Over the weekend, Tomi Lahren argued that conservatives should give up on the abortion fight and stop trying to overturn Roe. She said that it would be a “mistake” to “challenge a position” that “most Americans support.” We should focus on taxes, immigration, and foreign policy and “stop messing with social issues.” The government is incompetent, Lahren reasoned, and therefore it should stop trying to “regulate social issues.” Although she personally wouldn’t get an abortion, she insists, she also believes the government has no right to “dictate” on the subject. Let us then surrender the small and inconsequential matter of the mass slaughter of 60 million human persons and instead turn our attention to more pressing concerns like the adjustable tax rate.
I think Lahren is wrong on probably eight or nine different levels. I will focus now on just three of them:
1) She is not the first to suggest that we pivot from “social issues” and instead try to win hearts and minds by blathering about taxes. Here she is simply restating a mainstream Republican talking point that has been driving the Party and the conservative movement further and further into cultural irrelevancy for at least the past 50 years. The problem with abandoning social issues is that Republicans have already abandoned social issues, and we are still waiting for the positive results this strategy was supposed to generate. I think we will be waiting forever.
It turns out that people are not primarily motivated by their wallets, even less by a passion for sorting out the affairs of foreign countries. People care most deeply about the issues that speak to their fundamental values and principles. People want to feel that they are fighting for something real, something important, something moral. While Republicans scamper like frightened deer from any discussion of morality, the Left frames almost all of its arguments in moral terms. They frame the arguments wrongly, and dishonestly, but the fact remains that they use moral language. And it works. Republicans say, “Adopt our position because it will make you prosperous and secure.” The Left says (incorrectly), “Adopt our position because it is right and ethical.” Guess who wins hearts and minds — especially the hearts and minds of the younger generation?
Of course, the irony here is that Leftists are moral relativists and materialists. They have no basis upon which to make a moral argument, but they make it anyway. Conservatives have a basis, yet they do not make it. They also have the greatest human rights atrocity in world history to fight against, yet many of them will not fight it. They declare that nobody is interested in fighting historic evils, even as history is filled with the stories of people who rebelled against governments, toppled empires, stormed beaches, and martyred themselves for no other reason than to fight historic evils, even as the pro-life movement in America can manage to gather together four or five hundred thousand people every year, in the dead of winter, for a march that usually garners little media attention and which mainstream conservative figures will not help them promote.
Yet Tomi Lahren stands to the side with a sneer, yawns, and says, “Nobody cares about these stupid social issues.” And then she goes and records her 15th impassioned rant against Beyonce.
2) We pro-lifers are either wrong or right. We cannot be anything in between. We leave Tomi Lahren and everyone else no room to straddle the line. The claim we make is too radical, too absolute, too severe. We insist that actual human persons are being legally and systematically murdered by the thousands every day in America. We insist that 60 million such persons have lost their lives in the last few decades. We insist that entire generations are being erased from existence. If we are wrong, then there is no reason to respect us, support us, or “personally agree” with us on any level. We are maniacs and oppressors, and that is what you should call us.
But if we are right, then this matter deserves your undivided attention. If we are right, then our fight is the most important fight in the world. If we are right, then this mere “social issue” dwarfs every other issue and the only criticism you can make of our tactics and our rhetoric is that they are not radical enough. Certainly, at a minimum, if we are right then abortion is a holocaust and our government should abolish this holocaust for the same reason it abolished Hitler’s holocaust. It should abolish it even more so, actually, because it is presently guilty of facilitating and funding this holocaust. So, you must either be radically in agreement with us or radically opposed. I do not see how any rational, thinking person could sit in the middle ground. There is no middle ground.
Tomi and the rest in her camp should choose a side. They already have chosen a side, but they are not being intellectually honest about the side they have chosen and the implications of choosing it. I will now explain those implications.
3) If you agree with the Left that abortion should remain legal, then you agree with the Left about abortion. The “I’m personally opposed” or “I wouldn’t personally do it” escape hatch is purely rhetorical and meaningless. The only relevant question is whether it ought to be legal to kill human beings in the womb. If you say yes, your personal reservations on the matter are either fictional or, worse, an indication of your moral cowardice and self-interest. But what does it mean to agree with the Left on abortion?
First, it means that you believe human life has no intrinsic worth or dignity. It can perhaps acquire something like worth and dignity over time, but only conditionally. It does not by its nature possess either quality. Which is to say that it does not possess either quality at all. It is merely given these qualities by society when society decides that it is temporarily deserving of them.
Second, it means that you believe morality is subjective. Or else you believe that morality is objective and directly killing innocent, defenseless human life is, or can be, objectively moral. This latter option is not a proposition most pro-aborts will defend. Instead they will say what Tomi says: “Well, it may not be right for me but I can’t say if it’s right or wrong for anyone else.” This is called moral relativism. It supposes that the morality of an act depends entirely on the desires and preferences of the actor. It supposes, more simply, that morality doesn’t exist.
But here’s the problem: to reject the intrinsic worth of human life is to be a materialist. To reject the objectivity of the moral law is to be a moral relativist. Materialism and moral relativism are the two essential pillars, the two defining philosophies, which ground, support, and animate modern leftism. How can a person affirm those pillars, adopt them, argue in favor of them, and yet oppose the Left at the same time? That is like trying to demolish a building with a can of spray paint. You can perhaps deface the building, but it will still stand in the end, substantially uninjured. If you wish to knock down the building, you must knock out the pillars.
But Tomi stands in front of the pillars and demands that we put down the wrecking ball and get back to vandalizing the front porch. She may be annoying to the Left, she could even reasonably aspire to be a moderately inconvenient nuisance to the Left, but she will never do their ideology any harm or win any significant victories for the other side so long as she defends them where it really counts.