Republicans seem determined to die on the hill called abortion in 2024 – and they may take the country down with them.
Abortion is a litmus test for millions of swing voters: nothing else matters if a candidate does not agree with them on it.
This is not good news for the GOP: The results of the 2022 midterm elections – and current polling – show that there are significantly more pro-choice independent voters than pro-life independents.
As a result, immigration, the state of the nation’s economy and the identity of the GOP 2024 presidential nominee may not matter all that much, as President Biden and his publicists in the press ride the abortion issue to victory.
Democrats will then falsely claim their victory is a mandate for radical policies that are dividing and undermining our country, including unsustainable spending, suffocating regulation, open borders, lax law enforcement, and an unquenchable commitment to DEI, ESG, and all the other letters of the woke revolution.
The intricacies of our electoral system are such that Republicans may well hold the House and win the Senate. But four more years of a Democratic presidency in control of the vast federal bureaucracy will unleash innumerable left-wing genies from their bottles, transforming the country in ways that may be impossible to reverse.
Is there any reason for hope? I fear not.
Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, is advising candidates to defend their pro-life values and attack their opponents. “Put them on the defensive and articulate where you stand, and that’s going to be the critical message we have to get out before 2024,” she said last month.
But this stance is a loser in a national election. Since the Dobbs decision overturned the constitutional right to abortion under Roe v. Wade, 13 deep red states have passed laws essentially banning abortion. Republicans can argue that this is democracy in action – a majority of voters in those states oppose abortion. If they change their minds, they can vote in new leaders to write new laws. Their actions have zero impact on pro-choice blue states such as California, New York, and Illinois.
But Democrats and their media allies will argue, with some justification, that Republicans are gunning for every womb. McDaniel’s suggestion that more voters will be turned off by Democrat support for later-term abortions than her party’s support of bans is wishful thinking. If you want to win the electoral votes of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Georgia, which card would you rather play?
In the short term, this is the weak hand of cards Republicans have dealt themselves.
In the longer term there may be some hope – if the GOP stops acting like Democrats, who insist on shoving their controversial policies down people’s throats. Republicans, instead, can give themselves some room on the issue, and perhaps reintroduce some comity into the body politic, by acknowledging that many Americans do not share their objections to abortion and vowing to work harder to change their minds.
To this end, Republicans can also make a stand for small government, states’ rights, and civil discourse by pledging that no Republican-controlled Congress or Republican president will pass a federal ban on the procedure.
I know this position is unacceptable to those who consider abortion murder. I understand, and respect, that this is non-negotiable for them.
Being right is a good start, but it is not an effective strategy. Republicans and their willing pro-life allies must not squander the great opportunity Dobbs has given them to make their case.
At heart, most Americans know that abortion is the taking of an innocent life. Yes, it’s a medical procedure; it’s also a tragedy. That is why there is little support for the Democrat position of abortion on demand with no conditions at all. Yet, a majority of Americans recoil at the idea of making women carry unwanted children to term.
Instead of passing new laws, pro-life forces should focus on making the compassionate case for why this view is not wrong or evil, but mistaken. Championing other traditional values, they can remind Americans that sex is not just a tremendous source of intimacy and pleasure, but a deeply consequential act that binds and obligates us to our partners and our progeny.
That may seem obvious, but it is a fact that has been lost in recent decades as our culture has cast sex as an act of personal gratification leading, among other things, to calamitous increases in unwanted pregnancies, out-of-wedlock births, and single-parent homes.
A thoughtful discussion of abortion would also allow Republicans to espouse another fading value: personal responsibility. In an era of cheap and effective birth control, we should not be creating millions of lives only to destroy them. Instead of dismissing those who become pregnant as irresponsible, we should work to educate and empower them through the message: With simple precautions, you can spare yourself, and an innocent life, from this horror.
It is essential that Republicans start making these arguments immediately. Although their stance on abortion is a political liability, the issue offers them a powerful opportunity to make the case against the left-wing values that are ruining our nation. Extending their compassion for unborn children to adults wrestling with complex problems is an important step toward healing America’s fractured soul.
If we are ever going to reverse the harm Democrats are doing to our culture, we have to start listening to, and loving, and one another.