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The real MAGA campaign begins

Death sells in today’s America, and the president is pinning his reelection hopes on it

President Joe Biden speaks at George Mason University in Manassas, Va., on Jan. 23. Associated Press/Photo by Susan Walsh

The real MAGA campaign begins
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So the real MAGA party has launched its election campaign. On Jan. 21, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris made it clear via X that the centerpiece of their push for another four years in office will be their commitment to Make Abortion Great Again.

It will be interesting to see whether this campaign—with their desire to see the right of 50 percent of the American population to decide whether the most vulnerable people in our society live or die—rises to the level of meriting a hashtag. Will #NeverBiden prove as popular among those evangelical #NeverTrumpers who objected so strongly to the former president’s boorishness and alternative MAGA rhetoric? And given that this push is also profoundly—one might almost say “systemically”—racist since abortion disproportionately affects a disproportionate number of the African American community, one must assume those same evangelical people will be denouncing it as a form of neo-Nazism, as fascist, and as an existential threat to American democracy.

If not, it will reveal something very interesting and disturbing about the selective nature of evangelical outrage on the left—the very thing that the #NeverTrumpers deftly exposed among certain elements of the evangelical right.

But beyond shining a light on the moral problems encountered by those who too closely identify their faith with political stands, this new MAGA rhetoric indicates something disturbing about the nation as a whole. Successful politics in a democracy is always to some extent a quest to find out what the people want and then to sell it to them. It’s what Trump managed to do in 2016 with his bluster about Making America Great Again. He tapped into desires that were already there. And when Biden and Harris launch their campaign with a promise to Make Abortion Great Again they too are appealing to something that they think will strike a popular chord.

It is because so many of us are already there that they make their pitch.

That is surely an indictment of our society as a whole. It is not Biden and Harris who want us to think that killing the most vulnerable in society is a good thing. It is because so many of us are already there that they make their pitch. Death sells in today’s America—a fact that speaks of a world where the individual is king, where morality has become a simplistic matter of feelings and sentiment, and where human life has been devalued.

That is not to say that some women seeking abortions are not weak and vulnerable themselves. But it is to say that we are now at a point where we as a society see the answer to their weakness and vulnerability as lying in the destruction of those even weaker and even more vulnerable. And we all know that for the progressive elites, abortion is not primarily about rape and incest. That is a convenient cover story that exploits real victims for a larger purpose. Such victims typically do not “shout” their abortions or wear tee shirts celebrating them. No, the tragic stories that drive the public face of the debate are cover for the justification of a general assault on the unborn.

November will once again be morally tricky for American Christians. Personally, I cannot see myself voting for either of the likely candidates. But remembering that the Democrats chose to lead with a call for the right to kill the weakest and most vulnerable should, one hopes, give pause for those who think that the return of Donald Trump to the White House would mean the end of civilization. That Making Abortion Great Again is seen by the Democrats as a vote winner indicates that civilization, at least as currently constituted in America, is probably a misnomer anyway.

Carl R. Trueman

Carl R. Trueman taught on the faculties of the Universities of Nottingham and Aberdeen before moving to the United States in 2001 to teach at Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. In 2017-18 he was the William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion and Public Life in the James Madison Program at Princeton University.  Since 2018, he has served as a professor at Grove City College. He is also a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a contributing editor at First Things. Trueman’s latest book is the bestselling The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self. He is married with two adult children and is ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

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