I’ve read a lot about “Reagan Democrats” possibly going towards Trump this election cycle. And they usually conclude that union members might go for Trump because of trade and immigration issues. But what I think is being forgotten is the pro-life history of Reagan Democrats.
Remember, Reagan’s run was shortly after Roe v. Wade and both parties were still looking to see where pro-lifers would end up politically. In the 1970’s there were many pro-life Democrats. Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, and Al Gore among others were pro-life. But, in time, for reasons having a lot to do with campaign donations I think, the Democrats turned on pro-lifers.
Daniel K. Williams, associate professor of history at the University of West Georgia wrote a book titled “Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement Before Roe v. Wade.” In an interview with Religion and Politics he makes clear that many Reagan Democrats were disaffected pro-lifers.
Pro-lifers were willing to ally with the GOP because they felt betrayed by the Democratic Party when its 1976 platform repudiated the proposed Human Life Amendment to the Constitution. Ronald Reagan’s appeals to pro-lifers during his 1976 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination brought disaffected Democratic pro-life activists into conservative Republican politics for the first time.
Many say that it was the Democrats commitment to civil rights which lost them the South but it was, in fact, abortion which lost them the South. (In fact, the Republicans were the party that strongly supported the Civil Rights Act a decade before.)
So while many pundits are ignoring the pro-life history of Reagan Democrats, I don’t think Trump is. He knows he’s not trusted on this issue. I can’t count the number of seemingly contradictive positions he’s taken on defunding Planned Parenthood alone. But Trump released the names of a number of conservative pro-life justices whom he might nominate to the Supreme Court if given the chance. He did this in order to appeal to exactly those people. He knows that the best thing a president can do for the pro-life cause is to nominate pro-life justices to the court. That’s where the real power is.
When I worked in politics I ran into thousands of pro-life Democrats. When pressed about the importance of the life issue, they usually said something like that they didn’t believe the Republican party would actually do anything about the pro-life issue anyway so they voted with other issues on their mind. Trump’s message is all about how he can get things done. So if he can get pro-lifers to believe him he’d go a long way towards winning those Reagan Democrats and I think that’s exactly what he’s aiming to do.
Another thing, I think that many non-Republican pro-lifers haven’t liked that Jesus odor around GOP speeches. Ted Cruz’ blatant quoting of the gospels made some more than a bit uncomfortable. You’ve got to admit that Trump doesn’t actually have that old-time religion stank about him, does he? (Or any?)
But for those, Trump could be seen as a good pro-life alternative. (I’m not there yet.)
I don’t know why this aspect is being ignored by the media but it’s probably because they’re all idiots who would rather write about stupid things like Trump calling a reporter a “sleaze.”