Repeat After Me: We Didn’t Lose Because of Social Issues
I admit that I really haven’t become much of a social conservative until about the last eighteen months. I mostly took libertarian position on issues like gay marriage and abortion – some of which I still maintain. However, being an adoptee and seeing the utter rot inherent on the political left, especially when it comes to abortion – I found my libertarian ‘pro-choice’ position untenable. Yes, I still think government regulation of the market inhibits its full potential, thereby making it a perverse action on behalf of the state. It’s immoral for government to curb systems that lead to greater economic freedom and liberty for its citizenry. Yet, I was also disturbed with government being in the home – and regulating social behavior amongst consenting adults.
Then, the 2012 election happened. The Democrats decided to manufacture a false narrative called the ‘War on Women,’ a consensus concerning taxpayer-funded abortion was in the works, and a thirty-yeard old liberal activist named Sandra Fluke burst onto the scene demanding free birth control. Unsurprisingly, all of this coalesced into an orgy of depravity called the Democratic National Convention, which should have been more appropriately called Abortion Fest. Even ABC News’ Cokie Roberts was unnerved by the abortion-centric rhetoric exhibited by liberals during the DNC.
Every decent American should, since the Democratic Party platform endorsed taxpayer-funded abortion. However, that wasn’t an extreme position. Republicans protecting life, even in the cases of rape and incest, was apparently the extreme position, despite the fact that such circumstances are responsible for less than 1% of all abortions. If anything, albeit in a grotesque way, that encapsulates the “safe, legal, and rare” characterization Democrats have used to describe abortion. A phrase that wasn’t included in their party platform in2012, although it’s been used in prior elections.
Nevertheless, after hearing Rebecca Kiessling‘s story – she was conceived during a rape – and the litany of botched abortions performed by Planned Parenthood, I’ve shifted more towards the pro-life camp. As an adoptee from South Korea, I have no backstory concerning my conception. I could be a product of rape. I just don’t know. Regardless, every life deserves a chance. My birth mother surely exuded this virtue. She gave me up for a better life here in the United States.
However, this brings us to the heart of the matter. Should we boot social conservatives from the movement and the Republican Party? The answer is NO! Yes, what Mourdock and Akin said imploded their senate campaigns, but Denny Rehberg failed to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Jon Tester in Montana. Rick Berg failed to secure his senate bid in North Dakota. George Allen lost in Virginia. Tom Smith got smoked in Pennsylvania. Connie Mack won’t be going into the upper chamber representing Florida. Are social issues responsible for all of these failed senate bids? No. By the way, Mourdock lost to a pro-life Democrat.
Now, while Mourdock and Akin win the creepy award for 2012 ( no one likes 60+ year old men talking about rape), everyone seems to blame the people who vote reliably Republican and listen to liberals on how to reform the party. An interesting op-ed piece was published in The Wall Street Journal on Nov.11 by Sarah Westwood, who is a rising sophomore at George Washington University.
The article articulately details the grievances that the more liberal wing of young Republicans have with the ‘Old Guard.’ Westwood states that Republicans need to do a better job reaching out to younger voters, which is true, but we also need to reach out to Hispanics and single women as well.
As a member of this all-important demographic [young voters], I know that neither I nor (almost) anybody else coming of age today supports the Republican social agenda. That’s the way the country is moving—so just deal with it. Modernize and prioritize.
Though it may be painful, though it may be costly at the polls in the short run, Republicans don’t have a future unless they break up with the religious right and the gay-bashing, Bible-thumping fringe that gives the party such a bad rap with every young voter. By fighting to legally ban abortion, the party undercuts the potential to paint itself as a rebel against the governmental-control machine.
Embracing a more liberal social agenda doesn’t require anyone to abandon her own personal values; it’s possible to keep faith and the party too. But the evangelical set essentially hijacked the Republican Party in the 1970s; now we need to take it back. Thawing the icy attitude of our most vocal, radical voices—including the raucous right (a la Limbaugh)—could let a fatally fractured party put the pieces together again.
The GOP won’t survive if it doesn’t start courting young voters. Simple math dictates that the Republican Party can wrest power away from the left only if it builds an army of fresh young members into its base. Democrats are the ones doing that now.
It seems Westwood wants to liberalize the party, return it to the Rockefeller/Thomas Dewey days, and ensure electoral disaster. Conservatives gladly put an end to their reign after the Goldwater insurgency in 1964. No, Goldwater didn’t lose – it just took sixteen years to count all the votes. Nevertheless, who said we were fractured? Our party was firmly behind Romney. The problem was Romney’s ground game ( Project ORCA) failed miserably to maximize turnout in key states. Yes, our coalition needs to expand to remain competitive, but it rests with smart messaging, not moderation.
And concerning purging Limbaugh – you must be insane if you think marginalizing any conservative in the media is a smart move. If anything, we need more conservatives fighting the liberal media on a daily basis. Westwood is right that Republicans need to change tactics and maximize outreach to expand out base of support, but moderation and becoming more liberal isn’t what’s going to bring us success at the polls. Concerning the ‘old guard,’ Westwood is right that some folks need to go. Karl Rove is on my list. However, we must also factor into account that youth turnout probably won’t be as high in 2016 when Obama isn’t on the ballot.
Conservatives, like myself, take pride in staying ‘stop!’ in the face of changing times. We say ‘not so fast’ to liberals – asking them about the efficiency within these government programs, especially if they come with a high price tag. Coupled with inquiries about a bill’s constitutional basis and long term effects – it’s this form of inquisition that has usually been effective in demolishing liberal programs for decades. We take pride, and idolize the Madisonian principles of limited government that was the original bedrock for our fledgeling republic. And they’re the principles we need to resurrect after this egregious expansion of the state under the Obama administration. This, coupled with aggressive prioritization of winning Latinos, is where we need to start.
We need to admit that in 2012 we were outplayed, outsmarted, and outmaneuvered. But kicking out social conservatives would make the Republican Party even smaller, according to Erick Erickson. Furthermore:
Mitt Romney won about a quarter of the hispanic vote and a tenth of the black vote.
Those numbers may not sound like much, but in close elections they matter.
A sizable portion of those black and hispanic voters voted GOP despite disagreeing with the GOP on fiscal issues. But they are strongly social conservative and could not vote for the party of killing kids and gay marriage. So they voted GOP.
You throw out the social conservatives and you throw out those hispanic and black voters. Further, you make it harder to attract new hispanic voters who happen to be the most socially conservative voters in the country.
Next, you’ll also see a reduction of probably half the existing GOP base. You won’t make that up with Democrats who suddenly think that because their uterus is safe they can now vote Republican. Most of those people don’t like fiscal conservatism either — often though claiming that they do.
If you really need to think through this, consider Mitt Romney. He is perhaps the shiftiest person to ever run for President of the United States. He shifted his position on virtually every position except Romneycare. Of all the politicians to ever run for office, he’d be the one most likely to come out and, after the Republican convention, decide he’d changed his mind. He’d be okay with abortion and okay with gay marriage.
Had he done that, he’d have even less votes.
Originally posted on The Young Cons.
Hmmm, more fodder in the trough. As a Libertarian with a little ‘L” & a Republican with an “R” my personal idenity given me the leeway & opportunity to explore & adopt offerings from both parties. It seems the Republicans lack definition & are in flux & many Libertarians opinions are bedded in cement. Yet, BOTH are Americans with love & affection for this (our) Country. Using this as a base, it would seem that we can get the ying & yang going the same direction, IF we really want to. First, each must clearly define & prioritize principals, then co-mun-i-cate in a manner that isn’t reflective of Congress gridlock. It’s not an overnighter or easy, but to my thinking, it is the only way we can out number & surround the liberal socialist. It starts at home & each of us must figure out “What’s it worth?”
Thanks, Matt, for making sure our trough was full of fodder.
Well, Jan – we on communicating our principles, but for now – I’m pro-gridlock.
this is honest question – do you think we should let the sequestration happen? is immediate financial hardship worth the significant national debt reduction it would acheive? My personal opinion is no – economics is mostly mental and reassuring our creditors and the global market is the most important thing for now; if we pass joint legislation that reduces the debt at least an initial moderate amount then investors will continue to feel good about US treasury bonds (still the worlds safest investment, by far) and our ability to fulfill our obligations, and our interest rates will remain low. gridlocking and sequestration only invites further credit downgrades and shaky investors. the world WANTS to be able to put their money in the dollar, considering that it is the currency of global transactions, the current weakness of the main alternative, the Euro; and China’s somewhat hollow market of artificially cheap exports. Right now democrats and republicans agree on 95% of what to do about sequestration: the only major thing they disagree on is that republicans only want to raise taxes on the upper class by limiting deductions/loopholes, and democrats want to do that AND raise the actual rates on the highest bracket. Obama should just drop the rate-hike and sign the bill that we all agree needs to be passed, and then we should turn to entitlements reform and balancing the budget, which will further reduce the debt and improve our situation. This would also promote good-will by giving the republicans the political cover of “raising revenues” without having to admit to an outright tax increase (“closing loopholes” just sounds better…). from a game-theory perspective (like the prisoner’s dillema) the worst thing for everyone is if no-one compromises.