Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has been trailing badly in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, so she’s been trying to make a name for herself with outlandish policy proposals and bizarre Instagram videos.
Over the weekend, Gillibrand posted what may be the most embarrassing campaign clip of all time, and followed it up Tuesday with an interview with the Des Moines Register where she insulted around 50% of Iowa residents by suggesting that opposing abortion is akin to supporting racism.
Most Democratic primary candidates are content to express their support for abortion rights but limit their criticism of the other side of the debate to complaints about being “extreme.” Occasionally, someone far to the progressive left will suggest that pro-life Democrats don’t belong in the Democratic party, or that opposition to reproductive rights has a harmful effect on women.
Those arguments are to be expected. Gillibrand, sensing an opportunity, apparently, decided to take matters a step further, condemning everyone who opposes any restriction on abortion whatsoever and claiming there is no acceptable opposing viewpoint to her own.
“I think there’s some issues that have such moral clarity that we have as a society decided that the other side is not acceptable,” Gillibrand said, referring specifically to the “issue” of abortion, and appointing judges who would uphold the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
“Imagine saying that it’s okay to appoint a judge who’s racist or anti-Semitic or homophobic. Asking someone to appoint someone who takes away basic human rights of any group of people in America—I don’t think that those are political issues anymore,” she continued, as though opposing abortion were akin to racism.
From there, Gillibrand trailed off into an ahistorical account of the “separation of Church and State,” which she seems to believe bars any religious believer from any participation in the public square whatsoever.
“And we believe in this country in the separation of church and state, and I respect the rights of every American to hold their religious beliefs true to themselves, but our country and our Constitution has always demanded that we have a separation of church and state,” Gillibrand said, paraphrasing any number of 1990s-era atheists.
The Constitution, of course, says no such thing. It prevents the “establishment” of religion. The “separation of Church and State” is from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson assuring a group of Baptists that the state would not meddle in their affairs.
It’s also quite clear that abortion is not simply a religious issue. But far be it from Gillibrand to dig deeply.
“And all these efforts by President Trump and other ultra-radical conservative judges and justices to impose their faith on Americans is contrary to our Constitution and that’s what this is. And so I believe that for all of these issues, they are not issues that there is a fair other side,” Gillibrand continued. “There is no moral equivalency when you come to racism, and I do not believe there is a moral equivalency when it comes to changing laws that deny women reproductive freedom.”
Although Iowa Democrats list abortion as a top consideration when selecting a candidate to caucus for, Iowans as a whole are evenly split on the issue of abortion, nearly 50-50 according to a Pew Research poll. And they’re certainly unlikely to consider Gillibrand washing the entire pro-life movement as potentially racist and immoral a mark in her favor — and she can’t really afford to lose more marks. She’s barely squeaking by in polls, and only this weekend managed to cross the 65,000 individual donors mark and make the debate stage.