The real meaning of NARAL’s endorsement of Avakian

This week NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon endorsed Democrat Brad Avakian for Oregon Secretary of State.  In previous years NARAL endorsed most pro-abortion-rights candidates in any given election. Why the change?

NARAL argues: “In 2016, we cannot simply acknowledge Oregon’s pro-choice candidates. NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon is committed to supporting pro-choice champions. Avakian, the current Labor Commissioner, is that champion.” They acknowledged that all three Democratic candidates are pro-choice. So what gives?

If one believes that Democrats will win all the state wide races in the near future, then it makes sense for a faction within the Democratic Party such as NARAL to select a single candidate to endorse. In NARAL’s case, If they endorsed all candidates who were pro-choice (all Democratic Candidates for any Statewide office) their endorsement becomes of little value because they’d endorse everyone. By signaling that they will now evaluate the quality of a candidates support, it means that Democratic candidates will be taking even more polarizing positions in order to be the “Champion” of that faction. This is a way for single issue factions, such as NARAL to wield power within the party primaries where 90% of all legislative and Statewide races are decided. A NARAL Oregon endorsement in the general election for statewide office has little value.

Pro environment? Not enough. If you want the environmental endorsement, you need to lay on some railroad tracks in front of a coal train….or appear at our fundraiser this year.

Pro public employee union? Not enough, we want you to sponsor legislation banning teacher evaluations or any more changes in PERS.

As if the Democratic and Republican Parties haven’t become polarized and governed by their most ardent and uncompromising factions already, because primaries are now the most important elections, extreme partisan positions will be more common.

And, it’s a feedback loop. More partisanship, more moderates leave the Democratic and Republican Parties, which makes the remaining party members even more partisan, self interested, and intemperate. And more easily controlled by the factions and financial base during the primaries. It’s no surprise that the race for the GOP presidential nomination has become a contest of who is the MOST rigid and uncompromising partisan.

Expect more Democratic factions to take positions within Democratic primaries. The Oregon GOP factions (Oregon Right to Life) have already done so.

NARAL Pro Choice Oregon’s change in endorsement policy confirms that the contest between Democrats and Republicans is over in Statewide races and in 95% of our Legislative races. The new contests are intra party. The Democratic and Republican factions will continue to demand more for their primary endorsement,  and the winners will be the most partisan and uncompromising within the parties.

Not a recipe for a revived democracy.



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