Many political observers say the November 2022 elections and other by-elections were disastrous for those who took principled stands on cultural war issues. They claim Americans are tired of the culture wars. The mantra is that having rock-solid views leads to ballot defeat.
Radical moderates, for that is what they are, now call for consensus, dialogue and compromise. They demand that conservatives “give in a little to avoid losing all” and accommodate the unprincipled.
Nowhere is this absurd strategy peddled more than in the current abortion debate. Conservative candidates that too often ride on the backs of pro-lifers to victory are now asking them to tone down their message.
Presidential candidate Nikki Haley, for example, calls for a pragmatic approach toward procured abortion as if it were a choice of ice cream, not the taking of innocent human life. “Different people in different places are taking different paths,” the former South Carolina governor said, asking to accommodate everyone. “That’s what the founders of our country envisioned. It’s the reality of living in a democracy.”
Ex-President Donald Trump angered pro-life leaders by calling the fight against abortion a “losing” issue. Only after pressure has he made a vague pledge to “get something done” about procured abortion. Other figures are also ambivalent on the issue. At first swell from a storm, politicians look for a way off the heaving boat. Armed with public opinion polls, conservative pundits, like the Wall Street Journal’s William Galston, declare that the G.O.P. is out of step with the nation.
They claim the only way to win is to find a mushy middle ground where all might feel comfortable.
This conclusion is a path to certain defeat for three reasons.
Never Hide the Final Goal of Eliminating Procured Abortion
First, the best in the pro-life movement have never subscribed to this wrongheaded strategy of “compromise and concede your way to victory.” From the very beginning, pro-lifers have always made their objective clear: The elimination of the stain of procured abortion from the nation. There can be no compromise when dealing with unborn innocent human life. It is a non-negotiable issue. Success cannot be limited geographically since an unborn life in one state is just as valuable as one in another. This goal of the pro-life movement has never been hidden from the general public—even in the face of dismal polls in the seventies that deemed the cause hopeless.
The movement has cleverly employed various political methods and techniques inside this intransigent framework. It has used with great success a policy of incremental restrictions on abortion. Indeed, it closed hundreds of abortion clinics through persistent protests and offering alternatives. Vast swaths of public opinion, especially among the young, have joined the pro-life side.
With the Dobbs victory, abandoning a winning strategy that has worked so well over the years would be absurd.
Learn from the Left and Avoid the Mushy Center
The second problem with the radical moderates’ position is that it is biased and discriminatory. The media croak in unison that the extremely radical goals of the pro-life movement scare people. They pile on the pressure, trying to force the pro-life side to soften its position.
However, the media exempt the left from their call for moderation. The left promotes legislation, amendments and referenda that will enshrine diabolical North Korean-style abortion policies until birth and even afterward. With fanatical zeal, “Catholic” President Biden has vowed to enact legislation to allow unlimited abortion nationwide. The pro-abortion side has only radicalized after their massive Dobbs defeat.
There is no media call for abortionists to moderate. The pro-life movement should take careful note of this media silence on how the left instructs its political representatives to double down and be uncompromising.
Further, pro-lifers should scornfully reject the media’s dishonest invite to sink into the mushy center. It is just another name for unilateral surrender.
Distortion of Facts
Finally, it is not true that recent elections have resulted only in pro-life defeats. Quite the contrary, all twelve pro-life governors running in 2022 won. Except for Michigan, the Republicans maintained control of all legislatures in the states with a law prohibiting most abortions. The G.O.P. kept control of its state supreme courts and even added North Carolina. Many states are enacting restrictive abortion laws with success. Others, like Kansas, are overriding governor vetoes with success.
If it were true that staunchly pro-life Republicans were out of step with America, such electoral results would be impossible.
In states like Florida, the pro-life movement experienced gains and energized its base. What is needed are unafraid principled leaders with a clear and consistent message and battle-tested tactics.
Facing the Abortion Issue Head-on
Indeed, Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, urged Republicans running in 2024 to tackle the issue of procured abortion “head-on,” noting that many G.O.P. candidates neglected to do so with tragic results in the 2022 midterm election.
McDaniel advised taking a hardline stance: “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.”
Indeed, polls do not tell the whole story. What determines the results of elections are impassioned minorities who are faithful to their cause, propelling it to victory.
A Losing Strategy
Radical moderates, however, believe that softening the pro-life message will mellow fanatical pro-abortionists into abandoning some of their more repugnant goals. How ridiculous. Surrenders like these only embolden the left.
These unprincipled radical moderates also believe that softening the message will attract more unprincipled moderates, more people like themselves. They are right on that account, but it is a losing strategy. A lukewarm position only attracts lukewarm and fickle people who usually go on to betray the cause. They can never be trusted to deliver victory. That is why unprincipled moderates must be avoided like the plague.
A strong, consistent and faithful pro-life position will attract strong, consistent and faithful people with whom a healthy, vibrant and victorious movement can be built.
The pro-abortion side has repeatedly encouraged pro-lifers to water down their message. Today, complicit media believe that if they can repeat the “compromise and concede your way to victory” mantra enough, conservative candidates will succumb to the lie.
The pro-life movement must resist the temptation of attracting unprincipled moderates. Cowering and shriveling before the enemy was never part of any road to victory. On the contrary, being authentic, staying true and faithful to the cause will attract the right people into the fray.
Doubling down does not mean abandoning the incrementalist tactics that resulted in the Dobbs decision. Never hiding (much less abandoning) the ultimate goal of eliminating procured abortion from the nation must always be coupled with careful evaluation of strengths and weaknesses, good planning and picking one’s fights well in a wise step-by-step conduct of the fight.
Above all, concerned Americans must keep confiding in God and the Blessed Mother. A purely political solution will not happen. Victory will only come with Divine aid.