March 31, 2013 8:06 PM
Should the GOP dump social issues?
Posted by Laura
Recently reporter Thomas Edsall - who has spent most of the last 30 years covering politics for the Washington Post and the New Republic - had some advice for the GOP. He draws upon some recent polling data to argue that "the Republican Party can afford to marginalize . . . Christian right leaders because evangelical social conservatives . . . are not going to vote Democratic." Thus, he reasons that Republicans can, as he puts it, "concede defeat in the culture war" in the hopes of picking up more socially liberal voters.
Mr. Edsall might want to check with Governor Mike Huckabee, who knows a thing or two about evangelical voters. Huckabee suggested that evangelicals will "take a walk" from the GOP if the party supports gay marriage. He might also want to consider the 1996 Presidential election, when Bill Clinton carried red states such as Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Missouri, and Louisiana.
President Clinton's wife is the likely Democratic nominee in 2016, and it's safe to say that the Clintons - with their deep roots in Arkansas - know how to reach evangelical voters, especially if the GOP acts like it doesn't want them. I would also note that in both 2008 and 2012, the GOP did nominate Presidential candidates who were not popular with social conservatives - and those candidates fared poorly in the fall campaign. Next time around, conservative voters might just stay home, or throw their support to a democrat who they see as more sympathetic to the middle class. But, of course, the question of what sort of culture our children are going to inherit is a lot more important than the results of any one election.
The social issues are not merely a political football to be used by grasping politicians seeking to win power. They establish the framework for many aspects of American life, from our schools to our churches to our families. These are very serious matters, and they should be taken seriously.
Instead of worrying so much about political tactics, Republicans should focus on what they truly believe, and what type of country they want to have. The time has come for a serious debate within the GOP over all of the social issues, with all sides making the best case for what they think is right. Only then can the GOP reach a new consensus, and move forward in a united effort to reach the rest of America. And by the way, back to Tom Edsall... interestingly, just before the 2006 elections, he wrote a book arguing that the GOP "will continue to maintain, over the long run, a thin but durable margin of victory."
And the GOP should take political advice from this guy?