Monday, November 7, 2016

Answers to your debate questions

Last week, Students for Life of America hosted "Election Whine," a friendly live-streamed debate between yours truly, SPL president Kelsey Hazzard (representing the #NeverTrump position) and Lauren Muzyka of Sidewalk Advocates for Life (arguing in favor of a Trump vote). Both of us spoke individually, not on behalf of our organizations. Also, there was wine. It was a lot of fun, and you can watch the replay here.

Viewers could submit questions to us during the broadcast, and you did not disappoint. We had great audience questions. Unfortunately, due to time limitations, we didn't get to all of them. As Mik'aela Raymond commented, "This was a good idea but way too short." (In our defense, we had planned it for just 45 minutes, and wound up going close to an hour.)

So here are a few more questions, and my answers.

Alejandro C. asks: "Would you support pro-life candidates regardless of party affiliation?"

Absolutely! I'm an independent myself, and I want to see pro-life candidates in every party.

Janelle W. asks: "Why is it believed that a third party candidate isn't a viable vote? Does Kelsey agree with this? Does she believe her vote won't make a difference?"

My third-party vote is not a vote for Hillary Clinton. My third-party vote is not a vote for Donald Trump. My third-party vote is a third-party vote, full stop. (I find Trump and Clinton so unacceptable that if I couldn't vote third party, I wouldn't vote at all.) As I said in my opening statement, it's a way of maintaining accountability. A vote that tells the major parties that there is a voting bloc up for grabs, that we want an authentic pro-life candidate, and that they can't take us for granted, is not a wasted vote. It is a long-term-thinking vote.

My friend Destiny Herndon-De La Rosa, of New Wave Feminists, tried to throw me a softball question (which was not asked): "Kelsey, doesn't a Trump victory show all elected officials to come that the pro-life movement will not hold their ground and WILL compromise in the future?" I think she has it exactly right.

Justin B. asks: "Question for Kelsey: if single issue pro-lifers abstain from voting for Donald and he wins without us, what is the plan going forward? Wouldn't we essentially exile ourselves from both parties?"

This is a fantastic question, and a hard one. Thank you for asking it nicely.

It's clear that not all pro-life voters are abstaining. Larger, well-established pro-life organizations like NRLC and the Susan B. Anthony List have endorsed Trump. If he wins, they will be in the drivers' seat, and Millennial upstarts like myself will not. I've accepted that. I'm hopeful we can all get along regardless, just as I hope to continue working with reluctant Trump supporters like Lauren in the event of a Trump loss. (That said, I think the odds of a President Trump are very low.)

But your core point, if I understand you correctly, is that if Trump wins, the pro-lifers who have publicly opposed him will be politically homeless. You are correct. I would say not that we have "exiled ourselves," but that we have been exiled by forces outside of our control. On the bright side, we'll have plenty of company in exile—perhaps enough company to start our own party, or to take the GOP back in 2020 or 2024.

Thad C. asks: "To what extent, if any, do other life issues such as war, death penalty, assisted suicide, etc, play into your decision-making?"

On war, both Trump and Clinton have proposed foreign policies I find morally abhorrent, and I think they are both likely to get us (further) into war. So it's a wash, which reinforces my decision to vote third party.

As for the death penalty and assisted suicide, while it would be nice to have a president that spoke out on those issues, they seem to be predominantly state-level fights at this point, with minimal federal involvement. Regardless, I place a higher priority on abortion, purely because of the number of human lives at stake. I would not vote for a "pro-choice" candidate solely because he or she campaigned against capital punishment or assisted suicide.

C.J. W. asks: "This is a wicked good discussion. Why aren't these two women our presidential candidates?"

You're too kind, C.J.

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