What the Republicans shouldn’t do
By: Robert E. Meyer
With yet another stinging presidential defeat barely in the rear view mirror, pundits are making dangerous and inadvisable suggestions about the future of the Republican Party. They are suggesting that if Republicans want to win elections, they will have to abandon, or at least become uncommitted to socially conservative positions. The moral positions long associated with the party, such as the abortion issue and the defense of marriage, are considered too austere to achieve a voting majority.
While lip service may at times be paid to the problems of appealing to minority voters, such as Hispanics and African-Americans, the real 800 pound gorilla is the staunch positions on moral issues. The strategy is that by taking non-committed positions on certain hot-button issues, Republicans can avoid the problem of energizing fringe constituencies on the left, and at the same time stop the defections of moderate and independent voters who are scared off or embarrassed by conservative social positions. Supposedly Republicans will hereafter only be allowed to focus on fiscal issues if they are ever to win another election.
The problems with this approach are legion. Why not just vote for progressives who have deliberate positions on the issues, rather than a party that won’t take a stand at all? Abandoning unpopular positions to gain voting majorities only makes you the impostor, rather than giving voters a distinct choice. The Libertarian Party already facilitates the attraction of voters who have conservative fiscal policies, but remain uncommitted, or all over the board on social issues.
The fracture of the party that could result from eschewing Tea Party influences and other social conservatives could decimate the party far worst than the defection of moderates and RINO’s would. It would be creating a worst dilemma than the one being avoided. Republicans should not take for granted the continuing support of the Tea Party movement and other social conservatives if their commitment to social issues is shunned or belittled.
It should be remembered that when the Tea Party began to pick up momentum in the spring of 2009, the leadership had to make decisions about their operational strategy. There was never a guarantee they would attempt to reform the Republican Party back toward its conservative roots. They could have instead formed a third party voting movement that would have left Republicans in the lurch. They could join their separatist brethren in the Constitution Party to form a formidable third party voting bloc that would assure perpetual liberal ascendancy.
We have to ask whether the Republican Party will continue to reflect the populist conservatism of Ronald Reagan, or simply become a bastion for the country club set. There is no certainty that it is social issues putting people off. It could be that people in greater numbers have bought into the enticement of progressive fiscal policies. Further, while there seems to be little correlation between fiscal conservativism and commitment to social positions, conversely, most moral conservatives are the staunchest fiscal hawks.
The problem is that while pundits have focused the blame on those holding firmly to social issues, what they have failed to do is develop candidates that can effectively articulate conservative positions. If you have the better argument, then cater to your strengths rather than becoming ashamed of them. It has become strategic laziness that has created this problem. How foolish to neglect the very positions that separate you from your opponents.
Why should the Republican Party cave on social issues in hope of a “big tent” approach that can attract voters across a larger spectrum? Such a compromise is simply capitulation to misguided conventional wisdom. Ideological purity is considered a vice on the right side of the political spectrum, while it is thought to be a virtue on the left side. Republicans have allowed this to happen. Advice to forsake social stances is easy to dispense for those who were never committed to them in the first place.
It is claimed that Barrack Obama is trying to destroy the Republican Party by dividing its factions. Others claim the party is doing a pretty decent job of self-destructing on its own. It will be hard to argue against that latter position if the social conservatives are tossed overboard. Polls continue to show that Americans hold conservative positions, yet fail to vote accordingly. The Republican Party ought to work n correcting that dissonance instead of changing its stripes.
One has to honestly ask what is being won, if one has to abandon principle in the hope of winning.