Since I announced publicly that I will be voting for Joe Biden in November, I've received a few communications from puzzled readers. "How can you, a supposedly pro-life woman, support someone who believes in killing babies?"
I will try to respond for the sake of those who, like me, find themselves alienated from the Republican Party despite some policy agreements with the Trump administration.
I have been pro-life my entire adult life. I haven't changed. I continue to find the practice abhorrent and will persist in trying to persuade others. While I would prefer to vote for someone who upholds the right to life, I've never believed that electing presidents who agree with me will lead to dramatic changes in abortion law, nor is the law itself the only way to discourage abortion. The number of abortions has been declining steadily since 1981. It dropped during Republican presidencies and during Democratic presidencies, and now stands below the rate in 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided and when abortion was illegal in 44 states.
It's wrong to take innocent life. But other things are immoral too. It's also wrong to swindle people, to degrade and demonize, to incite violence, to bully, and while we're at it, to steal, to bear false witness, to commit adultery and to covet.
Donald Trump is a daily, even hourly, assault on the very idea of morality, even as he obliterates truth. His influence is like sulfuric acid on our civic bonds. His cruelty is contagious. Remember how he mocked a handicapped reporter in 2016? His defenders either denied the obvious facts, or insisted that, while Trump himself might be "politically incorrect," his supporters wouldn't be influenced by that aspect of his character.
Alas, they are. Consider the incredibly moving moment during the Democratic National Convention when young Braydon Harrington, who struggles with stuttering, introduced Joe Biden. That night, an Atlantic editor with the same affliction tweeted: "This is what stutterers face every day. I'm in awe of Braydon's courage and resolve." That prompted Austin Ruse, author of "The Catholic Case for Trump," to tweet in response: "W-w-w-w-w-w-what?"
It isn't just a matter of style. At Donald Trump's order, thousands of children, including hundreds under the age of 4, were forcibly separated from their parents at the border. Pro-lifers are tender-hearted about the most vulnerable members of society. So, images like this must stir something. Separating children from their parents is a barbaric act. In the crush of outrages over the past three and a half years, it has gotten swallowed up, but the horror of what was done in our name should never be forgotten.
All of this is familiar to Trump supporters, but they will vote for him because they believe that the left is far worse.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., characteristically subtle, claimed at the RNC that Biden and Democrats will, "disarm you, empty the prisons, lock you in your home, and invite MS-13 to live next door. And the defunded police aren't on their way."
Funny, but I could have sworn that the Democratic Party nominated Joe Biden last week, not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Look, there are extremists on the left, and the Democratic Party has a weakness for not calling them out. Democrats do the truth and themselves no favors by attempting to gloss over the looting, arson and vandalism that have persisted in Portland, Chicago and other cities throughout the summer.
But it's dishonest, and frankly, a bit hysterical, to attempt to hang every sin of the left around Joe Biden's neck. He's no radical, and the party that nominated him showed that its centrist core was stronger than its extremist wing.
In the wake of renewed violence following yet another horrific police shooting, this time in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Biden issued a humane statement expressing deep sympathy for Jacob Blake and his family, outrage at what happened and also condemnation of violence, saying: "burning down communities is not protest, it's needless violence. ... That's wrong." Biden struck exactly the right tone.
The argument that the left is worse doesn't persuade me. Strange as it is to write those words after 30-plus years as a conservative columnist, I have to say that when you compare the state of the two major parties today, the Republicans are more frightening.
It is the Republican Party that has officially become a personality cult, declaring that it will not adopt a platform but will simply follow whatever Trump dictates. And it is the Republican Party that now opens its arms to adherents of a deranged and dangerous new cult called QAnon. The FBI has designated QAnon a domestic terror threat, yet minority leader Kevin McCarthy has committed to providing committee assignments to Marjorie Taylor Greene, should she be elected in November.
There is putrefaction where the Republican Party's essence should be, and appointing pro-life judges cannot mask the stench. So, this conservative is voting for the Democrats. Will the GOP reform? I hope so. But my priority isn't trying to heal the Republican Party. It's trying to heal the country.