One of the things that’s often said about Donald Trump is that he is the type of person who was born on third base but thinks he got there by hitting a triple. The professional pro-life movement is a lot like that except they have spent their whole existence repeatedly striking out, and now they are desperate to claim that they are standing on third base with Trump. Note that I am not talking in this post about every day pro-lifers, I am talking about the non-profit orgs who have become excellent at milking honest donors for money, delivering nothing in return, and then trying to pretend that they have been tremendously successful.
(Note, I want to single out Americans United for Life here because they are often the best pro-life org out there. I have seen no evidence that they have taken any stance supporting Trump and they appear to be sitting the general election out. If so, good for them.)
I feel like I’m on the record enough about this issue that I can speak honestly about the movement’s failures without having my motivations questioned. Pretty much the whole reason I got into politics in the first place is because I am a pro-lifer. The main reason I have stuck with the Republican party through betrayal after betrayal is because of the abortion issue. There’s a reason that Trump’s defenders come back again and again to the Supreme Court as a justification for supporting Trump. They know what a powerful siren call that is for me and people like me. Their assumption is that we will continue to be suckers forever. And why not? We have been for forty years.
Personally, I have reached the point that I am fed up with these organizations. They have been, by and large, total failures in holding politicians accountable. When is the last time you can recall that a pro-life group claimed the scalp of any of the dozens if not hundreds of Republicans who have betrayed the pro-life cause over the years? It has not happened and it does not happen.
In recent history, Club for Growth and Koch have defeated Republicans like Renee Ellmers who crossed them. The immigration hardliners took out Eric Cantor. The Chamber of Commerce took out Tim Heulskamp for the Agriculture Subsidy Lobby and the squishes. And so on and so on. None of these groups have won every election they have played in but Republicans who are thinking of bucking these groups at least look over their shoulder before doing so.
Why do you think Republicans in the House turned an absolute gimme issue with the 20-week abortion ban into an absolute PR debacle that set the whole pro-life movement back? Because they knew that after screwing up and flubbing the issue in every possible way, when they finally passed a watered-down version of the bill that they knew would get vetoed, pro-life orgs would praise them for doing so like hapless, poorly-trained seals. And when they let the bill die with absolutely no political consequence for Democrats, pro-life orgs would do nothing other than getting pledges from Republicans to do better next time. Renee Ellmers and Marsha Blackburn, who spearheaded the public embarrassment of pro-lifers, were passed over. Ellmers was taken out by Koch and CFG, and Marsha Blackburn continues to sail uncontested through every election just like she is a conservative warrior in good standing.
These orgs are all carrot, no stick. They are happy to go out and encourage people to elect more Republicans, elect more Republicans, vote Republican for President in particular. Meanwhile, 7 of the 9 judges who decided Roe v. Wade were appointed by Republicans. Roe v. Wade would not have survived throughout all these years without Justices O’Connor, Kennedy, and Souter – all nominated by Republicans and confirmed with the unanimous consent of Senate Republicans. At no point has anyone ever paid a political price for this. So pro-life orgs set their sights on a series of incremental legislative changes to the abortion regime at the state level, which have systematically been thrown out by judges who were appointed and confirmed by Republicans – and again, no one has paid a political price for any of this. You could hardly ask for a more useful set of stooges for the RNC.
Here is how sad the situation is. CFG and the Koch Network both have a lot of donors who are pressuring them to get involved in the general and support Trump. They are refusing, feeling that Trump is not enough aligned with their principles to be worth helping. Meanwhile, the pro-life suckers have jumped in to help Trump with both feet. The fiscal conservatives have shown more principles than the pro-lifers, and the pro-lifers are the ones who pretend to follow an objective standard.
I don’t know what it is about these groups that makes them totally unable to state the obvious: that pro-lifers are being played for suckers by the GOP, which has no intention of ever allowing Roe v. Wade to be overturned. After all, if it were, how would they scare the evangelicals into voting for the Donald Trumps of the future? The professional pro-life orgs are too scared to say this, and to admit that everything they have done for the last 40 years to this point has been an abject failure, because doing so might cause their donor money to dry up. So they continue to play the willing sucker again and again and at no point has it been more evident than their embrace of Trump this year.
Trump, for those who might not remember, is the only candidate in this race who has probably paid for an abortion. He has praised Planned Parenthood repeatedly throughout the course of this campaign. His seven different attempts to answer a question on whether he would support criminally punishing a woman who had an abortion probably set the cause back another decade, because he clearly has no idea how to even properly sound like a pro-lifer. And I haven’t even gotten into the fact that Trump was an open and avowed pro-choicer until, oh, 2012, and that all of the people he surrounds himself with – including his kids – are pro-choice liberals.
If you believe that Trump has actual pro-life principles or that he will honor any sort of pledge to only appoint pro-life justices, then you have to be one of the most monumental suckers who has ever lived. I really and truly mean that. I mean, it would be one thing if we, as a movement, had not been repeatedly stabbed in the back by Republicans who promised the same thing to win our votes, but we have. Over and over and over. There comes a point when even an exceptionally stupid animal like a sheep will learn to avoid its master if its master keeps kicking it in the face every day.
Which means that the sheep is a better critical thinker than most of the professional pro-life orgs, as Kimberly Ross pointed out on Friday in a post that called out SBA List, among others. In response to her post, I got angry emails and tweets from people who have spent their careers in and around the professional pro-life movement asking “HOW DARE REDSTATE ATTACK A GOOD, SOLID CONSERVATIVE?”
Well, here are our credentials on this matter. As you can see here, we have repeatedly published Marjorie’s work and promoted it to the front page every time we were asked. I personally have repeatedly praised their work and encouraged people to donate to them. But I am not going to sit here and pretend that lending the credibility that pro-life orgs have earned to an obvious fraud like Trump is anything but a sucker’s move. I don’t have donors who I have to constantly convince that I’m generating awesome successes. The only thing I or anyone else at RedState has an obligation to say is our honest opinion, and Kimberly’s honest opinion (and mine) is that the professional pro-lifers are embarrassing themselves right now by pretending that Trump of all people is going to be different from the back stabbing Republicans who came before him.
Will there ever come a point – and I do mean, literally ever, where the professional pro-life orgs throw up their hands and say, “You know what? We are sick of being played for fools by the Republican Party. They must be actually opposed until they change their ways.” And if that day is ever supposed to come, why not now? If the Trump Farce isn’t enough to make them say “no mas,” then what will be?
I guess it makes sense that these groups are falling in line for Trump, because they have a lot in common. They have both spent most of their existence frittering away other people’s money on projects that were often failures, yet claiming all the while that they are the biggest success stories ever. They can’t admit to defeat, disappointment, or the fact that they have ever been deceived or duped by anyone because they both perceive that this would be fatal to their ability to find new people to give them money in the future. In a lot of ways, they really were made for each other.
The sad thing is that every day pro-lifers are left with the realization that there is no one who is even marginally effective who is in their corner, or who is fighting a meaningful battle for the unborn in DC. The battle is not being fought. It is described, it is promised, but the actual fight does not happen. Which is, as Donald Trump would say, sad!