As you may have heard, the news broke recently that Georgia’s Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker paid for one of his ex girlfriends to get an abortion. Walker insisted at first he’d never met the woman but she’s the mother of one of his children. And it seems he broke up with her when she refused to get a second abortion.
By the right-wing Abortion Is Murder standard, that’s morally no different than hiring a contract killer to murder one of your kids as LGM points out. Yet somehow they’re fine backing him. They’re also fine with the multiple allegations of domestic violence. Southern Baptist megachurch pastor Anthony George, for instance: “I think that any Christian who engages in the political process — and especially someone who’s a pastor — you’re always going to be confronted with someone that is either less than ideal, or something that flat-out contradicts what you believe in,” but you have to settle for candidates who are less than perfect.
In short, the same defense they’ve been offering for Trump for years: if they vote against abortion/women/blacks/gays/trans people/furries then their personal conduct is irrelevant. Never mind that these same figures tut-tutted for years about how they want good Christians in office: give them a taste of power over their enemies and they’ll forget about that. Or any other principle. As Fred Clark says, when Jesus asks “What profit a man to gain the world if he loses his soul?” their response is “I gain the world!”
The religious right has sometimes invoked the image of King David, a flawed man whom God used to do great things. But as I’ve mentioned before, Old Testament prophets didn’t hesitate to stand up to David and other kings of Israel who crossed a line. The religious right won’t stand up to Trump; like the court prophets of the Old Testament, they tongue bathe him at every opportunity. Walker’s considerably lower on the totem pole but he gets some of the same treatment, in the hope they can regain control of the Senate. They gain the world. And of course, Walker is a man — forced birth laws aren’t supposed to hurt him, they’re supposed to hurt women!
Don’t get me wrong, hypocrisy is not the primary issue with anti-abortion laws. They’re inflicting lots of pain on women and if Walker were stainless morally, his support for a strict abortion ban wouldn’t be any more acceptable or moral. Some right-wingers argue that if someone has the right moral standards it’s unfair to judge them for falling short (though of course they never applied that to Bill Clinton) — but it’s rarely falling short as much as lying about the standards you claim to live by. Like religious conservatives who claimed after Clinton’s impeachment trial that they wanted to see good, Christian men in office — and got Obama and promptly changed their mind. Then came Trump.
This also plays into their authoritarian worldview: you don’t question your leaders the way you do the little people. Which in practice translates into giving leaders a free pass: as long as they impose the ‘right’ laws and punishments on people, they won’t be required to live by the same rules (see Dana Loesch’s arguments for example). As this quote from Roy Edroso says, “human society depends upon at least a rudimentary concept of justice. We can forgive inconsistencies, and even admire trying and failing, but when someone amasses power from us based on his personal superiority, and is proved a fraud, he has broken the basic bargain of leadership. We mock him not out of meanness, but out of a communal survival instinct.”
Or as Alexandra Petri puts it, ” Do not come to me with my own logic and reasoning and ask me to apply it to myself or my candidates of choice, as though I were of the sort who is bound by law! Law is for other people! … Don’t you understand? To me, everything is permitted! Judging myself by my own standards sounds, frankly, exhausting and impossible.”