Time for the GOP to abandon social conservatives?

I read a blog post over at the Pocketful of Liberty website today: Point: Social Conservatives Costing The GOP

I had some strong opinions from what was stated in the blog post and I’ve assembled those comments here with some minor edits for clarity’s sake:

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Quoting from the post:

“In case you haven’t guessed where I stand on this: I say screw social conservatives. Let them go somewhere else and start a new wholly irrelevant ”Constitution Party” or something. Then they can be a part of the bigger joke: the fact that fragmented third parties that achieve absolutely nothing.”

It seems to me that the most significant discrepancy of this post is the lack of perspective. The writer seems to believe that a Republican Party devoid of social conservatives won’t be doomed to become it’s own fragmented third party.

Political parties are made up of coalitions. Without them, political parties fail to win elections. Politicians having realized this long ago have made great efforts to bring various groups under their banner.

My understanding of the latter half of the 20th Century political landscape of the Republican Party is that social conservatives tended to stay out of the political process or at best were like herding cats. Each person of socially conservative mindset acting on his or her own. Religious leaders seeing that the nation was straying into what they deemed to be the moral abyss decided to get organized and unified. That was somewhere in the late 1970′s. Again feel free to correct my comprehension of history.

Ronald Reagan was the first presidential candidate who ‘endorsed’ social conservatives, and lo and behold, the Republican Party began winning elections. Social conservatives used to be somewhat easy to placate because in the 1980′s, they were one issue voters. If a candidate spoke out against abortion and had at least a decent voting record with regard to the matter, the social conservative vote was near guaranteed.

Today, social conservatives have become two issue voters: abortion and same-sex marriage. I would be willing to bet that a politician who had a solid pro-life record and one on same-sex marriage that made it clear that he/she believed it to be a state issue that should not be decided in Federal courts would win overwhelming approval from social conservative voters.

The Republican Party doesn’t need to change the platform. Republican leaders need to speak their minds. Undecided voters don’t vote on party platforms. The evidence is easy to find. The majority of Americans oppose the Democrat Party platform stance regarding abortion. Here’s the statement of where the Democrat party stands on abortion:

“Protecting A Woman’s Right to Choose. The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way. We also recognize that health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. We strongly and unequivocally support a woman’s decision to have a child by providing affordable health care and ensuring the availability of and access to programs that help women during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including caring adoption programs.”

The Democrats used to espouse safe, legal, and rare abortions. ‘Rare’ is no longer part of the platform or the vocabulary. Surprisingly enough, Americans voted twice for one of the most liberal voices for abortion rights in the past two Presidential elections. Apparently their ‘personal’ views on abortion didn’t matter that much to them.

The point being, by changing the Republican Platform to a more permissive stance on same-sex marriage, the GOP risks disheartening social conservatives who may as a result be less likely to show up to the polls on election day. What is the upside for the GOP? Are those highly-motivated by the same-sex marriage issue going to change their minds and suddenly start voting Republican?

Pro-life voices began in the Republican Party. Conversely, pro-same-sex marriage voices began in the Democratic Party. The likelihood of capturing any appreciable number of votes from a shift in the Party platform on the issue of same-sex marriage is low. The likelihood of dispiriting a normally highly-motivated voting bloc for the GOP is much greater.

Maybe at some point in the future, if those who believe that opposition to same-sex marriage equates to bigotry have their way, the Republican Party will by political necessity need to conform to prevailing societal opinion and change the platform.

Until such time, it’s unwise and counterproductive to do so.

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In a separate interaction, I challenged the notion that social conservatives based on their desire to ban abortion and prevent same-sex marriage from becoming permissible across the United States somehow makes social conservatives supporters of ‘big government’:

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Is social conservatism one in the same with those who promote ‘big government’? I guess I’ll have to cite some examples.

Which of the following are you ‘OK’ with?
1. Government laws against murder.
2. Government laws against theft.
3. Government laws against polygamy.
4. Government laws against copyright infringement.
5. Government laws against insider trading.
6. Government laws against speeding.
7. Government laws against yelling ‘Fire’ in a theater.

I guess I could go on and on, but I hope the point is understood. What it seems some have a problem with is someone defining what is ‘right’ that is opposed to their own personal morality. Each person’s morality differs. I would guess many would be quite upset if the Government did nothing to prosecute a murderer or rapist, leaving it up to the affected individuals to mete out justice in a manner appropriate to them.

The basic idea is that one of the primary reasons for the existence of governments is to define and enforce what is right and wrong, aka morality.

I understand some may be irritated by my line of reasoning, but honestly, at what point does the government need to just ‘butt out’?

Just because someone else’s definition of where the government should excuse themselves from intruding on my own personal liberty differs from yours doesn’t mean that I’m for ‘big government’.

Social conservatives see abortion as detrimental to the health of the nation. Witness the lack of restraint of Kermit Gosnell. At what point did he begin justifying the murder of babies that were born alive? Certainly seeing years and years of worth of fetuses (babies) that were terminated (killed) had some kind of a desensitizing effect.

Social conservatives also see same-sex marriage as detrimental to society. Some may have absolutely no problem with it, but social conservatives feel like it devalues the social norm of heterosexual marriage that is foundational to the survival of the human race and healthy upbringing of children.

Do those two reasons sound like ‘big government’ or legitimate concerns regarding society? You want to be able to draw the line at what you feel is OK or no concern of yours and so do social conservatives. The difference being only that your line differs from theirs.

Social conservatism is hardly ‘big government’. You can call it irritating, opposed to liberty, stifling, or any other like term, but ‘big government’ it is not.

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