In summer of 2024, when Republicans meet in Milwaukee to formally nominate their standard bearer, they need to be prepared for two battles. The political and the cultural.
There is a difference of opinion inside the Republican Party about the impact of the Dobbs v Jackson court case which reversed Roe and sent the abortion debate back to the states. Some see it as an overturning of an inferior decision. Others think that it was an overstep by the Trump court and that its poor timing wrought doom for the purported 2022 red-wave election.
Columnist Ann Coulter began attacking former President Trump midway through his administration for what she considers a desertion of his campaign pledge to build the wall and permanently stem immigration. Since first declaring Trump’s betrayal she has criticized him for a lack of character, a propensity to only surrounded himself with sycophants, and his lack of commitment to the movement that propelled him to the presidency. After calling him a “con man” and “abjectly stupid”, what is it now that she and President Trump have in common? They share a belief that highlighting the Dobbs decision hurt the Republican’s chances in 2022 and will do so in 2024. Coulter further disagrees with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ proposed abortion legislation. Quoting Newsweek on Coulter;
“6-week abortion ban was an unforced error. Does no one remember [former representative] Todd Akin? How about the 11 elections Republicans have lost with strict anti-abortion positions since Dobbs?” Coulter tweeted on Saturday, pointing that Republicans can ruin their winning chances in elections by supporting candidates whose views are too far-right.
For her part, US Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC) also warned on ABC’s “This Week” that Republicans will “lose huge in the 2024 election if they do not find “middle ground” on abortion”. This position is not a novelty in the party’s treatment of abortion, but the pol in the most tenuous position is Trump. Trump, who nominated three justices to the High Court is immediately responsible for the current situation and will be revered by pro-lifers who haven’t seen this kind of ground gaining success in a generation of fighting. But now the pro-life movement is like the dog who caught the car. How do they remain loyal but still keep their pressure relevant?
Trump’s latest attempts to walk the tightrope are described by an Axios report.
His updated comments indicate a willingness to “look at” a 15-week abortion ban at the federal level. This is a departure from his previous position, a preference for states to set restrictions on abortion, as is currently the case. This repositioning is due to the ire he received from several pro-life groups looking to cement gains made by the Dobbs decision last summer. He appears to be attempting to walk back his Federalist position on abortion in order to reclaim his conservative base. What mental calisthenics it takes to imagine Donald Trump being attacked from the political right by primary opponents who support a federal abortion ban? This was just the latest abortion-related stumble for Trump. After last year’s anticipated “red wave” failed to develop, Trump deflected attacks on him as the purported leader of the party. Over New Year’s weekend, Trump posted on his Truth Social:
“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 U.S. Supreme Court, and just plain disappeared, not to be seen again.”
His political instincts were flat-out wrong this time. Pro-Lifers are among the most reliable and energized voting bloc that comprise the GOP contingent. This is Trump deflecting blame for the failure of Republicans to take larger control of the House and a majority in the Senate. If this is Trump’s Party, as he and his surrogates claim, he can’t have it both ways. It was his endorsements of Dr. Oz and Herschel Walker which propelled these weak candidates to their respective primary victories.
In the summer of 2024, when Republicans meet in Milwaukee to formally nominate their standard bearer, they need to be prepared for two battles. The political and the cultural. Both battles need to be decided by then and both battles need to be met head-on. For, if in 2024, Democrats retain the Senate and Presidency while regaining the House of Representatives, look for huge strides to undo the gains of Trump’s time in office. The first hundred days of a second Biden term would find a rejuvenated party crafting legislation to codify the right to abortion, without restriction, in all 50 states. They have said as much and the political observer should believe their promises. Further, at 74 and 72 years of age respectively, a re-elected Biden may be able to fill the vacated Supreme Court seats of Justice Thomas or Alito.
Democrat’s intentions to roll back any abortion progress must be challenged by an equally staunch determination to nourish the gains that have been made. At the very least, the next Republican president must vow to protect, and if possible, codify the current Federalist status of abortion. The political reality is that this debate could harm the Republican Party. This voting populace is not ready for a complete abortion ban. Nor would the entirety of the Party go along with that. What compromise is to be made, and who is to begin the negotiations without looking like a weakling to the staunchest of pro-lifers? Over the next 10 to 12 months the next nominee will have to make his or her bones by artfully crafting and defending appropriate positions which unequivocally defend life and politically secure the gains made.
One thing is certain, the cultural battle is raging. Coulter is right that no one cares about the tax code or the carried interest loophole anymore. With the exception of avoiding World War III, the biggest issues at play now; how we deal with the trans-agenda, life, the border, are cultural and cannot be skirted. What good is a strong economy if we have lost our souls and culture? These are the issues that will define who we are as a people and will ultimately determine whether or not we can continue as a unified country.
GET UPDATES ON THE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE FROM A CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE.
Click here to sign-up and stay in the loop.
Catholics for Catholics is moving hearts and minds for Jesus Christ and His Church—and inspiring a new wave of Catholicism and love of America. Use the form below to STAY CONNECTED with the fastest-growing Catholic movement across the United States.