The Grand Old Party finds itself in a seemingly impossible position these days. In short, if Republicans officially abandon their “core principles,” social conservatives -- led by Mike Huckabee and others -- will presumably “walk”. On the other hand, if Republicans re-affirm their support for traditional marriage, they risk alienating moderate voters and expanding their ranks. So what exactly should they do?
Well, The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins has some advice for religious conservatives hoping to shape the debate (via The Hill):
Tony Perkins says religious conservatives should stop donating to the Republican Party until it clarifies its position on social issues.
The president of the Family Research Council, a top religious political group, said Thursday night that conservative activists should withhold their political donations to Republicans until the party decides where it will stand on social issues.
Tony Perkins, in an email sent to his supporters, criticized the Republican National Committee over a report released last month that suggested the party should reconsider its messaging on same-sex marriage to appeal to younger voters.
"Until the RNC and the other national Republican organizations grow a backbone and start defending core principles, don’t send them a dime of your hard-earned money," Perkins said in the email, a copy of which was obtained by CNN.
"If you want to invest in the political process, and I encourage you to do so, give directly to candidates who reflect your values and organizations you trust — like FRC Action."
Incidentally, Perkins isn’t convinced if and/or when the GOP comes out in favor of marriage equality the gesture will attract more young people to the party. In fact, he argues, it will have the opposite effect:
Perkins says that the RNC proposal will only drive away young voters who do not support same-sex marriage.
"Instead of trying to appease millennials, Republicans should try educating them on why marriage matters," Perkins wrote. "There’s an entire group of 'Countercultural Warriors' full of compelling young leaders who are all going to the mat to protect marriage."
He is unequivocally correct on one point. As noted in the article above, a CBS News poll conducted last month showed 46 percent of millennials “do not believe gay couples should be allowed to wed.” I admit this surprised me. We often hear in the media and elsewhere that young Americans -- including young Republicans -- are moving decidedly to the left on marriage issues. (This is certainly true to a certain extent). But what often goes unprinted and unreported is the plurality of young people who still (and will always) support traditional marriage for religious or personal reasons. Fortunately for Perkins, the RNC is reportedly drafting a resolution in California this week re-affirming the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage, but I suspect the debate is far from over -- and perhaps it’s only just beginning.