Strat­egy doesn’t play well in Ohio

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - OP/ED - Salena Zito is a CNN po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst, and a staff re­porter and colum­nist for theWash­ing­ton Ex­am­iner. Con­tact her at info@cre­ © 2017, Cre­

clip of ac­tress Martha Plimp­ton’s ex­u­ber­ance over the “best” abor­tion she has ever had played on the tele­vi­sion above a gas-sta­tion counter some­where along U.S. Route 422 be­tween Ohio and Penn­syl­va­nia.

A woman with a nametag des­ig­nat­ing her as the man­ager rolled her eyes and said to no one in par­tic­u­lar as she went about stack­ing the shelves be­hind the counter, “And they won­der why peo­ple don’t vote for Democrats around here any­more.”

Plimp­ton, age 46, is best known for her role in the 1980s Steven Spiel­berg clas­sic kid ad­ven­ture movie “The Goonies.” She made her re­mark in an in­ter­view with Dr. Wil­lie Parker at a #ShoutYourAbor­tion event in Seat­tle in June.

Ac­tions like Plimp­ton’s do not help the Demo­cratic cause of achiev­ing power and in­flu­ence back in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. — at least not with Main Street vot­ers. Nor do they help Democrats win lo­cal races.

“Democrats used to de­bate the le­gal right to have one, and that was a point of view that was shared by most vot­ers,” said Michael Wear, a the­o­log­i­cally con­ser­va­tive evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tian Demo­crat who served in Barack Obama’s faith out­reach of­fice in the White House. “I don’t un­der­stand why, 14 months be­fore a midterm elec­tion, why would you push 20 per­cent of vot­ers who would love to sup­port Democrats out the door? Bet­ter yet, why would you speak of pro­life Democrats as though they were some ex­trater­res­trial who just landed on earth?”

It is rare for some­one who has had an abor­tion to cel­e­brate it — Plimp­ton seems to fail to un­der­stand that. Maybe the priv­i­leged class does? Well, even if it did, that wouldn’t help the Demo­cratic Party win back vot­ers. Or is it the in­tel­lec­tual class? Well, even if it does, that won’t win back ma­jori­ties ei­ther. Or maybe it is the celebrity class? There aren’t enough in the class to win back the House or the Se­nate.

In short, this is not the mes­sage you want to win every down-bal­lot seat the party has let waste away un­der the thrust of iden­tity pol­i­tics.

It is not that vot­ers like Repub­li­can can­di­dates bet­ter; it’s just that they just dis­like Democrats more.

The face of the Demo­cratic Party has in­creas­ingly be­come the face of celebrity, scold and en­ti­tle­ment. The peo­ple the party used to at­tract to its “stand for the work­ing class” creed have faded from their reach; they have lost touch with their needs and val­ues; and they cer­tainly have lost touch with any type of mean­ing­ful mes­sage.

They do not cel­e­brate hard work, they de­mand that sup­port­ers be proabor­tion rights, ex­pect them to be ag­nos­tic and ex­pect them to stand for their mul­ti­tude of iden­tity pol­i­tics; in­stead of bring­ing peo­ple to­gether and be­ing part of a greater po­lit­i­cal party, di­vi­sion is the only way for­ward.

“We have seen a ten­dency in some part of the pro­gres­sive coali­tion to re­act to Repub­li­can ex­trem­ism by be­com­ing ex­treme in our own voices,” said Wear. “Well, that’s not help­ful.”

The idea that the Democrats’ prob­lem is not be­ing “force­ful enough” in their pro­gres­sive­ness is ac­tu­ally the Democrats’ weak­ness, Wear said. But he re­mains hope­ful things will change. “They have to or we won’t win,” he said.

Last week, a Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing was held for Amy Coney Bar­rett, a Notre Dame Law pro­fes­sor and nom­i­nee for the 7th Cir­cuit Court of Ap­peals. Dur­ing the hear­ing, Dianne Fe­in­stein, the Demo­cratic se­na­tor from Cal­i­for­nia, at­tacked Bar­rett for her Ro­man Catholic faith.

Fe­in­stein con­fronted her on some of the ma­te­ri­als she used for her writ­ings about the role of re­li­gion in pub­lic life, as well as aca­demic lec­tures she de­liv­ered to Chris­tian le­gal groups.

Here in the Ohio Val­ley, down-bal­lot Democrats have lost their seats in spades; on both the Penn­syl­va­nia and Ohio sides, vot­ers be­gan peel­ing away from the left af­ter Al Gore in 2000— in elec­tions from state leg­is­la­tor to se­na­tor to Congress to the pres­i­dency.

Data from a na­tion­wide exit poll shows that Pres­i­dent Trump won Catholics over Hil­lary Clin­ton, 52 per­cent to 45 per­cent. That’s a huge swing from the past two elec­tions, when Catholics voted for Barack Obama by a mar­gin of 9 per­cent in 2008 and 2 per­cent in 2012.

Why is that im­por­tant? Well, in states like Michi­gan, Ohio, Penn­syl­va­nia and all through­out the Mid­west, the Catholic vote is a very im­por­tant bloc no mat­ter what you are run­ning for — and that in­cludes re­tak­ing the ma­jor­ity in 2018.

“The last thing Democrats should be do­ing is pur­pose­fully stiff arm peo­ple we are go­ing to need to win,” said Wear. “If we have one chance to turn to take back Congress, this strat­egy is not go­ing to it,” he said.


Martha Plimp­ton

Salena Zito

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