Though we’ve known for four years that the 2020 US election cycle would be even more fraught than the strange and painful fall of the 2016 elections, most of us still find ourselves a little disoriented these days. For some, the urgency to remove Trump from office has immobilized us. For others, it’s fortified us into action to get out the vote and to sway those who are undecided, apathetic, and reluctant.
In the final five weeks before the election of a lifetime, we asked writers to consider the undecided voter and contribute compelling arguments and ideas for making the world right. Some contributors sent us work that takes on issues with precision and gravity. Others sent us different work, perhaps an even more visceral snapshot of this alarming moment — a one-act play, an open letter, a story of exile. New writing will be published weekdays; we believe its wisdom and strength will help us all navigate the uncertainty ahead.
On October 5 at 6:05 a.m., President Donald Trump tweeted, “PRO LIFE! VOTE!” When he sent this tweet to his eighty-seven million Twitter followers, Trump was at Walter Reed receiving treatment for COVID-19. Hours later, Trump returned to the White House and walked out on a balcony, removed his mask, and stood tall and proud, showing the American people he had defeated the virus that continues to run rampant all across this nation. The same virus he has been saying for nearly seven months is “not that big of a deal” and will “go away.”
How Donald Trump has handled this pandemic and now his own diagnosis of COVID-19 shows the entire nation that this man has never been pro-life. I am not sure about you, but I could not call myself pro-life while 210,000 people and counting die of a virus under my administration. Sure, we cannot blame the virus on Trump, but we can blame him for how he has handled (or not handled) this virus.
Because pro-life usually aligns with being anti-abortion and up until this point, I have not yet mentioned abortion, you might be asking yourself, “OK, but how does this have anything to do with being pro-life?” Hear me out: you cannot claim to care about the lives of unborn babies while downplaying a deadly virus that is killing the citizens of the country you swore under oath to protect, period.
What about being OK with an ICE detention center performing forced hysterectomies on women? What about telling the Proud Boys, a far-right, neo-fascist, and male-only organization that proudly promotes violence to “stand back and stand by?” Try to understand that the president, who claims to be pro-life, does not care to protect living, breathing, human lives — nor do I believe he cares about the lives of unborn babies either. I think he panders to conservative Christian beliefs and values under the guise that he cares about pro-life. Pro-life is something you so deeply believe in, and he weaponizes that value to work in his favor.
To be pro-choice does not mean to be pro-abortion. To be pro-choice means to believe in and protect the right to safe abortion, which, if you ask me, is incredibly pro-life in and of itself. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ and you side with Trump because you think he is the Christian candidate, look a little deeper in your heart and ask yourself if this man is truly a good example of what Christ stood for. I do not believe you can call yourself pro-life while supporting Donald Trump, a man who has proven in the last four years he does not care to protect the life of anyone other than himself.
I am not asking you to change your mind on a value that I am sure you hold very dear and close; I am only asking you to consider whether or not the pro-life candidate is actually pro-life or just pro-himself.
If you enjoyed this essay, please share it with an undecided voter in your life, and please consider contributing to the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Bethany Cosentino is the singer-songwriter behind the Los Angeles indie duo, Best Coast. She is known for being outspoken on women’s health issues and has been a public advocate for Planned Parenthood since 2010. She has written for Lenny Letter and Billboard, among other publications.