In spite of this, even some on the self-proclaimed socialist left, like Sanders, now seem willing to sell out abortion rights in pursuit of the elusive vote of the working-class white man. There’s no evidence that moving right on abortion will gain Democratic votes. But it’s an appeal to the same dynamic Trump ran on: a bygone America, the symbol of which is the white factory man, able to support his children and a stay-at-home wife on the salary he earned doing good honest work with his hands.
Safe, legal abortion and modern, reliable contraception made it easier for women to pursue education and work; it let us delay childbearing and to choose our marital mates more carefully, and enabled us to leave bad relationships more easily or avoid them entirely; it let us compete with men. Which is a big part of why it’s such a divisive and animating issue, both for the women who are thriving because of the freedom contraception and abortion offer, and for the traditionalists who think life was better when gender roles were clearer and women knew their place (and it wasn’t in the corner office or on the factory floor).
Many of the white voters who support Trump do so him precisely because he suggests to them that he’ll put white men back on top. If Democrats do the same, they’ll only be able to peel off some of these voters — many are simply GOP loyalists who aren’t going to be swayed — and they’ll alienate their base, which remains a multiracial and disproportionately female coalition, while they sell their souls.