Tuesday, June 11, 2024

It’s Tuesday, June 11, 2024. 

I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

Abortion is Now ‘America’s Most Dynamic Political Movement’? Full Cover Theme in The Economist Recognizes Centrality of Abortion to the 2024 Election

The Economist is one of the most influential periodicals in the world, and thus it should have our attention that the current cover story of The Economist shows a woman, she’s like Rosie, the Riveter. Clearly, very much like that figure in terms of a woman working for the war effort during World War II, the headline is this, “Meet America’s Most Dynamic Political Movement.” And then you notice the tattoo on Rosie, the Riveter. The tattoo says, “My body, my choice.” The issue is abortion and The Economist is weighing in, in a big way.

Now the words on the front cover are this, “Meet America’s Most Dynamic Political Movement.” So that’s quite a statement. The most dynamic political movement in the United States. It becomes very clear that this cover story, along with a full page editorial in The Economist is meant to tell the thought class on both sides of the Atlantic that the issue of abortion is going to be the most salient issue and if not the most salient, certainly a crucially salient issue in the United States presidential election, but filtering all the way down to local elections, and in particular, dealing with the control of governorships most strategically the White House and control of Congress.

You look at this and the news story inside, which is the briefing section of the magazine is about, “The right to choose.” And then you have this statement, “the Dobbs decision is set off a wave of abortion rights activity that could decide the election in November.” Now this is an extensive report as is common to The Economist, and the report goes back particularly to the Supreme Court’s decision in 2022, reversing Roe v. Wade. The Dobbs decision, as it was known, was handed down on June of 2022. And then you have a situation which the abortion question was returned to the states. But the big point of this article is that abortion is now the great opportunity for the Democratic Party at virtually every level of government to seize on what The Economist thinks is a Republican weakness in terms of a pro-life position or a position favorable to restrictions on abortion and to use abortion rights as a political tool, a political weapon, even in the political warfare of the election cycle.

So The Economist says the first effect of the Dobbs decision was to return the question to the states, and that means that the states are in a different position, and it’s not exactly 50/50, but you are looking at a breakdown of the states in which some states are just now clearly pro-life. Some are clearly avidly pro-abortion, and there are some states with restrictions somewhere between. But The Economist says there is then a second effect of the Dobbs decision. Listen to this, “The second effect of the Dobbs judgment was that people infuriated by the decision have channeled their anger into political action.” The magazine goes on, “The decision and its consequences have released a vast amount of energy,” which is most evident in the ballot campaigns in Arizona and other states. “The friendliest and fiercest of citizen rebellion is the most important bottom up force in American politics since the Tea Party movement that emerged in 2009.” “It could not only expand abortion access for tens of millions of women, but sway local and national elections. It could even determine whether Americans elect Donald Trump or Joe Biden as their next president.”

So The Economist is really clear about its interest in this. It sees the issue of abortion as so important, so salient, that it could determine the White House. It could determine control of Congress, it could determine the future of American politics in this regard. And as we look at this as Christians, we need to recognize this is an alarm bell for us. When The Economist, when a periodical of this stature, read by the thought class, the business class, the political leadership on both sides of the Atlantic runs this kind of story, and we’re going to get to the full page editorial in just a moment. This really is sending a signal, and the signal here is that the issue of abortion in the United States, particularly in the United States, is such a powerful political issue that it is upending the political calculation. It’s resetting the political game.

Now, a very sobering but accurate statement comes later in the article. “Since the Dobbs decision, six states have held referendums on abortion, some seeking greater protections for women, others greater restrictions. Some were initiated by citizens, others by legislatures. In all six, the abortion rights side prevailed. We are then told, in November, referendums could be held in as many as 16 more states.” Okay, so here’s a practical issue we have to just understand right now. The future of American policy, even the future of your state’s policy on abortion, may now depend upon the 2024 election. And that’s certainly true at the top when it comes to President with the appointment of judges and when there are openings, justices to the United States Supreme Court, but in particular in Congress, both houses, both the House and the Senate, and even in state houses of course.

But let’s look at the Democratic dream here. Let’s look at the pro-abortion dream here. The dream would be to reelect Joe Biden as president and then to have a Democratic majority in the House and in the Senate. And then even if this requires violating the filibuster rule in the Senate to push through national legislation, and here’s where dishonesty enters the pro-abortion agenda. The statement is often now made that what President Biden and other Democrats want to do, is to put Roe back in place. That is a lie. I want to state that as clearly as I can. That is a lie. There’s absolutely no way that the ambition of the Democratic Party when in power would be even to put Roe v. Wade as horrible as that was, back in place. You actually look at the proposals that are being considered. They are far to the left of Roe, and that’s because the Democratic Party is now far, far to the left of Roe.

And so as you’re looking at this in practical terms, we are given the warning that the election cycle in 2024 at every level, presidency, Congress, all the way down to your state house, and even in many cases you’re dealing with local government decisions. The issue of abortion is not only not going to go away. In many cases and especially as you get closer to the national scene, it’s front and center in terms of not only the political conversation, but as Christians understand our political responsibility. Now, in terms of the election cycle itself, I think we need to point out that The Economist has given us the warning that at least 16 states are considering, or now have already scheduled to be on the ballot, initiatives. The Economist calls them referendums. Whatever the nature of the initiative or the proposition, the fact is that as many as 16 states may have abortion on the ballot, and that means literally on the ballot, not just in terms of being represented by candidates or by parties, but rather having abortion as a question on the ballot.

So why is this such a matter of Democratic Party strategy? And the answer is clear. It is because they believe that getting people out to vote on behalf of abortion will mean that those same voters will vote for Democratic candidates. So this is a bald undisguised political agenda. Those on the left, those on the pro-abortion side, those who are leading democratic strategies, they’re saying right up front, this is a big win for us. We put abortion on the ballot. We’re more likely to elect Democrats as you look at the electoral decision. Now, I want us to note there’s also no doubt that The Economist is taking the position that America is somewhat backward, or at least many states in the United States are backward on the issue of abortion. There’s no doubt is taking a pro-abortion position. And as it’s looking at this, just in terms of trying to analyze the American scene, one of the things that is pointed out is that the pro-abortion movement is never going to be able to push forward pro-abortion policies in all 50 states so long as the question stays at the state level.

So let’s just be clear, the Dobbs decision return the question to the state level, and that means that’s why we have some states that are very pro-life and some that are very pro-abortion, some states in which you basically can’t get an abortion, other states in which you can apparently get an abortion paid for in many cases by the government almost if not right up to the moment of birth. So you’re looking at this and The Economist is saying, if you’re pro-abortion and you want to bring about real change in all 50 states, you’re going to have to go national. You’re going to have to go federal. And I think it’s just really important that Christians understand that is where this election is headed. We are headed to a situation where if there is a democratic majority in Congress and a Democratic president, they’re telling us that they’re going to work together to achieve national legislation guaranteeing abortion rights.

And it’s not as if we have all of a sudden just uncovered a hidden strategy. The strategy is right out there for all to see, for The Economists to write this massive news analysis about. But I think from a worldview perspective, one of the most haunting aspects of all of this is that the Democrats see this as to their favor because they think Americans aren’t pro-life but are actually basically pro-abortion. The only question is how pro-abortion are they? The Economist says this, “Protecting abortion in America as a whole can be achieved only through conventional politics. More politicians with liberal views on abortion would have to be elected to state legislatures, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the presidency who could in turn change laws and appoint more liberal justices. Democrats, heartily agree,” says The Economist “they hope to harness the furious energy of the movement and exploit the fact that more Americans trust Mr. Biden than Mr. Trump on abortion, making it a rare area of strength for him.”

Now, you just have to look at that and let’s just remind ourselves of Joe Biden on abortion. This is a man who as a Roman Catholic, who’s very loud about his Roman Catholicism, has violated the teaching of his church by holding to a basically pro-abortion position. He was saying that he didn’t support abortion himself, but that as an elected United States senator, he would not bring his Catholic pro-life convictions as a matter of law. But then all that began to really change. And in particular it changed when Joe Biden was running for the Democratic presidential nomination and he had to drop all hesitations or restrictions whatsoever when it came to abortion. And in order to get the 2020 nomination, he basically had to come out in favor of federal funding of abortion. Not only is he now for abortion, he’s using taxpayer money to pay for it.

He came out in opposition to the Hyde Amendment that prevents taxpayers from being coerced into paying for abortion. But since he has been in the White House, we just need to note Joe Biden, well, even the supposedly personally pro-life Joe Biden has disappeared. The Roman Catholic understanding of abortion, Joe Biden, even in private has disappeared. He’s come out as a public cheerleader for abortion, and even as he says again, he wants to put Roe back in place, he is running with an agenda that would be far, far more radical even than Roe. Now, in worldview analysis, there’s something else that’s really important here because The Economist says the success or the increased visibility of the pro-abortion movement has been made possible, at least in part, by the rebranding of the movement and the restructuring of their arguments.

And so The Economist says that the old abortion rights movement, the old abortion rights language, is not what’s making the difference. Rather it is arguing that limitations on abortion are a violation of freedom, of personal freedom, and so it’s the person or individual’s ability to have an abortion that didn’t go so well in focus groups. “But freedom is the uniting theme appealing to libertarians, lefty feminists and others.” And so if you talk about abortion, support for abortion falls, but if you talk about a woman’s rights, you talk about freedom, well, that’s where support for abortion tends to rise. That’s a very dark reality. But in worldview terms, we need to understand it. Words matter. One of the things we need to note is that using the word abortion does not help the abortion rights cause. So you use a word like freedom because abortion after all tells you what’s going on and yet the word freedom, you can see how that’s manipulated, how it’s packaged. You can also understand in a dark sense why it’s so successful.

Part II

Don’t Be Fooled, Abortion is on the Ballot in 2024: The Battle for Life Happening in the Presidential Election This Year

But before leaving this, I want to go to that editorial again, full page editorial by The Economist. And as I look at it, the opening paragraph is what’s so important because it’s pointing to abortion in the 2024 election. It’s pointing to the moral revolution, the sexual revolution, the contraceptive revolution, abortion rights, and it talked about progress. And then it says this, “In the 1970s, no-fault divorce laws and Roe v. Wade gave women more choices that had been denied to their mothers. This progress seemed irreversible and was often taken for granted. Then two years ago, the Supreme Court overturned Roe throwing the question of allowing or disallowing abortion back to the states. It turns out that rights can be taken away too.”

Now, in worldview terms, this is just an explosive paragraph opening this editorial statement. For one thing, here you have the economist saying that what the Supreme Court did in 2022 was to take rights away. Well, here’s what we need to recognize. This was a synthetic artificial right. The so-called “right to an abortion.” It’s not in the Constitution. It’s not in the natural law. Indeed, absolutely contradicted by the natural law. It is not found historically in constitutional history. It was invented by the Supreme Court in 1973. And so when you claim it’s a right, well, if it actually is a right then it’s something that’s always been there. And just a little bit of reflection, a little bit of thinking, will help you to understand it hasn’t always been there. So it’s not always a right. If it’s a right, then it should have existed back with Adam and Eve. But that’s inconceivable, pun intended. But as you look at this article, it tells us that the claim is made that a progressive movement, “Seemed irreversible and was often taken for granted.”

Here’s where you need to understand, that the intellectual left, and this includes most of the cultural elites in the United States, they genuinely believed this. There’s a progressivist arc to history, and this means that not only will abortion rights be invented, but other new rights will be invented, just say LGBTQ, and all these new rights are going to take their place in the pantheon of rights in an historical process that’s going to be irreversible. And then 2022 happened, not so much irreversible, at least in terms of the action of the United States Supreme Court. So, so much of worldview significance to concern us here, but it’s also just a wake-up call about what’s actually on the ballot as we look at 2024. So abortion may be on your state ballot. It may be in the ballot in other forms, but it surely is on the ballot in terms of the names.

That’s just what I want to stress because every one of those candidates, one way or the other, is going to be a part of deciding if elected what our laws on abortion are going to be. And so even if abortion’s not, as a word, on the ballot, let me just come back to the bottom line. It’s absolutely on the ballot for every single American voter.

Part III

Will Abortion on the Ballot Flip Florida? Democrats Look to Abortion for Political Gain in Florida

But next, just in order to understand how tangibly this is likely to work out in 2024, well just consider a headline like this, This is The New York Times, “In Florida Democrats Hope Abortion Will Revive Their Fortunes. 

Well, the point of The New York Times here is that Florida in recent presidential cycles has been pretty predictably, reliably red, which is to say it’s gone for Republicans, but even as it was considered early on, after abortion was an issue of controversy, that this might increase the blue vote in a red state. Now, there are those who are saying, this might give us the opportunity to transform Florida politics. We might be able to use abortion in order to turn the state blue or as The New York Times said, “To revive the fortunes of the Democratic Party.” 

There’s some interesting aspects to this article in the Times. For one thing, one of the questions being asked by Democratic strategist is whether or not support for abortion rights is pretty evenly distributed among those who might historically vote democratic. So listen to this, “Some Democrats questioned whether Florida’s Latino communities had bought into the abortion rights initiative.” One Hispanic lawmaker said, “Just translating things into Spanish is not going to resonate with my community.” Well, that’s a very interesting thing. It just tells us that at least among some who are identified here as a part of Latino communities, there is some kind of residual pro-life instinct, and I’m going to think that at least a part of that is probably explained by the Catholic moral tradition.

And thus, you’re looking at the Democratic strategist saying, we might have to give some special attention to try and reach out to those communities. In worldview terms, that should be important to us. Something else that’s interesting in terms of this report in worldview analysis is the fact that a part of this movement for abortion rights, and a part of the movement to try to translate this into democratic victories, is driven by rage. The New York Times uses the phrase “determined rage.” One woman involved in one of these movements say, “I don’t want to make a bracelet. I want my rights back.” Now at this point, I just want to say this is not just pointing to a political difference or a worldview divide, it’s also pointing to the fact that the institutions of government have a teaching function, and when they teach wrongly, there are some horrifying effects.

And so I look at a statement like this made by this woman, “I don’t want to make a bracelet. I want my rights back.” And as much as I’m sure I disagree with her about just about any issue conceivable, the reality is that at least a part of what we need to recognize is that the Supreme Court did declare that in 1973. The federal government has been basically teaching that by authority of the Supreme Court, by the edict of law from 1973 until 2022, that’s nearly 50 years. We are now reaping a half century of lies told by the American federal government on the issue of abortion. It just underlines the scale of the challenge that we as Christians now face. The defense of the unborn is going to take us into the ballot box for sure, but it’s going to take us into public argument and we need to admit the fact we’re going to be in that public argument for a very long time.

Part IV

For the 2028 Election, the Democratic Party Considers Issue of Abortion as a ‘Gift’ — That Tells Us A Lot About the Democratic Party’s Commitment to the Culture of Death

But as we have to bring this to a conclusion, I just can’t help going to an article in Politico. That’s a major political website, a lot of interesting energy that shows up at Politico, a lot of interesting analysis, and you might be surprised to know what they’re looking at now. It’s not the 2024 election. It’s 2028. Here’s the headline, “For 2028 Prospects,” that means on the Democratic side, “Abortion Is a Test Run For a National Message.” So this is the way politics works. We’re not even at the point of the 2024 election yet. It’s still months away. Trust me, it’s still months away. It’s going to seem like a long way away until all of a sudden it arrives. 2028 in political terms is like a century from now, but you already have Democratic prospects who see themselves as perhaps sitting in the Oval Office, winning the Democratic nomination for the 2028 Democratic Party.They are looking ahead and they’re thinking that abortion just might be a test run for their national prospects. 

Now, here’s one of the darkest things I’ve seen in a long time. So Linda Lake, identified as a 2020 Biden campaign pollster, who’s also the president of a firm known as Lake Research Partners said this, just listened to these words. “Abortion is a gift. It’s the easiest thing to go into another state to talk about. If you come into another state and talked about your miracle economic policies or energy development, these voters might not be interested.” So the dark part is that abortion is being considered increasingly a political gift by the Democratic Party and the political left. 

The pro-abortion movement sees the issue of abortion now as a gift. Democratic candidates aren’t running from the issue of abortion they’re running to it, so much so that those who see themselves as possible 2028 nominees of the Democratic Party for the Office of President are now posturing on abortion, going state to state, knowing that they can talk about abortion. Someone talks about their economic policies, nobody cares. They talk about their foreign policy, nobody cares. They talk about abortion, Democrats care. That tells us something. It tells us something horrifying, but it tells us something we better know.

One of those who sees himself perhaps sitting in the Oval Office, is Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. It’s hard to get more pro-abortion than he is, and he sees himself as a potential national candidate for the Democratic Party, and he’s not only putting his name on the line, he’s putting his fortune on the line. He’s a part of the Hyatt Hotel family that has such a massive fortune. He’s been using that fortune in order to fuel and fund pro-abortion movements in the states, which is another way basically of getting his name and his campaign prospects before Democratic constituencies, state by state.

The same kind of pattern, or plan, is being lived out by Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan who, “Regularly reminds audiences that she helped overturn an anti-abortion law in Michigan, while offering advice on other states can follow her lead.” Not insignificantly or irrelevantly, she’s also national co-chair of the Biden-Harris campaign. But of course, behind all of that is also California Governor Gavin Newsom, who has gone state to state, sometimes in red states, running advertisements basically to poke pro-life states in the eye, and has been so vocal and indeed obnoxious about his pro-abortion stance. This is the governor who has attempted politically to get his state to pay for abortions and transportation to California, from women in other states, who are seeking an abortion and can’t get one there or can’t get one easily there. And of course, Governor Newsom probably doesn’t even say pregnant women because following the new agenda of the left, it’s just “pregnant people.”

The article at Politico also makes clear this isn’t just about potential presidential prospects for 2028, it’s about others in the Democratic Party who have hopes of being elected at state, local, and in other electoral levels. They are looking at abortion as a winning issue, not just for 2024, but a winning issue for 2028 and beyond. Just a wake-up call for all of us as Christians, all of us who will stand and work and contend for the sanctity and dignity of unborn life, our challenge is bigger than we knew it to be a matter of months ago, and it is not going to go away anytime soon. 

But we also need to understand how the pro-abortion movement is working this into a political strategy and how that strategy is now being played out at the local, the state, and the national level, increasingly by the Democratic Party. The chasm between the two polls in the United States, the two polarities is just growing deeper, and the issues are just growing more serious. We’re talking here about life and death. Let’s never forget that.

Meanwhile, let me ask, are you driving to Indianapolis for the Southern Baptist Convention? I’d like to invite you, if you are to visit Southern Seminary and Boyce College here in Louisville Kentucky on your way, or as you travel home, visit our World-class bookstore, you’re going to love it. Meet our faculty, see our newly renovated library, enjoy a drink in our coffee shop, and just come and enjoy being on this beautiful campus and being thankful for what the Lord has done here.

We want to thank Southern Baptist for your generous support, for your prayers, and for your faithfulness to this institution. For details, and we’ll also send you a free drink coupon, visit sbts.edu/roadtrip. That’s simply sbts.edu/roadtrip. I hope to see you here. 

Thanks for listening to The Briefing. For more information, go to my website at albertmohler.com. You can follow me at Twitter or X by going to twitter.com/albertmohler. For information on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, go to sbts.edu. For information on Boyce College, just go to boycecollege.com

Today I am in Indianapolis, Indiana for the meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. And I’ll meet you again tomorrow for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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