I argued in a previous article that the Republican Party had abandoned the necessary underpinnings of the pro-life movement, and as a result, was no longer an acceptable representative of that cause. I focused on the pro-life movement because it is of great importance for orthodox Christian believers, but the same argument applies for other Christian causes. If the Republican Party does not have the moral authority to represent the pro-life movement, it also cannot adequately defend religious liberty and speech, promote the institution of the family, etc.
But I understand that it is still very difficult for many Christians to vote against the only mainstream party that at least claims to support Christian principles. So in this article, I will begin expounding different scenarios, hoping to show that conservative Christian causes are likely to suffer in all cases if they remain under the Republican mantle. In this exploration, I will continue to focus on abortion as a key representative issue, and I will start with the scenario of Republican victory.
Scenario 1: Republicans continue winning.
If Republicans continue winning elections with Trumpian tactics, victory would embolden the GOP to embrace the three most salient characteristics of Trump’s style: lies, resentment, and mudslinging. This would be a disaster for any Christian causes connected to the GOP.
All three of these elements are in stark opposition to the pro-life cause (and other Christian goals). First, as I argued in my previous article, the pro-life movement absolutely requires a belief in objective truth, because the argument for the personhood and value of an unborn baby depends on a divine commandment, not on a subjective social contract. But if the supposedly pro-life party openly rejects the objectivity of truth, it can claim no such basis for its pro-life arguments.
Truth—in the forms of empirical facts and moral truths—is the starting point for any discussion of policy, and even for the most basic functioning of life. I have already discussed moral truth in terms of the pro-life movement, but the ability to prove basic, documented facts is foundational to property rights, contracts, the administration of justice, economic transactions, all forms of planning for the future, national defense…you name it. In a world where truth is manufactured by the one or even the many, regardless of reality, society breaks down and eventually ceases to function as a society. If you doubt it, just go read 1984. (I will note here that liberals tend to have a significant problem with this point as well, though primarily by denying the existence of objective moral truths, or related concepts like purpose. But Trump and his coterie act in defiance not only of moral truth, but also empirical fact.)
Second, Trump’s strategy of stoking resentment emphasizes the differences of male/female and white/non-white. If the Republican Party continues to embrace this strategy, both dichotomies will hinder the pro-life movement from winning over its detractors. Obviously it is women that pro-lifers need to win over most, but especially in the #MeToo era, any party that demeans women as a group will gain a vast number of enemies among women. The pro-life movement must instead firmly advocate for the equal value of the sexes and show compassion to the plight many women face who are considering abortions.
Furthermore, encouraging the white/non-white disparity is also antagonistic to pro-life work. Women of color are much more likely to get an abortion than white women, and the pro-life movement needs to approach such women with compassion. Trump’s overt racism is now the most visible standard of what Republicans think about people of color, so while individual Republicans may be able to overcome that image problem, the pro-life movement as a whole, attached to such a standard, will undoubtedly be rejected by people of color (and understandably so). So for Christians concerned with moral issues like abortion, the resentment that Trump encourages is neither politically practical nor morally defensible.
The same applies for the personal attack element of Trumpism. Trump’s politics is premised on a closed “us” and a boundless “them,” and he mercilessly attacks “them” whenever possible. The natural response to such an attack is fight or flight. So before you can ever breathe a word about any moral issue, you have to first overcome the pre-existing animosity or fear that Trump has created. That is not easily done and, even without the other concerns, is a huge barrier to winning over anyone to a moral cause if they are not already a member of the blessed Trumpian elect.
Some people will agree with all I’ve said above but still think the abortion fight is winnable simply through the courts. Repealing Roe is everything for many people, and so voting for Trump and other Republicans is justified to them. I have addressed that topic in passing, but it deserves a more thorough discussion, so I will attempt that soon.
But I believe all prominent moral causes are advanced in our society by winning individual hearts and minds with compassion and conscience. In such a system, advocates must both exhibit compassion and present a moral vision with firm foundations, which can eventually lead to a convicted conscience. The continuing victory of the Republicans will only entrench Trump’s approach of lies, resentment, and mudslinging. In such a scenario, the pro-life movement’s connection to the Republican Party will only make it more difficult to change the culture, and will likely prove fatal.
In the next blog, we will explore what might happen to the pro-life movement if Democrats win.