We've seen numerous quotes since the election where Democrats have tried to back peddle on support for abortion rights. While I agree with Clinton and Kerry that it is useful to attract those who personally oppose abortion by arguing to keep the government out of these decisions, their statements also came across as a bit too defensive and apolgetic of their position.
We must differentiate between supporting or opposing abortion and supporting or opposing choice. It is a valuable lesson to hear from a deeply religious man such as John Kerry that there are areas which should be left up to the individual to decide, free of interference from the government. It may even be helpful to point out that abortions decreased during the Clinton years and have increased under Bush. If we are going to stand for anything, we must also stick to our values, including defending the right of people to make decisions for themselves. We must show that Democrats are the party which really means what Ronald Reagan only talked about in getting government off our backs.
While I believe John Kerry would have made both a better Presidential candidate and, more importantly, a better President than Howard Dean, and I acknowledge some weakness in Dean which many Democrats are ignoring, I also recognize that there are areas where Dean has done a better job than John Kerry. One of these is in more clearly articulating a vision, and being able to discuss values without trying to imitate Republicans. The latest example I've read of this came on abortion, in this coverage of Dean's election as DNC chair from ABC News:
Dean told Democratic committee members Friday that it's important to learn to be more comfortable discussing the party's core values.
"The way I hope to deal with that problem, is not to abandon our core principles, but talk about them in a different way," he said.
Democrats are not pro-abortion, but "we are the party in favor of allowing women to make up their own minds about their health care," Dean, a physician, said.