Joe Biden’s deliberate omission of the Hyde Amendment from his proposed 2022 budget is a clear indication of the trajectory of the Democratic Party. While it’s unlikely that Biden can pass a budget without the amendment, one thing is clear: The Democratic Party is now embracing a pro-abortion stance where long-standing and popular compromises are no longer politically tenable. Meanwhile, the Republican Party—warts and all—is the only game in town when it comes to defending the right to life before birth.
For those who might not appreciate the significance of this, it’s important to put Biden’s move in historical context. The Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion, except in cases where the life of the mother is at stake, has been approved annually. But Joe Biden’s proposed 2022 budget did not include the amendment—the same amendment that Biden, himself, supported until 2019.
“Those of us who are opposed to abortions should not be compelled to pay for them,” Biden wrote in 1994. Later, in 2007, Biden said he opposed public funding of abortion because “it goes to the question of whether or not you’re going to impose a view to support something that is not a guaranteed right” on the American people. I’m left wondering what changed.
If Biden’s decision to exclude Hyde doesn’t serve as a significant enough symbolic shift, then consider how Bill Clinton’s “safe, legal, and rare” formulation evolved into Hillary Clinton’s cheerleading of Paxton Smith, a Texas valedictorian who misled her school and delivered a pro-choice commencement speech against Texas’s new “heartbeat bill.” In so doing, Biden and Clinton—the last two Democratic standard-bearers—delivered back-to-back examples of how the party has moved left on the issue of abortion.
For conservatives such as myself who oppose Donald Trump, the Democratic Party’s shift could not have happened at a worse time. Last August, I cited Biden’s flip-flop on Hyde as a prime reason why I could not support him for president. As I explained, I could not vote for Trump because of his (lack of) character, and I could not vote for Biden because of his policies, very much including how he and the Democratic Party and the progressive movement view the abortion issue.
But for a lot of my friends and colleagues, opposing Trumpism isn’t enough. They want nothing less than our complicity.
For example, in a recent column for The Washington Post, Perry Bacon Jr. criticized George W. Bush, Liz Cheney, and Mitt Romney, despite their (in the cases of Cheney and Romney) heroic stands. “A much more useful approach,” Bacon writes, “would be for these Republicans to formally break with the GOP and announce that they will back Democratic candidates.”
Useful for who? This advice ignores the very serious and substantive differences in worldview between the two parties. Conservatives might be willing to withhold support from Trump, but that doesn’t mean we should go the other direction and support an increasingly radicalized Democratic Party that is (among other radical things) pushing abortion on demand.
Their retort is that the life of the republic is at stake. This would seemingly create strange bedfellows and cover a multitude of sins. Interestingly, though, this existential threat only seems to work one way.
“[I]f aligning with Cheney is what it takes to save our democracy then so be it,” my colleague Wajahat Ali wrote, “so long as that ‘grand coalition’ doesn’t compromise on a progressive platform that continues to fight and advocate for policies that will bring about real equity and progress.”
But “equity” and “progress” are, in this case, at least, in the eye of the beholder. No doubt, the Democratic Party would love the votes of all of us who oppose abortion but not only are they unwilling to meet us halfway, they want our tax dollars to pay for something we find morally abhorrent. That’s not how you form a “grand coalition.”
Of course, it may be that they feel so strongly about maintaining legal abortions that even facing a daunting and enduring threat like Trumpism doesn’t justify compromise on this fundamental issue just to appease us.
I can respect that. Why can’t they?