The March for Life is always a fine source of powerful imagery, community, and inspiration. But it’s also always a source of false optimism, unwarranted confidence in our current leaders and strategies, and no meaningful talk about any of the severe problems pro-lifers face within the Republican Party.
This week, I wrote a LifeSiteNews piece about the vast majority of the professional pro-life movement’s scandalous disinterest in confronting the GOP’s last two years of failure and its disgraceful tendency to hype empty, impotent gestures as meaningful acts of heroism. Here’s a snippet:
As Donald Trump and Nancy Pelosi fight over the southern border wall Trump promised voters he’d start building, more than a few people have understandably started wondering why the GOP has never drawn a similar line in the sand against abortion.
Far rarer, though, are acknowledgments of the obvious answer: because the pro-life movement has never forced Republicans to. The GOP wasn’t going to shut down the government over illegal immigration, either; Trump was prepared to once again sign one of the usual swamp budgets, but reversed course at the last minute when conservatives revolted loudly enough to make him fear the political consequences.
Enough Republicans finally started fearing conservatives enough to fight on something. Whether they’re fighting the right way or will keep their nerve is another question for another day, but the key takeaway for us is that the GOP doesn’t fear pro-lifers in the same way. And why should they? When’s the last time we’ve given them a reason to?
I wrote that piece before the Friday march, and everything I subsequently heard only intensified my revulsion. Numerous speakers offered variations of “stay the course, we’re winning” with little more evidence of progress then the fact Republicans have confirmed a bunch of judges (never mind it remains an open question whether the White House or the Senate is adequately vetting them).
Throughout the day, we saw other signs that our leaders were primarily interested theater, not results. Mitch McConnell, the man who did more damage to the pro-life legislative agenda over the last two years than every Democrat on the hill combined, dared to feign solidarity with pro-lifers.
Several lawmakers made a show of requesting that Trump pledge to veto any legislation that funded abortions with tax dollars, Trump responded in the affirmative, and the pro-life industry pretended something significant had happened.
Never mind that we’re only having this conversation because the abortion lobby won the House in the most recent election, that vetoing pro-abortion bills is the lowest bar to expect of any GOP president, that pro-abortion bills shouldn’t be reaching Trump’s desk anyway since the GOP has the Senate, or that if these politicians really wanted to do something meaningful, they would’ve challenged Trump to pledge not to sign any budgets that continue Planned Parenthood’s funding.
Also yesterday, Sen. Steve Daines of Montana announced the formation of a Senate pro-life caucus, to “so that the House and the Senate can work together on having a more strategic approach in how we’re going to move pro-life policies to the president’s desk.” This could have been significant if this caucus devoted itself to, say, the problem of the filibuster or better vetting of judicial nominees.
Alas, between Daines’ claim that confirming a lot of judges passes for the strongest pro-life legislative results in history and that his example of what the caucus would do is somehow get Democrats on board with banning late-term abortions, we shouldn’t expect much.
All of this is doubly tragic when one looks at the enormous crowd sizes the March for Life gets every year, throngs of people braving the cold because they truly want to do something to end the killing. If only more of the people who fundraise off of them for a living cared more about channeling all of that passion into anything that would actually make a difference.