Democrats Seem Intent on Losing the Texas US Senate Race in 2020

A few weeks ago, I wrote about why MJ Hegar would be a much better candidate than Wendy Davis for the Texas US Senate race in 2020.  Since then, things have shaken up a little bit.  Hegar is becoming a little more interested in challenging Congressman John Carter, who she nearly beat in 2018, a second time.  This largely corresponded with Congressman Joaquin Castro (Former HHS Secretary and current Presidential Candidate Julian Castro’s twin brother) showing more interest in the Senate race.  At the same time, Wendy Davis has still shown an openness to entering the race.

If the Democrats’ main goal is to win the race, Joaquin Castro would be a strong choice.  He is similar to Beto O’Rourke in that while he is progressive, he maintains a willingness to reach out to moderates and voters who aren’t hyper-partisan.  Castro also has an advantage over O’Rourke in that while O’Rourke struggled with Latino voters in his run against Ted Cruz, Castro has done well with that demographic.

EMILY’s List, the Democratic Pro-Choice organization, was not happy with this.  Today, they came out in favor of a Democratic woman representing the Party in this race.  This presumably refers specifically to former Texas State Legislator Wendy Davis, famous for being a pro-choice extremist and for getting trounced by Gov. Greg Abbott in the 2014 Gubernatorial Campaign.

Texas Democrats have a major opportunity in front of them right now.  They just put up their best performance in Statewide elections in several election cycles.  It is very possible that one of their own will be on the Democrats’ Presidential Ticket in 2020.  While Senator Cornyn isn’t as polarizing as Senator Cruz, he is certainly vulnerable under the right circumstances.  Running a candidate most notable for being an abortion extremist and losing by a large margin before is not the right circumstance.  I’m not a Democrat, so it’s not necessarily my skin on the line.  At the same time, though, Texas Democrats (like National Democrats) will have to decide if they want an ideological extremist or a progressive who can win.  In Texas, though, Democrats have a much smaller margin of error, and will have to tread carefully.

Larry Hogan Came Out as Pro-Choice. That’s a Non-Starter for a Republican Primary.

Larry Hogan

As discussion continues concerning a potential Republican Primary challenge to Donald Trump, the name that continues to be mentioned is Larry Hogan.  It isn’t without reason: He’s one of the most popular Governors in the country and doesn’t have anywhere else on the political ladder to land.  His largest issue, as David Byler recently examined in the Washington Post, is whether he would appeal to Conservative Republican voters nationwide after governing as a Centrist in Maryland.

A smart candidate in this situation would begin to examine how best to appeal to the Right. As Byler’s data analysis clearly shows, a candidate will not be competitive with Trump simply running from the Center without winning over some Conservatives in the process.  Hogan evidently ignored this memo.  In a sit-down with the New York Times this weekend, he was asked his views on Abortion.  This is how the Times describes it:

And asked whether he believed Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal nationwide, had been correctly decided by the court, Mr. Hogan replied in the affirmative: “I think so.”

Running as a pro-Roe candidate in a Republican Presidential primary is a quick path to irrelevancy.  Rudy Giuliani was the last candidate to attempt this, and he was never able to gain traction while dropping out very early in the race.  Past candidates without strong convictions on the issue, such as Donald Trump, Mitt Romney, John McCain were nonetheless prudent enough to move Right on the issue before running for President.

Besides Trump, the most successful candidates in recent memory to do well in Republican Presidential Primaries while often challenging the anointed front-runner (as Hogan would be doing) did so from a strong pro-life base of support.  This would include Ted Cruz in 2016, Rick Santorum in 2012, and Mike Huckabee in 2008.  Even Ronald Reagan, who Hogan would be seeking to follow the example of in challenging a sitting President, was pro-life by the 1976 election and used the issue to distinguish himself from the pro-choice Gerald Ford.  Nobody is going to mistake Hogan for Reagan, Cruz, Huckabee, or Santorum, but he at a minimum needed to start making inroads with the Conservative portion of the party.

What is more baffling about Hogan’s statement is that as the Times mentions, he has previously said he is personally pro-life.  He very easily could have decided to tell the Times that he is personally pro-life, has been forced to work with a Democratic majority in the Maryland legislature, and that on the National level would appoint Constitutionalist judges while working to defund Planned Parenthood and reduce Abortions.  That would have been a first step towards appealing to Republican primary voters without outright flip-flopping.

Hogan, for whatever reason, actually decided to move left on the issue by affirming Roe v. Wade.  This position is no different from that of Democrats, most notably 2016 Vice Presidential Nominee Tim Kaine, who claim to be personally pro-life and yet continue to defend Abortion-on-demand.  Who Hogan received this advice from is unknown, but it is a colossal misstep that will be revisited frequently if the Governor decides to enter the race.

Making the decision to shift left on Abortion even worse is that pro-life Republican voters who view overturning Roe as a high priority are not inevitable Donald Trump voters in a contested primary.  Looking at the numbers, these are voters broke for Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Ben Carson at rates higher than the Republican primary electorate at large during the 2016 primary.  While Evangelicals may have supported Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016, that doesn’t mean all Evangelicals have forgotten about Trump’s decidedly immoral lifestyle, or that some wouldn’t consider voting against him in a primary again under the right circumstances.

Furthermore, since getting elected, Trump has done little to push the Republican congress towards defunding Planned Parenthood or passing a pain-capable Abortion ban.  Both of these issues are pro-life priorities that went nowhere during a 2-year period in which Republicans controlled the White House and Congress.  There is room to attack Donald Trump from the pro-life position that virtually all Republican primary voters hold, and it is completely illogical that the current most-likely challenger to Trump has no desire to take this opportunity.

There is a very narrow path towards competing with Donald Trump in a Republican Primary.  It involves winning over many different groups of voters, and is a delicate balancing act.  Pro-choice Republican voters are nowhere near the forefront of these groups.  If pro-choice Republican primary voters are a major portion of a candidate’s base, then like it or not, that candidate will not receive enough of the vote to be remotely competitive.

By coming out in favor of Roe v. Wade, Larry Hogan has predestined that he will immediately be met by fire from Social Conservative groups and pro-life figures who may have been willing to hold back, listen, or work with him otherwise.  If that happens and he finds himself unable to get traction if he enters the race, he will have no one to blame but himself for needlessly and haphazardly running against one of the Republican Party’s most important constituencies.

Donald Trump and the Future of the Pro-Life Movement

These past two weeks have made it clear the Democrats have decided to become Abortion radicals.  New York proceeded to legalize abortions up to full-term, and Virginia is considering legislation to do the same.  Virginia Governor Ralph Northam somehow went further than full-term, arguing that already born children could be aborted, but fortunately for them, in a “comfortable” setting.  Gone are the days of Bob Casey and ‘Safe, Legal, and Rare.”  Either due to fear of Planned Parenthood, or because they have been bought and paid for by Big Abortion, the Democratic Party (with a few brave exceptions such as Congressman Dan Lipinski, Governor John Bel Edwards, and Democrats for Life) has determined to jettison any pro-lifers and anyone who has any hesitancy whatsoever concerning Abortion on demand. The extent of the extremism the Democratic Party is pushing towards cannot be overstated.

This should present Republicans a major opportunity to reach pro-life voters and push for the cause of unborn life.  The GOP has taken pro-life votes for granted for so long, though, that they seem to have no interest in moving the ball on this issue.  In a 2-year span with a Republican White House, Senate, and Congress, Planned Parenthood is still funded by our tax dollars and the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion act is still unpassed.  Even looking at judicial nominations, the President passed on a very strong choice in Amy Coney Barrett to appoint Brett Kavanaugh.  Kavanaugh has little track record on the issue, is a DC elite who doesn’t inspire hope he would fully overturn Roe (certainly as compared to Barrett), and whom David French says appears very timid on the issue.  Overall, it seems likely a President Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, or Jeb Bush would have accomplished more or as much on this issue had they been elected.

Even if Pro-Lifers had every pick of judges they wanted, though, that would still not be enough to justify a full alliance with this President.  As Matthew Lee Anderson wrote with foresight in Mere Orthodoxy back in July 2016:

“Suggesting that the thin hope of conservative justices on the courts justifies accepting such cultural consequences also seems to rest on either naivety or hubris. It is hard to know which. Pro-lifers will not be able to distance themselves from Trump’s shenanigans, though they will try: if he is their candidate, they will be made to own everything he does if he is elected President. Political action has a symbolic character: it sets a narrative, and that narrative matters as much for the long-term future of a particular movement as do the judicial opinions that result from it. In this case, it is a ludicrously easy story to tell: Pro-lifers are willing to accept misogyny, divorce, racism, and so on for their political ends.

Pro-lifers will protest that voting for Donald Trump does not mean endorsing everything Trump does. And they would be right. Yet I say it’s either ‘naivity’ or ‘hubris,’ because the pro-life movement hasn’t exactly been stellar at framing its own identity. The cultural and media headwinds they face go a long ways toward explaining the struggle. But in this case, they add to those the fact that their critics will have a serious and legitimate point. Voting for Trump means treating everything else he does as acceptable *on the condition* that he also promises — merely promises, mind you — conservative justices. The pro-life movement can justify supporting Trump only by viewing his character, his known sexual vices, his unrepentant history of supporting abortion, etc. as acceptable side-effects that, in this case, are the cost of their hope for conservative justices.”

Among the items this President has tied to the Pro-Life movement by association includes a Refugee Ban, Racist Sentiments and Actions, Intentionally Separating kids from their families, and a history of mysogny and credible sexual assault accusations.  While the movement has gotten Conservative judges, it has come at a political cost that may not be collected for a while, but almost surely will on this trajectory.

Pro-Lifers have still chosen to go all in on the Trump movement.  On the one hand, this is somewhat understandable due to the radical shift in the Democratic Party on the issue.  That said, the Pro-Life movement did not need to buy in to Trump nearly to the extent it has.  For as little progress as has been made, was it really necessary to make Mike Pence a center-point of every March for Life since Trump was elected? Did having President Trump keynote the Susan B. Anthony List dinner reward or lead to any meaningful pro-life results?  Has all the support for Trump from very vocal pastors led to anything meaningful? The recent March for Life served as a catalyst for some to start thinking about these questions, and despite the Democrats’ radicalism, a shotgun marriage with Trumpism isn’t the prudent response either.

So, if the Democrats are purging virtually anyone who does not express complete devotion to the Abortion lobby, and Trumpism provides no meaningful reforms while associating completely unacceptable baggage with the Pro-Life movement, where does that leave us?  99% of the Democratic Party is anathema to our views on this issue, and there are only a handful of candidates on that side the movement could ever seek to promote.  On the other hand, a continuing bond with Trump positions the Pro-Life movement poorly for the future.  From an electoral standpoint, most groups of Americans who will determine the direction of the Country are moving from away from Trump.  Minority groups and Millennials are actually not particularly hostile to the pro-life position, but becoming too tied to Trumpism could change their feelings and hurt the movement’s long-term prospects.  The Pro-Life movement gains when we our helping women in crisis, promoting adoption, and caring for life at all stages.  Trumpism in perception is the social Darwinist opposite, and it’s easy to see where in reality the perception comes from.  Even beyond electoral politics, it’s simply inconsistent to reconcile a pro-life ethic with intentional family separation, bragging of sexual assault, and other vices Trump inevitably encompasses.

The correct direction combines the political and non-political sides of the Pro-Life movement.  Outside politics, we should continue to provide assistance to expectant mothers, help our local Crisis Pregnancy Centers, support adoption and families that adopt, and speak out for justice at all stages of life.  That is how we most tangibly show our communities that we care about the unborn, and that they should as well.  Politically, except for those who are called to support the few pro-life Democrats there are and to push the party away from radicalism, the best option is to support pro-active, pro-life Republicans who do not antagonize the pro-life ethic on other issues outside Abortion.

We need Republicans, of whom there are far too few right now, who will fight and expend political capital for a 20-week abortion ban, defunding Planned Parenthood, passing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion act, and nominating the Amy Coney Barrett’s of the world to the high court.  These same Republicans should be people of character who believe in united families, racial justice, and a respect for the equality of women.  If the Pro-Life movement can pull away from Trumpism and support candidates who espouse these virtues at all levels of government, we can save our long-term political prospects of success and not compromise the soul of the movement in the process.

More Thoughts on the Ralph Northam Debacle

  • If the Democratic Party was smart, they would realize many pro-lifers are disillusioned with Trump and would love an alternative. That they are running the opposite direction means they either are scared of the Abortion lobby (see David French) or are bought and paid for by Planned Parenthood, NARAL, EMILYs List, etc.  In fact, many of the Democrats running for President support legislation similar to the Virginia bill, per NRO.

 

  • Northam is supposedly one of the more Moderate Dems. There are even rumors up in Virginia that he nearly flipped to the Republicans in the State Senate at one point when it looked like it might be advantageous.  That a “Moderate” would go out on this limb as telling.

 

  • The fact that the interviewer never even thought to ask a follow-up question is a symptom of what the media at large thinks of the issue. I disagree with the Trump administration’s antagonism to media and believe in a strong, free press, but this is where being in a bubble comes into play.  They just don’t understand why Americans care about this or why anyone would see it as unborn life at stake.

 

 

  • That Northam sees doubling down on Twitter after his botched statement as an appropriate response tells a lot about where his party is. Even 5 years ago, any Democrat would apologize for saying that.  Now, it’s just more base posturing.

 

  • I’m a Christian. You don’t need to be a Christian to be Pro-life.  Pro-life is Pro-Science, and anyone from any or no religion can and should be pro-life.  That said, think about how much faith it takes to look at an unborn child (or in Northam’s case, a born child) and say it is not actually a real human life.  Some strains of Secularism have their own dogmas that require just as much or more faith than any religion.  I have a strong sense of faith in my beliefs, but it’s wrong to portray one side of this issue as being based solely on faith and the other as solely on reason.

The Governor of Virginia Endorses Infanticide

Watch the video.  It is beyond disturbing.  People ask why #NeverTrump Republicans don’t just vote Democrat.  The primary reason is that the Democrats are bought and paid for by Big Abortion and, at least at the National level, have no room for compromise and are in fact radicalizing.  While such issues should never be viewed through strictly partisan lenses, this is how Democrats blow elections.

Larry Hogan on Abortion

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has been getting some buzz as a possible Trump primary challenger the past few days.  It does make some sense: He represents the suburbans the GOP needs to win to hold the White House in 2020, and his incentives line up so that he would be more likely to succeed in 2020 and 2024.  There’s been some talk as well though that he may be too moderate to have a chance of even being competitive.

The necessary context here is that Maryland is a blue state on the National level with Democrat, veto-proof majorities in the State Legislature.  Nonetheless, you would think any Republican with any National ambitions would want to at least signal to hold Conservative viewpoints on key issues.  Hogan’s record on Abortion is complicated.  He says he is “personally opposed” to Abortion, but ran on a promise to not do anything to alter Maryland’s laws.  That’s really not too far removed from Democrats like Tim Kaine who claim to be personally pro-life and then are functionally pro-choice as Politicians.  He also said he supports a statewide referendum on a Maryland Constitutional Amendment to codify a “right to choose.”

Let’s be clear here: Donald Trump needs a GOP primary challenger.  Let’s go ahead and add on that Donald Trump is an enemy of an ethos of valuing life, has done practically nothing to advance the pro-life agenda at the Federal level, and has more likely than not paid for an abortion.  That said, as much of a mess as the Republican Party is at the national level, the best thing about it is that it at least espouses to be a driver for ending abortion.  Is it too much to ask to have a Presidential candidate who can at least match that?  That’s even before considering the practicality that any candidate who is going to compete with Trump in a primary is going to have to win over Rubio/Cruz/Carson voters, who are almost certainly not going for a functionally pro-choice candidate.  Trump should get a challenger, but Social Conservatives cannot be ignored in the process of assessing who that should be.

Big Week for Social Issues

In a Republican Party currently led by a President who has managed casinos, committed numerous infidelities, and boasted of serial sexual assault, Social Conservatism has gone out of vogue.  A couple of causes that come to mind include rising secularism in the country and a backlash to orthodox theology on LGBT issues (I personally hold orthodox Christian views on such issues, though that’s a topic for another day).  Still, for a society to be Conservative in any meaningful sense of the word, these issues still matter.

There’s been a couple of big events this week pertaining to Social Issues.  First, the annual March for Life took place today in Washington D.C.  As several people have pointed out on Twitter, this took place in the context of a government shutdown where  Republicans institutionally fought to fund a border wall significantly harder than they’ve ever fought for pro-life initiatives and defunding Planned Parenthood.  Nonetheless, the March for Life is an important reminder of just how prevalent the pro-life movement is in our country, even if elites on both sides of the aisle reject it.  One quick critiques, though – In a forward looking movement trying to unite pro-lifers of all political orientations, centering the rally around Ben Shapiro and Mike Pence seems questionable.

The other major social debate was around religious liberty issues.  I’m not normally anti-elitist, but many cultural elites were expressing dismay at Karen Pence accepting a teaching position at a Christian school that forbids LGBT behavior among students and doesn’t hire LGBT teachers.  This is essentially the same policy many Christian schools all across the country to have, and this episode revealed just how out of touch many people are with the day-to-day life of people of faith.