Every time the GOP takes a beating at the ballot box there are calls to get rid of those doggone social conservatives -- or as Kathleen Parker refers to them, the "oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP."
This is a fascinating argument -- well, fascinating if you like watching people who don't even realize that they're doing little more than projecting their own personal biases onto the Republican Party and calling it political strategy.
Atheists, agnostics, Elvis worshippers, Jedis, Satanists -- it doesn't matter; they're all welcome in the Republican Party (Ok, not the Satanists so much. They're creepy losers). However, we live in an overwhelmingly Christian nation founded on Christian principles -- and reaching out to people who have Christian values makes so much sense that even the Democrats hold their nose and do it -- a little.
Additionally, maybe it's just my imagination, but didn't we just run a candidate for President who's notoriously unfriendly to social conservatives? I'm also pretty sure I remember some sort of "wrinkly white haired guy" who almost completely ignored issues like gay marriage and abortion on the campaign trail, even though Obama had huge weaknesses on those issues. So, if a non-socially conservative GOP is such a huge winner at the polls, shouldn't John McCain be gleefully preparing to knife the conservative movement in the back from the White House -- as opposed to gleefully preparing to knife the conservative movement in the back from the Senate?
I guess that's one of those questions we'll never be able to answer. You know, sort of like: if socially conservative issues like opposition to gay marriage are such huge political losers, how is it that those issues keep winning at the ballot box? Moreover, why is it that Barack Obama -- who has done everything except be a flower girl at a gay wedding to let people know that he really supports gay marriage -- adamantly claims to believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman? This is not exactly up there with the Bermuda Triangle on the mystery meter, my friends.
Perhaps after you read this excerpt -- which, rather bizarrely, is from a piece by Christine Todd Whitman and Robert M. Bostock urging Republicans to stop catering to social conservatives, you'll understand why so many Democrats do lie about their position on gay marriage,
Nor did the Republican ticket lose because "values voters" stayed home. On the contrary, according to exit polls, such voters made up a larger proportion of the electorate this year than in 2004 -- 26 percent, up from 23 percent. Extrapolating from those data, McCain actually won more votes from self-identified white evangelical/born-again voters than Bush did four years ago -- 1.8 million more.
So, if we believe Whitman and Bostock, "values voters" made up 26% of the electorate, but the GOP should stop trying to reach out to them? Oh, ok -- that makes perfect sense -- in topsy-turvy world, where right is wrong, smart is stupid, and everyone lives in houses made out of giant badgers.
If the GOP is going to tell 26% of American voters to take a hike, who, pray tell, are we going to replace them with? The 500,000 people who voted for Bob Barr? Maybe we can get Scott McClellan, Colin Powell, and Christopher Buckley to start voting Republican again. That's not quite 26%, but it's a start, right?
It's also worth noting that if the GOP wants to reach out to demographic groups that we're not doing very well with, like Hispanics and black Americans, socially conservative issues are one of the best ways to do it. "About one-third of Catholics in the United States are now Hispanic." Moreover, 90% of Hispanics are members of some branch of the Christian faith. The same goes for black Americans, "85 percent (of whom) say religion is very important in their lives."
All that being said, I will grant you social conservatism can be a loser if it comes across as preachy, bossy, or overdone. Moreover, there is a weird discomfort some people have about Christians who are serious about their faith getting interested in government. However, Christians had better be interested in the government because the government is certainly interested in them. It's interested in shaping the minds of their children, it's interested in shaping the culture around them, and it's interested in shaping who gets to be married in their church. If people of faith are willing to help the GOP in return for having their interests protected in Washington, the Republican Party would be extraordinarily foolish to turn them away.