Merely Human Moment

Last night Senator Raphael Warnock won reelection in a runoff against Republican candidate and UGA football legend Herschel Walker. The results give the Democratic Party a 51 to 49 majority in the United States Senate and alters the terrain for the next Congressional session on important issues like federal judge appointments and Senate committee seats. It is a major victory for the Democratic party handed to them by a once reliably conservative state. Georgia voters gave the Democratic party power to pursue their agenda.

One thing about the election seemed genuinely odd to me. Driving down the road taking my daughter to her lacrosse practice I occasionally passed small street signs that read, “Herschel Walker Paid for Two Abortions.” That was it. That simple statement. Who is that sign attempting to influence? It seems obvious that it is not aimed at those reliably voting for Democratic candidates. Why would they care? They think abortion is perfectly fine, a morally legitimate choice for all women to make.

Who would be bothered that Walker paid for two abortions? Pro-life voters who might see that fact alone as sufficient reason to NOT vote for a candidate who would participate in destroying his own offspring before they are born. I saw one self-described evangelical Christian scolding another evangelical online, “…is there nothing a Republican could do to keep you from voting for them entirely because of their party affiliation?” he asked. His message was clear. Shame! Shame on you for promoting Herschel Walker!

If the sign is intended to stop pro-life voters from supporting Walker, just who is responsible for this message? Who is spilling the beans on the morally evil past of Herschel Walker as it pertains to abortion? Most likely it is his political opponents, who have dedicated themselves to codifying the right to abortion everywhere. Full throated abortion support is an important plank in their party platform. Here is where the insanity of the Georgia senatorial campaign peaks for me. The Democratic party repeatedly attacked Walker by painting him as too pro-life for moderate voters, saying he wishes to restrict abortion with a total ban. They ran advertisements declaring this election was about abortion and protecting women’s rights to access abortion. These same people believed that they could further their cause by simultaneously convincing pro-lifers to stay home because Walker paid for abortions in his past. They banked campaign finances on the idea that people who hate abortion will sit out an election the Democrats defined as about abortion because the only candidate in the United States who represented a genuine limit to the power of the Democratic party in the US Senate has a regrettable past with abortion.

Did it work? Who knows. The election was incredibly close, and I certainly heard multiple pro-life people express they could not in good conscience vote for Walker. I have friends who consider their votes personal endorsements for candidates, a view I am sympathetic toward as I once held it myself. My priority was attending to my own virtue before God, and a good person would not empower an unworthy person for pragmatic reasons. If a party wanted my vote, they needed to put forth worthy candidates.

I once spoke at a school in Boston, and a priest asked me about voting for imperfect candidates. I told the audience that when I saw my vote as a personal endorsement for the candidate, I struggled to find any candidate whose character left me confident in my endorsement. Then I changed my view on voting. I saw my vote as either the opportunity to promote good or the opportunity to limit evil. The party platforms hold far more power than any individual senator, so, barring a reasonably good candidate, my vote served as a protest to the Democratic platform and a personal effort to limit its power. When I can’t directly promote good with my vote, I can make my best effort to curtail the evil of abortion as much as possible. I only abstain from voting if I don’t trust my vote will accomplish either of those goals.

This Georgia election presented the type of scenario which ultimately led to my change in perspective. I can’t get over the idea that my home state of Georgia delivered considerable power on a national level to a political party dedicated to codifying abortion rights around the country and reestablishing national protections only recently lost through the Dobbs decision. Even worse, that effort might have been aided because people who love abortion convinced some people who hate abortion to stand down in this election by pointing out Walker participated in abortions in the past. Georgia voters had the opportunity to limit the evil of the Democratic party platform that pledges allegiance to abortion. We failed, and I keep thinking about those street signs and that message.

I hold out hope that people who hate abortion did not do exactly what those who love abortion wanted them to do, what abortion supporters openly tried to manipulate them to do. It irks me to think that cynical ploy might have worked. Then again, it might have had nothing to do with the results. The plain and simple truth is that Herschel Walker failed to win the election. It may be as uncomplicated as that. Either way, as Joseph de Maistre once wrote, every nation gets the government it deserves.