In fairness, we are in extraordinary times, and it's understandable that even some Reagan conservatives (those who subscribe to his three-legged stool of economic, foreign policy and social conservatism) became impatient with attempts to place social issues at the forefront. They were convinced that President Obama's fiscal and economic nightmares alone would ensure a Republican victory and there was no need to make controversial social issues a drag on the ticket.
But that excuse will not mollify many social conservatives, who believe not only that social issues are the most important matters facing the nation today, but that at the root of our economic problems is an underlying disintegration of the nation's moral fabric.
My purpose here, though, is not to debate the merits of the competing positions, but to point out that this growing intolerance for social issues by some in the GOP could result in a major schism, even a splintering of the party.
I am receiving emails and reading articles from Christian conservatives advocating a doubling down on social issues, some even suggesting that Christians redirect their focus away from politics and toward evangelism. I don't believe this represents a major segment of Christian conservatives presently, but if efforts persist in scapegoating and diminishing social conservatives, more will become alienated.
Social issues are like blood in the water to Democrats and their liberal media accomplices, witnessed by their effort to ensnare GOP rising star Marco Rubio in a scandal over the age of the Earth. Even Rubio's tempered response was uniformly maligned as evidence of his science-illiteracy and superstition. The right's failure to come to his defense guarantees further and stronger attacks.
It is no small irony that those urging a remake of the GOP to bring it in line with changing demographics could unwittingly alienate Hispanics and other minority recruits who might be receptive to social conservatism.
It is also ironic and a testament to the wholesale ineffectiveness of the Republican Party that it is cowering from potentially winnable social issues: abortion, same-sex marriage, Obama's assault on religious liberty and his phony war on women. Is there no issue on which the establishment will not cave in the end?
The Republican Party can choose to ostracize social conservatives and their issues, or try to purge them altogether from the party and its platform. But they better be careful what they wish for, because if they do, it will be the end of the party as we know it.
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