When the mayor of Quincy, Massachusetts — population 93,397 — leaves the Democrat Party, it’s not the biggest news in the world.
True, Quincy is in the heart of what could arguably be the most reliably Democrat part of the country: the immediate Boston area. And sure, Mayor Tom Koch has been a Democrat since age 18.
However, it’s why Koch left the party that should be making news. Earlier this month, Koch opened up for the first time to reporters about why he left the party he was a member of for over 35 years — and it has everything to do with how the party deals with dissenters on abortion.
“I’m certainly a believer in life starts at conception,” Koch told the Quincy Patriot Ledger.
Quincy, a devout Catholic, remembers the exact date of the Roe v. Wade decision which legalized abortion on demand in the United States, even though he was only 10-years-old.
“It was a big issue in my house,” Quincy said.
Of course, that was a much different time in the Democrat Party, a time in which the vaunted saint of the Massachusetts liberals, Edward Kennedy, could say that those in the womb had the “right to be born” and “the right to grow old.”
Over time, of course, Democrat dogma on the issue has hardened. One could see the change in Sen. Kennedy’s infamous jihad against Reagan Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork just a decade and a half later, when Massachusetts’ favorite reckless driver would demagogically declare that “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions” simply because the nominee had criticized Roe v. Wade.
However, the final straw for Koch came not in the 1980s, or even for another 30 years. It came last spring, when newly-minted DNC Chairman Tom Perez said that “(e)very Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.
“At a time when women’s rights are under assault from the White House, the Republican Congress, and in states across the country, we must speak up for this principle as loudly as ever and with one voice.”
Chairman Perez would later back off that position after a swift backlash from pro-life Democrats and likely the realization that alienating more voters in heavily-Catholic states like Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania wasn’t going to make that 2020 electoral map any easier.
For Koch, however, Perez’s statement was his signal that it was time to leave and become an independent.
“I said, ’OK, I guess that’s the last straw for me,” Koch said about Perez’s statement earlier this month, adding that the decision was a long time in coming.
“The party platform is so far left on abortion it’s sickening,” Koch noted.
Will this affect Koch’s political future as the mayor of the Massachusetts city? Probably not. Even though he made national waves when he left the party last year — and is doing it again with this interview — Koch is “an old-style what we used to call ‘lunch-bucket Democrat,'” according to Peter Ubertaccio, a political science professor at Stonehill College.
That is to say, he appeals to blue-collar voters who the Democrats have alienated in recent years.
“He’s kind of safely occupied a middle ground in Massachusetts politics,” Ubertaccio told the Patriot Ledger. “I don’t think most people in Quincy are going to bat an eyelash.”
Quincy voters likely aren’t going to — the majority of them are unaffiliated, anyhow — but national Democrats probably will. Even as Perez has vowed that “(t)here is not a litmus test” on abortion for the Democrats, it’s clear that Perez’s first statement on the matter is the one most Democrat politicians seem to stick by. After all, America couldn’t even get the Democrats to stop filibustering a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks — a procedure almost all of the civilized world rejects, even countries with liberal views toward abortion.
Thomas Koch may have been the first major liberal to leave the party after Perez’s line in the sand, but we doubt he’ll be the last. And if it’s not politicians the Democrats lose, it’s going to be voters. The surest way to a Republican White House victory in 2020 is for the Democrats to repeat the mistakes of 2016 and alienate blue-collar Americans — and those who represent them — by going to ideological extremes on issues like abortion.
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