Trump at the 2020 March for Life (C: Flickr CC)

Trump blaming pro-lifers for lacklustre Midterms is nonsense 

Former US President and two-time Speaker at the Washington March for Life, Donald Trump, took to Truth Social as the new year began to air his grievances against pro-life voters – who he claimed were to blame for the Republicans underperforming expectations in the 2022 Midterms.

“It wasn’t my fault that the Republicans didn’t live up to expectations in the Midterms,” Trump wrote on the social media platform on Sunday night.

“I was 233-20! It was the “abortion issue,” poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on No Exceptions, even in the case of rape, incest, or life of the mother, that lost large numbers of Voters. Also, the people that pushed so hard for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the US Supreme Court, & just plain disappeared, not to be seen again. Plus, Mitch stupid $’s!” he added.

Trump laying the blame firmly at the feet of pro-lifers, a group who helped get him elected on his pro-life promises back in 2016, is nonsense.

Many have, in the past, praised Trump for having his finger on the pulse when it comes to identifying his potential base. Yet, he has kicked off the new year by showing that his discernment is poor. Blaming a huge group of people who helped make him president will surely be a losing political strategy.

Trump speaking at the 2020 March for Life (C:Flickr)

For a start, none of the unsuccessful Republican candidates Trump endorsed in the disappointing Midterms backed ‘no exceptions even in the case of Rape, incest of life of the mother’. The truth is that literally not a single candidate Trump backed opposed abortion or held a pro-life position in all circumstances. 

It has been pointed out that the most pro-life candidate he endorsed was arguably Tudor Dixon, who was the Republican party’s nominee for governor of Michigan in 2022. Dixon, a mother of five girls, said she was of the belief that life is worth protecting – however, even she backed the exception when it came to ‘protecting the life of the mother’.

At the time, this declaration led many pro-lifers to point out that Dixon’s messaging was poor, seeing as the pro-life position supports medical intervention and treatment in pregnancy in cases where the mother’s life is in threat, and in the case of ectopic pregnancy. Medical intervention, is of course, a very different thing to abortion – the deliberate ending of a human life. 

It’s also worth remembering that unapologetic pro-lifers won re-election in states all across America, which also shows Trump’s attack to be clearly unfair. Trump’s bitter rival Ron DeSantis, who has increasingly been favoured as a contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is unequivocally pro-life. DeSantis, who has attacked Planned Parenthood on numerous occasions and signed pro-life legislation into law as Florida Governor, has been described by critics – unlike Trump – as an ‘abortion extremist’ because of his staunchness in defending life without exceptions. 

For all of his conviction and refusal to back down on the life issue, DeSantis managed to enjoy a landslide victory at the Midterms, toppling his pro-abortion Democratic rival Charlie Crist, who managed to win just 40% of the vote with 3,100,603. While the ‘red wave’ Republicans hoped for did not come, the Florida Governor managed to win 59.6 per cent of the vote with 4,607,597 – all while many of Trump’s candidates faltered. 

In a similar vein, fellow pro-life Republican Senator Marco Rubio also sailed to victory, winning a third term at the November Midterms. With abortion being a major factor in the election for nearly 7 in 10 voters after the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, according to polling, Rubio won praise for being a Republican candidate who pushed pro-life messaging effectively in his bid for office. One of the largest pro-life groups in America, Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) praised Rubio and other successful pro-life candidates for putting forward “articulate” and “prepared” arguments against abortion – helping them to clinch votes, and showing that the issue of protecting life remains front and centre for many people.

Championing Rubio, the group went as far as to describe him as one of their “heroes” in the 2022 election, saying that the Florida Senator was “singularly articulate” in saying what he believes about abortion policy.

In contrast to Trump’s take, SBA said that some Republicans suffered from a lack of conviction and confidence in the 2022 race “because they hoped the issue would go away”. Pro-lifers pointed out that many unsuccessful Republicans, when grilled on the abortion issue, would quickly say ‘something, anything’ – and swiftly move on.

Other candidates who raged to victory and were applauded by pro-life groups for being clear and convicted on abortion included Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, JD Vance of Ohio, Ted Budd of North Carolina, and South Dakota Governor Krisi Noem. None of them suffered for taking a strong pro-life position. 

Dodging giving concrete answers out of the fear of upsetting voters or rocking the boat – referred to as the “ostrich” or “opossum” strategy, was, meanwhile, described as borderline political malpractice which lost candidates votes, according to SBA political strategist Frank Cannon. Looking at the results, this analysis seems to add up. 

The success of strong pro-lifers like DeSantis, Rubio, and multiple others, makes it clear that the fault of the Midterm disappointment has less to do with the pro-life cause, and more to do with weak political strategies that many will point out have been employed by the Republican Party for decades. The truth is that pro-life convictions did not lose the Midterms; rather, bad candidates and bad strategies lost.

SBA were among pro-life organisations who fired back at Trump on Sunday, as many labelled his war on pro-lifers unfair. 

“The approach to winning on abortion in federal races, proven for a decade is this: state clearly the ambitious consensus pro-life position and contrast that with the extreme view of Democrat opponents. We look forward to hearing that position fully articulated by Mr. Trump and all presidential candidates,” the organisation said in a statement released on Monday.

The group reiterated their views on candidates shying away from being open about having pro-life views, adding: “There was ALSO a profound midterm lesson for future federal candidates: those who adopt the Ostrich Strategy on abortion lose.”

For many seasoned pro-lifers who believe in protecting life in all its stages and in all circumstances – and not punishing innocent unborn children for crimes committed by a biological parent in the harrowing situation of sexual crime – Trump is not correct when it comes to life. 

Perhaps more than anything, his recent comments disparaging those who hold firm their pro-life beliefs, show that the former president has lost his ability to read his Republican voters.

Is the ship sinking? 

I still believe we have a lot to thank Donald Trump for. You might be a fan. You might not be. But he did a lot during his presidency for the pro-life cause. For almost five decades, overturning Roe v. Wade was the seemingly impossible, overarching goal of the American pro-life movement. Trump’s election of pro-life justices made this seismic shift possible. A shift which has already resulted in an estimated 10,000 lives being saved because of fewer abortions.

I think Trump’s presidency is worth it a thousand times over for what he did with regards abortion. Every Republican president who came before Trump failed categorically when it came to Supreme Court picks. Trump blazed a trail, with his nominations of Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett making him the only Republican president in 60 years to have a perfect record in appointing judicial conservatives. His picks transformed the Supreme Court for a generation.

His perfect record in appointing Supreme Court appointments is also likely to have far-reaching consequences when it comes to free speech, religious liberty, and Second Amendment rights.

I do think pro-lifers also have a big lesson to learn, which is this: we need to stop elevating people who are on ‘our side’, believing them to be beyond reproach and beyond putting a foot wrong. Humans are not meant to be worshipped, and perhaps turning Trump into a saviour was where many of us went wrong, and why so many people are left feeling disappointed.

While some of us may not be backing him in 2024, I’m glad Trump ran and won in 2016 – because many unborn lives will be saved as a result of his presidency.

I believe we can say ‘thank you, Donald Trump’ and acknowledge his strengths and the good he did, while also seeing his recent comments about pro-life voters for what they are: total nonsense.

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