I know I am far from alone in experiencing this reality, but the Trump years taught me a hard lesson that many of those I'd looked up to as fellow ideological travelers didn't really share my convictions.
The realization left me with this awkward, disquieting feeling of political loneliness – an ostracized, isolated sensation that I'd been scammed, or had been fooling myself for years about the nature of the political movement I so freely and happily advanced.
On one side, I was frustrated by the number of my fellow conservatives who expressed no hesitation or compunction over the former president's questionable commitment to conservative principles, or his personal character issues, or his self-evident demeanor that didn't exactly exude Christlike humility. I hated being called a "traitor to the cause" whenever I brought those things up – things that I thought we had all agreed for so long were tantamount to conservatism.
On the other side, I was shocked by the number of high-profile conservatives who reflexively jumped ship the moment a non-establishment Republican like Trump took the reins of the party. It became quite clear the moment they started endorsing Democrats that their concern was never the advancement of conservatism, it was the preservation of their own position within the party's establishment that mattered. They saw defeating Trump as the only way to get their power back. Because of that, pro-life, pro-family, pro-judicial restraint, and pro-economic liberty issues were all thrown to the wayside like they never mattered in the first place.
Take Mona Charen, one of my favorite conservative commentators for years.
When I was on the radio, I would regularly read, analyze, and promote her work. She was thoughtful, convincing, and convicting, particularly in her enunciation and explanation of pro-life politics. Writing from her perch at National Review, Charen taught me, encouraged me, and inspired me.
You could have knocked me over with a feather when I read her public endorsement of Joe Biden for the presidency in 2020. I thought it was a joke. Here was one of my conservative champions, not explaining why the honorable choice was to abstain from voting for either candidate, but why she thought pro-actively casting a vote in favor of Joe Biden was the best thing for America. I was then, and remain to this day, utterly stunned by her defection.
Here was a woman who had written some of the most articulate defenses of the primacy of pro-life politics I'd ever read, now declaring she "never believed that electing presidents who agree with me will lead to dramatic changes in abortion law." Besides, she argued, Biden was a centrist.
"Funny, but I could have sworn that the Democratic Party nominated Joe Biden last week, not Alexandria Ocasio Cortez or Bernie Sanders," she wrote.
Unsurprisingly to anyone who knows how Washington works (which Charen undoubtedly does), neither AOC nor Bernie Sanders could have enacted more egregiously anti-life executive orders than Joe Biden has – from repealing the Mexico City policy, warring against the Hyde Amendment, opening up billions of COVID relief dollars to killing children here and overseas, to suing the state of Texas over their new heartbeat law.
Charen excused her complicity in that cause by suggesting it is foolish to "abortion wash" all other issues. By that, she means a candidate's stance on abortion isn't reason enough to vote for them. I agree, of course.
Where I disagree is Charen's apparent belief that a candidate's stance on abortion isn't reason enough to not vote for them. Being pro-life may not be enough to earn my vote. But being anti-life will always be enough to lose my vote.
All this is why I was anything but shocked when a friend sent me Charen's latest offering at the Bulwark – a full-throated endorsement of former DNC Chairman and Clinton operative Terry McAuliffe in his run for Virginia Governor. If you can compromise your convictions at the presidential level, why not the gubernatorial one?
When it comes to dyed-in-the-wool Democrat, you don't get much truer blue than McAuliffe, the man who chaired Hillary Clinton's presidential run and helped propel Al Gore with lucrative fundraising, the man who recently endorsed a Virginia abortion measure that David French accurately pinned as barbaric infanticide.
- In 2013, Charen accused McAuliffe of not knowing "how to govern a state," and condemned his numerous "ethical problems."
- In 2016, Charen referred to McAuliffe as one of Hillary's "felonious friends."
- In 2021, she's endorsing him for governor over a man she admits is "inoffensive" and "sincere" (and pro-life), because she says the current state of the Republican Party is nothing "good people" can support.
I'd be more inclined to consider the legitimacy of her point if she wasn't simultaneously including with that condemnation an endorsement of a party that is unquestionably worse.
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