The days when Democrats believed abortion should be “safe, legal and rare” are long gone, according to a former Obama White House staffer.
Michael Wear, who spearheaded President Obama’s 2012 faith outreach efforts, said Democrats have become “too in love with” abortion to bring Christian and pro-life voters into the fold.
“The Democratic Party used to welcome people who didn’t support abortion into the party,” Mr. Wear said in an interview with The Atlantic published on Thursday. “We are now so far from that, it’s insane.”
Pointing to the party platform’s call to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds from being used to finance abortions, Mr. Wear said Democrats made minimal effort to reach out to religious voters during the 2016 presidential race, which saw 81 percent of evangelicals and a majority of Catholics back Republican Donald Trump.
“Reaching out to evangelicals doesn’t mean you have to become pro-life,” Mr. Wear said. “It just means you have to not be so in love with how pro-choice you are, and so opposed to how pro-life we are.”
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s attempt to paint abortion as a positive moral good during the campaign was especially surprising, he said.
“There were a lot of things that were surprising about Hillary’s answer [to a question about abortion] in the third debate,” Mr. Wear said. “She didn’t advance moral reservations she had in the past about abortion. She also made the exact kind of positive moral argument for abortion that women’s groups—who have been calling on people to tell their abortion stories—had been demanding.”
Mr. Wear said Democrats need to recognize that America is “still a profoundly religious nation” if they hope to change their political fortunes.
“It doesn’t help you win elections if you’re openly disdainful toward the driving force in many Americans’ lives,” he said.