Conservatives conserve nothing by losing elections. Shut up already.
It’s hard to argue with anti-abortionists.
“What could matter more than a human life?” they say.
They are not wrong, only limited in their view of what all encompasses “life.”
In America “Life” itself is the rock upon which “Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” stands. And what kind of Life, at this point, is Conservatism conserving if they continue to lose elections?
If the Republican Party holds to hardline stances on losing issues, they’re not just ceding elections. “Voter fraud” aside, a lost election is the result of a loss of voter support. The Dobbs decision in June 2022 energized the Left, but if abortion can’t win even in a culturally conservative and predominantly Catholic state like New Mexico, where the up-to-birth abortionist Democrat and one of the least popular governors in the country won with ease, Conservatives would be politically suicidal to ignore this modern cultural shift.
New Mexico isn’t alone. As Ann Coulter highlighted in “THE NEW BABY-KILLERS: Pro-lifers and the Republican Assisted Suicide Act,” the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Michigan, Tudor Dixon—who opposed abortion for even raped children because carrying the rapist’s baby could be “healing”—lost by 11 points.
In Pennsylvania, Doug Mastriano lost by 15 points after advocating a “lock her up” law to criminally prosecute women who received abortions.
In Maryland—the third-bluest state in the U.S.—Republican Gov. Larry Hogan served eight years as one of the most popular governors in the country. Democrats flipped the seat in 2022 thanks to a pro-abortion GOP candidate named Dan Cox, a state House member who tried more than a dozen times to restrict abortion in the state. Despite an endorsement from Trump, Cox lost to Wes Moore, a banker and TV producer, who campaigned in support of an amendment that would enshrine abortion access in the state constitution.
In Massachusetts, whose previous Republican governor was also termed out, Trump-endorsee Geoff Diehl lost by nearly 30 points on a campaign heralding the Dobbs decision and promising to amend the state’s abortion laws.
In Nevada, Joe Lombardo, the only Republican gubernatorial candidate to beat an incumbent Democratic in 2022, campaigned on a platform supporting the existing abortion law (up to 24 weeks) and promised not to prosecute women in Nevada or from out of state who seek an abortion there. Just last week, Lombardo made good on that promise by signing a law to enshrine protections against prosecution.
These aren’t cherry-picked electoral anecdotes. This is the new norm. The Right has lost the debate, and they’re ceding more ground than just abortion by losing these elections.
New Mexico Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti campaigned to limit abortions to 15 weeks with exceptions in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is at stake. It was not an unreasonable position considering 59% of voters polled said they supported some limits to abortion.
Then news broke about a private conversation during which Ronchetti allegedly told a mega-church pastor that he was taking a moderate approach on the issue in order to win voters, but that he would be more strict if elected governor. The campaign scrambled, proposing that the issue be put on the ballot for voters to decide, but with no history as a public servant and no voting record to judge, voters simply didn’t believe him. The messaging on the Right was weak and nuanced, and they were hammered by clear, hard-hitting attacks from the Left: Ronchetti was branded a liar who would erode women’s rights if elected governor.
He lost by six points.
Electoral Defeat, Moral Victory
It’s not that Republicans don’t care about winning. It’s worse than that. They’re actually celebrating losing as some kind of moral victory.
“They’re called standards, not positions,” one user tweeted in response to Coulter’s criticisms of Florida’s recent six-week abortion ban. “I’d rather lose while fighting to protect kids, than compromise to satiate the demonic cultural horde trying to sacrifice them to Moloch” (emphasis added).
This is the go-to line for pro-lifers: It doesn’t matter that we lose so long as we’re right.
This is not only motivated reasoning—the justification of an opinion despite contradictory evidence—it’s also short-sighted, ignoring the larger ramifications of sacrificing wins on the altar of righteous indignation.
“Unlike a lot of people complaining about the anti-abortion zealots, I am an anti-abortion zealot. That’s why I’m begging them to stop pushing wildly unpopular ideas. These fanatics are going to get millions more babies killed when Democrats win supermajorities in both houses of Congress and immediately pass a federal law making abortion-on-demand the law of the land.
“They’re also going to get a lot more adults killed when those same Democratic supermajorities pass laws taking our guns, defunding the police and packing the court, among other great Democratic ideas.” —Ann Coulter, “THE NEW BABY-KILLERS: Pro-lifers and the Republican Assisted Suicide Act,” April 26, 2023
Pick Your Battles
We need to stop pretending like abortion is the be-all-end-all of politics. There are countless examples of the type of cognitive dissonance that allows voters to maintain an alliance to one side without falling into a pit of anarchical same-sider-ism that makes Libertarians both annoying and politically impotent.
There used to be a time, for example, when Democrats were morally opposed to war. They did not support tax-payer funded invasions of other countries, bomb strikes, regime change or the slaughter of innocent women and children.
Then Obama came along, preaching a message of peace and hope and free puppies for all of God’s children. Obama not only forgot his promise to end U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, he mercilessly bombed Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Syria, killing not only foreign fighters and the innocent men, women, and children that are expected casualties of war, but U.S. citizens as well.
That president won re-election.
Republican voters did the same thing with Donald Trump in 2020. After a brilliant 2016 campaign to “Make America Great Again” by building a “big, beautiful wall—paid for by Mexico,” Trump ran a re-election campaign where he didn’t even pretend that he’d built said wall or made said country great again. Mexico didn’t pay a dime, and Republicans turned out in record numbers to re-elect him.
Point being, why is abortion any different? Why are Conservatives willing to sacrifice wins when it comes to the parental choices of predominantly liberal women, but they’re fine compromising on other issues—to include candidate integrity and honesty?
There is more to being a Conservative than opposing abortion. Taxes, government spending, immigration, drag shows for children, biological men competing in women’s sports, church and school lockdowns. War. Gun rights. Free speech.
On every one of these issues, Conservatives have ceded ground since Trump lost the House in 2018 and Republicans lost the White House and Senate in 2020. And part of the reason for those losses is abortion.
At some point, Conservatives need to admit that the only point of screaming into an empty room is to hear yourselves talk. You may be right—give yourself a pat on the back for being morally irreproachable—but the gesture is purely performative.
Like “election fraud,” abortion is a political loser, and the real-world effects of losing these elections are far more catastrophic than your moral righteousness is worth.
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