Republicans have learned nothing from the Todd Akin debacle of 2012.
Michigan gubernatorial candidate Garrett Soldano, a chiropractor who’s never run for any public office before, recently told right-wing anti-mask host April Moss of “Real America’s Voice” that women who are raped should thank God for the situation they’re in because that child “may be the next president.”
While a tweeted clip of the video went viral this week, here’s that quotation with some context:
I’m a little biased, but to really… to inspire people to understand — and I get it. There’s a lot of situations out there… when you talk about rape and everything else, and, hey, maybe they deserve an abortion, well, I was always going to fight for life, and I have a great personal story of one of my mentors. And he was going through life, and he was adopted, so he started to look up his birth family to figure out who they were, and he figured out that his mom was gang-raped in a subway — train station — by five guys. And it kind of, like, tore out his heart when he found that out, but then he started to really appreciate and understand what his birth mother went through. That she had the courage to deliver him. And since then, since he was delivered, he has helped thousands of people be better versions of themselves.
And so what we must start to focus on is not only to defend the DNA when it’s created, but however, how about we start inspiring women in the culture to let them understand and know how heroic they are, and how unbelievable that they are, that God put them in this moment, and they don’t know that little baby inside them may be the next president! May be the next person that changes, um, humanity. May get us out of the situation, maybe in the future. We don’t know that!
So that is what we must do, is start to create that culture, and there’s already a culture for that. Catholic Charities is a great one, that they help these moms go through and deliver and give these kids up for adoption…
To put that more bluntly, Soldano knows a good guy whose mother was brutally raped, and he turned out all right, therefore all rape victims should be forced to carry their rapists’ babies to term — all while thanking God for the opportunity to be sexually assaulted and maybe, just maybe, give rise to a decent human being.
Notice that Soldano (like everyone else who makes this awful argument) never suggests the mother herself could’ve become a great president or humanity-changer had she not been forced to deal with the burden of an unwanted pregnancy and the trauma of assault. That never enters into their calculations. Women, prominent Republicans say, are just “host bodies.”
Keep in mind that Soldano, like most Republicans, also opposes the sort of structural policies that would assist women in that very situation. Instead of creating a world where unwanted pregnancies don’t occur, or where women who go through with an unplanned pregnancy have the support they need to raise the child, he just magically assumes everything will be okay post-birth. He added elsewhere in the interview that he supports the Texas anti-abortion law banning the procedure before most women even know they’re pregnant.
“I will do everything in my power to make sure that happens,” he said, explaining that he believes life starts “when DNA is created.”
“We must defend life in all instances,” he added.
Either he’s a moral monster or he’s utterly ignorant, but whatever it is, he would be a disaster in public office. That’s no surprise coming from the author of God’s True Law: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Successful Children.
Moss, of course, didn’t push back on any of this because she’s not a real reporter. She’s just a stenographer for conservatives.
This wasn’t a misstatement by Soldano, either. His campaign website makes it very clear that he will fight women’s rights at every turn because he’s “guided by our shared conservative values and faith in our Creator.” Which is a very Republican way to say he doesn’t want your vote unless you’re a conservative Christian. Everyone else will suffer under his rule because he doesn’t consider you worthy of representation.
There are several Republicans vying for the chance to unseat Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer. While most of them would never say something as stupid and heartless as Soldano did, none of them disagree with the underlying premise either. And that’s the real problem here. They all oppose abortion rights. They all think Christian Nationalism is the path forward. They all think rapists should have more power over a woman’s body than the woman herself.
Soldano’s mistake was saying out loud what just about every Republican already believes.
At least others in Michigan are pushing back with the outrage this deserves:
Ron Owens of Ferndale, political director the the governor’s campaign for a second term, condemns “absolutely disgusting and dangerous comments from GOP gubernatorial candidate Garrett Soldano.” His reaction on Twitter adds: “Unfortunately, he’s not the only one with extreme views like this — every candidate in the GOP primary has said they will undermine a woman’s right to choose.”
Rodericka Applewhaite, a Michigan Democratic Party senior communications adviser,” characterizes Soldano’s comments as “beyond outrageous” and adds in a tweet: “Nearly 80% of Michiganders think abortion should be regulated by law or left as a decision between a woman and her doctor. Garrett Soldano is too extreme for Michigan.”
Lansing journalist Susan Demas, editor of Michigan Advance, a news site, calls the video “one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen.”
The irony is that Democrats may want someone as insane as Soldano to win the GOP primary. That, too, was part of the strategy with Akin. When you nominate someone who looks for the silver lining in rape, it makes it much easier for Democrats to rally their base, win over sensible voters who may be on the fence, and discourage some right-wing voters who can’t bring themselves to back someone so heartless. That strategy could always backfire in the worst possible way, but with the election several months away and with Republicans fighting in a race to the bottom, there’s no way this will be the last time Soldano makes such an outrageous faith-based argument against women.