Blaze TV host Tomi Lahren announced last Friday on ABC’s The View she believes the government should not outlaw abortion. Subsequently, the Blaze suspended her show and may terminate her contract early.
As recently as three months ago, however, Lahren called abortion murder. While some conservatives took to social media to express shock at this abrupt reversal, no one should really act surprised she changed tack in front of a leftist audience.
Lahren says whatever makes her popular at any given time. She does not “tell it like it is,” she tells people what they want to hear. For a long time, Lahren fed on right-wing angst, and now she’s looking to expand her base by speaking out of the other side of her mouth.
“I’m pro choice, and here’s why,” Lahren said, to applause from the studio audience. “I am a constitutional … someone that loves the Constitution. I’m someone that’s for limited government. So I can’t sit here and be a hypocrite and say I’m for limited government but I think the government should decide what women do with their bodies.”
Lahren engaged in a despicable display of intellectual dishonesty when she spewed the untruth that conservative pro-lifers hold a hypocritical position. In fact, she took the only incoherent, hypocritical position a supporter of limited government could when it comes to abortion.
In “Federalist 51,” James Madison articulated the truth at the heart of all conservative political thought: “But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.”
For true constitutionalists, government exists to energetically secure citizens’ natural rights, often by prohibiting the types of action those citizens can take. We the people endowed our government with the sacred obligation to protect all human life, especially the lives of the weakest members of society — the unborn.
Lahren rejected these vital convictions. For her, ratings and celebrity trumped intellectual integrity and a commitment to principles. Conservatives ought to applaud the Blaze for taking a stand against this foolishness. But, the movement cannot simply move on and ignore this controversy like nothing happened.
The conservative movement has an enduring demagogy problem because the Tomi Lahrens of the world dominate right-wing media outlets. When they gave a platform to professional populists like Lahren and countless other sophists, they sold principles for popularity, driving a stake through the heart of the movement on their rise to the top.
In “The Conservative Mind,” conservative intellectual Russell Kirk wrote, “Whether the conservative impulse within modern society can suffice to prevent the disintegration of the moral order and the civil order by the vertiginous speed of alteration .. hang[s] upon how well conservatives apprehend their patrimony.”
Lahren’s abortion flip-flop shows that angry media personalities do not use their immense popularity to renew republican liberty. She and her ilk do not take Kirk’s call to “redeem the times” and restore our politics and culture seriously. Instead, they incite faction and divide the people to profit on drummed-up controversy, cheap insults, and fear-mongering.
When men like Russell Kirk, William F. Buckley, and Harry Jaffa led the movement, conservatives fought for ideas. We fought to preserve the western and American heritage we study here at Hillsdale. We fought to protect the innate dignity of human beings and defend their fragile but precious communities.
The movement lost its soul when it let populists redefine conservatism. We sold out what made America great for primetime shows, roaring crowds, bundles of cash, and “access” to the levers of power in Washington, D.C. The conservative movement became exactly what its founders combated.
In spite of recent turmoil, we should feel encouraged that Lahren exposed herself as a huckster, because it provides us an opportunity clarify the principles for which we stand. This is the moment for the conservative movement to win back its soul and cast out the charlatans that have dominated it for so many years.
Figures like Yuval Levin, Glenn Beck, and Hillsdale’s own president Larry Arnn provide an insightful, Constitution-centered alternative to the screaming heads on cable news. The movement needs to promote those voices to remind the American people that Tomi Lahren’s does not speak for conservatism.
Our dedication to the permanent things is far too important for us to let shrill populists charade as conservatives. It is time to take back our movement, once and for all.