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No, David Brooks, Fighting for Women’s Autonomy is not a Death Knell for Progressivism

No, David Brooks, Fighting for Women’s Autonomy is not a Death Knell for Progressivism

Andrea Flynn

Last week started with the GOP failing to pass a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and ended with New York Times columnist David Brooks trying to convince Democrats that fighting for women's

Exactly right. This is like saying there would be less rape, pedophilia, sexual harassment, and abortion if men would just agree to have their penis’ removed. I am pretty sick of ignorant men such a Brooks trying to lead a discussion on female reproductive care. Get a clue or shut the F^ck up.

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People like David Brock are exactly what is wrong with the Democratic Party. He came over from the Republicans when they didn’t want him anymore and has been attempting to keep the forward trajectory of the DNC moving towards the centrist position that is the root of all that is wrong with the Democratic leadership these days. We need to make a hard left if we have any chance of righting this nation again. We DO NOT need any input from turkeys like Mr. Brock. Go back to the party you belong with, David, and let us sort out our own affairs. I’m also quite fed up with the DNC’s efforts to “capture” discontented Republican voters. We need an all-out effort to get our left-leaning youth involved and everything else will take care of itself. The reason our voter participation is so dismal is because so many of us don’t feel that we are represented by either party. I say to hell with “centrist” Republicans and lets go after the left among us.

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Funny me, I thought David Brooks was a ‘conservative’. We would all be so much better off if conservatives started thinking about saving real breathing human lives by not arming terrorists, starting pointless wars, and giving unimaginable sums of money to a military hell bent on killing everyone on Earth. Instead they worry about what women do privately and want to exert power and control over women when it’s no business of theirs to begin with. Go back to the side you belong on, David and let the progressives get all the civil rights, peace, healthcare and all the rest because that’s really the only way forward.

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Actually, it is David Brock, not Brooks.

When you are living in a society that is controlled by a patriarchal death cult, any semblance of female autonomy is anathema.

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“But do we want late-term abortion so much that we are willing to tolerate President Trump?” he writes. “Do we want it so much that we give up our chance at congressional majorities? Do we want it so much that we see our agendas on poverty, immigration, income equality and racial justice thwarted and defeated?”

What is this “we” shit Mr. Brooks? After plugging the Republican conservative agenda for over a decade you decide you suddenly don’t like it?

Brooks is clueless, and has been for as long as I can remember. I sometimes watch him and Mark Shields (the guy who takes a full minute to articulate 20 seconds worth of information) on PBS just for a good belly laugh.

So this is how it works: real progressives and people with actual “left” ideas and creds can’t get near a national microphone or camera, but this lukewarm tasteless bowl of nothing is passed back and forth from one camp to the other as a guiding light and a national voice. Where’s Waldo? Where’s Lauer? You should go find them and join them Mr. Brooks, because you’re mealy-mouthed blather has gotten very stale.

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Brooks is ‘pedaling a false narrative’ ? What, is he riding a bike backwards or something? It’s ‘peddling’ …c’mon, you can do better than this.

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Ah yes, David Brooks, that unfortunate spill of human mayonnaise…

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First, Brooks was not addressing progressives. His letter was to “Democratic leaders” most of which are not progressives. (And I think it isn’t so much that Brooks has become a liberal as that the political landscape has shifted rightward under his feet, and by staying where he was, he now finds himself in a new camp.)

And second, he’s not talking about abortion per se. He’s only talking about late term abortion. And though he doesn’t make it explicit here, he has elsewhere been clear that of course medically necessary late term abortions should be allowed, so he’s really only talking about elective late term abortions. And that’s the territory where Republicans want to have the abortion debate because that is the only area where they enjoy broad majority support.

On most issues I disagree with Brooks, but when it comes to late abortions, I don’t hold that a right of elective choice should be absolute over the interests of a viable fetus, and, like Brooks, I think that is a losing position, both morally and politically. I also think Republicans have been able to successfully exploit the general revulsion at the idea of elective late term abortion to drive through a number of restrictions on other kinds of abortions which otherwise would have had majority public support. And then abortion rights extremists have compounded this by attacking anyone who doesn’t support elective late term abortions, thereby alienating a block that would have supported graduated abortion rights along the guidelines set forth by the Supreme Court.

So even if I think Brooks is often wrong, I also think it is not safe to assume he is always wrong, and in this case I think he’s got a point. There is a fundamental incompatibility between the large bock of abortion rights moderates and the small block of abortion rights extremists. Democrats cannot embrace both positions where they disagree, so at some point, they will have to decide which block is the more politically costly to them.

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David Brock is David Brock, born July 23, 1962.

David Books is David Brooks, born August 11, 1961.

Two very different people.

The article is in fact about Brooks, not Brock.

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Ugh, I made my correction from one of the links that had Brock listed as the name with the author’s picture included. I really do appreciate the clarification. Thanks.

Your making a lot of assumptions here. the most obvious is that female reproductive decisions fall within political party disputes, that warrant criminal liabilities, Not including these factors have consequences that include increases in maternal mortality. This is saying that the doctor/patient relationship cannot be trusted with the basic decisions about their own health and going one step further in eliminating care or education. So, the ONE PERCENT of abortions should not define the issue, it is actually a good point as behavior in just about anything is never 100%. Women having babies in prison is not social progress.

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Actually you are right about that, it would decrease rape and abortions at least.

Yes it would but not without unintended consequences. I’m not advocating just sayin’.

Thank you for a very measured response. As a man I’ve settled personally on perhaps an easy way out on the moral question - which is to give the decision completely to the woman since the burden of carrying babies is something hard for me to imagine. 35 years ago, I used to poll men and women on the artificial womb thought experiment: if there was: a) a safe and reasonable cost procedure to remove an unwanted viable fetus and raise it for an adoption, b) there was no overpopulation, c) there were parents who wanted a baby, d) the medical risks to the woman are no worse than a standard abortion, then should a woman have the right to choose termination over this choice? Perhaps unsurprisingly, more women than men still thought the abortion choice should be available. One thing’s for sure though, this is a significant political issue that is not so cut and dry as the author is claiming.

For one, are you kidding about the Alabama race? I was ecstatic that Doug Jones won, but let’s not pretend that it isn’t a difficult ride to office being pro-choice in the South. Had Moore not been so horrendous, he obviously would have won.

Two, where is the comparative study? We leave in a world with a lot of nations that face similar questions and are not crazy theocracies or dictatorships. And all of them have universal health care. Do they all allow unrestricted abortion? I only skimmed http://abortion-clinics.eu/abortion-europe/, but the key quote is:

Although nearly every European country makes abortion available on demand during the first trimester, when it comes to later-term abortions, there are very few with laws as liberal as those of the United States.

I have my red lines as does everybody, but if a Democrat (it is hard to think of Brooks as one of these, but things are strange in a time of Trump), were reasonable on most things, supported single payer health care, shunned our disastrous and obviously immoral foreign policy (so not Brooks obviously), then I would vote for them regardless of whether they support some restrictions on late term abortions.

I’m afraid this isn’t the only issue progressives can be too absolutist on to the point of alienating too many people and thus losing elections. I happen to be a pretty radical environmentalist, and if I were in control, everything would be completely different - all chemicals would get ruled in (not ruled out) and we’d start a whole new survey right now. But if I had to win an election, I’d be careful on just how much I can push my electorate - they still want to drive cars and buy stuff. I happen to be middle of the road on immigration issues and yet many democrats and progressives are willing to argue for open borders and alienate anyone who isn’t willing to go that far yet.

You are very gracious.

I should have been more clearly so.

I am in your debt

Take care.

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I wouldn’t call that an assumption so much as an observation about our past and present political reality.

“that warrant criminal liabilities,”

Public policy always carries a penalty for violations.

“Not including these factors have consequences that include increases in maternal mortality.”

My position, and I’m pretty sure Brooks’ as well, is that medically necessary late term abortions should be allowed. That much is not particularly controversial and has broad public support. The contentious part is whether women should have unrestricted access to elective late term abortions–specifically those that are not medically necessary. So it isn’t readily apparent how restrictions on late term abortions that don’t have a medical justification could result in increased carrier mortality.

“This is saying that the doctor/patient relationship cannot be trusted with the basic decisions about their own health”

This would have nothing to do with abortions where the doctor felt they were needed to protect the health of the carrier.

“and going one step further in eliminating care or education.”

I don’t know what that refers to.

“So, the ONE PERCENT of abortions should not define the issue,”

Anti-abortionists make it the defining issue because they know that’s the only part of their abortion opposition which plays well to the general public, and they’ve been keeping the spotlight on that one small part of the overall picture to great success. Dems could be solidly with the public majority and winning on every other aspect of abortion, but no, they let the antis pick the battlefield for them and then they dutifully slog it out in an area where they will never win, and that dogmatic, unreasoning extremism only helps the anti-abortionists to portray that as the defining part of the abortion issue. And that’s basically the point Brooks is making.

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Is this ignorance or willing deception?

Whatever it is, the NY Times is responsible for it – and clearly they like Brooks.

Anyone still buying the NY Times?

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Well, here’s the problem. If you take the easy way out by giving individual women the option of an elective late term abortion, you’ll be going against the position favored by the majority of women. On the other hand, if you take the easy way out by going with the majority of women, you’ll be taking a decision away from some women. So you have to decide which women get to decide, and in deciding that, you are still effectively deciding your own position for yourself. Which sounds like your easy way out is basically the same as the hard way, except that it includes an extra step.

“I used to poll men and women on the artificial womb thought experiment:…Perhaps unsurprisingly, more women than men still thought the abortion choice should be available.”

If, for example, a third of women thought abortion should be allowed in that case, whereas only a quarter of the men did, that result would mean more women than men thought the choice should be available, but that would still be compatible with the majority of women being opposed to allowing such a choice.

“One thing’s for sure though, this is a significant political issue that is not so cut and dry as the author is claiming.”

One thing that consistently shows up in polls is lots of seeming inconsistency. Most people who identify as pro-choice, for example, also favor having some restrictions on abortion. Conversely, even among those who think abortion is always morally wrong, a majority do not want to see Roe overturned. Liberals more than conservatives tend to think the state should have a strong proactive role when it comes to child welfare and protection, which creates a complicating factor once the fetus reaches viability and approaches infancy. Conservatives more than liberals tend to lean toward individualism and libertarianism, which creates a complicating factor when it comes to government intrusion into private affairs.

But even with all the complications, the dominant public view has long been that abortion should sometimes be legal, and should sometimes be illegal. The extremists at either end–always legal vs. always illegal–have staked out losing positions, and any party that chains itself to either of those is just hanging an anchor around its neck.

“if a Democrat … were reasonable on most things,… then I would vote for them regardless of whether they support some restrictions on late term abortions.”

Which is the practical end of the problem of opting out and letting women decide. Most candidates come with a bundle of issues and you have to decide on them in aggregate, so even if you have decided not to decide, you still indirectly decide any time you vote for any candidate who holds any position on abortion. You could avoid indirectly deciding by not voting for or against any candidate who holds any position on abortion, but that would leave you able to vote for hardly anyone.