I’m the mythical one-issue voter. I would vote for a communist dogcatcher if he were more pro-life than his opponent. And by any measure, a Trump administration will be more pro-life than a Biden administration.
Sophisticates sneer at those of us who care deeply about a single issue. For that matter, sophisticates sneer at those of us who look at abortion and see babies slaughtered on the altar of feminist empowerment—a modernized Aztec child-sacrifice cult, with the upper-middle-class women of the National Organization for Women as its high priestly caste.
Still, there’s something clarifying about the politics of abortion, maybe most of all because the slaughter of the innocent should never have become a political issue. In one pan of the balance, we can put everything bad that people fear that President Donald Trump might do and every vain wish they have for the good that Joe Biden might accomplish. In the other pan, we put a mound of corpses (more than 800,000 in a slow year) and the transuranic weight of guilt and grief. The balance tilts in only one direction.
Infanticide is just too heavy to be balanced.
Like many of an older generation of conservatives, I have wished at times over the past four years that the standard carrier wasn’t Trump. I wish it was Washington or Madison or Lincoln. I’d settle for Coolidge or Eisenhower—anyone with a little dignity, a little sense of the deep places where the intellectual roots of conservatism are found: a politics of truth, a society of individual freedom, and a universe of moral order.
That ain’t Trump. But, in truth, it hasn't been ostensibly conservative politicians for decades, and I understand why some friends supported Trump in 2016. They were tired of losing—gracefully or not. They were tired of the sense that all a Republican victory buys is that the ratchet isn't turning even further left for a season. They were tired of domestic issues taking a backseat to high-theory international policy. So they voted for Trump.
Portions of the pro-life movement were slower to support the man. During the 2016 primaries, Trump spent a few weeks stumbling over phrasing a pro-life position (saying, for example, that women who have abortions should go to jail). And at the time, I spoke for many of us, old in the movement, when I wrote a harsh Weekly Standard editorial against Trump. If he couldn’t be bothered to master the language and thought that we spend decades refining, what made anyone think he would bother to act?
If he couldn’t even talk the talk, how could we expect him to walk the walk?
As it turns out, he proved able to walk and oppose abortion at the same time. With the help of a Republican Senate, Trump has done more to advance the pro-life cause than anyone could have expected, with a large number of new judges—to say nothing of new justices. And then, there’s what might be his most significant pro-life gain: He defeated Hillary Clinton, a candidate so extreme on the life issues that she led the 1990s fight for partial-birth abortion.
Besides, things go together in politics. There’s a reason that voters will never need to prove their pro-life commitments by voting for communist dogcatchers. A bad sense of human flourishing and human freedom has melded with a corrupt view of human life, and no Democratic candidate will emerge to oppose abortion.
That leftist creed is too strong, and the sacrificial faith too fervent.
To be pro-life is to be certain that the day will come when America looks back on the abortion regime with the shame with which it now views slavery: a stain on national memory. But in the interim, we do what we must—season by season, election by election—to gain what little ground we can.
And today, that means voting for Donald Trump.