For years Donald Trump proclaimed that he was “pro-choice” on abortion. In his book The America We Deserve he wrote: “I support a woman’s right to choose, but I am uncomfortable with the procedures. When Tim Russert asked me on Meet the Press if I would ban partial-birth abortion, my pro-choice instincts led me to say no. After the show, I consulted two doctors I respect and, upon learning more about this procedure, I have concluded that I would support a ban.”
Because it implies support for a ban on partial birth abortions, some Trump apologists have asserted that this statement disproves the charge that Trump is not pro-life. But staunch pro-choice advocates were among the 17 Democrats in the U.S. Senate who voted to end the late-term dismemberment of babies in the womb. Does this disprove the charge that they are not pro-life? Pretending that it does defies common sense. But it also mistakes the real issue at stake in the pro-life cause.
Trump showed his awareness of the real issue in an article written for the Washington examiner:
America, when it is at its best, follows a set of rules that have worked since our Founding. One of those rules is that we, as Americans, revere life and have done so since our Founders made it the first, and most important, of our “unalienable” rights.
Over time, our culture of life in this country has started sliding toward a culture of death. Perhaps the most significant piece of evidence to support this assertion is that since Roe v. Wade was decided by the Supreme Count 43 years ago, over 50 million Americans never had the chance to enjoy the opportunities offered by this country.
Apparently, Donald Trump is well aware of the fact that something is at stake in the debate over the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that involves the America’s vital premises as a nation. Yet when asked to explain the reasons for his conversion to the pro-life position, he describes it as a matter of personal feeling and perception:
One of the reasons I changed — one of the primary reasons — a friend of mine’s wife was pregnant, in this case married. She was pregnant and he didn’t really want the baby. And he was telling me the story,” Trump told Brody. “He was crying as he was telling me the story. He ends up having the baby and the baby is the apple of his eye. It’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to him. And you know here’s a baby that wasn’t going to be let into life. And I heard this, and some other stories, and I am pro-life.
Based on this account it’s fair to say that Mr. Trump’s life experience changed his feelings about abortion. Mr. Trump saw another man brought to tears by the birth of a child he had been inclined to abort, and that other man’s experience made him feel “pro-life.” Now, Donald Trump, Jr., his eldest son is 37 years old. His daughter Ivanka is 34. His other children are Eric, 31; Tiffany, 22; and Barron, who is 9. This means that all his children except the last were born before his book The America We Deserve was published in the year 2000.
So Donald Trump himself saw four offspring of his own into the world, but it took the birth of some other man’s child to open his eyes to the elation involved in being a father, and the life-changing emotional catharsis it involves? This makes no sense. I have to believe that the birth of his children affected Donald Trump the way it affects most other people, including me. Somehow he himself managed to experience that effect over and over again, with no impact on his “pro-choice” stance.
But the experience of others opened his heart? Even Pharaoh wasn’t that hardhearted. I seriously doubt that Donald Trump was, either. Of course, sometimes the experience of others causes us to stumble upon an emotional struggle of our own that finally breaks our heart to admit some truth we have denied- but that would be a very different story than the implausible account Mr. Trump has given.
Be that as it may, Mr. Trump’s given account goes to show that personal feelings are an unreliable basis for making judgments about matters of justice that involve the basis premises of our nation’s identity and sense of justice. For instance, some years ago Hillary Clinton expressed her personal feelings about abortion. In 2005 she gave a speech in which she characterized abortion as “a sad even tragic choice to many, many women.” As one left-leaning commentator wrote at the time “Hillary Clinton just endorsed a goal I’ve never heard a pro-choice leader endorse. Not safe, legal and rare. Safe legal and never.” Yet Hillary Clinton’s personal sense that abortion is sad and tragic hasn’t altered her adamant support for so-called “abortion rights”.
During the heyday of racist segregation and discrimination in the United States, a lot of decent white folks felt uncomfortable with prejudice. Their experiences with black people moved them to oppose it as a matter of personal feeling. Yet it was not until people like Martin Luther King evoked and applied the logic of America’s Founding principles that such decent people decided to stand, in large numbers, against racial injustice. It was not until it was framed as a matter of God endowed unalienable right.
Ironically, when the advocates of “legalized” abortion speak of “abortion rights” they tap into what they know to be the power of those principles, which still deeply inform the conscience of the American people. The power of our Founding principles has something to do with what Donald Trump alluded to as his “pro-choice instincts”. Many Americans believe that, whatever their sincere personal feelings, it is simply not right to interfere with choices that reflect the equally sincere personal feelings of others. This, they believe, is what is means to have liberty. This is what it means to be secure in the exercise of unalienable right.
Though in our day we may be loath to admit it, this understanding of the primacy of liberty involves the same “pro-choice” instincts that led Southerners in 19th Century to support secession from the Union even though they did not own slaves; even if they were personally opposed to slavery. Had it been all about greed and racism, I doubt that the partisans of slavery could have pushed their Southern compatriots to take up arms against the Union. But they made it an issue of liberty. Ironically, Daniel Webster’s famous “Liberty and Union” speech, which crystallized the nation’s common allegiance to the Union, also epitomized the sense that the love of liberty was the covalent bond holding it together.
It was for Lincoln to see and articulate the fact that this sense of the Union, however sincere it was in feeling, was in fact less than half the whole truth. For in order to reflect the spiritual bond that informed America’s living soul, the whole truth has to take account of justice, according to right reason. It is on account of justice that liberty becomes an unalienable right. Without it, freedom naturally degenerates into the perpetual war of all against all in which human life is “miserable, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. On the barren, pitted ground of that war liberty dies in labor, giving birth to tyranny.
As evoked in America’s Founding principles, liberty is not choice determined by feelings, regardless of right. It is choice bound and determined for good reason to do what is right. In this respect, liberty depends for its exercise on the authority that gives reason the power to substantiate right, even when some human authority brings superior forces to bear against it. When the nation first began, that authority was evoked in the name of the Creator, God. All through our history people acting by that authority have stood against the odds to curtail the abuses and injustices perpetrated on the authority of laws and edicts that reason clearly shows to violate or discard the standard of right with which God informs the conscience of humanity.
America’ Declaration of Independence mainly consists of the logical exposition reason requires in order to demonstrate that the standard of right has been applied, conscientiously and accurately. Like most American politicos these days, Donald Trump alludes to the principles set forth in the Declaration in a bid to benefit politically from the positive feelings they still evoke. But he declines to make the moral and Constitutional arguments required to produce the clear and reasonable conviction that justifies limiting freedom, in the name of right, and that preserves the justice of human laws by respecting the boundaries established by “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”
In this respect Donald Trump is no different than all the politicians, in both the so-called “major” parties. All of them, including Barack Obama, play on the music of the Declaration’s language of rights, including liberty. But they have all of them abandoned, in practice, any real respect for its meaning.
So they refuse to apply The Declaration’s logic to the controversies over abortion, or homosexuality, or the insane attack on our decent respect for the natural distinction between male and female. They refuse to evoke the Constitutional provision that plainly prohibits the denial or disparagement of the God-endowed unalienable rights that reflect the just constraints on human power that preserve the Constitutional liberty of the American people, thereby perpetuating their self-government.
On this key point, vital to the survival of America’s liberty, and indeed its whole way of life, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are different versions of the same treacherous intention. It is the intention to erase America’s allegiance to the Declaration’s principles, and discard its logic. Why? In order to turn the tide against government of, by and for the people. In order to cut off the appeal to God and His justice that empowers those without wealth, arms or claims of authority transmitted to them by birth.
Throughout the Twentieth Century, this strategic goal was consistently pursued. The United States was the key to thwarting its material successes, but that very process made us vulnerable to the deadliest attack that goal involved- the spiritual attack that portends the dissolution of our identity as a people who respect God’s will for our humanity, and are therefore truly free.
People like Mike Huckabee can assert if they like that electing Donald Trump will slow the success of this deadly attack. But this same argument has been made repeatedly to justify electing GOP candidates to Congress. If it were true, the angry frustration Trump has exploited would not exist. Trump fits the paradigm of the GOP candidate the quislings prefer: A person successful in business, with no deeply rooted convictions about the moral principles that justify constitutional self-government, and little or no will to defend them. His record suggests that he is a Democrat in all but label who has consistently identified with and aided Democrats and quisling republicans loyal to the elitist faction’s anti-republican agenda.
What is the only thing likely to be worse than a Democrat who promotes the overthrow of Constitutional government for the sake of socialist policies? A Republican quisling who makes deals with the Democrats that serve the same result; but who does so on the strength of a credible electoral mandate that included open support from self-styled “conservative” Republicans.
They used to say that only a Republican like Nixon could have pulled off the opening rapprochement with Communist China back in 1972. Well, Donald Trump is bidding fair to be the one who finishes off America’s Constitutional Republic, achieving what neither Obama or Hillary could do. For a war doesn’t end until the opposition has been quelled.
Trump will have decisively quelled America’s conservatives the day he takes office. Once that’s done, gutting what remains of the Republic be mopping up operation. If you think that’s hard to contemplate, imagine what it will be like to endure, especially for anyone who refuses to forget what it means to be an American.