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Trump Marches For Life

Trump at March For Life today

A friend who was at the March For Life, and who knows nothing about President Trump’s walk-on/walk-off music, was flabbergasted that they were playing “House Of The Rising Sun” — about a New Orleans whorehouse — and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” to welcome and send off the president. Why these songs, at the March For Life?

Because Trump’s gonna Trump, no matter where he is. He goes about a lot of things clunkily, but he often manages to do the right thing anyway. It’s weird that he would show up at the March For Life using his standard music, which is really inappropriate, but the massively more important — and quintessentially Trumpy fact is that Trump was the first US president to speak to marchers, ever.

My view of his appearance today is that of the Baptist theologian Denny Burk:

Here is a link to the transcript of Trump’s March For Life speech. Excerpt:

All of us here understand an eternal truth: Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God. Together, we must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and the sanctity of every human life.

When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God’s creation. When we hold a newborn in our arms, we know the endless love that each child brings to a family. When we watch a child grow, we see the splendor that radiates from each human soul. One life changes the world – from my family, and I can tell you, I send love, and I send great, great love – and from the first day in office, I have taken historic action to support America’s families and to protect the unborn.

And during my first week in office, I reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy and we issued a landmark pro-life rule to govern the use of Title X taxpayer funding. I notified Congress that I would veto any legislation that weakens pro-life policy or that encourages the destruction of human life.

Read it all.

I regret to say that you will not find a single national Democratic politician — certainly none of the Democratic presidential candidates — who could or would say the first lines in the passage I quoted above. Until today, you couldn’t even find a Republican president willing to come out and stand with the marchers. They addressed them by audio or video hookup.

Some of my fellow prolife friends are concerned that the prolife cause will suffer by being associated with Trump. It’s partly because of Trump’s particular controversy, but also because they believe — rightly — that the fight for the rights of the unborn ought to be above partisan politics. Yes, it should be — but we all know that prolife Democrats are extremely scarce. I’m lucky that the governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, is one; it has a lot to do with why I was able to vote for him both times. But come on, let’s be honest: the Democratic Party is in the main uncompromisingly pro-abortion party.

I’m proud to be from the same state as another pro-life Democrat. According to the Washington Post:

Louisiana state Sen. Katrina Jackson, a Democrat, also will address the crowd, saying that while she disagrees with Trump on policies and is discouraged by his insults of people, she is “ecstatic” that a president will attend the march.

“We finally have a sitting president at the March for Life,” she said. “It doesn’t make him the face of it. It sets a precedent for future presidents to speak. It’s my prayer the president’s attendance doesn’t make it look partisan.”

 

More from that WaPo piece, by Michelle Boorstein:

Daniel K. Williams, a historian at the University of West Georgia who has written a book on the antiabortion movement, noted that the March for Life founder, the late Nellie Gray, was a pro-labor Democrat who worked in the Johnson administration. In the decades that followed, the abortion issue has become more partisan, he said.

“What we’re seeing is an exacerbation of partisan divides on both sides,” Williams said. “The activists of the 1970s would not have foreseen the pro-life movement be so aligned with one party.”

In the 1980s, Williams said, about one-third of Republican senators favored abortion rights, and surveys showed that a majority of Republican voters favored abortion rights. Today, nearly every Republican member of Congress is opposed to abortion rights. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey this week found 84 percent of Democrats identified as “pro-choice,” while 68 percent of Republicans identified as “pro-life.”

Read it all.

I don’t like that the prolife movement is almost entirely a GOP thing, but nobody forced Democratic lawmakers to abandon the unborn. Clearly state lawmakers like Gov. Edwards and Rep. Jackson have not done so, but when he signed the heartbeat bill last year — a bill written by a Louisiana Democrat! — John Bel Edwards torpedoed any chance that he would have a national political career.

So, I am genuinely surprised that Donald Trump has been so good on prolife issues, and that he came to the March For Life today. And if people worry that the march is becoming too associated with Republican politics, then they should not fault Trump for it, but should redouble efforts to get more Democrats to get involved. The fact that the prolife cause is seen as a Republican thing now is because with honorable exceptions like Gov. Edwards and Rep. Jackson, Republicans are almost the only ones who will stand with prolifers.

The president’s appearance at today’s march really does make things starker heading into November’s election, does it not?

UPDATE:

Yes, of course. It’s transactional, and prolifers who speak as if it were anything other than transactional should check themselves. But come on, isn’t this what politicians do? People typically vote for the politician who will give them what they want. This is not about love and mutual understanding. We’re not going to marry the guy. I am 100 percent confident, via sources public and private (to me), that he’s done awful things to women. I can, and will, praise Trump for what he has done for the prolife cause. I didn’t expect to be able to do that, ever, but I have to be honest about how much I’m surprised here. I thought he would be like George W. Bush was on the gay marriage issue: using it to stimulate voter turnout in the 2004 re-elect, then dropping it once he was safely back in office. He hasn’t done that. I have to give Trump credit. Only he knows for sure if his heart is right with God — I have my doubts — but he has shown in policy that he is willing to do the right thing for the unborn. I don’t see where it profits us prolifers to complain the next morning, “But do you really love me?”

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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