Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Would an Intelligent Pro-Lifer Vote for Trump?

When I read punditry like Fr. Dwight Longenecker's seeming attempt to either politically or ethically absolve citizens for voting for Donald Trump, I can't help but shake my head at the willingness to believe in platforms while letting history itself slide. So here is a rundown as I see it--a brief review of GOP presidents and candidates since 1980 regarding pro-life issues:

Ronald Reagan was pro-abortion when he was governor of California, and signed pro-abortion legislation. He flipped before the 1980 election, perhaps honestly, but perhaps because Carter had opened the door to its use as a wedge issue. He appointed three justices to the Supreme Court, two of whom turned out uncommitted to pro-life causes (Kennedy and O'Connor).

George H.W. Bush was never strongly pro-life, and his wife telegraphed that the issue didn't matter during the 1992 campaign. His supreme court appointees (Souter and Thomas) were split down the middle on abortion.

Bob Dole was a flip-flopper on abortion, and it was not a strong part of his campaign.

George W. Bush ran as a Reagan pro-lifer. But one of his first decisions as Commander in Chief was to waffle on stem cell research, the summer before 9/11. While he did tend to nominate those who appear to be pro-life justices, contrasting him to the first term of the Obama administration is instructive. He did not spend political capital on life issues in the way that Obama risked his political career on healthcare reform, using it instead on other issues until 9/11, after which he burned all of his political capital and more on war.

John McCain was never a staunch pro-lifer, and telegraphed as early as 2000 that it wouldn't be a major issue in his administration, should he be elected President. His strongest statements about the issue, from a pro-life perspective, were those times when he said he wouldn't remove Ronald Reagan's plank in the GOP platform against abortion. Not exactly abolitionist rhetoric.

Mitt Romney was pro-choice during his political races in Massachusetts, and changed his position when looking to the presidency. Anyone who really thought of him as sincerely pro-life can't have been a serious observer.

Donald Trump was a pro-abortion extremist until he jumped ship to run as a Republican. In many ways he's by far the least believable of the list.

So if you're a Catholic pro-lifer, and if you've caste your vote primarily on this issue for your voting lifetime, you might want to think hard. My opinion is that you're being used. I don't believe the Republican party really, as a whole, wants Roe v Wade overturned. I don't think they care much at all about it.

My advice: live the culture of life. Love your kids, love your neighbor. Be there for people in trouble, for the young woman in a bad situation, for the young man wanting to do the right thing: help them know the love of Christ in the midst of their trouble. Let them see that love is more important than career or standard of living, that no mistake or terrible situation is irredeemable. Be the solution. Be non-political about it. Don't get suckered. And stop shouting people down over a political wedge issue that your leaders never really solve in your favor. If you feel the burning rush of anger and self-righteousness coming over you like smoke over a battlefield...chances are it ain't the right way.

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