Oh, Now Democrats Want to Codify Roe v. Wade!

After years of withholding real protections and instead weaponizing fear to win votes, Democrats want to perform giving a shit. Too late.

Oh, Now Democrats Want to Codify Roe v. Wade!
Photo:Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)

Senate Democrats are just now taking “a key step to tee up a vote” (they don’t have the votes) to codify the right to access abortion in federal law, according to the Washington Post, which inexplicably reported on this farcical performance outside of the theater review section.

I guess forcing Senate Republicans plus Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.V./Hell) to go on record opposing Roe v. Wade, which is broadly popular across the country, is better than doing literally nothing. But the time to codify Roe was when Democrats held a 60-vote majority in the Senate, which they last had under Barack Obama in 2009-10 before the party showed us that “hope and change” were just cool little hypotheticals—not something our elected leaders actually care if we have—and that Democrats will always choose maintaining the capitalist status quo over the radical progress that their voters actually want.

Obama used all of his political capital, at the time Democrats had strong control of all three chambers, to jam Obamacare narrowly through Congress, which, yes, helped many of us quite a bit. But it was also not a single-payer plan, included the anti-abortion Hyde Amendment, and in at least a dozen other ways tried too hard not to make people mad, when Democrats should’ve known that Republicans were going to campaign dishonestly against this “socialist” move for fucking ever. So why, instead, didn’t we just take what we wanted when we had the chance?

I’d guess that it’s probably for the same reason that Biden’s press secretary felt the need to whimper on Twitter about how protesters shouldn’t be so mean to poor baby Brett Kavanaugh‘s driveway: because these hacks are always, always, always concerned with some amorphous meaningless “high road” that grants them access to boring rich-people fundraisers. Meanwhile, their political opponents are giddily, happily going scorched-earth, all the time, and give absolutely zero shits about hypocrisy or consistency or anything other than facilitating their most hard-line rabid constituents’ desire for a Christian government, a mandatory “traditional” family unit, and unfettered predation on the working class.

Of course, Democrats wouldn’t need a 60-vote majority if they ended the filibuster, but Senators Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) won’t allow that, lest they lose all the attention (and money) they’re thirstily slurping up by masquerading as “mavericks.” While Biden’s press secretary scolds people doing far less outside Kavanaugh’s house than protesters have done outside medical clinics for literally decades—without a goddamned word from anyone in power other than some mealy-mouthed bullshit about the First Amendment—Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is straight-up admitting that when Republicans take back majority control, they are going to pass a nationwide ban on abortion. So much for just “kicking the issue back to the states,” ha ha.

Democrats had the opportunity to codify Roe years ago, and they’ve had the ability to scrap the filibuster in order to do it since then, and they’ve refused to, because it was more politically expedient to win votes by fear. Vote for Democrats so Roe doesn’t get overturned was their preferred way, always the Democratic way. Why achieve new things, why take risks, why try, when you could just scare people away from a potential brighter future with the fear of a darker one? We won’t do anything, but the other side will and it’ll be bad, so please click this donation button and turn out to vote.

That strategy isn’t quite hitting anymore as we repeatedly see truly progressive, anti-establishment candidates get so dangerously close to winning, over and over, with the Democratic establishment actively working against them. Nancy “I Love Insider Trading” Pelosi, Steny “Why Am I Still Working” Hoyer and Jim “I Wish You’d Retired Before Adding This To Your Legacy” Clyburn are steadfastly supporting Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) right now, an anti-abortion House Democrat who fired a worker when she was 28 weeks pregnant and then personally demanded his staffers engage in a coordinated smear campaign against her when she had the wherewithal to sue for sex and pregnancy discrimination.

Meanwhile, a brilliant progressive and pro-abortion rights candidate, Jessica Cisneros, is stunningly close to beating Cuellar in the primary, despite the most powerful Democrats opposing her for—you guessed it—not being a hack shill for the ultra-wealthy and for believing in access to health, justice, fairness, equality and education for all, not just those who can buy the government’s attention.

A majority of Americans support Roe, yes. But it increasingly looks like a majority of Democrats do not support the vision (or lack thereof) of Democratic leadership. So how much longer do we have to put up with this? How much longer do Pelosi and Hoyer get to hold the possibility of a better system hostage as they protect their own interests? We’re starting to see the “what” in the refrain “Vote blue no matter what,” and the fear it inspires is simply not inspiring enough.

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