The 2024 Presidential Election is Already About Abortion
The Republican National Convention is placing abortion front and center for the 2024 election cycle, now convinced that being pro-life is a winning political strategy. On August 25, I warned Republicans that refusing to advocate for the preborn would dilute the red wave. And so it did. The red wave died on the beach of indifference. Where is the confidently anticipated Senate majority? No comfortable majority in the House either. Hidden within the results there is a mandate: killing the preborn up to and after birth is not acceptable and representatives who hedge on protecting all people equally are not desirable to the American people.
On November 9, before the electoral debris field could be accurately assessed, I warned that it will be worse in 2024 if the pro-life Republicans refuse to learn the lesson that, for the electorate, morality trumps money. But don’t just take my word for it. Former Deputy White House Chief of Staff under the Obama administration, Jim Messina, five days later, insisted abortion is a winning strategy that will carry Democrat victories in races nationwide including the Presidency.
Former president Donald Trump weighed in on the midterm results, saying, “It wasn’t my fault that the Republicans didn’t live up to expectations in the MidTerms… It was the 'abortion issue,' poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on No Exceptions… Also, the people that pushed so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the U.S. Supreme Court, & just plain disappeared, not to be seen again.”
I corrected President Trump on January 4 when I said candidates didn’t lose because they stood firm on protecting all life equally but because they didn’t stand at all. I remain one of the only voices pushing for no exceptions, which Sean Hannity and I discussed in August. The red wave died on the beach not because Republicans were too pro-life but because Republicans refused to talk about abortion at all, hiding behind inflation and crime. A closer look at which Republicans actually won reveals that being pro-life is a winning political strategy.
As the RNC recently affirmed in their January 30th resolution, the only path to a Republican victory in 2024 is for those who are uncomfortable defending the rights of the preborn to take their political cod liver oil and toughen up. Equally protecting all citizens -- especially the preborn ones -- must be front and center in every Republican candidate’s campaign, from federal to state. This means Republican candidates need to learn to be pro-life statesmen, able to articulate why they are pro-life and why everyone else should be too -- including independent and Democrat voters.
As a pro-life strategist it is clear to me that Republican candidates are uncomfortable with the pro-life debate. Why? Because they talk about being pro-life as a layman, not a statesman. It is one thing for someone to have an opinion about abortion because of science, statistics -- or worse -- sentiment. Sure, it tugs on the heartstrings to talk about how much you love your Down’s Syndrome child. But that does not tell the world why government ought to have an interest in protecting preborn boys and girls under the law.
Democrats figured it out. First, they were willing to spend 1/3 of a billion dollars on abortion campaign ads. And second, they were cheeky enough to prioritize abortion in their campaigns. Happily, the pro-life Republicans who stood strong all won their elections even if they were massively outspent. Why? Because being pro-life is a winning political strategy, underscoring once again that morality trumps money.
While the Democrat tactic was to turn up the volume on abortion, it only panned out for them if the Republicans failed to shed light on the propaganda revealing the very unpopular Democrat platform. The Democrat position regarding abortion is unregulated abortion, federally legislated through all nine months of pregnancy and beyond. Look no further than California’s abortion ballot Proposition 1. However, to seduce the votes they needed, pro-abortion politicians shouted bogus claims that overturning Roe created a health crisis, if pro-life Republicans get their way they would outlaw contraception, and women suffering from miscarriage will die on the operating table. Ridiculous, right? Only if the pro-life Republican candidate said so. Qui tacet consentit -- silence gives consent.
Pro-life people, and Republicans in particular, are on dangerous ground. The gains typically made in a midterm election cycle were forfeited in 2022 by Republican moral cowards. The pro-abortion politicians in charge of the Democrat party believe they have a winning strategy in abortion. And they do, if pro-life candidates refuse to learn from an honest campaign autopsy. Make no mistake, the lead-up to 2024 will be a slog. But victory awaits if candidates can become principled pro-life statesmen, courageously facing the winds of abortion propaganda. This is the only way they can appeal to independents and ostensibly pro-life Democrats.
The winning script for the pro-life statesman goes something like this: “’We are endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights.’ The right of first importance, the one upon which liberty and the pursuit of happiness stand, is the right to life. And because we are made in the image of God, all people are equally valuable, deserving of protection and blessing, without qualification, from the womb to the tomb.” Even in the midst of the high-decibel din of abortion campaign ads, the people will begin to understand why protecting a preborn baby transcends mere opinion and is the purview of government for the safeguarding of civil order.
That is what pro-life candidates need to learn to say in so many words between now and 2024. Then comes victory and maybe even another chance at civilized order.
Rev. James R. Harden, M.Div. is the CEO of CompassCare Pregnancy Services and pioneered the first measurable and repeatable medical model in the pregnancy center movement. He has written extensively on medical ethics, executive leadership, and pro-life policy. Rev. Harden has also developed materials and strategies used by hundreds of pregnancy centers nationwide. Rev. Harden predicted the lackluster Republican midterm underperformance in August if candidates failed to stand strong for life. Contextualizing the lackluster performance of Republicans, on the heels of Trump’s presidential campaign announcement, he prescribed a courageous front-and-center pro-life campaign as the only path to a Republican victory, a prescription that the RNC recently adopted.