For months, the political chattering class has delighted in what they perceive as the crumbling of the powerful social conservative coalition. The New York Times, always looking to denigrate social conservatives, has reported on “The Evangelical Crackup” and the “deep divide in the Christian conservative movement.”
Some conservatives even have echoed the Times’ premise. They were conservatives, but they were not evangelical Christian conservatives. Yet, they waxed eloquent about the thinking of conservative Christians, some going as far as saying that evangelicals had finally “grown up” or “matured” in their judgment. Such statements reek of condescension.
They don’t seem to understand the movement or its leaders. And they shouldn’t look to the New York Times for insight.
Social conservatives are united on issues of life, the Supreme Court, marriage, and Second Amendment freedoms. But, the movement’s leaders are independent thinkers who are often slow to rally around a single political standard-bearer. They like to kick the tires.
In the GOP presidential primary, social conservatives are already casting a deep footprint.
Four of the movement’s leaders recently endorsed their first choice for the Republican nomination. Each picked a different candidate. Each endorsement was newsworthy. And each provided a principled rationale for their decision. All four endorsements and their news coverage demonstrated the sustained influence and importance of social conservatives in the GOP.
The biggest headline was of course Reverend Pat Robertson endorsing Rudy Giuliani. It’s also the most misunderstood news story last week.
Almost immediately, the press was panning the endorsement as a sell-out. That’s ridiculous. Mr. Robertson is not selling out. He just happens to have a J.D. from Yale Law School, so he knows what Mr. Giuliani’s commitment to appointing strict constructionists to the Supreme Court means. The fact that Ted Olson, an unimpeachable legal conservative, is Mr. Giuliani’s closest advisor on judicial matters seals the deal for many as to the kind of Supreme Court he would create.
There were even pundits saying that Mr. Robertson was putting fighting terrorists ahead of ending abortion. Nonsense. Yes, he places great emphasis on winning the war against the global network of terrorists. But, he also knows Mr. Giuliani would appoint conservative judges and believes he has the best chance to beat Hillary Clinton. Therefore, he believes supporting Mr. Giuliani gives conservatives the best chance of overturning Roe v. Wade. He didn’t drop abortion as an issue; he thinks this gives us the best chance on the issue, and is acting on principle.
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