The "vote blue" strategy for saving Roe has failed
Democratic loyalists need to reckon with their defeat.
The Supreme Court has effectively overturned Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a woman’s right to abortion. Predictably, there is a lot of finger-pointing going on in the wake of this decision — often at people who refused to vote for Democrats, since Dems might have appointed pro-choice Supreme Court Justices. I do not think that this is a very plausible line of criticism, but even if one does, now is a good time for everyone to step back and look at the big picture.
For several decades now, many pro-choice Americans have pursued a two-pronged strategy for defending Roe:
Vote for Democrats themselves.
Convince so many other people to also vote for Democrats that Republicans can be reliably prevented from taking power.
That second point was key. Since any Republican win made it likelier that the balance of the court would be tipped further to the right, you had to guarantee that Democrats would win not only any given election, but almost every election for the foreseeable future. And to do that, you had to have a way to guarantee that enough people other than you would vote for Democrats every single time. If any part of this strategy could not be relied upon then the whole thing would eventually fall apart.
What this means is that even if you want to hold the Bernie Bros or the Naderites culpable for refusing to back Democrats, what you are also saying is that step (2) was never a reliable assumption for the plan to save Roe. Out of the 12 elections that we’ve had in the nearly 50 years since Roe, step (2) has failed exactly half the time. Even if Democrats had won a few of the closer elections this would have probably just bought Roe a little more time; keep rolling the dice like this and you’ll eventually get a string of bad luck.
If it helps them to stomach this hard truth, Democratic loyalists can tell themselves that voters are too reactionary, too consumed with their hatred of women, too stupid, or too selfishly apathetic to be counted on for step (2). But that, again, only affirms the fact that the vote-blue-no-matter-who strategy just isn’t workable.
Roe’s defeat is just one particularly disastrous example of the US left’s persistent strategy of trading short-term electoral wins for long-term political defeats. You can see this in just about every arena there is — from universal health care to climate change to antimilitarism. For anyone who is committed to long-term political progress rather than just the immediate interests of the Democratic Party, it’s time to consider other ideas.