One of my longest held criticisms of the Republican party is that we are trapped in a culture of losing. We don’t know how to win, and furthermore, actions taken to make us lose are nearly fetishized. “This is not the hill to die on” is a refrain that has been mocked by conservative voters since the Tea Party days, but that refrain (and many variants of it) are still often mouthed by Republican politicians.
What’s going on with abortion right now is a good example of this:
The Democratic pushback comes as Trump makes his selection of conservative judges a centerpiece of his political stump speech, part of a long-running courtship of social conservatives whose support he needs to win reelection next year. Republicans have long believed that the politics of abortion have shifted somewhat in their favor in recent years. But the near-absolutist nature of the most recent bills has sparked some concern among the president’s team that it could energize Trump critics and female voters, with whom the president has long struggled.
Polling suggests that the issue of abortion has the potential to stoke political engagement among both parties. The General Social Survey released last year found 64% of Democrats, but just 35% of Republicans, saying a woman should be able to have an abortion for any reason.
Other surveys have found majority support for legalized abortion in “all or most cases.” A Pew Research Center survey in September 2018 found 58% of Americans saying abortion should be legal in at least most cases, compared with 37% who said it should be illegal in all or most cases.
One of the reasons liberals always feel like they’re winning, beyond just the media gaslighting Republican voters, is because they are constantly on the march. They don’t listen to polls on issues like gun control or health care, they just ram their preferred policies through and usually succeed. Obamacare was wildly unpopular, but it is still largely the law of the land (though with some of the law’s worse excesses pruned away by the Republicans). The borders are still wide open. The Democrats continue to peel away our gun rights with salami tactics.
None of these policies are popular, but Democrats somehow keep advancing them. They will occasionally pay at the polls, but not enough to keep people from eventually voting them back into power, as we saw in 2018.
This is why I support what is obviously a coordinated push by the red states on the issue of abortion in spite of the panicky naysayers. This is the first time in a long that Republicans have launched a serious cultural offensive against one of the pillars of US liberalism. It’s not clear at to whether it will succeed, but at least they are trying something to stem the tide of what’s been endless Republican surrenders since the fall of Gingrich in 1998.
Abortion and social conservatism are not really my key issues – I am far more interested in economics, foreign policy, and technology. But I am excited by this move because movement and success here means we might finally start to see movement on other key conservative policy priorities as well. I understand the importance of the culture wars, and why it is important we win them.
Anything is better than the fatalism which has gripped conservative voters for the last two decades.