My First Essay Contest

So I’ll be participating in First Things’ Student Essay Contest. I’m excited to throw my hat in the ring, as this is my first essay contest. I’m leaning towards responding to the first prompt: “Liberalism is at the end of its rope. What comes next?”

First place wins $500, second $250. I’m sure many of the participants, which will include graduate students and seminarians, are much smarter and can write much better than me. But what the hell, I’ll give it a shot. I’ve got nothing to lose.

I plan on posting my essay here after submitting it to First Things. It’s due September 15, and chances are I’ll need the full 39 days to finish. Starting the research today. Wish me luck!

On Tomi Lahren’s Pro-Choice Controversy

I know I’m late on this. In any case, I still want to get my two cents in.

Tomi Lahren is a 24-year-old political commentator for TheBlaze. Her popularity has skyrocketed since 2016; not only does her attractiveness help, but she’s much edgier than essentially every conservative commentator. She regularly eviscerates liberals, has called #BlackLivesMatter “the new KKK,” and even once referred to refugees as “rapeugees.”

Last week, Tomi strolled into the lions’ den of hostile female liberals known as “The View.” She emerged, however, with praise from the left and disapproval from the right. How?

She emphatically declared her pro-choice views, saying “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’.” Video:

The fallout? She’s been temporarily suspended from The Blaze.

Interestingly, Tomi lambasted Lena Dunham for her sick abortion comments just three short months ago, using language like “murdered a fetus,” “kill your child,” and “baby-killers” in her segment. So, did Tomi foolishly flip-flop on abortion? Or did she sincerely undergo a change of heart? Or has she always been pro-choice but simply said what her target audience wants to hear?

I think Tomi is sincere in her pro-choice convictions because she framed them in terms of a core political philosophy—namely, that the government shouldn’t interfere with a woman’s “right to have an abortion.”* She genuinely believes in small government at the expense of being pro-life.

This illuminates the difficulty (impossibility?) in balancing traditionalism and liberalism. A more traditionalist conservative is staunchly pro-life; but if that’s the case, you must necessarily believe that the act of abortion murders a defenseless human life, and to murder a defenseless human life is something that can’t go unpenalized, right? Well, if it can’t, doesn’t that betray your commitment to “small government”?** Tomi’s comments fall in line with this interpretation.

On the other hand, a more “liberal” conservative may believe the act of abortion takes a human life, but that the government ought not to get involved because 1) “it’s not their role to do so,” 2) “it violates women’s rights,” 3) both 1 and 2, or 4) some other reason. Tomi clearly belongs to this camp, and it’s a befuddling one no matter how you slice it. If human beings possess inherent rights and human life begins at conception, then to permit abortion is to permit the denying of its inherent rights. How can the willful denying of someone else’s rights, even if he’s a fetus in his mother’s womb, possibly go unpenalized either? I ask such questions because abortion is not merely a political issue, but a fundamentally philosophical issue.

Along with Tomi’s ostensible sincerity in being pro-choice, it also seems that she was capitalizing on a chance to further enhance her starpower and appeal. What a misguided attempt. Liberals will still dislike her because she criticizes them in no uncertain terms, and now numerous conservatives will dislike her because she’s not pro-life. By trying to become liked by everyone, you become liked by no one.

Tomi’s rise was characterized, to some extent, by her willingness to be edgy and attack everything liberals stand for. But then she decided to publicly go muh freedom on the abortion question. In doing so, Tomi hurt herself when she thought she was helping herself. Oops.


*This is not a direct quote from Tomi. This is what her stance implies.

**I think it does—unless you, like I do, refuse to frame political issues in terms of “big government” versus “small government.”