taken on new gravity. The past few days offer a preview of the next two years, as Democrats argue that the country is yearning for policies previously believed to be too far left, and Republicans cast them as “radical zealots” (Fox News host Laura Ingraham), “so radicalized” (presidential son Eric Trump) and “the party of death” (former House speaker Newt Gingrich).
What Governor Rendell fails to acknowledge here is that the very far-left rules today’s Democratic Party. How many Democrats hoping to win their party’s nomination are going to come out against these radical abortion bills? The base of the Democratic Party is pro-abortion, not pro-choice.
The apparent poor health of Ruth Bader Ginsburg has many on the left worrying that President Trump could get a third Supreme Court pick. Democrats on the state level are looking to pass radical abortion laws as some sort of preemptive measure should Roe v. Wade be overturned by a conservative Supreme Court. What they don’t realize is that they’ve shifted the abortion debate into territory that is advantageous for Republicans in 2020—particularly Donald Trump.
Matt Margolis is the author of The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama and the bestselling The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. His new book, Trumping Obama: How President Trump Saved Us From Barack Obama’s Legacy, will be published in 2019. You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMargolis