Much of this political advocacy has focused on issues pertaining to the definition of family, the definition of marriage, and the sanctity of the unborn child. This is all understandable, given how the Supreme Court ruled in the “Roe versus Wade” decision, and how lower courts have weakened parental rights and have sought to re-define marriage.
However, one of the unfortunate consequences of the faith-based, socially conservative political movement is that many faith-based Americans only choose to participate in elections when they see that that their specific, personal moral values are clearly represented on a ballot. A vivid illustration of this problem emerged in the 2000 presidential election, when the “pro-family” George W. Bush almost didn’t become President.
Days prior to that election, the Al Gore for President campaign leaked a story to the press about Bush having been arrested for drunk driving back in 1976. At that point Bush had been polling ahead of Gore, but we all know what happened on Election Day that year – Bush lost the popular vote nationally, and the future of the presidency rested on the electoral votes in Florida.
Years later Bush political advisor Karl Rove would publish his findings as to what happened on Election Day 2000. According to him, many social conservatives – perhaps as many as 2 to 3 million of them – who had otherwise intended to vote for Bush, instead chose not to vote at all, because given the drunken driving news, they determined that Bush wasn’t a “godly man.”
This probably was what led Rove to make sure that in the 2004 election, gay marriage bans appeared on the ballots in swing states like Florida, and Ohio. The “war on terror,” and the radically different visions about that war held by the two major presidential candidates, apparently wasn’t going to be enough to guarantee that faith-based Americans would vote in large number, so Rove provided them with an issue to which they could relate.
This dynamic also led both John Kerry and John Edwards to frequently compliment Vice President Dick Cheney’s “family.” Both Kerry and Edwards, while vicious in their criticisms of the Bush-Cheney ticket, nonetheless expressed how wonderful they thought it was that Dick Cheney accepted and loved his daughter Mary, “even though she was a lesbian.’” This was a very cynical ploy to try and get faith-based Americans to determine that Cheney was not a “godly man,” just as many of them had decided about Bush four years before, and to suppress the socially conservative vote.
And today, the debate over homosexual “marriage” is once again in the headlines, yet the debate is not going the way faith-based Americans would like. Will faith-based social conservatives get exasperated, and again abandon their responsibility to vote?
Rest assured that the Obama Democrats are hoping so.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.