In Defence of Lahren’s job, not her Pro-Choice position.
For those who have a life (or, in other words, have better things to do other than read about politics on a daily basis), Tomi Lahren was recently fired from Glenn Beck’s Conservative network, the Blaze, for her pro-choice stance on abortion.
Now, I am both firmly Pro-life, as well as not a follower of Lahren; which likely makes my position on her firing all the more surprising. In short, I think it was wrong to fire her for being pro-choice. The firing of a pro-choice Conservative likely hurts both the Conservative movement and the pro-life cause more than it helps them.
The fact alone that a Conservative pundit ‘coming out’ as pro-choice is so shocking to the conservative base proves that the pro-life position has largely won on the Right. This should warrant celebration as a strong victory for the pro-life movement. But, instead, it has created uproar and resulted in Lahren’s firing. This act is likely short-sighted, especially considering the utility that Lahren’s presence serves to the Conservative and pro-life cause.
By embracing opinion-makers who are not pro-life, Conservative sites such as TheBlaze can gain credibility with people whether who are pro-choice, and, over time, introduce them to more Conservative positions such as being pro-life. In other words, Tomi Lahren, as a pro-choice Conservative, serves the pro-life movement just as warm water serves someone attempting to cook a frog.
To outsiders, the Conservative movement may seem like a closed society of pro-life, pro-gun, pro-military individuals, branding it as an unfriendly group. Who would want to join, or even hear out, such a hostile collective of people? Few.
But when Conservatives stray from the conventional ideological path, they often attract attention – and it is often for the better. Conservatives who are pro-drug legalization, pro-gay marriage, or anti-foreign intervention have received immense support from the political centre, as well as the Left (See Ron and Rand Paul.)
To explain ‘the frog’ analogy: it is often said that to cook a frog, one should place it in a pot of warm water and slowly increase the heat. Instead of putting the frog in boiling water and causing it to jump out, it is better to slowly introduce the frog to warmer and warmer water. Until, as soon as you know it, you have fully cooked a frog. The same can be said for political thought; ideas are shaped over time. And, by slowly introducing Conservative ideas to people, the Right gains more and more credibility.
But, in order for this to be successful, the water has to start out warm rather than boiling. And, Tomi Lahren (obvious jokes regarding her physical appearance aside) is certainly warm, but is she boiling hot?
By discussing other issues, Tomi Lahren can further the Conservative agenda and likely bring more and more people under the large tent that is the Conservative movement. Once in the tent, these individuals may be more open to hearing the pro-life argument. And hopefully, god-willing, they will agree with it.
However, many critics of Lahren have posited that she may not even be a Conservative, which would make any suggestion of her influencing people to pull to the Right on other issues practically ridiculous. But, there is little evidence to support the claim that Lahren, by simply being pro-choice on the question of abortion, is not a Conservative. In fact, one of the most Conservative men ever, and certainly the most Conservative candidate for President in recent memory, Barry Goldwater, was also pro-choice.
A Conservative, Episcopalian, rural man, Goldwater was nevertheless pro-choice for his entire life. This reveals what should be an obvious truth: being pro-life, in and of itself, does not make you a Conservative. And being pro-choice, in and of itself, does not make you not a Conservative. In the case of 1964, Goldwater’s opponent, Lyndon B. Johnson, had no position on abortion while Goldwater, the Conservative, was pro-choice. And yet, no one would make the claim that Johnson was not a liberal. He set forth the Great Society reforms, enacted the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and established the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Firing Lahren because of her views on abortion furthers a narrative that views Conservatives as ‘one-trick ponies’, who cannot support anyone with differing views on life issues. As a pro-life Conservative, had I been alive in 1964 (and American), I would have voted for Barry Goldwater over Lyndon B. Johnson without a doubt. But most non-Conservatives do not recognize our openness to opposing views. And that hurts us.
Now, obviously TheBlaze is a private company that should be able to hire and fire who it likes, and it is reasonable for a Conservative news site to police it’s pundits’ positions. However, the firing of Lahren likely does a great deal of harm to the public perception of Conservatives. “Here is a young, articulate, strong-willed woman being fired for standing up for women’s rights,” the headlines might say.
Biting a bullet by allowing someone who is pro-choice to further the Conservative position on other issues is a price worth paying. There is more to the Conservative movement than a passionate crusade against abortion, and, on many others issues, Lahren follows the conventional Conservative path. She is fervently pro-gun rights, a strong supporter of the military, and a clear government sceptic. A 100% Conservative, who is articulate, intelligent, and in the public eye, is rare if such a person even exists. Despite being wrong on abortion, Lahren is correct on a number of other issues – and that should be worth something to TheBlaze, even if they cannot see it.
It is important that this defence not be misinterpreted as an endorsement of Lahren’s views. I think her argument is short-sighted and wrong, just as I think it was short-sighted and wrong when it was used by Barry Goldwater, decades before my own birth. The reason that the government cannot “stay out of [one’s] guns, and stay out of [one’s] body,” as Lahren puts it, is because the two questions are not the same. Gun rights are a market question, specifically, whether or not one can possess, use, and sell a product. Abortion, on the other hand, is a question of when life begins, and at what stage the State will recognize its existence. So long as one recognizes the State’s authority in protecting life, no amount of anti-government voodoo or maneuvering can justify the conservative pro-choice position, in my opinion.
However, there is room on the Right for passionate debate, as well as room for discord. And the firing of a popular conservative commentator for one liberal position may hurt the conservative cause more than it helps it.