It was announced this week that President Donald Trump will speak at the March For Life in DC on Friday. His speech will mark the first time that any president has made an appearance. Through the march’s 47 years of history, none of the Republican presidents who have been in office during that span have seen fit to grace its stage. Not counting Trump, that makes four Republican presidents, serving over 20 cumulative years in office, who all steadfastly refused to be seen consorting with, or speaking to, the hundreds of thousands of pro-life protestors standing practically right outside their door.
That isn’t to say that no Republican president addressed the marchers until now. Some of them — Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, specifically — gave brief remarks via phone or satellite. But there was an obvious and conspicuous decision made to maintain a degree of separation from the pro-life crowd. This is exactly the kind of cautious calculation that Democrat presidents would not even consider making if the situation was reversed. It is very hard to imagine that Barack Obama would have hidden away in the White House for eight years as a group of 500 thousand pro-abortion demonstrators descended on Washington for an annual march in support of killing babies. Of course, the pro-abortion side could never achieve that kind of turn out for eight years in a row, much less 47 years in a row, but you get my point. The theme of the last half century or so has been Republicans dancing tepidly around so-called “social issues” while Democrats confront the issues in the open, unabashedly, with bull horns and confetti.
That’s why Trump’s speech matters. Optimistically, this could be viewed as another sign that the political winds have to some degree shifted on abortion. Republican politicians are perhaps beginning to realize that the pro-life position is not one to shrink away from or be ashamed of. We are, after all, making the rather simple and morally unassailable point that babies are innocent human life, and innocent human life should never be intentionally destroyed.
And the March For Life, despite how it has been historically treated by the Republican Party, is far from a politically calamitous display of extremism and lunacy. That would be the Women’s March. What President Trump will see when he stands at the microphone tomorrow morning is a diverse crowd of young and energetic people — most of them women — gathering cheerfully in the frigid cold for the supremely moral task of defending innocent lives. Republicans, rather than hiding under their beds and waiting for the scary pro-lifers to go away, ought to be calling attention to these people and their message. They are a sympathetic and likable bunch. And their message is as noble as it gets. The Trump Administration seems to realize that. Hopefully this is the beginning of a trend.