Christine Todd Whitman is out with a new WaPost op-ed today which argues: "The Party won't win back the middle as long as it's hostage to social fundamentalists."
As everyone knows, there is a struggle taking place right now for the heart and soul of the GOP. And it is clear that the social liberals who, since Reagan's tenure have been on the outs in the GOP, are hoping to seize this opportunity to take back their party (the title of Whitman's book on this was "It's My Party, Too.").
In my estimation, the argument over whether or not the GOP should be a fiscally conservative party -- or a socially conservative party -- or anything else -- is a false choice. We might argue over which positions to stress during a given election season, but abandoning any wing of the conservative movement would be a disaster for the GOP.
Whitman's argument is not only politically unwise, it is also a fallacy to suppose that there is a clear distinction between social and fiscal conservatives Most social conservatives are also fiscal conservatives. And most classical liberals who value freedom and hate big government acknowledge our freedom is divinely derived, inasmuch as "we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights."
The American system is unique in that, because our rights do not come from man but from a Creator, they cannot be taken away by man. Natural rights theory goes back to Locke -- and (in my estimation, at least) is the intellectual glue which binds the disparate wings of the movement together. As such, becoming a more secular movement would not only be politically unwise, it would be intellectually inconsistent.
Whitman and her co-author also go on to write this:
"Following the conventional wisdom of the past two presidential elections, McCain tried mightily to assuage the Republican Party's social-fundamentalist wing. His selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whose social views are entirely aligned with that wing, as his running mate was clearly meant to demonstrate his commitment to that bloc. Yet while his choice did comfort those voters, it made many others uncomfortable."
In fact, the notion that Palin is exclusively -- or even primarily -- a social conservative is a media creation which ignores her tenure as Alaska governor. Groups which focus exclusively on fiscal conservatism, such as The Club for Growth, were huge proponents of Palin based on her fiscal positions. I am working on a post which will prove this out...