... abortion opponents, in the 1970s and afterward, responded to Roe v. Wade for the most part like normal citizens of a normal democratic state, not as dissidents within a murderous dystopia. The pro-life movement accepted, even in the face of what it considered a monstrous evil, the good of civic peace, and treated the evil of abortion as something to be addressed through the usual work of democratic politics -- however long that work might take, across however many presidential elections and Supreme Court battles and public arguments and acts of private persuasion, and through however many setbacks and defeats along the way.It can easily be argued that violent opposition to abortion is not limited to what Douthat calls a "fringe" -- Adele Stan makes that argument -- but let's accept Douthat's premise and give the majority of conservatives credit for not trying to overturn the U.S. government in order to stop abortion, and for not trying to murder everyone who works at an abortion clinic or a Planned Parenthood office. I think Douthat downplays the violence, but I'll agree that most anti-choicers aren't engaging in it directly. They're working relentlessly to rewrite laws, but they're not threatening to torch the White House or the Supreme Court on behalf of "the babies."
Douthat brings this up because he wants to know why many of these same conservatives are risking societal chaos by supporting Donald Trump:
A vote for Trump is not a vote for insurrection or terrorism or secession. But it is a vote for a man who stands well outside the norms of American presidential politics, who has displayed a naked contempt for republican institutions and constitutional constraints, who deliberately injects noxious conspiracy theories into political conversation, who has tiptoed closer to the incitement of political violence than any major politician in my lifetime, whose admiration for authoritarian rulers is longstanding, who has endorsed war crimes and indulged racists and so on down a list that would exhaust this column’s word count if I continued to compile it.To Douthat -- and I'll give him some credit for this -- voting for Trump is going to war with America. Why, he asks, are people who won't get into a violent conflict with America over abortion willing to risk the violence of a Trump presidency?
It is a vote, in other words, for a far more chaotic and unstable form of political leadership (on the global stage as well as on the domestic) than we have heretofore experienced....
That's easy: there's no risk for them.
I'm not sure I believe that the majority of hardcore anti-abortion opponents really shrink from the notion of violent conflict conflict against America in the abstract -- they just don't want to be killed, injured, or imprisoned themselves. They don't want to disrupt their own lives.
But voting for Trump is legal -- they're not going to get shot or arrested for it. The physical violence, societal chaos, and probable government repression will, these voters assume, happen to somebody else, not themselves. If goon squads roam the land, most Trump voters imagine they'll be made up of other people -- the typical Trump supporter doesn't expect to have to do any of the wet work personally.
Most conservatives oppose a shooting war against the U.S. government to stop abortion because of the harm they themselves might suffer. But allow Trump and his thugs to wage a war? That'll only hurt somebody else. So let 'er rip.