Overturning Roe v. Wade is the Republican party’s greatest achievement in generations. Abortion, the intentional killing of an innocent and unborn human being, is no longer recognized as a constitutional right. It took 49 years, and Chief Justice John Roberts made every effort to salvage Roe, but the five remaining conservative justices did not waiver.
Conservatives can be prone to pessimism. They have been told the younger generations are more secular, more racially diverse, and more “educated.” Permanent progressive hegemony is supposedly inevitable.
Roe’s reversal shatters that narrative. If conservatives can win the political battle against abortion, the most inflammatory political issue of the last 50 years, conservatives can win on any issue, assuming conservatives apply the lessons learned in the fight to overturn Roe.
First, conservatives must stop equating performative left-wing outrage with popular support. For 49 years, Democrats warned Republicans of the apocalyptic consequences should Roe be overturned. The Supreme Court would lose legitimacy, Republicans would be punished at the ballot box, and pro-abortion domestic terrorists would launch a “night of rage.”
But as Saul Alinsky writes in “Rules for Radicals,” “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.”
Indeed, pro-abortion protests have petered out since the Dobbs decision was released, and President Biden’s approval rating languishes at an all-time low. In a poll from Politico conducted a few days after the Dobbs verdict, 41% of registered voters considered economic issues most relevant when voting for elected officials. Only 16% of respondents considered “women’s issues” the driving force behind their vote.
The individuals who value legal abortion already vote for the Democrat party by an overwhelming margin. Individuals who remain undecided about the morality of abortion will be more concerned about filling up their tanks with $5/gallon gasoline, losing the equivalent of a month’s salary from inflation, and holding onto their jobs in the face of a looming recession.
Republicans do not need election advice from their opponents. Indeed, Republicans reversed Roe by taking calculated risks around Supreme Court confirmations and elections.
The five justices who overturned Roe underwent some of the most controversial confirmation battles in U.S. history. Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh underwent brutal confirmation fights sensationalized by last minute allegations of sexual harassment and abuse. To their credit, Presidents George H.W. Bush and Donald Trump refused to pull the nominees in favor of less controversial candidates. Instead, Thomas and Kavanaugh were given opportunities to testify and push back against the accusations.
When Antonin Scalia, the court’s leading conservative intellectual, died of a heart attack in the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to even hold a vote for Obama’s nominee. With a 54-46 majority in the Senate, Republicans had every right to block Obama’s nominee. After all, Democrats had voted against Robert Bork’s confirmation to the court solely due to partisan motivations. And when liberal icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg died less than two months before the 2020 presidential election, Republicans again had every right to confirm a conservative successor.
McConnell’s gamble to delay filling the late justice Scalia’s seat would have been for naught had Republicans not gritted their teeth and cast their 2016 presidential votes for Donald Trump. It is easy to forget the skepticism many conservatives initially felt towards the New York billionaire. But enough Republicans recognized, despite misgivings about Trump’s style and record, that a vote for Hillary Clinton would make victories like the overturning of Roeimpossible. Republican voters trusted their instincts, and to their surprise, Trump appointed as many pro-life Supreme Court justices as the previous four Republican presidents combined. Republicans correctly prioritized policies over personalities when voting for Donald Trump.
Conservatives have earned the right to celebrate. Thanks to the decision in Dobbs v Jackson, the people can once again decide whether America’s most morally divisive issue since slavery should be tolerated or condemned. As many as 20 states could ban abortion by the end of the year.
North Carolina will be one of the most contested states as conservatives strive to elect pro-life individuals for governor, attorney general, the state legislature, and the state supreme court. But banning abortion, saving unborn babies, and providing financial support to pregnant women are battles conservatives can win if they fight for their principles. The Dobbs decision is proof.
JT Klimek is a co-founder of NC State University’s conservative newspaper, The Free Pack.