There are people, particularly in areas like Philadelphia where progressives tend to congregate, who cannot understand why anyone would have voted for Donald Trump.
Trump is considered by most Democrats and even some Republicans as a racist, a homophobe, a misogynist, and all of the terrible things that make Bill Maher, Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee a lot of money. And that’s fine, people have a right to their opinions, a right to express them and a right to delete them when their jobs are on the line.
But last week, amid all of the discussions about the reopening of government, the SWAT team commando arrest of Roger Stone and the lingering hostility toward NFL referees and their infinite incompetence, we were presented with a reason why some people voted for Trump.
Actually, I spoke about one of those reasons last week, when I wrote a column on Andrew Cuomo’s signing of New York’s abortion bill, which legalized abortion, in some cases, up to the moment of birth.
People wrote me emails explaining that I was wrong, that it was not true that a child could actually be aborted during the birth process. It is never politic to engage in discussions with those who refuse to actually read the legislation they support, so I simply replied, “Thanks for reading,” and shook my head.
But even Andrew Cuomo did not come out and admit, in public and on tape, that abortion should be legal and available until the child was out of the womb. Some Virginians did that. If you don’t believe me, believe this.
While explaining the parameters of an abortion law that she proposed and supported, Delegate Kathy Tran argued that a child that was on the point of emerging from the birth canal could be aborted if it posed a serious threat to the life or health of a mother. There is no consensus that abortion is ever necessary to save the life of a mother, and there are also questions as to exactly what constitutes a “health” exception, given that mental health also has been considered as a legitimate reason for abortion following the Supreme Court’s decision in Doe v. Bolton.
Regardless, the fact that you would have an elected official arguing that abortion could in fact be allowed up to the moment of birth, and then the governor of Virginia (a doctor, no less) stating that a child could be delivered and “made comfortable” and then be subject to a discussion between mother and physician was a gruesome reminder of why some people did not vote for Hillary Clinton.
On the campaign trail, Clinton was a strong supporter of abortion rights. Her husband was the one who wanted abortion to be “safe, legal and rare,” but Hillary has taken that to “safe, legal and pretty much whenever you want or need it.” This used to be called hyperbole by pro-choice advocates. But increasingly, with states promoting legislation like the law that just passed in New York and which was being championed by Kathy Tran, we can at least agree that those for whom abortion was a central issue could never cast a vote for Clinton.
In hindsight, the vote for Trump makes absolute sense, given the current composition of the Supreme Court.
Talking about abortion is never a successful way of getting people to read you, listen to you, engage in a conversation with you. Most of us are not in the middle on this topic, and have somewhat extreme and unaltered views about the sanctity of life or the right of a woman to determine her own reproductive destiny. I was told by one reader that “if you don’t want an abortion, don’t have one. Just shut up.”
That is the reaction you get when you express an opinion that challenges the legitimacy of “choice,” and I am used to it.
But this isn’t really about abortion. This is about how we determine what matters to us, and where we will draw the political line that, in our good conscience, we cannot cross. For some, that line is racism. For some, it is climate change. For some, it is immigration. For some, it is abortion. And for some, it is a combination of all of these things, which is quite a difficult balancing act.
But I can promise you that Trump voters looked at the video of Kathy Tran arguing for a woman’s right to abort her crowning child... and sighed with relief.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.