This piece was published as a newspaper op/ed in October, 2021.
It appears very possible that the Supreme Court will soon overturn Roe v. Wade, thus removing “the right to an abortion” from the current Constitution. This outcome would be the result of the Republican Party’s effort over many years to create such a Supreme Court to do that.
To people who are grateful for what the Republican Party has accomplished regarding abortion, I would say:
The Republican Party may be your ally in getting Roe v. Wade overturned. But their conduct on abortion, it should be recognized, doesn’t make them in the least your friends. Or good guys. Or anyone you should support, in the belief that the Republican Party shares your values.
Even on the issue on which they’re your allies – abortion – the Republican Party’s motives are hardly friendly to you. The Party’s “pro-life” position on abortion is driven not by concern for “protecting innocent life” but by their quest for power.
(The evidence is clear: the issue of abortion issue has been a political tool, masterfully employed by the Republican Party to achieve the one thing today’s Republican Party cares about– power.
Years ago, the Republican Party did stand for some values. But in our times, “Get more power” seems always a necessary and sufficient explanation of the conduct of the Party the GOP has become.)
Can anyone cite a single time in recent years that the party did something because it was the right thing — because it serves some higher values — if it would mean giving up some advantage in the quest for power?
The abortion issue is no exception: it serves their interest to keep Americans fighting over abortion, and they’ve been very successful at that.
(Overturning Roe would do nothing to stop that fighting. It would only move it – intensified – to different fronts.)
Here are several ways that the abortion issue has bolstered the Republicans’ power-maximizing strategy:
1) The Republicans are served by the intensification of the battle over abortion because it is a means of intensifying the division of the American people.
The Plutocracy has long understood that “Divide and Conquer” is its best strategy to enable the few to take both power and wealth from the many.
(That the Republican Party is the instrument of the Plutocracy – i.e. the Money Power – was clearly shown when the Republican Party, then in control of all three branches of government, showed it had nothing left it wanted to do after it had accomplished its sole legislative achievement, which was to transfer a $2 trillion tax-giveaway to the richest Americans and most powerful corporations, at the expense of average Americans and future generations.)
So long as the people focus on their irreconcilable differences, they cannot unite to work together to serve their common interests, or protect their rights against the Money Power.
Abortion is perfect for that role.
- Abortion evokes intense passions, concerning as it does both sex and women, as well as (on the other side, personal autonomy) — all unsettled but areas of great turmoil in American culture.
- The issue can be connected with religion – at the center of people’s lives (even though the Scriptures don’t deal with it explicitly).
- Abortion also does not impinge one way or the other on the greed (move more wealth to the wealthy) and lust for power (enable wealth to rule, rather than people) that is really driving the Plutocracy and the Republican Party in our times.
- Americans are evenly enough divided on the issue – and, as the past half century has proved, each is incapable of persuading the other – that in the absence of a truce, the battle will go on indefinitely.
Abortion therefore has the power to get two camps of Americans to cancel each other out, in terms of “the will of the people” being a political force– leaving the field open to that plutocratic force that continually keeps the abortion pot boiling.
No compromise. No truce. No end in sight of the fighting.
2) The Republicans have also understood that every bit of attention that their supporters focus on abortion means less attention to notice all the ways their “pro-life” leaders are
- Picking their pockets.
- Never even trying to do things that will make lives better for Americans,
- Attacking the structures that protect “liberty and justice for all.” and
- Continually helping move wealth upward in America, enriching the already-richest.
Accordingly, over the decades, the Republicans have generated a veritable army of one-issue voters, who will support the GOP on the basis of the abortion issue alone.
3) There’s a third pay-off for the Republicans in keeping the abortion fight going: it provides a target for the rage of their many supporters whose circumstances have in some way enraged them.
Hate the “baby-killers,” while loving the leaders who are meanwhile rigging the society in ways that contribute to the frustration and rage their followers feel.
The sociopathic party is good at acting as the friend of their “real Americans,” but they are no friends. “Improving the lives of the people who sent them to Congress” is virtually never the explanation of what they do.