The Stakes

Bret Stephens is a regular opinion writer for the New York Times. He is a self-described conservative who shares a Monday column with liberal Gail Collins. Stephens is a “never Trumper”–and very clear-eyed about the threat posed not just by Trump, but by the current GOP, and he has a wicked way with words. A few days ago, when Collins asked him what the remaining sane Republicans would do about the immigration bill, his response was dead-on perfect:

So-called sane House Republicans are basically passengers in a car being driven at high speed by a drunk. There’s no getting out of the car. And they don’t dare tell the driver to slow down because who knows what he’ll do then.

As Hoosiers are being inundated with advertisements from the candidates vying for the GOP nomination for Governor, the accuracy of Stephens’ description is evident. 

On the one hand, we have the MAGAs. Mike Braun is promising to fix problems that are matters of federal jurisdiction (why not stay in the Senate, Mike, if those are your issues?) and repeatedly reminding voters that he is Trump’s choice. Creepy Eric Doden is quoting the bible,  promising to “protect life” and “always back the Blue.” And we have Brad Chambers– the least scary of the lot (which isn’t saying much)–trying to avoid climbing into the drunk driver’s speeding car by focusing on job creation and his “outsider” claims.

I’ve missed ads from Lt. Governor Susanne Crouch and disgraced former Attorney General Curtis Hill–I assume we’ve been (mercifully) spared those due to the lack of zillionaire status that allows the others to spend lots of their own and their families’ money.

All of them support Indiana’s abortion ban. And that raises a question: how much weight will Hoosier voters place on the abortion issue when it is one issue among others on the candidates’ agendas?

Every state that has voted on the issue of reproductive rights in a stand-alone vote has upheld those rights, even deep-red states. Pundits argue, however, that voters will be less likely to vote against candidates whose anti-choice positions are only one position among many. When  the issue is separated from a campaign for public office, presumably, it is simpler for voters to understand what’s at stake and to register an “up or down” preference.

That belief may have been what  has convinced pro-Trump groups to formulate an “Anti-Abortion Plan for Day One.”

In emerging plans that involve everything from the EPA to the Federal Trade Commission to the Postal Service, nearly 100 anti-abortion and conservative groups are mapping out ways the next president can use the sprawling federal bureaucracy to curb abortion access.
Many of the policies they advocate are ones Trump implemented in his first term and President Joe Biden rescinded — rules that would have a far greater impact in a post-Roe landscape. Other items on the wish list are new, ranging from efforts to undo state and federal programs promoting access to abortion to a de facto national ban. But all have one thing in common: They don’t require congressional approval.

“The conversations we’re having with the presidential candidates and their campaigns have been very clear: We expect them to act swiftly,” Kristan Hawkins, the president of Students for Life, told POLITICO. “Due to not having 60 votes in the Senate and not having a firm pro-life majority in the House, I think administrative action is where we’re going to see the most action after 2024 if President Trump or another pro-life president is elected.”

The Heritage Foundation’s 2025 Presidential Transition Project — a coalition that includes Students for Life, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and other anti-abortion organizations — is drafting executive orders to roll back Biden-era policies that have expanded abortion access, such as making abortions available in some circumstances at VA hospitals. They are also collecting resumes from conservative activists interested in becoming political appointees or career civil servants and training them to use overlooked levers of agency power to curb abortion access.

The linked article details the plans, and makes it very clear that the the right of a woman to choose to terminate a pregnancy will be at the very center of the 2024 federal election.  It will also be at the center of Indiana’s election for U.S. Senate–a contest that will likely pit “anti-woke” culture warrior Jim Banks, who supports a national ban with zero  exemptions, against Marc Carmichael, who wants to codify Roe v. Wade.

In November’s election, we’ll see whether voters understand that they are choosing between “forced birth” candidates and those who will protect women’s health and equality.

I’m pretty sure they will.


  1. Just about everyone on this blog knows that Republicans are irresponsible monsters. The speeding car being driven by a drunk is the perfect metaphor. The morons in the passenger seats are too frightened to grab the wheel or turn off the ignition. They’ll just let everyone be killed.

    Why? Harken to the pathetic comment made by Mark Meadows: “I was afraid he’d yell at me.” Words spoken from a snail or other invertebrate.

  2. Thanks for pointing out how fiercely organized the MAGA ecosystem is. They are ready, locked and loaded. We just argue in the big tent and whimper. Tents blow over easily…

  3. Interesting descriptions of Braun and Doden. Regarding Chambers, I will add that he is untrustworthy, based on his history with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation and its lack of transparency with taxpayer money. He is the one who has advocated for the LEAP project that would pump 100 million gallons of water per day from the Wabash river and the aquifer and put it in a 40 mile pipeline.
    So, this particular “Basket of Deplorables” are all untrustworthy and do not deserve to be elected to the governor’s seat. Which means that Indiana will most likely choose one of these goobers, unless Democrats make that mythical Blue Wave happen.
    I am cautiously hopeful but not holding my breath.

  4. James – there isn’t a Democrat running for Governor of Indiana. So, yes, one of the deplorables running will be the next gov and if enough evangelicals vote, it could end up being Doden. It will be a tossup between him and trump-endorsed Braun.

  5. It will be interesting to see the turnout for women voters in the primary and general elections.

    Will the anti-abortion rhetoric cause record numbers of female voters?

    It’s a presidential election, so turnout should be higher, but women must cast their ballots to support women’s choice.

    It would be akin to a coup if the Democrats would win victories. I’m not holding my breath due to the gerrymandered lines in Indiana. Republicans have a more significant advantage, so turnout must set record numbers.

    One side note: I watched the entire Tucker Carlson interview with Putin last night. It was a decent interview after Putin told 1000 years of Russian history leading up to Ukraine (30 minutes). I was impressed with Putin’s answers even though he didn’t tell me anything I didn’t know leading up to the Ukrainian military operations. Europe and the USA are wasting time and money in Ukraine.

  6. Todd. Are you as impressed with Putin’s war crimes and assassinations of political opponents as you are by his answers to interview questions? Actions do speak louder than words, especially self-serving words. Would you prefer a dictatorship to a democracy?

  7. Nancy–There certainly IS a Democrat running for Governor. Jennifer McCormick–who WAS a Republican when she served as Superintendent of Public Education, but like so many former Republicans realized that the party was no longer sane and definitely not supportive of public education–is running for the Democratic nomination, and so far as I know, is unopposed in the primary. She would be an excellent governor.

  8. Republicans have sold themselves “downriver” because they would rather live in a totally fabricated world brought to them by media without standards.

    Those of us stuck in reality cannot communicate with them. It’s like speakers of different languages trying to communicate.

  9. Sheila –
    Thanks for reminding me! I completely forgot about her since she doesn’t advertise. Huge mea culpa!

  10. Democrat Jennifer McCormack is running for governor and would be a healthy alternative to the announced Republicans.

  11. Republicans have the “dog catching the car” syndrome. Will they really make abortions go away since they think immigration has to remain to keep them feeling like they’re relevant? They don’t know what to do with the car once they catch it either. Really, the only thing I think they’ll do is take over, try their best to get rid of Democracy, then exile everybody they don’t like in some way, including their own. Putin has taught Trump well how to manipulate his base. Indiana Republicans seem to have the same lessons and are trying to implement them without looking as stupid as other states pretend-conservative dominators have displayed themselves to be. If their talking points that manipulate their base are gone, how will they dominate the state and federal government? They either have to have talking points to seem relevant or get rid of Democracy. My bet is that they’ll chose to get rid of Democracy so they don’t have to care about any kind of base of voters anymore; except for appearances of Democracy Russian style.

  12. I watch the endless advertisements that R candidates for governor and congress are running. My only take away is that it is the most undistinguished slate of candidates imaginable. They are almost identical – Trump endorsed, anti women, Christian, conservative, and my favorite lie: outsiders. Clearly the party feels safe not running on issues

  13. So many of the Republicans have become profiles in cowardice, it’s hard to see how they ever climb out of the morass they have constructed. My biggest fear is that without a blue wave, we will all be dragged down into it with them.

  14. I cannot be more clear that Republicans do no believe in democracy. Given the levels of popular support for abortion, they STILL are looking at ways to thwart popular opinion on the issue. “We’re going to prohibit it no matter what the majority wants.”

  15. Well,Russia’s infant mortality is 25% lower than the US.

    WE ARE A FAILED STATE. The public just hasn’t noticed as of yet. We only want war and genocide. It’s probably time to replace the torch of the Statue of Liberty with a scythe.

  16. I mute the ads running after one view just to hear what they are pushing. It is interesting to note that the majority of the ads I see are on programs like Jeopardy and sports broadcasts like IU and Purdue men’s basketball, programs most likely to be viewed by their preferred audience, older and much younger, mostly white, viewers. They know mostly older viewers watch Jeopardy and much younger viewers of sports are likely under 30.

    I had the privilege to attend a fund-raiser for Jennifer McCormick last summer. She speaks from a wealth of administrative, practical and political experience, backs true public education and supports women’s choice. For those concerned about her ability to manage financial issues, remember that she was a classroom teacher, principal, superintendent of a corporation as well as a state education superintendent. All of those career positions require a keen eye for financial management. She is also a partner in a busy household with a child. She knows about managing money.

    Women have their lives and healthcare options at stake in this election. The men who care for them have much at stake as well, even if many haven’t realized how much.

    As an aside, how often do special prosecutors question characterize people they investigate as elderly and having diminishing mental capacity? How often do they characterize the personal details about a person under investigation? Has anyone of the commentators on this blog had experience with this kind of thing.

  17. JD, the answer to your question is “Never.” Those comments by the special prosecutor are all conjecture, purely subjective and without empirical basis. Go through this blog and check the spelling errors, misstatements, and other common fluffs made by contributors. Our politics have become awful when even appointed investigators stoop to this kind of politically motivated slander in official reports.

  18. I saw Nancy’s statement that we Democrats have no one running for governor and put that on my to-do list to be corrected, but Sheila has beaten me to the punch. I thought about the possibility that Nancy was resorting to sarcasm, since Jennifer was once a Republican. I also thought about the times I have been in Jennifer’s company and the money I have given her campaign. Uh! Was that all a mirage?

    I can tell you that I have sat one on one with Jennifer at fundraisers, that she is a Democrat and would make an excellent governor, especially considering such opposition as the Trump-endorsed caveman from Jasper, one Braun, whose governing philosophy is more akin to that of Charlemagne’s serfdom than those of our updated Twenty First Century.

    Send her money.

  19. It concerns me greatly that there are people who don’t realize there is a Democrat running for governor. As usual, the media focus is on tfg-loving republicans who are running. There’s been barely a peep about Jennifer McCormick in the news. This needs to change NOW . Not sure why her campaign isn’t yelling her name from the rooftops. And why Dems aren’t as well. Spread the word! Democrat Jennifer McCormick is running for Governor!

  20. Don’t hold your breath on any of it. The trouble with the Democratic party is that it credits people with more intelligence than they have. As in….nobody would believe that, would they? McDermott should have kept his powder dry and waited until now to run – he never was going to unseat Todd Young who has some flashes of normality, occasionally. Biden did no favors in his speech last night, either.

  21. I agree with Sheila completely on the problem and the solution, but I have less sympathy for the “moderate” Republicans enablers, who struck the bargain and stayed on to gain power. Decades a dog whistles, welfare queens and Willie Hortons, were OK because they led to power. The so-called moderates (who in the past would more correctly be labeled “conservatives”) allowed their party to be taken over to gain power and help their business donors lower their taxes and have free reign to despoil the environment.

    Having endured too many TV ads for GOP candidates, it is good to know that Democrats have McCormick to vote for. I only hope that she will have a higher profile when needed, nearer to the actual election in November.

  22. Interesting to note that Spartz has decided to run for her seat again. Today Jefferson Shreve announced that he is going for the 6th District seat that Greg Pence is leaving. He just made it under the wire.
    Lots of very wealthy and power-hungry people coming out in a baldfaced grab to ride the whirlwind of 45.

  23. Re: Infant mortality

    Note that the countries with lower infant mortality rates all have universal healthcare. We may spend more, but we don’t spend on everyone. We just don’t care if poor people die.

  24. Ian, you moved the goalposts. In your response you reference Norway and the US. I asked about your source to support the assertion that Russia has a lower infant mortality rate than the US. I searched AJDC’s website and found a large amount of data for the US and other highly developed countries but nothing relating to Russia.

    The US spends more money per capita on healthcare than the rest of the world including Norway yet Norway has better outcomes in infant care. The data is clear.

    Healthcare costs are too high in our country and there are many reasons why.

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