NY Times op-ed tells Democrats to ’embrace the politics of fear’ on abortion: ‘Party needs to scare voters’

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NY Times op-ed tells Democrats to ’embrace the politics of fear’ on abortion: ‘Party needs to scare voters’

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Ana Marie Cox wrote a guest essay in the New York Times suggesting that fear could be a winning strategy for Democrats in an op-ed on Friday.

In light of Republicans being favored to take back Congress in the 2022 midterm elections, Cox recognized the need to inspire both moderate and progressive Democrats. Using the Dobbs abortion decision from the Supreme Court as an example, she claimed “fear can drive them to the polls.”

“When it comes to abortion rights, the Democrats need to lean into the politics of fear,” Cox opened.

She explained that while America after the overturning of Roe v. Wade already feels like a “worst-case scenario,” Republicans regaining power should cause further “panic.” 

Protesters shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona Capitol after the Supreme Court decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision Friday, June 24, 2022, in Phoenix. 

Protesters shout as they join thousands marching around the Arizona Capitol after the Supreme Court decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision Friday, June 24, 2022, in Phoenix. 
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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She claimed, “[E]veryone should be [terrified], not just those who might want or need an abortion in the future,” and went on to count gay marriage, sexual privacy, contraception and in vitro fertilization as items that could be threatened. 

“To meet the urgency of the moment and save their razor-thin and often nonexistent hold on the Senate, Democrats must talk about that future, giving voters across the country, in every state, a reason to vote. Lives are on the line. At the same time, Democratic leaders have to understand that the politics of fear can run both ways,” she urged.

“The party needs to scare voters and show that they, too, are scared: scared of the voters themselves,” she continued. “Democratic politicians watched Republicans roll back abortion rights for decades — and when Roe fell, they had no plan. Now, they need to demonstrate that they are willing to put themselves at the mercy of those they failed — making specific promises and letting the voters know that if they fail again, it will be more than a fund-raising opportunity. It will be a reckoning.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks as she joins abortion-rights activists as they demonstrate following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks as she joins abortion-rights activists as they demonstrate following Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022.
((AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin))

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She called for an “Abortion Access Pledge” with action items for candidates to commit to. 

“I am honestly unsure if it matters what those action items are; I do know Democrats will have to throw out any concern for the appearance of moderation. Right now, all the ideas about bridging the gap to abortion access sound extreme. But so did [Grover Norquist’s] tax pledge at one point. So did overturning Roe v. Wade,” Cox wrote.

Progressive politicians such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have suggested that the government and President Biden allow abortions on federal land to circumvent state laws. Cox acknowledged these ideas and advocated for them despite any difficulties, saying, “Democrats who want to save the lives of those in need of an abortion can’t fall back on ‘it’s complicated’ as an excuse to not even try.”

“Embracing a politics of fear on reproductive rights unites two of the constituencies the Democrats need to edge out the G.O.P. in key narrow races,” she said, while pointing to contests in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia. She hoped “hammering home the danger of a national ban may sufficiently alarm moderate voters in the suburbs” while “addressing the widespread sense of betrayal among progressive voters will help keep them activated.”

Abortion-rights protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court's landmark abortion cases. 

Abortion-rights protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court’s landmark abortion cases. 
((AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana))

While pushing for Democrats to “take real political risks,” Cox claimed that “it’s worth the gamble” to take “bold action.”

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She closed, “Fear often divides, but it can also unite. When you have a common threat, there is an opportunity for a common mission. This threat is no longer beyond the horizon — it’s at the door. Now, Democrats, decide on a mission.”

Lindsay Kornick is an associate editor for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to lindsay.kornick@fox.com and on Twitter: @lmkornick.

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