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Is Erika Bachiochi serious?

Ezra Klein interviews Erika Bachiochi today about conservative policy on reproductive rights and abortion.

I’m not sure where she got her ideas.

According to Bachiochi, all women really want is close intimacy in sex and experience better sex within marriage. (Has she spoken to any Mormons?) She advocates for the rhythm method and says that the female body displays signs of fertility but she’s never actually practiced this method herself. She’s Catholic and sounds like she thinks the rest of us are as well. We just don’t know it yet. I guess you could say she’s the Vladimir Putin of female sexuality.

To her, sexuality is stuck in the 50’s. Men coerce women into sex. They don’t volunteer to have hot, steamy hookups. They really want commitment. But gosh darn it, they get talked into premarital sex because of the availability of birth control now. That’s what’s bad. They have no fear of getting knocked up anymore. And while that’s fine and dandy for the Georgetown University female law grads, the idea that poor women may not get pregnant from being seduced is a negative thing.

I am having a really hard time wrapping my head around this argument. Someone didn’t study her truth tables.

Ezra is just letting her talk, politely not interrupting what appears to be the series of second hand accounts of sex as interpreted by a complete virgin who scourges herself when she feels “anxious, if you know what I mean”.

If Bachiochi is right, then nobody in the 50’s was discontent with their lot in life, biology was not destiny and women were absolutely never horny. All women wanted to be held and then to be a mother after having fulfilling sex with their husbands who respected their desire for periodic abstinence. All families had exactly the right number of children and female coeds never had to worry about anything at all except getting their MRS.

Betty Friedan was fake news.

There are commenters all over Twitter praising this interview because it didn’t devolve into a screaming match. Differing views were discussed with civility.

I don’t think this interview went as well as Bachiochi’s supporters think. Her views are naive and out of touch at best and dystopian at worst. It’s like she never read a book from the pre oral contraceptive/abortion days. Or saw a movie. Where has she been all this time? In a convent?

She should not be speaking for all women because she clearly doesn’t understand her own sex.

In more ways than one, apparently.

The Democratic Coalition, Then and Now

We often hear the phrase “the Democratic coalition.” We have a sense of what it is supposed to mean: that the Democratic Party is comprised of people of various backgrounds and goals, and that they ideally come together to vote for Democrats in elections. That if there were not this “coalition,” Democrats would be hopelessly fragmented.

Of course, this is not a formal coalition, and the definition of how it is composed varies, more so than in the past. To be very brief, the two parties realigned after the Civil War. The Democrats were still the party of the South, though there was a growing immigrant class which settled in the bigger cities, and who began to align with the Democrats. The Republicans had largely been the party which was against slavery, and which controlled Reconstruction. For that reason, the people in the South hated the Republicans, and always voted with the Democrats.

But the Republicans almost immediately became the party solely of big business, run by those who were either looked at as “captains of industry,” or “robber barons.” Every single Republican candidate for President came out of the same mold, and was chosen by the likes of Mark Hanna, “the kingmaker.” Republicans and their pro-laissez-faire policies won almost all of the presidential elections. Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur. Then Grover Cleveland from New York was elected as a Democrat, then Benjamin Harrison defeated him, then Cleveland actually managed to come back and win a second term, being the only Democrat who won a presidential election from 1868 to 1912.

Republicans still controlled the country, but the growing immigrant population which was largely forced to work under them, at very low wages, with no protections, moved to the Democratic Party. Tammany Hall became a powerful force; corrupt, but still helping people secure jobs. Republicans still expected that they would run the country forever.

McKinley, championed by Hanna, was a typical Republican nominee. But the Republicans actually chose Theodore Roosevelt, governor of New York, to be his running mate. They didn’t want him to have any power, but to help with the electability of the ticket But McKinley was assassinated, and Roosevelt succeeded him, and infuriated the Republican powers by his “trust busting.”

The country was becoming more economically and socially liberal, fueled by the growing working class. There was a fragile but growing union movement. After Roosevelt, the Republicans nominated and elected Taft, a pretty typical Republican. But when he ran for re-election, Roosevelt ran against him with his self-created “Bull Moose Party,” and split the votes enough that Woodrow Wilson could win. Wilson became the first Democrat to win consecutive terms since Andrew Jackson. Charles Evans Hughes ran against Wilson in 1916, and in keeping with the time, he was a more respected and intellectual Republican than the ones who had been dominating the party.

After Wilson, and after WWI, the Republicans and their “the business of America is business” policies held sway again. Warren Harding, a very unintelligent but handsome man, was gifted with the Presidency, promising “a return to normalcy.” As my father liked to point out, “normalcy” was not a word, the word was “normality,” and Harding was mocked for it. But in a not so surprising irony, “normalcy” has somehow become the common term.

Finally, the laissez-faire and other factors wrecked the economy, and America had a Great Depression, which had about a third of the population out of work, with no prospects or hopes; selling apples or pencils, standing for hours in bread lines.

The progressive movement in the country had grown. Robert La Follette of Wisconsin, who started his own Progressive Party, ran for President in 1924, and received 16.6% of the votes, running against two Conservatives, Coolidge and John, W. Davis. In 1928, Al Smith was the Democratic candidate, running on working class issues, but he was still beaten by Hoover. Finally, things got so bad, and Franklin D. Roosevelt was so charismatic, that he easily beat Hoover in 1932, and won a landslide victory in 1936, and won two more terms after that.

At that time, one could say that there was a Democratic coalition, and that it consisted of working class people of all races. It was largely realized that the Republicans would do nothing to help working people, were against unions, would always favor the very wealthy in their programs.

Democrats also benefited from the fact that the South still hated the Republicans, so always voted Democratic in national elections. As we know, that started to change, when the insidious Richard Nixon and his advisors developed a “Southern Strategy” in 1968, playing on racism, “law and order,” and states rights. Remember that there was a walkout at the Democratic Convention in 1948, with Strom Thurmond and the “Dixiecrats” vehemently opposed to the civil rights plank of the platform, developed by Hubert Humphrey.

So the South has now become dominated by Republicans, each year even more radical in its positions. The only people in the South who consistently vote for the Democrats are Black voters. This realignment, along with the filibuster, has given Southern Republicans a seniority and dominance in the Senate And the tiny Western state each getting two senators, has made sure that those states have combined with the South to exert a political power vastly in excess of their actual numbers.

Bill Clinton was born in Arkansas, vastly admired John F. Kennedy, went to Georgetown and Yale and Oxford. His successful presidential campaigns featured a coalition of traditional liberals, working class women and men, people from states like Arkansas, Tennessee and West Virginia, and Black people from all states.

After Clinton, the Democrats won with Barack Obama. His campaign for the nomination in 2008, against Hillary Clinton, featured a tearing apart of the coalition, amid charges of racism and misogyny from various Democrats. Donna Brazile, who had steered the Gore campaign to defeat, trumpeted “a new coalition,” which was said to be led by Blacks, Latinos, gays, with the usual working class Whites expected to join in. It worked for Obama, but not downticket, as the Democrats lost 87 House seats, 10 Senate seats, and a vast number of governorships and state legislatures during his terms.

Gore lost in 2000 directly because Democrats on the Left voted for Ralph Nader sufficiently in Florida (he got 4% of the vote in that state), to allow the Republicans to stall the vote count so that their Supreme Court could stop it.

Hillary Clinton ostensibly lost in 2016 because Russia conspired with Trump, hacked records, colluded to share election data to allow Russia and Trump to precisely target voters with made-up news stories; and because a certain percentage of Bernie Sanders supporters refused to vote for her, choosing not to vote, or to vote for Russian tool Jill Stein. Was the entire Sanders campaign funded by Russia and the far Right? It is far from inconceivable, when you consider the Manafort-Devine ties, and the fact that Jeff Weaver recently said that if the Democrats do not run further to the left, he would organize to run against them in general elections, so that the Republicans would win their seats.

That is a lot to digest, and of course there is so much more to potentially discuss in depth, though the exigencies make it rather an intellectual indulgence. But for now, the questions are, “Is there still a Democratic coalition? Does there need to be? Does it face the increasing danger of fraying, so that various components of it tear away?

I made the mistake of following along with an internet argument, where the first statement was simply that Democrats need to turn out in large numbers, to stop the Republicans from turning this into a fascist state. And appallingly, there were the same responses that I saw in 2016, from people who at least purport to be on the Left; saying that they will not vote, because Biden didn’t reduce $50,000 per person of student loan debt; that the Democrats are not doing anything, etc, etc. I will not waste your time with it, but they are still out there. Some may be Right Wing plants, but most are likely versions of the same people who refused to vote for Hillary.

I don’t like the term “coalition” in this context. Politics has always seemed rather simple to me. The Democrats had flaws, some of the Democrats I liked better than others, but the Republicans were far worse. And that chasm has greatly widened, to the point where it seems that every Republican is a version of Trump. And even for the few who are not as evil as he is, they almost always vote in lock step with them, so that the effect is just as bad. Look at the vote counts in the House and Senate, and how Republicans vote unanimously against voting rights, clean air and water, gun safety, codifying abortion rights; and they unanimously vote for their radical right judicial nominees. So to me, they are all the same.

I realize that various people have their particular issues, and identify with their race, gender, career, age, sexual orientation group. But the overarching issues subsume all of them. So if the Democratic Party becomes a frayed coalition, where every part of it is squabbling with other parts, and that costs them elections, it is not effective. Look at who supports the Republicans, and if you abhor their views, then you have to vote for the Democrats. The legendary basketball coach Jim Valvano was famous for saying that the only goal of the NCAA tournament was to “survive and advance.” Win any way you can, and live to play the next game. That is what Democrats have to do. Or as Benjamin Franklin famously said, “We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”