Democrats frustrated with party’s response to abortion ruling | National Government and Political News
By NICHOLAS RICCARDI – Associated Press
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — As Sen. Michael Bennet tried to encourage a small group of Democrats not to give up the fight for abortion rights, Maryah Lauer stepped forward, megaphone in hand, to urge him to do more do.
“Do you support ending the filibuster and expanding the court?” shouted the 28-year-old from a quartet of supporters. “The Democrats are not doing enough.”
The confrontation was a sign of frustration among many Democrats following last month’s Supreme Court decision stripping women of the constitutional right to an abortion. The question ahead of this year’s midterm elections is whether the outrage will spur Democrats to vote or leave them disillusioned and staying home.
From rallies like the one in Colorado Springs to the corridors of the White House, Democrats are pushing an urgent message that voters cannot give up and switch off. President Joe Biden, who often embraces Washington’s institutional traditions, last week called for an exception to the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster rules to ban Roe v. to convert Wade into federal law.
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But the president and his aides have rejected more dramatic moves such as adding additional justices to the Supreme Court or opening on-state clinics in states that ban the procedure. And that has worried some in the party’s more activist circles.
“People want to feel like you’re evaluating every option,” said Brian Fallon of Demand Justice, a Democratic group that advocates for court expansion, which Biden has opposed.
The party tried to get abortion rights into federal law earlier this year, but the effort fell through when Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia sided with Republicans opposing the law. Manchin and Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona say they oppose making an exception to the abortion-rights filibuster rule and reiterated their stance hours after Biden testified, rendering it impossible.
Instead, the Democrats’ message evolves as follows: Vote more Democrats to protect abortion rights. But that is in danger of failing among Democrats, who argue that passionate campaigning hardly automatically gets people to do what they’re supposed to.
“There has to be an articulation of what they’re getting for voting in the election,” said Tresa Undem, a liberal Democratic pollster. “People want to hear real strategies, they want to hear real results.”
The problem is that there may be no strategy that produces real results other than winning elections.
The party needs at least two more senators to end the filibuster and vote on abortion rights, and many fear that even if such legislation were to pass, the Supreme Court would simply scrap a law establishing a national right to abortion. Even drastic moves like packing the court with liberal judges—which are unlikely anyway—would only be temporary gains, since the GOP could simply expand the court again once in power and add conservative judges.
Still, many Democrats say they expect their constituents to be outraged by the recent verdict. They argue that Biden has truly limited options and any desperation at his inability to overturn the verdict will be overcome by Democrat anger at Republicans in November.
“All the data shows that the intensity of Democrats has increased significantly in recent weeks,” said Simon Rosenberg of NDN, a democratic think tank. “People in the Democratic Party may be disappointed in their leaders, but they understand more clearly than ever the threat posed by the new right.”
The Democrats have been preparing for a difficult election for months, and numerous polls show that Biden’s support is falling even among members of his own party. Traditionally, the president’s party is not nearly as motivated as the opposition in midterm elections, resulting in heavy losses for the incumbent’s supporters. Anger at the Supreme Court decision is a potential political lifeline for incumbents like Colorado’s Bennet if it doesn’t drain into apathy or despair.
Though Bennet represents a state that has voted solidly Democratic in consecutive elections, he could still be vulnerable in November if a Republican wave materializes. The GOP has nominated a challenger who, particularly for a Republican, supports a ban on later abortions but otherwise supports abortion rights.
Bennet has relied on strong Colorado voter support for abortion rights to win his two previous elections, and he knows he cannot afford complacency or apathy among his voters.
During his speech at the Colorado Springs rally on June 29, Bennet spoke about the Supreme Court ruling and addressed the frustration and desperation of Democrats. “Don’t give up,” he said. “We can’t just accept things as they are.”
After Bennet’s speech, as he joined local Democratic candidates on stage in a party unity demonstration, Lauer and the others rushed in. After speaking to reporters backstage, Bennet spoke to the protesters.
He told them he was also frustrated with how his party allowed things to go so far that the GOP appointed a 6-3 majority in the High Court. He agreed with them ending the filibuster and codifying Roe, but declined to fill the court. If Democrats do that, he said, “we will guarantee that the majority in the Senate will be an anti-choice Senate.”
As protesters continued to be frustrated that Bennet would not agree to a court hearing, he advised them, “There aren’t nearly 50 votes to do what you’re proposing in the Senate.”
“Aren’t there 50 Democrats?!” shouted one. Others urged Bennet to use “Your Power” to change Manchin’s position.
Bennet had to go, but an employee stepped in and said that Bennet could not change Manchin’s position. She found that despite Bennet’s pleas, the West Virginia senator had shut down his cherished program, an extended child tax credit for parents.
As the crowd dispersed, the frustration was palpable. Several rally-goers approached Lauer and her companions to thank them for pushing Bennet. One attendee began shouting the home address of local Republican Congressman Rep. Doug Lamborn, urging people to “make his life miserable.”
Lauer, who said she campaigned for Bennet’s 2016 campaign, and the others said they weren’t happy with their time with the senator.
“If they continue to do what we’ve just seen, where they walk away, where they shirk responsibility for fulfilling their constitutional duties, I think that’s a great way to lose,” she said.
One of the other protesters, Chauncy Johnson, 22, said he didn’t want Republicans to win but was thinking of withholding his vote due to his frustration with the party.
“I want the Democrats to have a rude awakening,” he said.
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