The pro-life movement is united in its goal of electing a pro-life president in 2016.
The Obama Presidency brought us two new pro-abortion Supreme Court justices, a healthcare law that expands abortion and threatens the vulnerable, and formal veto threats of pro-life legislation, including a bill that would protect unborn babies 20 weeks and older from painful late abortions. We cannot afford four, or even eight, more years of a president that does not value the right to life.
To achieve our goal, we have to be strategic. Here are six ways we can actually defeat a pro-life candidate. We cannot make these mistakes in 2016.
- Fall in love with your candidate.
Pro-life advocates should get involved in campaigns. Their active participation and volunteer activities can help a pro-life candidate build a strong campaign. It also puts the pro-life advocate in contact with the candidate so that if he/she wins, a relationship can be built and strengthened. Too often pro-life advocates get so excited about their candidate that if he/she loses to another pro-life candidate (especially in a primary), the pro-life grassroots person becomes like the child who lost a game – he takes his toys and goes home. He doesn’t support the pro-life candidate who won and won’t volunteer in the campaign or work to get others to vote for that candidate. Pro-life candidates need the active support of all pro-lifers and, all too often, without that full support, a pro-abortion candidate wins.
- Believe that your candidate is the only “real” pro-life candidate in the race and bash other pro-life candidates.
In a primary where there are several pro-life candidates, pro-life individuals select the candidate they think is best. Then, unfortunately, some pro-lifers attack other pro-life candidates as not being “prolife enough.” If, for example, another candidate has a 20-year pro-life voting record, they pick out the one or two votes that he didn’t vote right on and attack him as not being really pro-life. By doing this, the pro-lifer demoralizes other pro-lifers and weakens enthusiasm for the pro-life candidate who does win the primary. The pro-abortion candidate will, of course, take advantage of this. Because some pro-lifers have attacked the successful pro-life candidate, the pro-abortion candidate will use that in pro-life circles to hold down support for his opponent. Ironically, at the same time, the pro-abortion candidate is going to other voters, attacking the pro-life candidate as a “radical pro-life extremist.”
- Support a really nice candidate who is pro-life but has no chance of winning.
Millions of unborn children’s lives are at stake. That’s why the viability of a candidate must be considered when we go to the polls. There are some wonderful pro-life candidates who may even be active in right-to-life organizations, who decide to run for office. However, if they can’t gain enough support to be a viable candidate, they need to be encouraged to step aside for a candidate who can actually win and take action to protect unborn children.
- Expect the candidate to sound like a Right to Life chapter chairman.
People who are not directly involved in the pro-life movement are not going to be as articulate or well-versed on all the pro-life issues. They may not know every detail of unborn development or understand the ins and outs of the Mexico City Policy. Unless there has been some prior discussion with active pro-life advocates, some candidates may not realize that there are certain “code words” that are interpreted differently by the pro-life community. Just because the wrong word comes out of his/her mouth doesn’t necessarily make the candidate a phony. Sometimes a truly pro-life candidate can be tripped up by the media, confused, ill-informed, misquoted, or quoted out of context. Give him a chance to explain what he really believes. They will do what’s right when they’re elected, but that doesn’t mean they will be comfortable or articulate talking about the killing of unborn babies. Words are nice, action is better.
- Expect the candidate to always make abortion the major issue in the campaign.
A 2014 post-election poll by The Polling Company/Woman Trend found that 23% of voters said abortion affected their vote and they chose the pro-life candidate. Just 16% said abortion affected their vote and picked the pro-abortion candidate. While it is a distinct advantage for candidates to be pro-life and does make a difference in the outcome of an election, it also means that a large majority of the voters had other issues that were more important to them. In order to win, a candidate has to focus on many issues that will appeal to a broad variety of voters. It is the job of the right to life movement to inform the prolife community about the candidate’s position on abortion. It is the candidate’s job to reach a cross-section of voters on a broad range of issues. When abortion is discussed in the campaign, the candidate must clearly and directly articulate his/her pro-life position. However, to expect the candidate to always make abortion the major issue in the campaign can be a sure way to lose an election.
- Vote for a third-party or independent candidate who has no chance of winning.
When a general election is between a pro-life candidate and a pro-abortion candidate representing established parties, there will be times when a third-party or independent candidate will get into the race, claiming to be the “real” pro-lifer. He will attack the pro-life candidate who has a real chance of winning and get other pro-lifers to do the same. This is a sure strategy to elect the pro-abortion candidate. Pro-lifers who support the third-party or independent candidate, to the detriment of the pro-life candidate who could win, may feel like they have not compromised their principles – but if they succeed in indirectly helping to elect a candidate who will allow the killing of unborn babies to continue, they have compromised away something far more important – children’s lives.
The 2016 presidential election is an important moment for our movement. Let’s not squander this opportunity. The lives of unborn babies and their mothers hang in the balance.