I Never Expected To See This Day
Well, maybe not never. But I didn't think it was very likely. And the fact that it has happened makes me think that it's at least possible that this country, which is in imminent danger of capsizing, might yet right itself. I've thought for many years that Roe v. Wade has been a terrible toxin in our body politic, rivaled only by our racial problem as a source of possibly fatal division. If it is indeed possible for the republic to function again more or less as designed and as specified in the constitution, it's a necessary condition that there be some return of independence to the states on matters where there is no national consensus.
A major part of our problem is that we have irreconcilable differences, and the overextension of the national government's reach and power has created a situation in which each side of that division believes that its only hope of survival is to once and for all defeat and subjugate the opposition. This decision is a major step toward defusing that situation. Or at least it should be; in the short run it will make it worse.
Naturally abortion proponents aren't going to accept anything less than total nation-wide elimination of restrictions. And a lot of anti-abortion people are now calling for a national ban, which I think is a bad idea, almost certain to fail and certain to make divisions worse. (A bad idea under present conditions, I mean--possibly a good one at some time in the future if more people come over to the anti-abortion side.)
Some might reply to that by saying that if a national ban would save lives then it's worth tearing the country apart. After all, that's what it took to end slavery. But the two things in themselves, and the situations surrounding them, are very, very different, in ways which ought to be obvious to anyone, and I don't see how the question could be resolved by any violent means short of near-extermination of its enemies by one side or the other, followed by the establishment of an extremely authoritarian regime. That can hardly be "worth it."
A lot of people are feeling joyful. My own feeling is a sort of somber satisfaction. This was the right decision. But, as has always been insisted upon by those paying attention, it's only one battle in a war: a major battle to be sure, but still only one battle. And I'm braced for a frenzy of hatred, lies, and attempts at political destruction from the pro-abortionists. By "political destruction" I mean, for instance, calls for the Supreme Court to be ignored and in general for the substitution of mob-like demands, perhaps of actual mobs, for law. Significant violence is certainly possible; that's hardly an unreasonable concern, since some leftists have already promised and begun it.
In other words, the left in general, including the Democratic party, will engage in exactly the same attacks on "our democracy" that they accuse the right of. They may not do anything as dramatic as invading the Capitol--after all, they are the party which controls the presidency and Congress as well as the education and journalistic establishments, so they have many more avenues of action. But they may be more effective. I think it's been pretty clear that when they say "our democracy" they mean "that system of government in which we rule." The "our" is proprietary.
No matter what you think of Donald Trump, it seems beyond question that his presidency is directly responsible for this victory. Obviously a victory by any Democrat, and especially the one actually running in 2016, would have prevented it for another few decades. I don't think highly of Trump and didn't vote for him in 2016, because I live in the reddest of red states and availed myself of the permission, so to speak, to make a third-party protest vote. But this is his doing. You can argue that any Republican would have done the same, though that's debatable, but the fact is that he was there and he did it--with, of course, a lot of help and cooperation from those establishment Republicans whom many conservatives despise (not entirely without reason, but excessively). I think, in retrospect, that more harm was done to the country by "the Resistance" (the disgustingly appropriated title awarded to themselves by many of his enemies) than by Trump himself. But in any case: credit where credit is due.
Just in passing, and mentioned only because I've already read it a dozen times today: the abortion-rights people have never stopped bringing up rape and incest as reasons to keep it legal. This is not a good-faith argument, because they would never support a law that banned abortion in every case except those. It's just a tactically useful appeal to natural emotions.
We can't lose sight of the fact that the desperation to hang on to the more or less unrestricted right to abortion gets its passion from the sexual revolution, from the need to preserve it at all costs, and, more fundamentally, to uphold the quasi-religious doctrine of the separation of sex and reproduction. That physical, spiritual, and cultural lie can't be defeated by law, in fact can never be entirely defeated. But it can be dethroned from its all-but-omnipotent position of power in our culture. Apart from the obvious duty of Christians to help women with unwanted pregnancies, we should also make some effort to empathize with people who have grown up believing that sexual expression does not and should not have any restrictions, that from some time in adolescence on everyone can and should engage in whatever sexual activity strikes his or her fancy, with no adverse consequences. A young woman growing up with those assumptions might well be terrified--I mean, really and sincerely terrified--by anything which promises to cut off her escape in the event that her sexual activity has what was once considered its natural result.
For Catholics, the timing of this announcement is providential: the feast of the Sacred Heart. That's a devotion which I've never been attracted to, not because I think there's anything wrong with it but because it just doesn't appeal to me. Perhaps I should give it another look. Also, in normal years (see this) June 24 is the feast of St. John the Baptist, which is, you might say, even more providential.
And it came to pass that when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb.
A wonderful outcome and on the Feast of the Sacred Heart!
A couple of interesting notes: it is 7 x 7 years since Roe began. Seems like a scriptural number.
Also the scientific experiments performed on those Eucharistic miracles which had appeared as human flesh were all found to be inner heart muscle wall tissue, blood type AB- (I just noted this because of the Feast day and I have been revisiting the Eucharistic miracles).
Posted by: Louise in Tasmania | 06/25/2022 at 12:23 AM
Great piece -- I agree entirely.
"A lot of people are feeling joyful. My own feeling is a sort of somber satisfaction."
Glad you put it that way -- that's exactly how I feel but was having trouble finding the right words. I'm certainly happy, but not in any sort of gloating way.
I would note that the Orthodox Church doesn't have the feast of the Sacred Heart, so yesterday was the Nativity of St. John the Baptist for us. Could it be that the two feasts were working in tandem? :-)
Posted by: Rob G | 06/25/2022 at 08:33 AM
A reasonable supposition. :-) I'm slightly surprised that your feast of the Baptist is on the same day as ours (normally). I thought the calendars were more divergent than that.
Those Eucharistic miracles are pretty amazing. Being naturally somewhat skeptical of miracles--I want some strong proof before I believe in them--I've wondered about the proof for them. Just now, out of curiosity, to see what the opposition has to say, I searched for "eucharistic miracles disproven" and I got a page full of references that were just the opposite. The only one that denied them was this rather dimwitted Protestant one:
Pretty amazing that we know Jesus's blood type.
Posted by: Mac | 06/25/2022 at 10:48 AM
"Dems Pause Jan 6 Hearings to Call for Insurrection"
Posted by: Mac | 06/25/2022 at 02:19 PM
And this one, which is pretty much a right-wingers' in-joke:
'Pretty Cool We Overturned Roe, Right Fellas?' Says David French Trying To Sit At Trump Voters' Lunch Table
Posted by: Mac | 06/25/2022 at 02:36 PM
Not really at all fair to David French. As he says in a new piece in The Atlantic, he's been a pro-life attorney and activist for more than 30 years. Good piece, by the way-- "The Pro-Life Movement’s Work Is Just Beginning" (https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/06/pro-life-dobbs-roe-culture-of-life/661394/).
He mentions in the article a 2020 study at Notre Dame, "How Americans Understand Abortion," based on a series of in-depth interviews with a representative sample of Americans (https://news.nd.edu/assets/395804/how_americans_understand_abortion_final_7_15_20.pdf).
One of the study's findings: "None of the Americans we interviewed talked about abortion as a desirable good. Views range in terms of abortion’s preferred availability, justification, or need, but Americans do not uphold abortion as a happy event or something they want more of."
Posted by: Marianne | 06/25/2022 at 05:27 PM
Oh, I know he's a staunch pro-lifer. He's a good guy. The joke isn't about his pro-life bona fides, it's about his equally staunch Never-Trump-ness. The inescapable fact, as I said in this post, is that if Trump had lost to Hillary the reversal of Roe would not have happened.
Posted by: Mac | 06/25/2022 at 06:42 PM
This might make you feel a little better, if the link works:
Remember the Bee is a satire site. Trump and Trumpists are not exempt.
Posted by: Mac | 06/25/2022 at 07:05 PM
Oh, I know it was satire and that it was playing on his Never Trump-ness, but I thought it also gave the impression that he was somewhat new to being pro-life. Maybe just me being too protective of him and other Never Trump pro-lifers who've been doing the heavy-lifting for a very long time.
Posted by: Marianne | 06/25/2022 at 07:23 PM
"You can argue that any Republican would have done the same, though that's debatable, but the fact is that he was there and he did it--with, of course, a lot of help and cooperation from those establishment Republicans whom many conservatives despise (not entirely without reason, but excessively)."
I would disagree with the last bit here. Consider how many establishment conservatives were driven to the other side of the issue (or felt free at long last to reveal their true feelings about it) through sheer Trump Derangement Syndrome, especially people associated with publications like The Bulwark. For example, Bill Kristol.
Posted by: Nathan Payne | 06/25/2022 at 09:35 PM
I can't stand Trump, but I also don't especially like the Republican party, which it seems to me has been dangling the overturn of Roe as a carrot in front of pro-lifers' noses for my whole adult life. So I get some grim satisfaction out of Trump being the person through whom it finally happened.
At the same time, I don't think it was at all a given, when he was elected, that things would turn out this way. I'm acquainted with a couple of people who advised him on judicial nominations, and I get the impression that since he didn't much care about doing the work of the chief executive, he left a lot of it to his advisors. If he had happened to come under the influence of a different set of advisors, the outcome could have been quite different.
But he didn't, and this was the outcome, and I'm deeply grateful for it.
Posted by: Anne-Marie | 06/25/2022 at 09:59 PM
Marianne, I of course can't speak for the Bee, but I take their thing about French as good-natured teasing, not a denial of his other merits. Regarding the Never Trump thing, I was sort of de facto of that mind up until the point where it was definitely a choice between him and Hillary. If I lived in a swing state, I would have voted for Trump. And even more definitely, once Trump was elected, Never Trump just seemed pointless, almost an affectation, or a sort of snobbery, or an evasion of reality. Better to make the best of it than to continue to fume. The whole question can never be reasonably discussed without reference to "as opposed to what?" Joe Biden has proved himself to be as big of a jerk as Trump, with worse policies.
Posted by: Mac | 06/25/2022 at 11:17 PM
Nathan, agreed about Kristol et. al. I wasn't thinking of pundits but of Republican office-holders. Specifically, Mitch McConnell. Clearly Merrick Garland was a bullet we are fortunate to have dodged, and that's thanks to McConnell.
The neo-conservative pundits...well, most of them have turned out to be a pretty sorry lot. My impression is that they basically never had much use for social conservatives, at least not after the first generation (Irving Kristol and others). Trump was a sort of test: given a choice between Trump and today's Democrats, if you pick the latter, you're really not a conservative in any useful sense. A lot of those people seem to have become full-bore haters of social conservatives.
Posted by: Mac | 06/25/2022 at 11:28 PM
Anne-Marie, the Kevin Williamson piece I linked to above makes similar points. I just keep coming back to the fact that in real, actually-happened life, it was a choice between Trump and Hillary, and that if Hillary had won the reversal of Roe would not be happening now.
Re Republicans making useless promises about Roe etc., there is a very revealing and sickening quote from some Republican consultant admitting to exactly that. Basically he says that he and the people he worked for despised actual conservatives, viewing them as "batshit crazy," and deliberately exploited them. He's now officially become a Democrat. I don't know how people like that live with themselves. I guess most actual conservatives suspected this could be true. My reaction is, well, if that's the way the game is played, the mission of social conservatives is to inflict electoral pain on you when you don't deliver for us, whatever you actually think. In the really big picture maybe that's what happened with Trump.
Posted by: Mac | 06/25/2022 at 11:55 PM
Here are the words, as quoted in The New Yorker, of that guy--not a "consultant," as I said, but chief of staff to a former governor. Those who know something about the American right will see that his description of it is not just nasty but inaccurate. He's since declared himself a Democrat, according to Wikipedia. He's my age so I guess there's no point in wishing an ignominious end to his career. He may well be right about there being no return of the Republican Party to his cynical dishonesty.
"There was always an element of the Republican Party that was batshit crazy," Mac Stipanovich, the chief of staff to Governor Bob Martinez, a moderate Republican, told me. "They had lots of different names--they were John Birchers, they were 'movement conservatives,' they were the religious right. And we did what every other Republican candidate did: we exploited them. We got them to the polls. We talked about abortion. We promised--and we did nothing. They could grumble, but their choices were limited."
"So what happend?" Stipanovich continued. "Trump opened Pandora's box and let them out. And all the nasty stuff that was in the underbelly of American politics got a voice. What was thirty-five per cent of the Republican Party is now eighty-five per cent. And it's too late to turn back."
Posted by: Mac | 06/26/2022 at 01:53 PM
Yes, I understand you now, and I agree. One of the most maddening things about Trump is him throwing under the bus the people who did all the work.
Posted by: Nathan Payne | 06/26/2022 at 05:21 PM
Trump is a jerk. I have a personal grudge against him because he pretty much destroyed Jeff Sessions, who would not sacrifice his integrity for Trump, and helped to elect a Democrat in his place. Not that much harm done by the latter, fortunately, since he lost as soon as he had to run in a normal election. I think it's been clear all along that Trump's main loyalty is to himself.
Someone posted on Facebook a link to this National Review piece by David French, March 2016. "As Nominee, Donald Trump Would Do Incalculable Damage to the Pro-Life Cause." This is the kind of thing that people are razzing him about now. Thing is, it was a perfectly reasonable concern at the time.
There seems to be general agreement that Trump just nominated the people the Federalist Society told him to. Very plausible. Well, that's ok--he did it.
Posted by: Mac | 06/26/2022 at 08:54 PM
I live in a deep blue state and I voted third party, too. If I lived in a swing state I don't know what I would have done; I don't know whether I could have brought myself to vote for Trump, given that I didn't know he was going to run the Federalist Society's playbook on judicial appointments and (like French) I didn't believe he was himself really pro-life.
Posted by: Anne-Marie | 06/26/2022 at 09:14 PM
A great-aunt of mine whose father had been very active in politics once quoted him to me as saying something like this: "People say to vote for the man, not the party. But it's more important to vote for the party that represents your views, regardless of the man." Or nowadays woman, of course. In the present circumstances, not necessarily in all, I tend to agree, which is why I would have voted for Trump in 2016 if I lived where it mattered, even though I thought he was a terrible man. It's even more true now--the Democrats are open enemies of much that I hold dear, one of those being the constitution. I think I said as far back as 20 years ago that it's the difference between an enemy and an unreliable ally.
Posted by: Mac | 06/26/2022 at 10:25 PM
If I may, I am writing from England and the general feeling from Europe is one of disbelief. Together with the courts ruling in reference to lifting of pollution restrictions it seems the court has fundamentally more power than the impuissant president Biden.
I just have somber satisfaction that unless you live in the Vatican state the rest of Europe has values alluding to an opposite viewpoint.
But with climate change does America, the land of consumerism and profligate energy use try to find more frugal ways of living and not supporting the carbon based industries chasing every last buck they can find in that oozy oil.
Posted by: Stephen | 07/01/2022 at 10:22 AM
Your "Together with..." comment indicates that you have no idea how the American system of government works. Unfortunately there are huge numbers of Americans who don't understand it any better than you do, so you may very well have seen American journalists and politicians asserting erroneously that the court "lift[ed] pollution restrictions."
I don't know whether your last sentence is meant to be a question or not.
Posted by: Mac | 07/01/2022 at 12:21 PM
For anyone reading this, the question was whether the Environmental Protection Agency had exceeded its legal authority with certain regulations. The answer was yes. The agency exists to implement laws passed by Congress and the Court ruled that the agency had gone beyond the relevant law. Congress is free to revise the laws to encompass what the agency wanted to do. The agency is not free to make its own laws.
If you can't see the principle at issue here--well, unfortunately you have lots of company.
Posted by: Mac | 07/01/2022 at 06:09 PM
The general feeling amongst whom, Stephen? I should think a lot of pro-life people in Europe are delighted by this decision.
Posted by: Louise in Tasmania | 07/01/2022 at 09:14 PM
Stipanovich switched teams and is now telling his new cohort what they want to hear. From that angle it's difficult to tell exactly how much of it is true and how much is simply self-serving b.s., given that even upon a superficial glance it's so obviously a combination of both.
From a realpolitik point of view, it seems that what the GOP leadership is trying to do is distance the party from DT and "Trumpism" while keeping as many MAGA voters onboard as they can -- a very tricky business. I doubt if Stipanovich, the 'Bulwark' crowd, etc., really believe it, but they are portraying the GOP as being far more "ideological" than it actually is. By doing this they convince the gullible liberals/leftists that MAGA has taken the party over and that it therefore must be stopped. And the way you do this is by voting for Team D, of course.
The bigger picture, however, transcends party. The cross-party elites do not like populism because they see it as a threat. Currently the GOP is where populism has found a home, so that's where the elites' attention is focused. What the GOP elitist leadership is attempting to do is basically to throw the populist baby out with the Trumpian bathwater without the MAGA crowd noticing.
This reflects the overall scheme of the "shadow campaign" of 2020. The point was not to defeat Trump because he was the leader of "anti-democratic" forces, nor was it simply a ploy to get a Democrat into the White House. The endgame was to create a "machine" of sorts that could use the electoral process to defeat not just DT, but any candidate who shows himself to be too "populist." The natives are allowed to get only so restless.
This is why I believe that the shadow campaign was far more injurious to democracy in the long run than the whole Jan. 6 fiasco, bad as that was. The Jan. 6 "insurrection" had virtually zero chance of being successful. The shadow campaign was.
Posted by: Rob G | 07/02/2022 at 08:24 AM
"it's difficult to tell exactly how much of it is true and how much is simply self-serving b.s."
Those comments from Stipanovitch, as well as others from other Republican operatives who had no place after Trump, make me wonder how many people who are professionally involved in politics are equally dishonest. I mean, I assumed there was a lot of cynicism, but not to the point of actively and consciously lying to the people whose votes you're soliciting. That's pretty naive of me. I mean, there are stories of this sort of thing going way back in American politics.
I hate to admit my ignorance but I'm not sure what you're referring to by "the shadow campaign." The manipulation of voting laws etc described in that famous Time article?
'...any candidate who shows himself to be too "populist."' Some fair number of serious leftists are really bitter about the way the Democrats pushed Sanders out.
Speaking of campaigns and lies, the various state races where Democrats are funding Trumpist primary candidates in hope of defeating them certainly convicts them of a really deep level of dishonesty. You must not really believe that Trumpism is as evil as you say if you're willing to support it for your own ends.
Posted by: Mac | 07/02/2022 at 10:08 AM
"The manipulation of voting laws etc described in that famous Time article?"
Yes, exactly. It's become known in some circles as the "Podhorzer shadow campaign" after the name of the guy who engineered it.
"You must not really believe that Trumpism is as evil as you say if you're willing to support it for your own ends."
Never thought of that but it's very true, especially if the Trumpist you are supporting accidentally wins!
Posted by: Rob G | 07/03/2022 at 11:37 AM
To some extent that's what happened with Trump himself in 2016. I don't know if the Democratic party itself ever deliberately assisted him, but my understanding is that much of the media did. Then...oops....
I hadn't heard it called "the shadow campaign" but I agree that it was gravely harmful. So of course the Democrats want to make it permanent. I consider it beyond reasonable doubt that for the D party as a whole the only real rule now is "whatever it takes to win." If the filibuster thwarts us today, it's racist etc. and must be destroyed. If it helps us today, it's a noble and essential protection against tyranny, and to oppose it is racist etc. And a lot of people on the right are saying "well, ok, we'll do the same."
Posted by: Mac | 07/03/2022 at 01:22 PM
Agreed, but would add that a lot of never-Trump liberal Republicans helped out with that "campaign" as well. My take on it is that at root it's more anti-populist than pro-Democrat.
It's funny, but when I've mentioned this on Dreher's blog I've argued that if it were the "right" that had pulled this off liberals/the "left" would still be yelling about it no end. I've never had one leftist or liberal respond to that observation.
It's also interesting that the only people who find that "campaign" a big enough problem to warrant attention are certain true economic leftists and some non-mainstream conservatives. Liberals and mainstream "leftists" don't mind it because it worked, and the mainstream right is so committed to the "stolen election/voter fraud" narrative that they miss the forest for the trees.
Posted by: Rob G | 07/04/2022 at 08:23 AM
This is the first time since you posted this that I have been able to sit down to my computer. I've been wanting to say that my response to the decision is pretty much the same as yours and Rob's. I have seen so many awful things posted by people whom I know to be good people, e.g. T
To be sure the whole we can disagree and still be friends is for stuff like pineapple on pizza and not the systemic destruction of an entire community. (Obviously we can disagree about the need for punctuation, but anyway . . .) I makes me sad, because I am afraid to even talk to this person now.
Someone had told me a while back that in NYC, or maybe the whole state, the number of abortions for black women is approaching the number of live births. I found the statistics for 2016 on the NYC Bureau of Statistics page and 44.3% of the births/abortions recorded there were abortions. If that's not the systemic destruction of an entire community, I don't know what is.
And, of course, we keep hearing about how black women will suffer most because they get a higher percentage of abortions than white women. If I am correct in my thinking, and I may not be, that means that the black population will decrease in proportion to the white and they will consistently loose power in elections.
Posted by: Janet | 07/04/2022 at 12:27 PM
"I have seen so many awful things posted by people whom I know to be good people..." Yeah, me too. Though I'm fortunate in that the people I know personally haven't publicly said the truly awful things. And I haven't said much either (on Facebook, which is the only "social media" that I participate in). There are some things in wide circulation that are not so much awful as just hopelessly irrational. "Guns now have more rights than women." And variations on that which, if taken seriously, would mean that the person saying it is unaware that murder is against the law.
It's to be expected that the decision would be called racist. But you would think that a situation which facilitates black abortions would at least raise eyebrows.
I think what impresses me most is the extent to which the opponents of this decision have revealed their ignorance of and contempt for the whole American system.
Posted by: Mac | 07/04/2022 at 12:45 PM
Replying to Rob: do you mean that Republican anti-Trumpers actively worked in that campaign, or just aided it as propagandists? The former would be somewhat shocking. Though having said that I guess there are a lot of people like this Stipanovich guy who would have actively worked in it.
"if it were the "right" that had pulled this off liberals/the "left" would still be yelling about it no end. " Indeed. The willingness of the "left"--and I understand why you're putting it in quotes--to do a complete turnaround is worthy of the communists who helped turn Orwell against them. Yes, Republicans do some of this, everybody naturally does it to some extent. but not as dramatically or completely or with passion so undiminished when they make the change.
I hadn't really thought about the "stolen election" idea on the right being a failure to recognize the more serious problem, but you're right. I guess the more sensational idea naturally gets more attention, but it's mostly useless outrage. Or in the case of the Jan 6 riot, seriously harmful to the right's cause.
Posted by: Mac | 07/04/2022 at 01:00 PM
~~I hadn't really thought about the "stolen election" idea on the right being a failure to recognize the more serious problem~~
An infrequent commenter on Dreher's blog, "Barlaam of Weimerica," made this point fairly early on, and on another now defunct blog I used to read. He sketched it all out in considerable detail and it made a lot of sense to me at the time, and still does.
Posted by: Rob G | 07/05/2022 at 03:21 PM
I recognize the name. He's pretty sharp as I recall.
Posted by: Mac | 07/05/2022 at 08:24 PM
Yep -- interesting guy. Leans fairly far left economically, but is socially quite conservative. Always quick to point out that the right's uncritical support of The Market undercut its own traditionalism. And that the liberal/left's lack of concern for the family undercut its concern for economic solidarity.
If I can find what he said about the shadow campaign I'll post it here. I'd never be able to find it on Dreher's blog, but it may still be available on the other one I mentioned.
Posted by: Rob G | 07/06/2022 at 05:57 AM