Republicans are doing their darndest to self-immolate before the midterm elections. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) attacked fellow Republican Senate candidates in August as being of poor “quality” and suggested that Republicans were unlikely to win the Senate.
It is clear the Stupid Party can’t quit its losing addiction. Even as Joe Biden presides over serial crises (from COVID and Afghanistan to inflation and Ukraine), raids his political opponents, and shows significant evidence of cognitive decline, Republicans can’t shake their own low-energy message.
Nowhere is this self-inflicted breakdown more obvious than the question of abortion. Leftist pollsters and analysts have been arguing for months that abortion will drive a surge in Democratic turnout that could threaten the Republican “red wave” this Novemeber. It is at least plausible that the overturning of Roe has energized liberal voters—especially middle-aged, college-educated, white women.
In Kansas, a proposition to ban abortion was defeated soundly in August and in a red-leaning congressional district in New York, the Democrat was able to pull off a victory in a special election held over the summer.
These could be nothing more than outliers. The positive polls showing “surging” support for Joe Biden and the Democrats due to the overturning of Roe could be nothing more than partisan suppression polling. It would not be the first time that crazed liberals have gotten the American electorate very, very wrong.
Nevertheless, the Democrats have gone all in on abortion as their winning issue for the fall. Republicans need a devastating rhetorical counterattack that will take the wind out of the only sail the Democrats have. Instead, they duck.
Inflation and economic issues, though pressing to voters, do not directly involve these claims about justice that seem more pressing to voters. The reason that the Left is able to generate such fierce support from their base is because they do not shy away from divisive issues. The mainstream American Right, in contrast, is constantly doubtful of its own moral standing. Candidates are loath to demonstrate the same level of self-confidence that characterizes liberal thought.
That should change. Republican politicians should point out over and over again that the Democrats hold an utterly vicious and insane view of abortion. The liberal position is that there ought to be abortion for any reason, paid for by the taxpayer, up to the moment of birth (and perhaps even after).
This view is not in step with the views of the vast majority of Americans. At the same time, Americans, do not support a total or near-total abortion ban. It is a confused and unprincipled general consensus but it is a consensus nonetheless.
Republicans need to hammer this discrepancy. Only China and North Korea have legalized abortion policies as radical as the foundational proposals of the Democratic Party. It is worth hammering home that the Democrats, like their fellow Marxists across the Ocean, have an utterly contemptuous view of human life in the womb that is not in line with that of the American people.
Rhetorically, Republicans should talk about abortion the way Democrats talk about guns. When liberals say they just want to ban “assault weapons” and favor “common sense gun control” what they really mean is that they want to strip every American of any effective right to own firearms.
But why couldn’t the GOP, when talking about abortion, speak of limiting the killing of children in the womb. Republicans should argue for “common sense abortion control” and stand in opposition of the “unaccountable abortion industry.” This allows Republicans to carve out a position on abortion—limitations around the end of the first trimester—that are popular among voters while also signalling to the hard core pro-life right that they are, at bottom, on their side.
Pro-lifers must learn to take power. Then, and only then, do they get to set the narrative. Learning how to navigate public opinion is key to that first step.
After going on the offensive against the insane pro-child sacrifice position of the Left and establishing a rhetorical core for their message, Republicans can propose concrete policies.
Republicans should unify around the idea that decisions about abortion, right now, need to take place at the state level. Burning political capital on an unpopular national abortion ban when immigration is out of control, the FBI is arresting political dissidents, the former president is under constant attack from the state security services, and the economy is in crisis is remarkably short sighted.
Abortion should remain under the purview of the states. Trying to drag complicated 14th Amendment or substantive due process interpretations into the argument over abortion, right now, is dumb. Republicans should avoid it.
Instead, they should settle on a state by state strategy. At its most conservative, Republicans should campaign for a total abortion ban with exceptions only for the life of the mother. Abortion does not solve the problems of rape or incest. Killing children in the womb doesn’t make criminals less likely to commit heinous crimes against women. That’s a separate issue entirely, and Republicans should address it as such.
In more liberal states, Republicans should push for a ban on abortions after 15 weeks. Any exceptions should be subject to court scrutiny. If a doctor claims that an abortion was necessary to save the life of a mother, he should be willing to make that same claim in front of a grand jury. If the last two years have taught us anything, it is that the medical establishment in America is filled with hardcore leftists. They need to be held accountable to the people.
Republicans should require that all abortion doctors have hospital admitting privileges and meet stringent health and safety standards. Another case like that of Kermit Gosnell should never be allowed to happen again.
The GOP’s goal in the run up to these midterms should not be to change the national consensus on abortion but to provide a path forward for the American Right. It is better to have more moderate abortion restrictions that are actually enforced than total bans that are ignored or shot down before ever becoming law.
Even more importantly, Republicans need to prevent the Left from dominating the abortion discourse. By pointing out just how radical the Democrats are on the subject—far more so than anywhere else in the civilized world—it is possible for conservatives to mitigate the Left’s current stranglehold on the question. Convincing liberals not to kill children in the womb is impossible. The goal, instead, should be to cripple the impact of that view among the vast majority of Americans who are not fervently dedicated to abortion maximalism.
The Stupid Party needs to get smart!