For the longest time I have believed -- and continue to believe -- Republicans will not nominate a social liberal as their presidential candidate, but even more so that if they do, they will severely handicap themselves in the general election.
The Washington Times reports that some Republican Party officials are concerned their party is drifting away from social conservatism in anticipation of the 2008 election. One RNC member said, in effect, that it would be electoral suicide for the GOP to nominate a pro-choice and pro-homosexual marriage presidential candidate.
Another member (not surprisingly, from the Northeast), said the party is drifting away from social conservatism but seemed to be pleased with the development. Robert Manning said, "There's an awareness among the national committee that the issues which are of dominant importance to a broad section of voters are tending toward national security and economics and less the social-religious issues that were dominant in prior campaigns."
But Manning's money quote was, "If the party has its headlights on, it responds to issues that concern a majority of voters. That's how you craft successful platforms, and that's what candidates build successful candidacies around."
Manning, like most GOP "moderates," is promoting the exact wrong formula for GOP electoral success. A vibrant, contagious, successful GOP is not reactive, as Manning suggests, nor a dog that allows itself to be wagged by its tail.
Moderate and liberal Republicans have long argued that the key to GOP success is to "moderate" its positions, which means adopting social liberalism to appeal to the so-called broad center.
But the most successful Republican coalition in ages was that built by Ronald Reagan, a pro-active, unapologetic economic, social and foreign policy conservative. He did not build his coalition by diluting his principles, but by articulating them without compromise or filter.
For those who might have forgotten, the mainstream media, which was immeasurably more powerful at the time of Reagan's rise, tagged Reagan as a dangerous extremist. They said his tax-cutting policies would bankrupt America, his social policies would send women to the back allies for abortions, and he would ignite World War III with the Soviet Union.
The GOP social liberal who urges the party leftward in the name of sound strategic analysis is allowing his own policy preferences to skew his thinking. For if he truly understood history or the pulse of the conservative movement that still drives the GOP, he would see the folly of his prescriptions for the party.