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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The GOP and Social Conservatives

The Bullmoose and our loyal "gadfly" as Mr. Homnick recently called him, Tlaloc, wonders to what extent Reform Clubbers think the GOP simply uses social conservatives or "the religious right" without actually being interested in their issues. Mr. Homnick has expressed agreement with the idea.

I'm on the other end of the spectrum. Not only do I think the GOP is interested in enacting a socially conservative agenda, I think the GOP is now dominated by social conservatives and those who are fellow travelers. Part of the reason W. is so strongly supported by conservative Christians is their visceral sense that he *is* one of them. He talks the talk comfortably (which is rare for him) and appears to walk the walk. He can provide real evidence of redemption in his personal life and has clearly shown that he is a man with strong core convictions.

Those who have difficulty with social conservatives in the party usually disagree more as a matter of aesthetics than on substance. Conservatives have always felt freedom requires a corresponding emphasis on virtue, so it's a good fit. Stridency is more often the problem than powerful policy disagreement. The better "religious right" types get at articulating their message, the stronger the ideological fit between the GOP and their concerns will become. We're already miles ahead of the old Falwell/Robertson days, when perhaps religious concerns really were a sort of window dressing, except with regard to abortion where Reagan might reasonably be said to have been adamantine as a President with a very clear position.


Jay D. Homnick said...

Rick Santorum and Sam Brownback, maybe Norm Carlson and Lindsey Graham. With four senators that share our inclinations you're going to remake policy? Not very likely.

But would that Hunter were right.

The great Yehuda Levin (don't miss his speech at the anti-Roe rally next week; his is always best)says that the religious leaders act like politicians and the Democrat politicians are religious in their pro-abortion zealotry. He's all too sadly right. And we might add that the Republican politicians act like politicians, too. So the Dems have passion and we don't - guess who always wins?

Hunter Baker said...

We won't agree, but you're wrong, Scrabble-king. Your count of socially conservative Senators is far too low. What about Alabama's Senators or Mississippi's? What about John Cornyn of Texas or Saxby Chambliss in Georgia? We could go on an on cherry-picking major politicos who are sympatico with "the movement."

Tlaloc said...

Danke shon for taking up the topic and giving your views on the matter (to both Jay and Hunter).

Hunter, since you feel that the GOP does sincerely have an interest in the Religious Right's agenda how does that jive with their stated goals: Iraq and Social Security. Neither of those goals appear to be along the lines of the Christian Coalitions main focus.

If they really felt the same as you do wouldn't they make abortion their primary goal above changing an economic system that is decades away from difficulty?

Hunter Baker said...

Tlaloc, the national GOP has done everything they can do on the abortion issue. They've sent their solicitors to argue for pro-life measures and they've passed bans on partial birth abortion. The real fight is in the courts and that's exactly why judicial confirmations have been such a big issue. Don't forget that President Bush also backed the RR on the same-sex marriage issue. They didn't get an amendment, but the bar is very high.

Tlaloc said...

hunter: "Tlaloc, the national GOP has done everything they can do on the abortion issue."

Hardly. Bush could have chosen to spend his "political capital" on pushing the pro-life movement. He didn't. He could have made abortion a central plank in his campaign or presidency. He hasn't. Instead its been tax cuts, Social Security privatization, and Iraq. Considering none of those three had to be dealt with he obviously had the option of pursuing the religious right's agenda. So why didn't he? Because he doesn't give a damn. Roe vs. Wade is the best thing that ever happened to the GOP. They get to use it fleece religious congregations of money and votes. In return they do next to nothing. They propose bills they know can't pass and never attempt to make any real headway. When they have the power do they touch abortion? No instead they give perks to corporate benefactors.

The question is how long you'll let them use you.