While most in the pro-life movement replace “Trump” with “Biden” in the question posed in the title of this article, this is an equally important question that all pro-life voters must ask themselves.
In a recent article from America Magazine, Franciscan University professor of philosophy John F. Crosby posed the following question: “Could it be, in a word, that we lose more in the long run than we gain for the pro-life cause by binding that cause to him [President Trump]?”
This is an important question to ask in the buildup to this coming election, especially for those who cannot in good conscience vote for a pro-choice candidate.
The answer to the professor’s question is yes: tying the pro-life movement to any one political candidate is bad, but it is especially so with President Trump.
This argument rests on the premise that President Trump has become, in many ways, the face of the pro-life movement in the United States. That this is the case seems to me to be self-evident.
Trump has consistently portrayed himself as the pro-life candidate, even giving an address at the March For Life. In contrast, many have proclaimed Biden as the enemy of the pro-life movement. These views are supported by some in the Church hierarchy, with Cardinal Raymond Burke in a recent interview stating of Biden: “[Biden] is not a Catholic in good standing and he should not approach to receive Holy Communion.”
With such statements, it becomes clear that this question is of immense importance. However, if Biden is not pro-life, is the logical conclusion a vote for Trump?
This does not at all seem to me to be the case.
If the pro-life movement advocates for life, is Trump really who we want representing a movement that deals with the life and death of the most vulnerable?
According to a USA Today article updated on Oct. 21, 2020, nineteen women have made allegations of sexual misconduct against the President. Of the accusations, many contain common themes such as unwanted kissing, groping and fondling. What is most distressing, as the article points out, is that these themes are corroborated by his own description of how he interacts with women. USA Today quotes President Trump saying in an Access Hollywood recording, “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them,” and “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” Do such actions and words show a man with a respect for the value of all human life?
What about the President’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? Instead of encouraging Americans to follow health practices recommended by medical professionals, the President has repeatedly held massive rallies in violation of local regulations, held a reckless ceremony in the White House rose garden that led to numerous new infections and, according to interviews with Bob Woodward, purposefully played down the seriousness of the pandemic in order to maintain a thriving economy.
He has consistently said that the coronavirus only impacts the elderly and immunocompromised, as if that is not a big deal―remember, the elderly and immunocompromised bear human life too. Don’t their lives matter as well?
With over 225,000 Americans dead from the coronavirus, and the President himself getting infected, the fruit of President Trump’s coronavirus policies have already grown―and these are ugly, anti-life fruits indeed.
For a final example, when watching the first debate I was taken aback at how President Trump said “we took back Seattle.” What is the implication of this statement? The implication was that the city of Seattle was occupied by people who were not like “us.” Such a statement only stokes tension among the American people, serving to divide Americans further during such vitriolic times. It creates within Americans an us vs. them mentality, degrading the political other into an existential enemy.
Instead of attempting to understand what might lead someone to such drastic actions as took place in cities like Seattle, Chicago and Portland, Trump encourages that we only condemn, fear and detest them.
The effects of such rhetoric have become clearer and clearer.
According to a recent Politico article, over 40% of both Republicans and Democrats believe that there is at least “a little” justification for political violence if the other party’s nominee wins the election. The President’s divisive rhetoric breeds these sentiments, and it is precisely these sentiments that lead to violence.
These seem to me to be examples that must give those voting for President Trump because of his “pro-life” views pause.
This is certainly not a ringing endorsement for Biden either and I, for my part, side with Alasdair MacIntyre and his view on Catholic voting. However, recognizing the dignity of every human person is a prerequisite for being pro-life. The face of the pro-life movement should not be someone who clearly does not recognize such dignity.
In attaching the pro-life movement to President Trump, I fear we may cut the movement’s heart out and sacrifice it on the altar of political expediency.