Battle for the GOP: Will Republicans Dump Pro-Life Issues?

That didn’t take long.

According to a LifeNews article, Republican political consultants are “calling on the GOP to abandon pro-life issues.”

The article goes on to explain all the reasons why this would be a foolhardy move for the Grand Old Party. I’m not going to go through those arguments. I’m not writing this blog for the people who run either of the political parties.

What I will say is, I told you so.

I’m not prescient. I have no crystal ball. But I work alongside Rs every day. Given the centralized way the Republican Party functions, working with Rs in Oklahoma plugs me into the party thinking from all over these United States of ours. What I mean by that is that local Rs take their positions, get their legislation and even their talking points from think tanks and centralized leaders who also give the same instructions to all other Republican elected officials.

The Democrats did not use this model at all until about 10 years ago. I know. I’m a Democratic elected official. They started moving toward it in the wake of Republican victories early in the 21st Century. The reason? It worked.

Now you have people running for local offices in both parties who have their campaign pieces printed and mailed from centralized party campaign headquarters that may be (in Oklahoma, they always are) thousands of miles away from them and their voters. Many times the candidate not only doesn’t approve the ad, they are downright appalled by it when it airs.

I’ve been spared this, largely because no one in the official end of the Democratic Party likes me enough to “help” me. The party faithful have done their best to defeat me in elections. The chances that the party machine is going to come swooping in to “help” me are slim to none. Think clouds and silver linings.

Both parties are somewhat controlled by centralized committees and think tanks; the Rs almost totally, the Ds becoming more so. Even though the Ds are moving rapidly in this direction, they still don’t have the party control two-step down as well as the Rs. We still write our own speeches, and some of us still get ourselves elected in do-it-yourself campaigns. Most of the Rs were beamed into office and not only don’t think for themselves, they don’t understand politics and the job of legislating well enough to be able to think for themselves, even if they wanted to.

I’ve seen these people get yanked around by party analysts over and again. One of the most ugly was when the money men who run the party showed their true colors on pro life issues. These money men not only aren’t uniformly pro life themselves, a lot of them are openly aligned with groups like Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood has drawn its governing boards from among the wealthy in whatever communities it resides since Margaret Sanger began the organization. They interlock their boards with medical associations, chambers of commerce and, more importantly, the most powerful people in the various chamber’s back rooms.

A good percentage of the money men who actually own the Republican Party don’t like the party’s position on social issues. They don’t agree with them. They’ve been willing to put up with campaigns that were run on these issues because what they wanted was to control the power of government. Those issues delivered it to them. It worked. Now, they’re not so sure that it’s continuing to work.

I knew the pressure to dump social issues would start after the election was over. I knew it because I’ve seen this same pressure being applied to Republican office holders even before this election.

All this goes back to something I’ve been saying for a while. Don’t make a false god out of your political party. Don’t bend your knee to the R and the D. Without us, without our votes, both political parties are empty shells. Do not give them your vote or your support in a blind fashion.

Christians are going to have to “chose this day who we will serve.” We’re going to have to make this decision over and over as challenges rise from within our political parties, our circle of friends, our jobs, even our families and for some of us, our churches themselves.

My advice … my request … is that if you are a Republican, you need to contact the RNC and let them have it for even considering dumping pro life issues. Send them an email by going here.

  • Karyl

    You know, I was on the edge of doing that very thing. I am NOT happy. I did not vote for Romney in the primaries. I’ll always and forever think that Herman Cain was railroaded by his own party. He was too conservative, made too much sense, and gaining followers. I’m going to repost this as I’ve fellow Rs who are as disappointed as I am.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank Karyl.

    • kenneth

      Actually Cain and the parade of other flash-in-the pan unelectables during the primary cycle is a big part of what caused Romney’s loss. PAC money kept these guys in the game far, far longer than they would have been on their own merits.

      Most of the election cycle was spent with fringe candidates telling the hardcore base what they wanted to hear, rather than building up a viable candidate and selling a vision to the voters at large. Moreover, they greatly reinforced the image of the GOP as an extremist party.

      By the time the base finally got around to backing Romney, and he finally found his voice, it was down to the last six weeks or so. He turned in a very strong performance in the debates, but he didn’t have nearly enough political momentum or capital to survive setbacks like Sandy, or Akin or Mourdock or anything. You should thank your lucky stars Herman Cain wasn’t your candidate in the end. Obama would have won by 70% and would have had an emperor’s mandate to rule.

      • Rebecca Hamilton

        My thought is that the main problem was that none of the candidates were all that attractive, Romney included. He just wasn’t a good candidate, and he certainly didn’t appear all that trustworthy on key issues that inspire the Republican base. Top that off with an equally lackluster campaign and what you have is what we’ve got.

  • Faith

    Rebecca, what are your thoughts on working at the state level to at least regulate abortions clinics (for instance making the clinics abide by safety standards or enforcing parental notification requirements) or passing legislation to defund Planned Parenthood? My daughter interned at National Right to Life a couple summers ago. I was surprised to find that they do not affiliate with any party. They try to be bipartisan though it is very hard in this current atmosphere. I do not see how we can abandon the political issue of abortion completely and move to solely seeing it as cultural. I think that is as unrealistic as putting all one’s hope in presidential politics.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I think those are excellent ideas Faith. I agree that we need to approach life issues as both cultural and political. Great thoughts and a good comment!

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  • Dave

    Thank you, Rebecca. If it wasn’t obvious before, it should be now. The GOP “elites”, i.e. those money men you are referring to, don’t share a pro-life position. They are a cancer that will kill the GOP if the grassroots doesn’t do anything about it. Their only real positions are pro-big corporations (THEIR big corporations, which includes a lot of military) , low taxes for the rich (them) and….um…well, that’s it.

    They squashed the “off-message” grassroots Ron Paul movement, and they’ll try to squash any position that they think is losing them elections. They blatantly cheated at the Republican Nat’l Convention to deny Ron Paul from being nominated, even though he met the requirements.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      True Dave. Now Republicans have the job of wresting their party back into the hands of the grassroots … before they lose it utterly.

  • kenneth

    The GOP will have to dump abortion and some of its other social issues if they ever want to see the inside of the Oval Office again in the foreseeable future. No way around that at all.

    Does that mean they have to abandon a pro-life stance entirely? No, but they can no longer make outlawing abortion with no exception for rape and incest the centerpiece of their social agenda and brand identity. (The same goes for same sex marriage and strident anti-immigration policies). No national candidate will win on those issues in 2016 under any realistic conditions likely to arise between now and then. You’d need to revoke the 15th and 19th Amendments or expel blue states from the union to change that reality.

    Both parties are funded by the mega rich, and those people REALLY don’t like throwing good money after bad (it’s why they’re mega-rich). The party cannot afford to keep the full pro-life agenda, and what’s more, you have no chance of winning this war of yours at the national level anyway.

    Presidents can try to hand-pick Supreme Court justices all they like, but the Court is not going to suddenly overturn Roe in a vacuum or in the steady state of today’s cultural climate. Roe did not create a culture of widespread abortion. It arose from one. You will never, ever overcome the majority culture and will by legislative or executive fiat or by a court ruling. Gay marriage is proof of that. Obama didn’t lead that trend, he followed it, when it was politically safe (and necessary) to do so. Gay marriage won because gays spent decades engaging people on the state level, the popular culture level, the Family level, to persuade people of their case.

    The modern gay rights movement and Roe have both been around almost exactly 40 years. They spent their time working from the grass roots up. The pro-lifers mostly spent that time looking for the magic top-down fix. The results speak for themselves. The GOP should maintain it’s pro-life stance but defer the matter to the states, which is what the conservative philosophy of less government is all about anyway. Your movement then needs to get out into the provinces and engage people to articulate your case. You can ignore me or block me as an ideological enemy I suppose, but I spent my first career working as a political journalist and analyst. On this matter, what I’m saying is in broad agreement with what Rod Dreher and any number of other conservative Christians are saying.

    • Fabio P.Barbieri

      It is very silly to imagine that because something has been around 40 years it has any staying power. What has grown in power and strength is the opposition to those things. 40 years ago it was the Pope and a few unknown extremists. Now it dominates conservative politics in America and has the support of every Christian leader. The Republican leadership does not support them because they’re stupid; they support them because it’s the only serious electoral base they’ve got (nobody votes for the rich to become richer) and because they know it’s powerful. They also work hard to corrupt it, which is the main danger: beware when you find leaders stop talking about abortion and start talking about tax cuts.

  • EMS

    I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they did dump abortion. But if they did, they’ll have forgotten their own history. Anyone else remember the Reagan Catholics? I think a major part of the reason Reagan got their vote was the Democrats dumping pro-life and similar issues and picking candidates that were much more liberal than most conservative Catholics could take. (And it didn’t help that Carter, Reagan’s first opponent, wasn’t so hot.) If pro-life issues were dumped by the Republicans , I suspect that most Catholics would drift to the Democratic Party, which has long been their historical home base. Pandering to the rich and big corporations doesn’t appeal to most Catholics. Which is why we need a new political party.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Good analysis; great job connecting the dots from the past.

  • Dave

    These so-called money men are blind. Totally blind. Pro-life is not even a losing position in most places. The problem was not that Romney was pro-life, it’s that people didn’t know if he WAS really pro-life. I know lots of pro-lifers in my small sample who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Romney. I was almost one of them.

    The MAIN PROBLEM was that Romney is one of the “money men” Rebecca is describing. As Mike Huckabee said, “Romney reminds people of the guy who laid them off.”

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Very apt.

    • Ted Seeber

      The money men want to dump pro-life not because it is merely seen as losing elections- but because *more poor people cost them more in taxes*. It’s all about tax reduction, and at this point, the best way to do tax reduction if you’re a material atheist is to kill off all those takers.

  • Dave

    Here was my letter to the GOP. I was limited to 1000 characters, lucky for them!

    “I read today that there is pressure from “Republican political consultants” to drop the pro-life issue. The problem was not that Romney was too pro-life; it was that he was insufficiently pro-life. Many pro-lifers could not even bring themselves to vote for him. I was very nearly one of them. Grassroots Republicans anywhere outside the Northeast corridor are almost all pro-life.

    You need to have candidates that actually ARE conservative, fiscally and socially, and are intellectually gifted. That is how you win elections. Don’t let the Dems raise the debt another $3-4 trillion. Have the House put their foot down. You lost big in 2008 not because Bush was conservative, but because he wasn’t. He was a big spender. It is pretty disheartening that the people of influence in the party don’t seem to understand these obvious points.

    People don’t really like the Democrats; that has been proven time and time again. But when Republicans look like Democrat-lite, what is the point?”

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      My thoughts exactly:

      “The problem was not that Romney was too pro-life; it was that he was insufficiently pro-life. Many pro-lifers could not even bring themselves to vote for him.”

      Thanks for sending this Dave. The Rs need to hear from Rs.

      • Fabio P.Barbieri

        Rebecca, two links. One which proves, as far as it is humanly possible, that the problem with Romney in the famously key state of Ohio was lack of enthusiasm from natural supporters: Another with a wonderful article by a philosopher about the ills of the modern “marketplace of ideas”, written thirteen years ago, but as true as the day it was writtten:

        • Dave

          Thanks, Fabio…that article seems to verify that Romney lost support among those who were generally conservative but had fallen on hard times. Just as I quoted Mike Huckabee above, “Romney reminds people of the guy who laid them off.”

          Please pick a more populist candidate next time, GOP!

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  • Manny

    “A good percentage of the money men who actually own the Republican Party…”

    And who are these people? So who owns the Democratic Party? LOL.

    That’s a side issue. As to the main thrust of your argument, yeah, elections have consequences. Republicans have been burned repeatedly on social issues. You criticize them, but on a national level they are losing issues. That was why this election results were so catastrophic, as I said right after the election. It’s not just that Obama won, but that he won with a majority of Catholics after the Church went as far as possible in pushing an anti Obama vote. He won with nearly a referendum on the HSS mandate. He won with a mandate on contraception and abortion. Gay marriage won in four states. This was a disaster, and it reflects a changing country.

    No political party can be on a losing issue for very long. If you can’t win, you can’t implement anything.

    Still I think that assessment is over blown. Yes, instead of Republicans being 80-90% pro-life and family values, it may drop 70-80%. Northeast republicans, what few there are, will need to change. California Republicans don’t even exist any more. But let me tell you the 70% will still be better than the 5% pro-life Democrats. And who knows where the Dems will evolve to as the younger generation becomes more atheistic. Remember it was the Democratic Party who took God out of their party platform. Rebecca, you’re a Democrat from Oklahoma. That’s in a completely different world from the Democrats here in NYC. I’ve lived around them all my life. They are radicals and they are winning in all the major populated areas.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      We’ve been over this before. I don’t care one way or the other about either one of these parties. When President Obama signed the HHS Mandate, he declared war on my Church.

      There was a time when I thought the Republicans were sincere about the things they said they believe. But I know they are not. Know it.

      If the people who are Republicans take the attitude that, since the moral values they claim were why they joined the party are now a politically liability so it’s ok for the party to shuck them, then what are these people? I’m not talking about the party machine; I mean the people who say they vote R because they are pro life or are traditional Christians. They need to stand for these things within their party, and now is the time to do it. What you’re saying is the same kind of logic that led the Democrats into the abyss.

      As for who owns the party, in my experience it’s the massively wealthy people who finance the campaigns and talk to republican elected officials like they were hired hands and get away with it. You can be sure that no matter how great the liability their fealty to the corporatists may become the Rs will not abandon them. They can’t.

      • Shawna Zlab

        I really like your blog and insight but as a native born Seattle-lite I would say that you have your position coming from OK the reddest of the red. Here in Seattle I espouse conservative pro life ideas and get knocked over the head called names yelled at, etc. Forget the party elites, you are a fool to try to compete here with if you are a conservative. I agree with the guy from NYC, it is unfair to paint Republicans everywhere as party apparatchik. There is always failure of conviction when there is group-think going on around. Up here the group think is truly one sided.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          Shawna, you make a valid point. It’s much harder when the entire culture is against you. I’m glad you raised this issue, since we can’t figure out ways to deal with things unless we consider what everyone has to deal with. Oklahoma is a small state (in population) with a rather unique culture. I am Okie-centric in my thinking, and that does and will lead me into inaccurate conclusions. If Manny meant what you interpret his remarks to mean, then I owe him an apology. I thought he meant something else entirely.

          Thanks for this comment. I hope you join the conversation more since you bring a perspective that needs to be discussed.

          • Shawna Zlab

            Thanks, I have grieved this election since I see where it is all headed…the marijuana and gay marriage thing was so disappointing but if I were honest completely I should have expected it….people I have known all my life have gotten emotional and angry with me over these issues and it has happened in the last few years, very quickly…..I have felt tons of disillusionment and people voted out of fear. That is a huge problem.

            • Dave

              I agree that the pro-life issues are losing issues in the Northeast and the West Coast. The thing is, though, the GOP is going to lose those states anyway, no matter what they do, and if they do win, the candidate would be hard to distinguish from a Democrat. In the part of the country that is actually contestable, pro-life issues are not losing issues.

              Even here in Minnesota, which hasn’t had a Republican win a Presidential vote since before I can remember, pro-life issues are not losing issues.

    • Ted Seeber

      I don’t think it is even 70% TODAY. Romney, I believe, just based on what his priorities seemed to be, is maybe 5% pro-life.

  • s l mccoy

    Want to hear from an independent woman with lots of acquaintance with the views of young, educated women? The GOP will never win a presidential election again if it does not give up the anti-choice movement and position. If you do not know that, you do not know history, so I’m offering this time-scope.

    In the time of Reagan, the RNC made a deal with the Christian Coalition, the main so-called organization seeking legal banning of abortion. The CC said, if you always run anti-abortion candidates and have a strong anti-abortion plank in your party platform, we will deliver the anti-abortion/pro-life votes to you, but if you don’t, we will go for a third party. The RNC, afraid even at that time that it would not be able to compete with the Dems if they did not do this, sold its soul to the CC even though many Republicans were pro-choice.

    By 1992, pro-choice Republicans were sick of this pact, and pro-choice Republican Ross Perot ran as a third party candidate that managed to garner 16% of the vote, and mostly took it away from the Republican Bush, Sr. In that election, the women’s vote is what put Clinton in office: the large women’s organizations that are pro-choice – NARAL, NOW, etc. – successfully turned out the pro-choice vote because the Supreme Court balance was 5-4 for Roe v Wade. In 1996, without Perot, Clinton won again with the women’s vote.

    In 2000, Bush, Jr., did not win the popular vote, and when the FL votes were finally recounted even though the recount could not affect the election, the FL popular vote also went to Gore, and women were a key DNC constituency. But Bush, Jr., had managed to get as much of the vote as he did because he was not straight about the abortion issue. Instead, he said, “Roe v Wade is the law of the land,” and what pro-lifers needed to do was “create a culture of life.” Bush, Jr., had not nominated anyone to the Supreme Court until 2005, after his re-election.

    In 2008, the Supreme Court balance for Roe v Wade was really challenged. McCain was against abortion in all cases except rape, incest, and the life of the woman. Among Republicans, this may be a moderate stand, but it is not considered moderate among either Dems or independents. McCain chose Palin, who would not even make an exception for rape, as a running mate. Obama won the women’s vote, and in particular single women by double digits.

    In 2012, it was known that at least two Supreme Court justices who are in the balance for Roe v Wade would probably retire within the next presidential term. Romney was all over the map on abortion. He said he would happily sign a “human life” or “personhood” right bill for zygotes just like the Mississippi amendment that was voted down in the last election, that he would overturn Roe v Wade, that he thought abortion should be decided on by the states, and that he believed in exceptions for rape, incest, and the health and life of the woman – and then a surrogate later corrected this and said he did not believe in an exception for the health of the woman. And he chose for a running mate Paul “rape is a method of conception” Ryan. It might be that pro-life people did not like that, but women who support a woman’s right to choose whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy really didn’t like it.

    And what resulted? Not only did the majority of women vote for Obama, but single women voted for Obama by double digits. This was not about just single mothers, divorced women, women on welfare, etc. Single white women, African American women, and Hispanic women all did this, and educated women did this.

    Over time, the pro-life movement has become more and more aggressive and devious. In 201o, Republican candidates all over the states said they only cared about jobs, the economy, and the debt, and that the election was not about social issues. But when they got elected, the first thing they did was start making abortion restrictions at the state and federal levels. In a period of a little over a year, 1,100 anti-abortion bills were introduced. Then, the Republican primaries came up, and there was not a single supporter of abortion rights among the candidates. Next, we had sickeningly insensitive comments about rape pregnancy by all sorts of Republican candidates, Akin, Mourdock, etc., and other insensitive comments (“there is no such thing as abortion to save the life of the woman” Walsh). It was not only that Obama was reelected: many of those anti-abortion candidates also lost (Akin, Mourdock, Smith, McMahon, West, and more).

    As if that were not enough, over the last several decades, the percentages of unmarried women and educated women in the US have increased, as women have postponed marriage longer, have divorced wifebeaters or cheaters, etc., have gone to and finished college. And most of these women support the right of a woman to choose on this issue whether or not they are personally pro-life and, indeed, whether or not they are Catholic or evangelical Christians.

    I do not know if that is because those women understand that there is no effective objective evidence that a zygote is a “baby” but plenty of evidence that it is only a biological blueprint that a woman’s body can use to construct a future baby in a process that is not completed until a fetus emerges from her body. But I do know that those women are basically different from the anti-abortion set in one key way. They believe that it is gross injustice, insult, and violence verging on forcible rape to try to use human law, and the police violence that underpins its enforcement, to control an individual’s sex organs, immune system, and internal body in general against that individual’s will, conscience, and freedom of religion. How, indeed, is that different from trying to use human law and physical torture to force an individual to make a statement he or she believes is a lie?

    The greatest weakness of the anti-abortion movement is that its followers have painted those who disagree as interested merely in immoral pragmatic convenience. It has never occurred to them that what they propose may strike others as sickeningly immoral, yet many, many single, educated women do think that.

    So I don’t think that the GOP will ever again be able to win a presidential election with an anti-abortion candidate and an anti-abortion party platform. I wish that all the pro-choice ex-Republicans among the independents and all the pro-choice Republicans would finally face the fact that trying to use the law and the violence underpinning its enforcement to control people sex organs and immune systems is just about the biggest government intrusion on individual rights that could possibly be proposed. If they had the guts to face that truth, they might get together and walk out on the party taken over by the anti-abortion law advocates and start a new one. It would be at least as large as the current Republican Party, which has been bleeding membership over this issue for over twenty years.

    • Dave

      You are objectively wrong about this: “I do not know if that is because those women understand that there is no effective objective evidence that a zygote is a “baby” but plenty of evidence that it is only a biological blueprint that a woman’s body can use to construct a future baby in a process that is not completed until a fetus emerges from her body.”

      “Baby” is humanizing terminology. “Biological blueprint” is dehumanizing terminology. But the biological FACT is that the zygote is a human being. It is alive, it is growing, and it has unique human DNA; therefore, it is a human being. “Zygote” is a step in the growth process of that human being, as is “fetus”, as is “infant”, as is “toddler” etc.

      If you or your independent friends want to declare that human being to be not a person in order to facilitate their “sex with no consequences” lifestyle, fine, but you are deceiving yourselves. They are no different than the slave owners that declared other human beings to be “not people” for their own personal gain.

      I am strongly convinced that you are dead wrong about your political analysis. Polls of people’s attitudes about abortion do not reflect your assertions. But even if you are right, we will keep going because a society where women, who should be the most compassionate, caring, loving members of society, are willing to kill their own offspring to allow the unfettered pleasure to continue is not a society that will long survive.

      • Dave

        What a crazy world we live in that some people find it “sickeningly immoral” to have there a law against killing another human being.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          Amen Dave.

    • Ted Seeber

      Here’s how to win among young single women while being pro-life:

      Expand WIC to include 12 months of maternity leave, Women’s Healthcare Pregnancy Resource Clinics, and daycare. Defund Planned Parenthood to fund WIC.

      In other words, actually be pro-life, not just pro-birth.

  • Dave

    I wanted to see what you thought about this idea I had. Since, of course, it takes two to tango, what if the child-support laws were made stronger (more expensive) for men who father children out of wedlock? That might help make men think twice before taking advantage of a woman, and give the woman a more realistic possibility to keep her child if she wanted to.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I think that idea is worth exploring. One of the things we need to do is to address the underlying misogyny that people use to justify abortion.

    • Ted Seeber

      That’s a huge part of the puzzle as well Dave.

      Hey, how about a massive sales tax on condoms to help?

  • tso

    Meh. Every PAC’s job is to tell us the sky is falling, preferably so we’ll contribute to them. That’s fine, it’s the mark of successful advocacy (like the NRA, the most successful one of all) to obsess over perceived threats. Thus it’s no surprise that LifeSite News would announce that “some Republicans” think the social issues should be jettisoned.

    And I really don’t see this incredible control the RNC has. If it had such control, would it have allowed all terrible tea party candidates like Christine O’Donnell and others to get nominated and subsequently butchered? This post needs a heckuva lot more evidence to back up the lame assertions.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      What I’m describing is what I’ve seen. The reason I say that this control is national is because I see Republican elected officials from all over the country simultaneously introducing identical legislation, making identical speeches and behaving in identical ways. I am, however, referring to elected officials and not the rank and file. The good part of politics is that neither party controls their rank and file. That’s the reason I have a lot of hope that we can regain control of the parties and turn our government around.

      But the only way to do this is to first see what’s going on and then to find the resolve to do the work to change it.

    • Ted Seeber

      Tea Party candidates are the useful idiots of the elite right. They can be counted on to talk a good pro-life game, but only vote on economic redistribution upwards.

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  • Rich

    If you believe in being Pro Life and Pro Liberty, I would welcome you to join the conversation on our Facebook Page. Pro Life Libertarians. Thank you to Rebecca Hamilton for this well written article!

    • Ted Seeber

      I’m to the point where I believe that pro-life MUST become so anti-choice that it is opposed to the American definition of liberty.

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  • http://Devotions4Him Jennifer

    My advice … my request … is that if you are a Republican, you need to contact the RNC and let them have it for even considering dumping pro life issues. Send them an email by going here. I am so doing this. “Social” issues are what govern my vote. To me they aren’t social issues, they are moral issues. I’m pro-life and proud of it.

    Christians are going to have to “chose this day who we will serve.” Amen and amen!