Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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As Minnesota goes, so goes the nation??

MOJ blogger (and law professor) Gregory Sisk observes that winning pro-life candidates, who cemented DFL control over the state legislature, appear to be getting short shrift from the liberal leadership of the Democrat-Farmer-Labor party. Here’s the core of his post:

[I]n Minnesota (as in so many other states), Democratic gains in last week’s election, including taking control of the state house of representatives (and increasing a majority in the state senate), came largely in more conservative/moderate suburban districts and often involved Democratic candidates who described themselves as pro-life. As one Democratic pollster described it, the new DFL faces in the legislature tend to be people who “ran away” from the official DFL platform.

So, if Minnesota is the harbinger of the future, how are things looking so far in terms of prospects for a pro-life revival within the Democratic Party?

Well, just one day after the election, the assistant leader of Democrats in the state senate, Senator Ann Rest, pronounced: “We have a pro-choice Senate now.” Then, in a clear dismissal of human life issues as being worthy of any attention in the legislature, Senator Rest asserted that “[n]ow we can concentrate on the issues that bring us together, not the ones that divide us.”

Then, just two days after the election, the DFL in both houses of the Minnesota legislature proceeded to disregard the new blood in the party from the suburbs and rural areas and elect as their new leaders two of the most liberal (and stridently pro-choice) politicians in the state, both from the DFL stronghold of Minneapolis.

Interesting, eh? Will national Democrats behave the same way?

Discussions - 6 Comments

There is probably less to this than meets the eye. I would bet that pro-lifers who associate themselves with the Democratic party in a state with
a predominantly very liberal Democratic party, like Minnesota, are generally people who do not take pro-life all that seriously. What matters is not their subjective sincerity, but their willingness to disgree very publicly with the party leadership and cast the tough votes, not just the easy ones. Of course, with liberal Democrats as "the majority of the majority," pro-life legislation may never come up. In addition, where to these celebrated pro-lifers stand on the half-dozen other issues that social conservatives care about?

It was almost 14 years ago that I interned at the MN State Legislature, but back then many of the pro-life Democrats were quite sincere. As is the case in many states, MN Democrats are split between urban liberals and rural Democrats who are tied to their party based on a farm or labor past, but who are culturally quite conservative. That split is by no means 50-50, but it is there.

As I said, subjective sincerity ("your heart," as our president might say) isn’t all that important here. One certainly hopes for sincerity, and insincere people can’t be trusted. But more importantly, one hopes for serious actions and serious votes and serious public comments. By "serious," I mean a willingness to stand up to the pressures of the socially liberal majority in the Democratic party. I’m not holding my breath. Party loyalty and immersion in the statist economic vision that has dominated Minnesota for the better part of a century will probably trump subjective sincerity on "life." If someone can call our attention to SERIOUS confirmations of the "conservative Democrat" thesis, I’d be eager to see them. But my advice is not to spend an inordinate amount of time on this. There are better and more productive things to think and write about.

I want to just slip in a reminder here that the overwhelming majority of Americans poll pro-choice. This is the reason why Roe Vs. Wade hasn’t been overturned.


It depends upon how you ask the question. Polls also suggest that most people would support an abortion regime significantly more restrictive than that articulated in Roe.

Answering the question directly, yes, the national Democrats will do the same thing. For starters, it’s what they’ve always done.

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