Douthat on Trump's Prolife Supporters

For many Catholics, the best argument for supporting Trump's candidacy is that he has promised to nominate Supreme Court Justices who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. In today's New York Times, the conservative and prolife Ross Douthat explains why even this "best" reason is not a good one.

It is a hard thing to accept that some elections should be lost, especially in a country as divided over basic moral premises as our own. But just as the pro-life movement ultimately won real gains — in lives saved, laws altered, abortion rates reduced — by accepting the legitimacy of the republic even as it deplored the killing of the unborn, so today’s conservatism has far more to gain from the defeat of Donald Trump, and the chance to oppose Clintonian progressivism unencumbered by his authoritarianism, bigotry, misogyny and incompetence, than it does from answering the progressive drift toward Caesarism with a populist Elagabalus.

Not because it is guaranteed long-term victory in that scenario or any other. But because the deepest conservative insight is that justice depends on order as much as order depends on justice. So when Loki or the Joker or some still-darker Person promises the righting of some grave wrong, the defeat of your hated enemies, if you will only take a chance on chaos and misrule, the wise and courageous response is to tell them to go to hell.

The column is bluntly—and I think appropriately—titled "An Election Is Not a Suicide Mission."

Matthew Boudway is senior editor of Commonweal.

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