2018: Midterms and Conditions May Apply
The biggest challenge facing Republicans heading into the November elections isn’t Donald Trump. It isn’t even the Democratic Party. It’s apathy. In the seven months between now and the midterms, the GOP will be doing everything it can to recreate the magic of 2016. But one thing is abundantly clear: It’ll need evangelicals’ help — and a lot of it.
History has never been kind to the majority party at the midterm point. Republicans are expecting to take a few on the chin in November. What they don’t know is whether the Left’s enthusiasm will be enough to wrestle away control. A lot of that, strategists believe, will come down to the president’s most supportive base: Christian conservatives. Despite the daily drip of salacious story lines, evangelicals have remained solidly in Trump’s corner — rewarding him for more than a year’s worth of progress on judges, life, religious liberty, taxes, and military readiness. To the media’s astonishment, evangelicals haven’t walked away from the president — they’re doubling down on their support. Just last week, the Public Religious Research Institute found that white evangelical approval for Donald Trump is at its highest point ever: 75 percent.
Republicans will need to harness every point of the president’s churchgoing base if they have any hope of protecting his agenda moving forward. Tuesday night’s Arizona race was at least one step in the right direction. Despite a last-minute Democratic frenzy, Debbie Lesko held on to her six-percent lead and kept former Congressman Trent Franks’s district in GOP hands. Her opponent, Hiral Tipirneni, managed to close the gap, but not enough to pick off one of the 24 House seats the Democrats need to retake the speaker’s gavel. Although the mood in Arizona was upbeat, voters’ message in a Trump-heavy area was clear: There’s no such thing as a safe Republican seat this year.
To conservatives’ relief, Lesko has promised to carry on the pro-life, pro-family legacy of Franks — which was one of the reasons FRC Action endorsed her. She’s already told reporters she plans to join our friends in the House Freedom Caucus, where she’ll help keep GOP leaders honest on values issues. “Debbie will do a great job!” the president tweeted before the election — and we agree. And while the talking heads are focused on Lesko’s single-digit victory in a double-digit Trump district, Republicans have still held their own in a string of special elections, winning six of the last nine.
And in the run-up to November, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is making a pretty good case for voters to stick with Republicans, telling a group of Georgetown students, “We will have a pro-choice gavel when we win the Congress. We need to have at least 218 votes to achieve that.” It’s a “very high priority,” she went on, “to protect a woman’s right to choose.” If that means supporting a pro-life Democrat to get her hands on the gavel, she’s willing. Even so, Pelosi made clear, it’s just a means to a pro-abortion end. “I know this is touchy on this campus — on all Catholic campuses. … And it’s an issue in the diocese,” Pelosi said. “But the fact is, God gave us all the free will [and] our sense of responsibility to answer for that. So I am a rabid supporter of a woman’s right to choose and a similar issue of the LGBT community, because they are connected.”
That ought to be all the motivation evangelicals need to get off the fence on the midterm elections. With Planned Parenthood funding, conscience protections, the 20-week abortion limit, and so much more in the balance, it’s obvious what a lag in turnout would mean: an encore of the Obama years. That’s why groups like FRC Action and other parts of the evangelical coalition are planning what The New York Times is calling the “largest midterm election mobilization ever.” In a feature on how Christian conservatives are turning the November tide, reporters Jeremy Peters and Elizabeth Dias highlight FRC’s voter registration push, our pastors’ outreach, and even our culture impact teams.
The Family Research Council has already activated its network of 15,000 churches, half of which have “culture impact ministries” that organize congregations to be more socially and civically engaged. The group’s efforts will gear up with voter registration drives around the Fourth of July and voter education that will focus on a half-dozen states that could determine control of the Senate. Their tactics are almost identical to the work they used during the presidential campaign to unite a fractured evangelical base. The June meeting in Washington is a follow-up to a gathering in New York in the summer of 2016 that soothed tensions after it became apparent that Mr. Trump would be the Republican nominee.
The Times even talks about FRC’s Watchmen on the Wall ministry, which is hosting its 15th national briefing in Washington, DC, next month, where hundreds of pastors will be in attendance. “The message to energize Christian conservatives has twin purposes: to inspire them to celebrate their victories and to stoke enough grievance to prod them to vote.”
… [L]eaders of the movement plan to lean hard into a message that fans fears and grudges: that the progressive movement and national media mock Christian life and threaten everything religious conservatives have achieved in the 15 months of the Trump administration. “Show the Left that you can put labels on us, you can shame us. But we’re not giving up,” said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.
Join us in protecting the successes of the last year and a half! Get involved. Become a member of FRC Action, start a Culture Impact Team in your church, or sign up for the Values Voter Summit this fall!
Originally published here.
Fare of Failure: Judge Orders Dollars for Doomed Sex Ed
If you need help getting motivated for the midterm elections, two words ought to do the trick: Planned Parenthood. America’s biggest abortion business is back in court, demanding money that it doesn’t need — and, more importantly, doesn’t deserve! And unfortunately, some judges seem all too willing to help.
In the real world, no one would keep paying for a service that didn’t work — or worse, hurt the people using it. But that’s exactly what U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rice is insisting of taxpayers. When President Trump pulled the plug on Planned Parenthood’s teen pregnancy prevention (TPP) grants at HHS, Cecile Richards’s group was enraged. After all, sex ed is the organization’s best way to build up future clients. It encourages promiscuous sex, and then, when the birth control it suggests fails (as the group expects it will), those same teenagers become the next generation of abortion consumers.
When you frame it that way, it’s really no wonder that the Richards would sue the president’s team at HHS, desperate to keep her pipeline to future clients open. “The Trump administration is clearly trying to push their abstinence-only agenda,” argued Planned Parenthood attorney Carrie Flaxman. Well, guess what? That’s the president’s prerogative! If Planned Parenthood wanted the White House to push another agenda, it should have persuaded more Americans to vote for Hillary Clinton. Elections have consequences, and one of 2016’s is that President Trump is finally taking an honest look at the country’s approach to sex ed. And guess what he discovered? The same thing as Obama’s CDC: the Left’s strategy isn’t working.
Unfortunately, Judge Rice couldn’t put aside his own activism long enough to realize it. Instead, he ruled that HHS can’t sever ties with Planned Parenthood, no matter how little good it’s doing. “The Court finds that HHS arbitrarily and capriciously terminated the TPP program,” he wrote. Hardly! Reams of HHS’s data found that “More than 80 percent of teens in the program fared either worse or no better than their peers who were not a part of the program.” Even Obama’s officials admitted as much, explaining in the largest CDC study of its kind that abstinence education was a much better choice. “The virginal students rate significantly and consistently better in nearly all health-related behaviors and measures than their sexually-active peers.”
Still, Judge Rice insists, “The public interest weighs in favor of [Planned Parenthood], as it would prevent harm to the community … and prevent loss of data regarding the effectiveness of teen pregnancy prevention.” Translation: We should still throw your hard-earned money at a program that’s failing students, because — after all — it’s Planned Parenthood.
Attorneys for Trump’s Justice Department pushed back. “The plaintiffs are here claiming legal rights they do not have,” one fired back. “There is no legal entitlement to further funding beyond each funding year. It’s the agency’s discretion.” Apart from the fact that it’s not effective, radical sex ed isn’t what parents want! Believe it or not, this is something both parties agree on. Seventy-five percent of Democrats and 78 percent of Republicans think schools should teach kids to wait to have sex. And they believe it so strongly that they’re willing to pull their kids out of class to prove it. Monday’s Sex Ed Sit Out should have been all the encouragement President Trump needed to keep fighting on this front. Based on the outpouring of support for the idea, parents are sick and tired of groups like Planned Parenthood sinking their talons into kids — and using our tax dollars to do it.
Elsewhere, a group of 15 attorneys general are trying to keep Planned Parenthood’s mitts off of their state Medicaid accounts. In a brief to the Supreme Court, they urge the justices to let states decide how their money should be spent. Now that the circuit courts are split on the question of whether states like Kansas can defund the abortion business, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are hoping SCOTUS will take the case that decides the issue.
“By the terms of the Medicaid Act federal-state contract,” they write, “the states, not federal courts, are empowered to determine the qualifications for eligible health care providers.” What’s more, they go on, “the meaning of ‘qualified’ provider is found not in the Medicaid Act itself, but in state regulations and state Medicaid plans, which set forth the reasons that a provider’s Medicaid agreement may be terminated. The Medicaid Act provides discretion for states in designing and administering their programs within broad federal guidelines.”
Kansas had four good reasons — from its own regulations — for severing ties with Planned Parenthood: “noncompliance with applicable state laws, administrative regulations or program issuances concerning medical providers; noncompliance with the terms of a provider agreement; unethical or unprofessional conduct; and other good cause.” It’s astonishing that any court would argue that this state — or any other — should keep throwing money at an organization that violates local laws. Unfortunately, several have. It’s one of the many reasons President Trump is working so fast to appoint judges who uphold the rule of law. If pro-lifers didn’t understand the importance of judicial confirmations before, they certainly do now!
Originally published here.
Pray for America — Unity
“There is no great movement of God that has ever occurred that does not begin with the extraordinary prayer of God’s people.” Those are the encouraging words of the new chairman of the National Day of Prayer, Dr. Ronnie Floyd. Next Thursday, May 3, Americans everywhere will have an opportunity to kneel together before God and appeal for the kind of unity we need to move forward as a country. As Dr. Floyd reminds us, the National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans. It’s a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens from all backgrounds. Mrs. Shirley Dobson, NDP chairman emeritus, has said before, “We have lost many of our freedoms in America because we have been asleep. I feel if we do not become involved and support the annual National Day of Prayer, we could end up forfeiting this freedom, too.”
Next week’s theme is Pray for America: Unity, based on Ephesians 4:3. Dr. Floyd’s hope is that individuals, churches, and spiritual leaders in America will humble ourselves and unify in prevailing prayer for the next great move of God in America. We can come together in clear agreement that this is our greatest need. We can become a visible union, standing together in prayer. We can pray more than ever before and practice extraordinary prayer for the next great move of God in America that will catapult the message of the gospel nationally and internationally.
Pray with us. Sponsor an event in your community. Become a volunteer. Order resources to help promote an event in your area. Support the National Day of Prayer financially. Together, we can mobilize unified public prayer for America! For more information, resources, or to find an event near you, click over to the NDP website.
Originally published here.
This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.