Sen. John McCain's daughter and his presidential campaign manager think they've figured out why McCain lost the 2008 election and what Republicans must do to win in the future. They need to be more like Democrats.
Steve Schmidt and Meghan McCain delivered their analyses in separate speeches to the Log Cabin Republicans, whose stated mission "is to work within the Republican Party to advocate equal rights for all Americans, including gays and lesbians."
Schmidt said he believes that a political party should not take or argue a position on same-sex marriage based on religious grounds. "If you put public policy to a religious test," he said, "you risk becoming a religious party, and in a free country, a political party cannot remain viable in the long term if it is seen as sectarian." Meghan McCain claimed, "Too many Republicans want to cling to past successes. There are those who think we can win the White House and Congress back by being 'more' conservative. Worse, there are those who think we can win by changing nothing at all about what our party has become."
In his remarks, Schmidt tried to engage in moral acrobatics, asserting that a pro-life position ought to translate into support for same-sex marriage: "The argument of the pro-life community acquires its moral force because it holds that the life of the unborn is not distinct in its dignity from the life of the born, and, thus, possesses a God-given right to be protected."
That argument could easily be turned around. If God gives rights to the unborn, doesn't He also get credit for defining marriage as between a man and a woman? The comment from the preacher at my wedding (and many other weddings in the "old days") seems relevant: "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder."
Republicans are in electoral trouble for many reasons, but one of them surely is not that they are insufficiently liberal on social issues. What's the point of having a two-party system if one party mimics the other? Many erstwhile Republican voters turned on the GOP not because they were insufficiently liberal, but because they were insufficiently conservative.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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