Every once in a while a righteous cause rises to the surface of our political consciousness at the very moment the right politician is ready to lead it. It doesn't happen very often, but it's happening right now. That cause is the fight against the national right wing assault on women, and the leader is Darcy Burner, running for congress in the newly drawn WA-01.
A week ago, at the Netroots Nation, Darcy gave a rousing Keynote speech to several thousand attendees. She presented them with a plan for progressive power and asked that women, in particular, empower themselves and inspire those around them to do the same. She reminded the crowd that 1/3 of all adult women will have an abortion in their lifetimes.
Then she asked all the women in the audience who'd had abortions to stand. And they did. One by one at first, and finally all at once, women throughout that huge crowd stood up. That's not an easy thing to do in this culture, even among friends. The right has made it a dishonorable, solitary act, borne in silence, subject to fear and social stigma.
So Darcy took the next step: she asked all of those who supported those women to stand up. Everyone in the room came to their feet. There was no sustained applause and no celebration, just a simple public acknowledgement of solidarity and sincere support for the women in all of our lives who have made this choice. I've never seen anything like that.
To me is the essence of leadership --- a candidate for office taking a stand on one of the most contentious issues of our time, reminding the people of what they have in common, empowering those who need to be empowered and asking for solidarity from their friends and neighbors. That's what Darcy does. That's why we need her fighting for us in Congress.
Naturally, she is being vilified for it, which I'm sure she expected from the retrograde right wing. But I doubt that she expected it from her so-called progressive primary opponents who are staging a whisper campaign in the district as well, alleging that she led "cheers" for abortion and portraying her as an extremist for illustrating that abortion is not a disgraceful choice made by a small number of irresponsible women but rather a common, everyday part of the lives of our mothers, daughters, friends and wives. The local press is eating it up.
Darcy is a leader on many issues, from the war in Afghanistan to economic fairness. But on this, she has done something that no other Democrat has done --- she has attempted to redefine the battle lines on women's reproductive rights. And until the Democratic Party follows her lead, women's rights will continue to be whittled away in bits and pieces all over the country until one day we will find that more than 50 million of our people will have been denied the right to decide their own futures, take care of their families and otherwise be full and equal citizens.
If we let them destroy her, it will send a message to all other progressive politicians that they must not challenge the prevailing, cowardly orthodoxy on abortion rights.
Please welcome Darcy Burner to Blue America.