Divisions between moderate Democrats and those on the left who are seeking the party’s presidential nomination broke out into the open Wednesday after a report that former Vice President Joe Biden supports the Hyde Amendment – a law barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortions.
Some of Biden’s rivals quickly responded to the report by saying they strongly favor repealing the Hyde Amendment.
New York City Mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Bill de Blasio attacked Biden head-on, while other Democrats seeking the party’s presidential nomination didn’t name the former vice president.
“The Hyde Amendment only hurts low income women, especially women of color,” de Blasio tweeted. “If you don’t support repeal, you shouldn’t be the Democratic nominee.” Minutes later de Blasio tweeted: “And when it comes to supporting American women on issues like repealing the Hyde Amendment, @JoeBiden is Dr. Jekyll.”
Other Democratic presidential contenders who also tweeted out calls Wednesday to repeal the Hyde Amendment without naming Biden included Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Cory Booker of New Jersey. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas also tweeted out a call to repeal the amendment.
In addition, several Democratic presidential candidates have sponsored legislation to repeal the Hyde Amendment.
NBC first reported Biden’s support of the amendment and The New York Times reported Wednesdaythat “his campaign confirmed that he still backs the Hyde Amendment.”
The dispute over the amendment is just one of many splitting Democrats. In fact, there is so much division that there are now two distinct factions with the Democratic Party.
One Democratic faction is made up of moderates like Biden, who hope to get votes from centrist Democrats, independents, and even some Republicans disillusioned with President Trump in 2020.
Democrats on the far left, like self-proclaimed democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are calling for radical change and hoping to increase voter turnout among the Democratic base to capture the White House next year.
The two factions will battle it out in presidential primaries and primaries for congressional and other elections next year.
But does this division mean that Democrats are coming close to waging their own civil war? I certainly hope not. Yet the division seems to be getting more pronounced. This was clear at the California Democratic Party’s annual convention held last weekend.
Biden was over 2,000 miles away, speaking in Ohio at a Human Rights Campaign gala – yet nearly every candidate speaking at the convention in California took aim at the former vice president.
Some would say that’s just what candidates do when they’re running against each other; they turn on each other. We saw it with the numerous Republican candidates in 2016 and it is likely with the 23 candidates in the Democratic field for 2020.
But the split goes deeper than attacks while on the campaign trail. The party is very divided on certain issues that can often make or break an election. Abortion is just one of these.
Another big issue for the Democrats is climate change. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, D-N.Y., has proposed the Green New Deal, which Republicans and some Democrats have criticized as an unachievable framework for massive change that is far too costly.
Perhaps the far-left isn’t being successful in pulling the party leftward, as Sanders has with “Medicare-for-all” and a $15 hourly minimum wage. But the Green New Deal has certainly made climate change as a top issue for voters.
Biden’s environmental goals are similar to the goals expressed in the Green New Deal but he has called for less costly plan that doesn’t embrace some portions of the Green New Deal that go beyond environmental issues.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., another presidential aspirant, released her own climate proposal as part of a $2 trillion green manufacturing plan. It must be noted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has been unwilling to embrace the Green New Deal.
And it’s not just legislative issues that divide Democratic presidential aspirants and other Democratic officials and party supporters. Some strongly favor impeachment proceedings against President Trump, while others are opposed because there is virtually no chance that the Republican-controlled Senate will remove Trump from office.
Pelosi is one of those resisting those growing calls for impeachment by Democratic House members. When she addressed the California Democratic Convention, she stood before a crowd chanting “impeach.” Despite this, the speaker feels before this drastic step is taken an ‘ironclad’ case must be built and there must be bipartisan support for impeachment.
Currently – and the numbers seem to change almost daily – there are 59 Democrats in the House who support an impeachment inquiry. As for the rest of the House? Some 64 Democrats don’t support impeachment now or are undecided and there are still 112 who haven’t commented one way or the other.
So it’s clear Democrats are divided. And that division, as we saw in 2016, does not result in winning elections.
Democrats must realize that although they may differ on how to achieve their goals, they all want Donald Trump to be a one-term president.
The overwhelming majority of Democrats want Roe v. Wade – the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide – to remain in effect.
Democrats are uniting in wanting the issue of climate change addressed and want the creation of cleaner and greener jobs, all while reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The big division between them involves what steps to take and how much to spend.
Democrats also want stricter gun safety laws such as universal background checks, though here again some want to go farther than others.
And Democrats agree on the need for immigration reforms that will create a pathway to citizenship for the over 11 million people who live in the United States undocumented. They want to protect the Dreamers (unauthorized immigrants brought to the U.S. as children). They want to protect Americans’ health care, including the millions of people with pre-existing conditions – as the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) does.
When you wade into the details of all these issues, differences arise between Democrats, but Democrats of differing views are far closer to each other than they are to Republicans and President Trump.
Democrats need to focus on where they find common ground to avoid a potential civil war within their party and among their ranks in order to keep their majority in the House, possibly take back the Senate, and grab the biggest prize in the 2020 elections – the White House.
Leslie Marshall joined Fox News Channel as a contributor in 2009; providing analysis on both political and social issues from a liberal point of view. A nationally syndicated talk host, whose program, “The Leslie Marshall Show” can be heard on radio, stream, “Tune In,” “The Progressive Voices Radio Network,” and “The Armed Forces Radio Network.”