The Herschel Walker story has died down a bit since the last headline drop from the Daily Beast on Wednesday, so I can only assume that there’s a drop coming soon to drive the conversations on the weekend shows.
But on left and the NeverTrump right, the same question is being asked of normal Republicans and conservatives who still support Walker: Why?
The idea behind the question is simple: “You’re all just hypocrites, talking about getting rid of abortions and talking about being pro-family and then turning around and voting for this SINNER like you did Trump!”
But conservatives are having to make transactional calculations in their vote. They don’t have the benefit of mainstream media outlets that boosts their talking points, an entertainment industry aligned with them, and social media networks suppressing their opponents. They have to work to elect people that will do the hard work of pushing the agenda forward.
A vote for Walker, they have determined, is the right call because while he may have lived an imperfect life and while he may have paid for an abortion (which he is still denying), the fact of the matter is that paying for one (or, Gor forbid, more than one) abortion himself and becoming pro-life later in life is better than being a supposedly Christian pastor who believes not only in abortion anytime and anywhere, but in the idea that it should be funded by taxpayers.
Someone can pay for an abortion on their own, but don’t make conservative taxpayers pay for anyone else’s.
And so it was with Donald Trump. There was a candidate that conservatives felt would fight for them, and he did. He fundamentally reshaped the judiciary with his nominations, shifted the Supreme Court to be solidly conservative, and ultimately paved the way for the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Was he perfect? Not even close. But his administration made good calls on policy, and the conservative movement did come out ahead.
Kevin Williamson, writing at The Dispatch, puts it like this.
Nobody on the right seems able to stop and ask: “Why? Why do we want a party whose leading lights are such figures as Donald Trump and Herschel Walker to control the Senate? Why would we want such figures as Lindsey Graham or Josh Hawley to control anything?”
The conservative calculation is much the same: You may personally dislike these people, and you may think they lack the moral character to be a decent human being (much less a politician), but they have gotten their voters what they asked for. A vote for those Republicans, the calculation goes, is a vote against codifying Roe v. Wade. It is a vote against more of the Green New Deal. It is a vote against trillions in extra, unnecessary spending. It is a vote against censorship, against progressive social engineering, against eliminating the filibuster.
It’s a vote for trying to secure the border, or at least pushing for it to be less open. It’s a vote to fund the police.
Conservatives aren’t corrupt and they aren’t hypocrites. They have their list of what they want to see, and they know that voting against Walker, Hawley, Graham, etc. hurts that cause. Do Republicans need better candidates? Of course they do. And the Republican Party should be working hard to recruit better ones. Not just ones who can win, but ones who will vote the right way and represent what they actually believe.
Because of the lay of the political landscape, however, they are voting the best they can. They have made the calculation that the goals of the movement weigh more, and that is driving their vote.