Editorial: Democrats would be wise to listen to Rep. Oberstar

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 22, 2005

There are few, if any, Democratic members of Congress who have been more loyal to the political party the last few decades than Minnesota’s 8th District Rep. James Oberstar.

And even though some in the Democratic Party would most assuredly disagree, we believe Oberstar is once again showing his loyalty to the party by trying to make it more inclusive of views on an issue that has been hurtful to Democrats at election time. That issue is the controversial one of abortion.

Oberstar cites some important historical facts as he tries to help the party broaden its base by being at the very least civil and receptive to those with an anti-abortion stance.

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He correctly points out that the Democratic Party imposed a self-inflicted political wound that has yet to heal when leaders refused to allow then Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey, who was against abortion rights, speak to delegates from the podium at the 1992 convention.

He also said that when he was first elected to Congress 30 years ago, there were 138 House Democrats opposed to abortion. That number, he said, is now about 38.

&uot;Those other 100 districts haven’t stopped sending representatives to Congress. They’re just not sending Democrats,&uot; Oberstar said.

What Oberstar and some other anti-abortion Democrats are merely trying to do is to not isolate the party so much from those who may agree with the party on many issues but are strongly and sincerely anti-abortion.

That there even has to be such an intra-party movement by elected Democrats shows just how much of a problem the often strident and unbending left leadership of Democrats has been on this issue.

The Democrats are an abortion rights party. That is very clear and is not going to change.

But if the party intends once again to claim a majority in the U.S. House, it most definitely needs to realize that many, many Americans are not in favor of abortion rights and are also not going to change.

If the Democratic leadership does not show at the very least an understanding of just how passionate and heartfelt anti-abortion Americans are on the issue, then the leadership could very well be dooming the party to a minority status in the House for many elections to come.

To his credit, Oberstar &045; a true and never-bending Democrat &045; has full comprehension of those facts and what is at stake. The Democratic leadership in the House would be wise to seek out his counsel on the issue and be open-minded to what he and other anti-abortion Democratic elected officials are telling them.

&045; Mesabi Daily News (Virginia)