In a recent talk radio show, while filling in for Sean Hannity, conservative-libertarian Neal Boortz (the co-author of the FairTax) warned that Republicans will not recapture the Senate this year, because, says Boortz, they have an insatiable “urge to get into social conservatism”.
Boortz believes Republicans will once again prioritize social issues above all others, advocate radical no-compromise policies on those issues, and once again make stupid statements on these issues. He points to Georgia GOP Senate candidate Paul Broun as an example. (Broun’s most famous statement, other than his defense of Todd Akin, is his claim that evolution, embryonics, and Big Bang are “lies straight from the pit of hell.”)
Shortly after Boortz made that statement, an avalanche of insults, attacks, and false claims was launched against Boortz from every “conservative” corner of the Net. His critics, and they are legion, claim Boortz is an “establishment liberal Republican” and a “blowhard” just trying to attract attention. They furthermore deny that social issues and radical socially conservative politicians like Akin and Broun have hurt the GOP in the past.
But no amount of denial and false claims can change the fact that Boortz is absolutely right: radical policies on social issues, and politicians espousing such policies, have cost the GOP heavily in the past, and will cost it even more elections in the future.
Why? After all, didn’t social issues mobilize millions of voters in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s to the GOP’s standard? Weren’t American voters overwhelmingly socially conservative in those times?
Yes – but those were totally different times, decades ago. To advocate returning to policies of long bygone eras enacted (or advocated) in a totally different society is to lead the Party to disastrous defeats.
Today, Americans are a completely different society than they were 20-30 years ago. The GOP’s problem is that it hasn’t changed with them.
17 ago, a vast majority of Americans opposed gay marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act was passed with over 80 votes in the Senate and signed by President Clinton. Today, though, according to reliable pollsters like Gallup, a large majority of Americans approves of legalizing gay marriage and of DADT repeal. Banning gay marriage and gays from the military is a decidedly losing proposition supported only by a small minority. Over time, this small minority will shrink even further as older, more socially conservative voters die and are replaced by younger, socially libertarian voters.
As for contraception, support for its legality is – and has long been – so broad that most pollsters don’t even bother to ask the question.
On abortion, Americans are roughly equally divided, with the pendulum slightly swinging one way or the other from time to time. However, only a small majority supports banning abortion in all or most cases (per Gallup). So radical social conservatives’ position is again that of a tiny minority and a sure election loser.
The fact is that social issues are electoral losers for Republicans. The American people don’t want politicians to legislate morality anymore than they want them to legislate prosperity (neither of which can be really legislated, BTW – but that hasn’t stopped politicians from trying 🙂 ).
The truth, therefore, is that – as Boortz says – Republicans will continue to lose elections by landslides if they continue to take radical positions on social issues. Or nominate radically socially conservative candidates like Paul Broun.
This truth has proven itself over and over again, even in “red states” like Missouri and Indiana where Republicans should win easily. All it took for GOP Senate candidates to lose there by landslides was a radical position on abortion and one stupid remark about rape. Not only did Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock lose their races, they cost other Republicans (like Scott Brown) their races as well.
This is because the voters Republicans need to win over – siphon from the Democrats, to be precise – are suburbanites, most of whom are fiscally conservative but socially liberal (especially suburban women, and American women in general, who currently support Democrats by a large margin). Saying that abortion should be banned in all cases, that a raped woman should be forced by law to bear the child of her rapist, and that two loving people shouldn’t be allowed to marry based on sexual orientation, is an electoral loser with suburbanites, women, minorities, and youngsters.
Boortz’s critics claim this is just a call to make the GOP more liberal, more leftist, and more in line with the GOP Establishment.
On the contrary, if fiscal and defense, rather than social, issues were the conservative “litmus test”, the vast majority of the GOP’s Establishment and its past candidates (including Daddy Bush, Bob Dole, Dubya Bush, and Juan McCain) would’ve had no business being in the GOP, let alone being GOP presidential nominees. Nor would John Boehner have been Speaker.
It is social conservatives who have enabled these RINOs to hijack the party and the country. All these RINOs had to do to win social conservatives’ votes was to promise to work towards banning abortion and gay marriage, and social conservatives supported them, regardless of their lack of fiscal conservative credentials (to say it mildly). So-cons didn’t care that Daddy Bush denounced Reaganomics as “voodoo economics”, or that Dubya was a failed businessman. All they cared about were these RINOs’ useless promises on social issues. As long as the Bushes, McCain, Dole, and Boehner pledged to fight against abortion and gay marriage, social conservatives were willing to overlook everything else.
On social issues, the Bushes, McCain, and Boehner have solid records.
But if fiscal and defense, rather than social, issues were the conservative “litmus test”, those RINOs would’ve had no business being in the GOP. Ditto Eric Cantor, Rick Santorum, and Tax Hike Mike Huckabee.
Social conservatives protest that “social and fiscal issues are inextricably linked.” No, they are not.
In fact, trying to impose one’s preferred policies on social issues on the rest of the society is every bit as much a Big Government statist policy as trying to impose a health insurance mandate, a new tax, a soda ban, or a lightbulb ban. So-called “social conservatives” are every bit as much Big Government Statists as Michael Bloomberg, Bill de Blasio, and Nancy Pelosi. They only difference is what exactly their pet issues are. For “social conservatives”, it’s abortion, gay marriage, and contraceptives. For Bloomberg, de Blasio, and Pelosi, it’s lightbulbs, SUVs, soda, and fast food.
But these people are all the same: all of them want to take away YOUR right to do what you want with YOUR money, YOUR vehicle, YOUR stomach, YOUR body, and YOUR home.
As any real conservative will tell you, the ONLY legitimate purpose of any government is to protect our rights and our liberty against those who would take them away, whether that’s you, my neighbor, a religious group in my town, or the majority of the society at large. The only legitimate purpose of any government is to protect our rights and freedoms – and to let us live as we wish to, as long as we don’t threaten anyone else’s rights and freedoms.
Whenever a government goes beyond that purpose, it becomes Big Government – and a danger to people’s rights and freedoms, regardless of whether it tries to legislate morality or prosperity. (And Americans don’t want it to legislate either.)
Therein lies the problem with the two major parties: both want to take your freedoms away. The Democrats want to legislate the economy, while Republicans want to legislate morality. The Democrats want to dramatically limit what you can do with your money, while Republicans want to dramatically limit what you can do with your body. For the last four decades, both parties have tried to do that and look just how dramatically the size and scope of the federal government has expanded.
It is NONE of any government’s business to legislate whether you or I can use contraceptives, whom I can marry, and whether or not a raped woman can seek an abortion. It is NONE of any local, state, or government’s business – and NONE of YOUR damned business, social conservatives.
And just think about it: if abortion, gay marriage, and/or contraceptives were banned, that would require yet another government agency (or agencies), costing billions of dollars annually and employing tens of thousands of bureaucrats and agents, to enforce such bans. You think the IRS is bad and oppressive? Or that the NSA is? Just imagine what a National Abortion Police or a National Counter-Contraceptives Agency would do if social conservatives got their wish.
As for funding for abortion, the fiscally conservative answer is simple: end it.
Finally, social conservatives claim there is a “moral decay in America”, and that fiscal issues cannot be solved without tackling these problems.
To some extent this is true when you look at divorce, single motherhood, alcoholism, and drug usage rates. But instead of targeting these very real and very serious problems and formulating positive solutions to them, “social conservatives” have, in the last 4 decades, railed exclusively against abortion, gay marriage, contraceptives, and DADT, and still continue to obsess about them, even though they are all lost issues.
So few Americans support banning gay marriage and contraceptives, or reinstating DADT, that these issues are, politically, irrevocably lost. As for abortion, it is legally lost because no Supreme Court, especially not one led by John G. Roberts, will overturn Roe v. Wade. If “social conservatives” couldn’t get Roe overturned in the last 4 decades, they never will.
In fact, abortion, gay marriage, contraceptives, and repealing DADT have not done any damage to America’s prosperity or well-being. Contraceptives have, in fact, helped stem the plague of STDs and unwanted pregnancies (they are highly effective at fighting both). Repealing DADT has saved taxpayers millions of dollars lost on discharging qualified, disciplined men who happened to be gay (and has not caused any turmoil in the military, contrary to grave predictions made in 2010).
Similarly, legalizing gay marriage has not done any harm to anyone. It has only increased people’s freedom by letting them marry whatever person they love. (A few decades ago, when bans on interracial marriage were being repealed, Southern “social conservatives” were saying exactly the same thing they clam today: that repealing the bans would threaten “the integrity of the institution of marriage.”)
If “social conservatives” were really concerned about America’s societal ills, like divorce and single motherhood, they’d be tackling them. But they don’t want to challenge the powerful divorce attorney lobby; instead, they prefer irrelevant issues like “gay marriage” and “contraceptives.”
Gay marriage is not a threat to anyone’s marriage, or to the integrity of the institution, in any way. Divorce – particularly no-fault divorce, now legal in all 50 states, is.
(BTW, know who was the first state Governor to sign legislation legalizing no-fault divorce in his state? Ronald Reagan.)
So Neal Boortz is absolutely right, and so.-called “social conservatives” (I prefer to call them social Big Government Nannies) are dead wrong. “Social issues” like abortion and gay marriage are sure election losers; they alienate suburbanites, youngsters, women, and minorities from the GOP; and advocating bans and legislating morality on these issues is every bit as much a Big Government Policy as banning sodas or SUVs is.