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A Dem Outlook for November

Tony Perkins · Jul. 17, 2018

Here’s a word I never thought anyone would use to describe Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “moderate.” But that’s the political twilight zone Democrats find themselves in, now that 28-year-old socialists are heaving the party left. In California, where the oldest member of the U.S. Senate couldn’t even win her party’s endorsement, people are starting to wonder: Could this gamble cost Democrats the midterms?

For Feinstein, the party’s decision to back Kevin de León was even more remarkable this time around, since she trounced him by more than 30% in last month’s primaries. Even so, California Democrats announced over the weekend that they were sticking with their guy, insisting that the five-term Feinstein was too much of a “centrist.” That’s news to most of us, who’ve never mistaken anti-gun, pro-abortion, anti-family orthodoxy as anything remotely resembling conservatism. This is, as one California political scientist point out, “the strongest signal yet of just how far to the left California’s Democratic activists have moved, how emboldened they are.” But, as he and others caution, just because the state party is endorsing this over-the-top extremism doesn’t mean American voters are.

“It’s only a signal about the party’s most activist core,” said the University of California’s Thad Kousser, “not a sign that everyday voters are choosing a pure progressive over a pragmatist.” Already, the party’s candidates in other areas are panicking. They see this abandonment of Feinstein as a warning: Move left or move out. Some Democratic House candidates fired off a letter to the California state party, pointing out the devastating ripple effect of their over-the-top extremism. “A divisive party endorsement for U.S. Senate would hurt all down-ballot candidates and our ability to turn out Democrats we desperately need to vote in November,” they caution.

That’s because de León isn’t your garden-variety progressive. This is a candidate, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who would out-radicalize Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with his campaign to impeach Trump, socialize health care, and open the borders. And while his agenda might attract big party donors, it’s bound to cause a huge split with heartland Democrats who are begging the DNC to get back to basics. When your own party argues you’re “lazy,” “out of touch with mainstream America,” and relying on “too much identity politics” where “winners and losers are picked by their labels,” you’re in trouble.

But that’s the sort of desperation President Trump’s success has created for Democrats. It’s sort of a “derangement syndrome,” John Fund writes, “pushing many [Democrats] into positions that may play well with their base but that will be problematic if they become associated with the party in general elections. Socialized medicine, abolishing ICE, identity politics, political correctness, and sky-high tax rates may quicken the pulse of those who see themselves leading the class struggle.”

Even the more liberal members of the Senate worry where decisions like California’s might lead. This “rift in the nation’s party’s direction,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) warns, carries with it some significant risks. The party, he urged, needs to stress “pragmatic ideas,” not “pie-in-the-sky” policies that “might sound great in a tweet, like free college and free health care” (a jab at Ocasio-Cortez’s unrealistic promises). Like a lot of people, he wonders if the Democrats are betting the midterms on a platform light years to the left of most Americans.

The latest numbers from Brookings would certainly suggest they are. Despite the rise of progressive House candidates (280 this year compared to 97 in 2016), the establishment is still winning when it counts. “Of course many of the progressive non-incumbents are first-time candidates,” the group explains, “inspired by Bernie Sanders and turned off by Donald Trump. If they stay in politics many of them may do better in future races. But for now their record is … not great.” The more important takeaway for Republicans is this: “Progressive Democrats may not be winning a civil war inside the party. But, if and when Democrats have a chance at power again, progressives will have moved them on some pretty big issues.”

If a woman who’s taken a blowtorch to the First and Second Amendments, declared Christians unfit for public office, and supported partial-birth abortion isn’t liberal enough for the Democratic Party, then it’s a brave new world indeed. Meanwhile, if conservatives want to hang on to their majority, the solution is obvious: Be more intentional than ever about highlighting the Grand Canyon-sized gaps in the two parties’ values. In a country that rejected the leftward lurch of Obama, it’s the clearest path to victory.

Originally published here.

A Rocky Start to Philly Foster Case

The city of Philadelphia is desperate for foster families. So why is it trying to close two organizations dedicated to finding them?

Ask U.S. District Judge Petrese Tucker. In a ruling late Friday, she decided that it was more important to appease LGBT activists than find homes for hurting kids. In an opinion that’s not only at odds with the Constitution but with the city’s foster crisis, Tucker ruled that Philadelphia was completely justified in strong-arming groups like Catholic Social Services (CSS) that don’t think they should have to give up their religious freedom to partner with the city on foster care. Philadelphia’s leaders disagreed, insisting that the only way it would let CSS work with the city is if it gave up its views on natural marriage.

According to Tucker, the city has a “legitimate interest” in ensuring “that the pool of foster parents and resource caregivers is as diverse and broad as the children in need of foster parents.” That ridiculous, FRC’s Travis Weber points out, since 96% of the organizations the city partners with already agree to put kids in LGBT homes. “When 28 out of 30 agencies serving children in Philadelphia are happy to place children with same-sex couples, there is simply no reason to force the two who won’t to violate their beliefs in order to continue to work with the city. But that’s exactly what the court did — and despite professing ‘tolerance,’ turned that concept on its head.”

Lori Windham, the attorney with Becket Law who represented Catholic Social Services, agrees with Tucker that foster children deserve loving homes, but, she points out, “the city has put politics above the children, and today the court allowed the city’s discriminatory actions to continue — a decision we will immediately appeal.” (Bethany Christian Services was another organization targeted by the city but decided not to join the suit.)

Apart from being the right policy for children, CSS’s is also the healthiest one. The social science is irrefutable: The best decision for kids is placing them with a married mom and dad. In what is largely considered the “gold standard” study on the matter, Dr. Mark Regnerus found “that children raised by gay or lesbian parents on average are at a significant disadvantage when compared to children raised by the intact family of their married, biological mother and father.” (To read why, check out this summary by FRC’s Peter Sprigg.)

Foster care is not — and should never be — about adults. It’s about giving children the best chance to succeed in life. Republicans in the U.S. House seem to understand that, which is why people like Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) fought last week to add the Inclusion Act to the Labor-HHS appropriations bill. It guarantees that organizations like Bethany Christian Services not only have the freedom to operate by their beliefs but that birth moms like Kelly Clemente have the comfort of knowing that their children are being raised by people who share their faith. “That’s really all [our bill does],” Rep. Aderholt told me on “Washington Watch” last Thursday, “to keep religious groups from being discriminated against.”

Meanwhile, if the city doesn’t renew its contract, Catholic Social Services of Philadelphia will close. And if you’re wondering who the losers of that decision will be, try the 6,000 boys and girls in the city’s foster care system. Unfortunately, John David Danielson writes in a sobering piece for The Federalist, “The only thing that matters to municipal officials in Philadelphia is that Catholic Social Services must bend the knee and abandon its deeply held religious beliefs. If orphans and abused children must go without foster homes to make a point, so be it.”

For more on this debate and the importance of the Inclusion Act, don’t miss this new piece in The Hill by FRC’s Mary Beth Waddell.

Originally published here.

Franklin Graham Faces a Brit of Intolerance

Rev. Franklin Graham is headed to England in September — but the British may be the last to know now that his ads have been pulled off area buses. Of course, nothing about the signs were offensive, unless you consider “hope” to be. And based on the response of local LGBT activists, they do.

Blackpool Transport, the double-decker bus line that was slated to promote Franklin’s event, pulled out of the deal after some members of the community complained. “The removal of these adverts is as a result of us listening and acting on customer and public feedback, which we aim to do at all time,” said the company manager. Interestingly enough, nothing about the banners had anything to do with social issues or were even overtly Christian. The message was simply this: “Time for Hope.”

Franklin, who’s had a front-row seat for the censorship of religion in the U.S., wasn’t surprised. On his Facebook page, he talked about his festival and the obvious need for it around the world.

“I’m sorry that some see hope as offensive, but I can assure you that tens of thousands of people in Blackpool and across the United Kingdom are searching for hope. Sex, drugs, money, even religion — none of these are the answer. I’m coming to share with everyone in Blackpool, Lancashire, and across North West England that there is One who can give you hope. Hope for today, hope for tomorrow, and hope for eternity. His name is Jesus Christ! Will you pray with me for this event in September and for God to work in a mighty way to transform hearts and lives across this region?”

Of course, the bus company’s response was mild compared to two British lawmakers who tried to ban Franklin from the country altogether. As Fox News’s Todd Starnes explains, that would be tall task in a country where nearly 200 local churches have worked to plan this Festival of Hope — “the largest ecumenical Christian event in a generation.”

While the UK and U.S. differ in several areas (Britain doesn’t have the First Amendment protections we do, for one), this ferocious push to sideline Christians is something we both have in common. As in America, these small minorities aren’t just going after the vocal opponents of their behavior — they want to silence anyone preaching the Gospel. Fortunately for the people of England, Franklin isn’t easily dissuaded. He’ll take that message to the UK and around the world for the same reason his father did: because God’s love is too important not to.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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