Why pro-lifers shouldn't trust the GOP
For too long, the Republican Party has failed a critical part of its base
Wanna hear a funny story?
"Pro-lifers control the Republican Party."
If you didn't fall over laughing, you must not be a pro-lifer.
The secular media loves to tell a make-believe story of a Republican Party controlled by an all-powerful, socially conservative cabal. This imagineered GOP is supposedly some kind of raging conservative machine enacting a radical agenda dictated by America's most ardent abortion foes.
The reality is very different, as many of my fellow conservatives have long known. But here's the problem: The above narrative is so pervasive, many of my fellow pro-lifers have begun to believe it, too.
We don't control the GOP. In fact, the GOP doesn't even really like us. Many parts of the GOP, particularly the secular establishment powerbrokers, despise us.
I sincerely believe in the pro-life agenda. And it frustrates me to no end that even as pro-lifers have delivered electoral majorities to the GOP over and over again, the GOP has not kept up its end of the bargain. Five Republican-appointed justices sit on the Supreme Court, and yet Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land.
The GOP is just a vehicle for winning elections. It has no value in and of itself. Why should pro-lifers support a political entity that does not fight for the policies we care about most?
Early this year, the GOP failed at what should have been a simple task: Pass an enormously popular late-term abortion ban. Passing a bill that polls well, and is symbolically very important to your biggest constituency, ought to be the no-brainer to end all no-brainers. But Republican politicians couldn't even do that.
And now, after the devastating revelations that Planned Parenthood routinely engages in the sale of baby organs for profit — something that is illegal, unethical, and disgusting on at least 12 different levels — GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell couldn't bring himself to allow to the Senate floor a bill to defund that activity by Planned Parenthood. Why not? Because he wants to pass a highway bill instead — a pork-laden monstrosity that comes with the disgusting cherry on top that is the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, a corporate welfare program that free-market conservative activists particularly detest. I have to share the cri de coeur by my friend Ben Domenech, the conservative editor of The Federalist: Why does the Republican Party even exist?
And more specifically, why does the GOP show such contempt for the pro-life cause?
There are a few reasons. Firstly, while the majority of the GOP's base is pro-life, the GOP's elite (particularly its donor class and its consultant class) tend to be overwhelmingly pro-choice and socially liberal. Those groups not only disagree with pro-lifers, but a great number of them tend to view the pro-life cause with outright contempt. With noteworthy exceptions, the elite of the GOP snickers at us behind our backs even as it feels forced to genuflect. GOP consultants and donors get GOP politicians to de-emphasize the life issue against all political logic.
Secondly, and most importantly, the structural realities of democratic politics means that the GOP has a built-in interest in taking pro-lifers for granted. In a democracy, the person who decides elections is the median voter. That's who the parties serve (at least on top-of-the-ticket issues; on less visible issues, they serve big donors and elite constituencies — a fact, which, again, doesn't favor the pro-life movement). Because pro-lifers overwhelmingly vote GOP, the GOP can take us for granted.
It's time to wake up, pro-lifers. You may not like the Democrats, but the GOP doesn't like you, it doesn't need you, it laughs at you, and it will take any opportunity to screw you if it thinks it can get away with it. Never, ever think otherwise.
Now, there's an obvious problem here: Pro-lifers are stuck with the GOP. The Democrats would be even worse for us. Pro-lifers were long ago drummed out of the Democratic Party, as the evolving positions of folks like Ted Kennedy and Jesse Jackson show. Short of a political revolution, pro-lifers will always be second-class members of Team Blue.
Well, we need that revolution. Ideally, the pro-life position would become bipartisan, as it once was. The sacred character of human life ought to transcend partisan politics. There are surely liberals who oppose abortion, just as there are conservatives who favor abortion rights.
Now, I know this is not realistic in the short term. So pro-lifers should settle for the next best thing: We should rule with fear. For the past 30 years, we've been bringing a hymnal to a gunfight. The Tea Party has shown how it's done: Don't like someone? Primary them. End their political career. That's the only thing politicians fear.
I'm done waiting. I hope you are, too.