It used to be easy. Back when being pro-life cost a candidate something, instead of boosting his chances, that was a good enough litmus test for who deserved support. There were still some pro-life Democrats in office — quite a few, when I was a kid, since in big cities that party had been the semi-official political wing of my own Catholic Church. (Can you spell “I-R-I-S-H?”) A serious party in New York was the Right to Life Party, through which I first registered to vote.
Establishment Republicans were mostly pro-choice before Reagan, like George H.W. Bush — whose father, a U.S. senator, helped Margaret Sanger found Planned Parenthood. In private (sometimes in public) such people would talk about “thinning out the welfare rolls.” One way we knew that Reagan was trustworthy was his embrace of the unborn’s cause.
Reagan Converted His Party
Then the pro-life issue conquered, at least among Republicans — and was hunted to extinction among Democratic candidates. There are more wild rhinoceri running free in Africa than pro-life Democrats serving in office today. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on the rhinos. Poachers have nothing on pro-choicers, when it comes to ruthlessness and firepower.
That meant that claiming to be pro-life became a net political benefit among Republicans. So while the issue remained first and foremost in my priorities, it no longer served to weed out the opportunists, weaklings, hobbyists, and crooks.
A Country Without Borders Isn’t … a Country
The next crucial issue, in terms of importance, was immigration. As I explained in an Obama-era article, “Amnesty Equals Abortion,” it’s all fine and dandy to advocate pro-life judges. But if you keep importing millions of new, poor voters who follow the breadcrumb trail of government benefits and race-baiting ethnic politics into the Democratic party … you won’t accomplish a thing.
And as we saw, overturning Roe v. Wade changed nothing in deep-blue states, like my native New York. Voters were once 50/50 on that issue. But millions of low-skill immigrants later, it’s a one-party state. Likewise, on other issues, the federal government imported an entire congressional district full of Somalis to elect Ilhan Omar. That wasn’t an accident.
Now Suddenly Everybody’s a Border Hawk
So immigration control was the next reliable test of a politician who actually cared about saving his country, more than he did about boosting the bottom line of companies that relied on very cheap labor. It marked off Pat Buchanan, for instance, from the Chamber of Commerce errand boys who dominated the GOP in the 90s.
And we won on that issue, too, at least inside the GOP. Few conservatives outside the Wall Street Journal’s editorial suite now still claim that wide-open borders are helpful to Americans. The era of John McCain lecturing voters that they are bigots for wanting borders ended at last. Now virtually every Republican candidate at least pretends to want border security — even if like Paul Ryan he quietly works to sabotage it.
Costly, Controversial, and Crucial
So what’s a decent test issue to tell me whether a politician has principles, and a heart filled with passionate love for our great, endangered country? Here are the criteria, the three big “C’s”:
- Costly. Taking a stand must cost a candidate something inside GOP circles, repel some high-dollar donors, and win him instant hatred from our Stasi media.
- Controversial. It can’t be a no-brainer, where taking the correct stand is virtually forced on someone by politics. You won’t see many Republicans openly questioning the Second Amendment, for instance. So that issue, though critical to freedom, won’t shake out the men from the boys. Of course, someone who’s wrong on it is instantly worth opposing.
- Crucial. The issue must be make-or-break to the survival of freedom in our country. So as much as I care about … the humane treatment of animals, and preserving historical landmarks, neither subject will meet the need.
So are there any issues that meet all these criteria?
Yes, I’d say that there are three, and for each I’ll explain how these stances jump through all three of my hoops.
Is a candidate willing to admit that Democrats routinely engage in election fraud, and did so in a massive way in 2020, employing the lax voting rules smuggled in during the COVID panic? Admitting this ugly fact will earn a candidate the earsplitting leftist dog-whistle “Election Denier,” and might even get him sued by a billion-dollar corporation. It will turn off some big money interests, and unite our media in hostility to a forthright, courageous candidate.
This isn’t a no-brainer, sadly. Look at the GOP establishment in states like Georgia, where playing footsie with leftist community organizers like Stacy Abrams somehow became all the fashion in top Republican circles.
Crucial? Could any issue be more crucial? Of what conceivable value is any candidate who adopts every single solid, pro-freedom, conservative and Christian-friendly position in the world, with just one single caveat:
But … I want to let Democrats steal all our elections, and imprison people who demonstrate against that as ‘insurrectionists.’ Apart from that, I’m 100% with you.
That’s like somebody offering you $1 billion for your house, then you read in the sale document’s fine print the payment schedule: $1 per year, for a billion years.
Vaccine Mandates and Lockdowns
Far too many self-styled conservatives were willing to throw out every constitutional principle when our elites waved the panic flag over COVID. They meekly went along as governors shut down churches (but not casinos or abortion mills), bankrupted small businesses, banned political gatherings (except for BLM riots) and forced a dubious, rushed vaccine dependent on aborted babies’ tissue into every American’s arm.
It cost candidates (and pastors) something to push back against that panic. Ron De Santis was accused of “mass murder” for re-opening Florida. Church leaders who gathered for worship were condemned as “superspreaders.” Leftists in the media even sneered when the beloved Herman Cain died of COVID, as if he’d deserved it, for attending an election rally for Trump.
There was far from universal resistance on the Right to the COVID panic attack. Far too many eager to appear “responsible” threw their weight behind the most radical, draconian measures — as if locking down the country and forcing vaccines into their veins brought no costs at all.
And yes, it is absolutely crucial that we refuse and resist the construction of a public health dictatorship, where the Constitution itself can be suspended at the whim of the World Health Organization. Which is run by Communist China. Call me a far-right lunatic, but that rubs me the wrong way.
When the election integrity rally on January 6, 2021 went sideways, establishment Republicans pounced right alongside the Left. You had the likes of Liz Cheney (and others still in power) colluding with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to purge the GOP of anyone linked to Trump. Hundreds of honest citizens went to jail in inhuman conditions for trivial crimes or non-crimes. Dozens have been imprisoned after highly politicized trials with inadequate counsel before biased judges and juries.
And the authorities have been hiding or destroying evidence, denying it not just to media but to defense counsel. The January 6 hearings were run like Stalinist purge trials, right down to refusing to examine what role our secret police (the FBI) played in goading the chaos and violence.
There is massive pressure inside the GOP to shrug at all this injustice, if only to crush the populist insurgency inside the party. Few conservative media (The Stream is among the exceptions) have even proved willing to question the savagely one-sided narrative put out by Deep State lackeys and lapped up across the spectrum.
It’s not politically popular to ask ugly questions about the FBI, the Capitol Police, or the fairness of our justice system. Digging out the role of FBI infiltrators in instigating violence requires that we look again at how that agency has been doing the same among Muslims, for instance — essentially manufacturing “extremism” and “terrorism” to meet a perceived shortage.
And yes, it’s incredibly crucial that Anarcho-Tyranny not run wild in America unopposed. One political faction cannot be allowed to riot across the country, and escape with a slap on the wrist, while the other half of the country is held to the strictest standards of Prussian decorum — or else imprisoned so cruelly that they plead to be transferred to Guantanamo Bay, where conditions are less abusive.
So those are my three litmus test, deal-killer issues. Take some time and think about yours.
John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or co-author of ten books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. He is co-author with Jason Jones of “God, Guns, & the Government.”