Jonathon van Maren

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Donald Trump during a February 28, 2017 speech. White House / Flickr

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Never Trump columnist George Will: Pro-lifers voting for Trump is ‘defensible’

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August 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The unlikely ascent of Donald J. Trump from Manhattan billionaire to the Oval Office is a fascinating and complex story, and his rise has left very few neutral bystanders. Nearly everyone has a strong opinion on the 45th president of the United States, from the perpetually distraught progressives of the Left to the still-skeptical old-guard conservatives of the Right. Trump’s supporters, on the other hand, have for the most part only seen their loyalty deepen—especially social conservatives who have seen their gamble on a Trump presidency consistently paying off

It has been particularly interesting to see men who have been long-time friends take such opposite views of Trump. Conrad Black, for example, has recently written a biography titled Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other, in which he dismisses much of Never Trump criticisms as so much fussing over appearances. When I asked him last month whether discussions between himself and old friends like George Will and David Frum on Donald Trump are productive, Black responded in the negative. “The whole thing is rather painful,” he told me. “I mean, some of these people are very close friends of mine and we just can’t discuss that. There’s just no point to it. They are not rational on the subject.” 

The issue I am primarily interested in as someone who works in the pro-life movement, of course, is abortion. I pointed out that Donald Trump had been supportive of abortion until just before the launch of his political career, and discovered that Conrad Black (who knows Trump personally) had a rather simple analysis of it all. “He went on television and gave a guarded comment when asked about partial-birth abortion, having no clue what it was,” Black replied. “But once he found out what it was, he was opposed to it.” Based on Trump’s description of late-term abortion during a debate with Clinton as ripping “the baby out of the womb of the mother,” Black may be right.

On the other side of the Trump question, I’ve been wondering for some time what the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist George Will thinks about the political pro-life movement’s gamble on Donald Trump. George Will is a staunch pro-lifer, and some of his most powerful writing has been on abortion—I first read his columns on abortion culture years ago. He is also one of Trump’s most eloquent and magnificently contemptuous critics, someone who finds Trump simply unfit for office and has employed all of his impressive rhetorical talent in pointing that out. He has even advised Americans to vote the Republicans out in November. And yet, many pro-lifers voted for Trump because the other option was Hillary Clinton. What does Will think of their choice?

Several weeks ago, I had the chance to pose this question to George Will myself when he was kind enough to agree to an interview on conservatism in the Trump era. We discussed a wide range of issues, and then I posed the question I’d been wondering about. “Pro-life voters in the United States are generally single-issue voters,” I noted. “They look at the sixty million aborted babies as a historic injustice, and regardless of what other infelicities a candidate might have, they are worth voting for on the chance that they might in some way mitigate that injustice or start to put in place justices that will lead to abortion being ended. To what degree was the pro-life movement’s gamble on Trump a justified or understandable one, in your view?”

Will barely paused. “If you are a single-issue pro-life voter, it was a defensible vote,” he replied. “Because the Supreme Court took custody of the abortion issue, removing it from normal political give-and-take with Roe v. Wade in 1973. Therefore, the Constitution’s Article III courts are everything to such a single-issue voter. So I understand that.” Will went on to disagree with Black and say that there is no indication that Trump is actually pro-life, and to voice his suspicion that even a conservative Supreme Court would decline to overturn Roe v. Wade (something many pro-life activists also fear.) But I had my answer: Even one of Trump’s fiercest critics was willing to say that for those who place the defence of pre-born babies as their highest priority, a vote for Trump was defensible.

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Jonathon van Maren

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Jonathon Van Maren is a public speaker, writer, and pro-life activist. His commentary has been translated into more than eight languages and published widely online as well as print newspapers such as the Jewish Independent, the National Post, the Hamilton Spectator and others. He has received an award for combating anti-Semitism in print from the Jewish organization B’nai Brith. His commentary has been featured on CTV Primetime, Global News, EWTN, and the CBC as well as dozens of radio stations and news outlets in Canada and the United States.

He speaks on a wide variety of cultural topics across North America at universities, high schools, churches, and other functions. Some of these topics include abortion, pornography, the Sexual Revolution, and euthanasia. Jonathon holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in history from Simon Fraser University, and is the communications director for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

Jonathon’s first book, The Culture War, was released in 2016.