After the last two Presidential elections, some on the Right have demanded that the GOP jettison its positions on social conservative issues such as abortion and gay marriage. To them, the GOP lost these elections because those issues are too “divisive” and that capturing the younger voters demands that we capitulate on social issues. Interestingly, and unsurprisingly, President Obama agrees.
There are going to be some areas where that change is going to be very hard for Republicans. I suspect, for example, that already there are some Republicans who embrace the changing attitudes in the country as a whole around LGBT issues and same-sex marriage. But there’s a big chunk of their constituency that is going to be deeply opposed to that, and they’re going to have to figure out how they navigate what could end up being divisions in their own party. And that will play itself out over years.
The President has taken his re-election as an indicator that the United States of America agrees with him on principle, especially those principles on which the GOP does not agree.
This week, in “First Things”, Peter Leithart discusses Obama’s apparent strategy to split Republicans along social conservative lines, creating “Good Republicans” and “Bad Republicans”. Leithart says, “Let it come”
My advice to Bad Republicans is: Let it come. If the price of regaining power is to abandon any semblance of Christian sexual morality, the price is too high. If the Republican party can’t bring itself to endorse a traditional understanding of marriage, let it split. If the Republican party can’t be bothered about the slaughter of the unborn, let it shatter into a million little pieces. Good Republicans will blame Bad Republicans for tearing the GOP to pieces. So be it.
One might hope for better. One might hope that shrewd and principled leadership from a courageous few would re-galvanize the Republican party on social issues. That might not provide a path to power, but it would turn the GOP into a genuine alternative to social liberalism. One hopes; anything can happen. I think it more likely that Obama will get his way and leave the Republican party in greater disarray than ever.
Leithart is right.
Numerous polls over the years have demonstrated the breadth and depth of social conservative support in the GOP. Polling prior to the last election indicated that Evangelicals supported Mitt Romney by a 4:1 ratio over Obama. And not surprisingly, a large gap has opened between Republicans and Democrats over “family values“. The GOP is largely a social conservative party. Even here at Redstate, the one non-negotiable position for front-page contributors is that we must be pro-life.
There is room for differences of opinion in the Republican party. I, myself, do not toe the hard-right line on topics such as capital punishment, immigration and some economic issues (e.g. it irks me to no end when those on our side continue to throw out support for TARP as some sort of litmus test for conservatism). But I will not stand for a Republican Party that rejects social issues wholesale. If the GOP wants to be Libertarian, there’s already a party that supports that. If the GOP believes division is the answer, well, here’s what Leithart believes, and so do I:
There is a time for peace, but in my judgment we’re not in such times. For the next four years, perhaps longer, social-issue Christians must recognize that smoothing differences is a temptation, and must learn to resist the temptation. Christians have to be willing to follow the example of Jesus, who came not to unify but to divide father from son, mother from daughter, brother from brother. Division was essential to the social renewal he came to accomplish, because those who followed him, torn from comfortable networks of kin and religion, formed the nucleus of a new kind of community. For Jesus, division was the means for achieving a new unity. Christians have to be willing to imitate the Prince of Peace who declared, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Social conservatism isn’t the problem. The Democrats and Barack Obama are the problem. Social-ISM is the problem, not social conservat-ism. The divisiveness we see in this nation comes from Democrats who seek to divide us into Bad and Good. If believing that the moral breakdown of the nation is Bad, then I guess that’s what I am. I will not conform to the world.
Romans 12:2 – “ Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.