It is plainly and painfully clear that the economy (jobs, income, inflation, housing), the Federal budget (deficits, debts) and the size and scope of the Federal government will be the deciding factors in the 2012 Presidential election. As such, despite the anticipated tactics and strategy of the Democratic Party to, on occasion, divert the subject to social issues in order to curry favor with their core constituencies (gays, feminists, egghead elites, etc.), it will be interesting to see how the eventual Republican nominee will tack on these issues in the upcoming campaign. Some readers may quibble with these issues, but I tried to eliminate those that had overtly or substantial fiscal dimensions and consequences. For example, many here may argue that education reform is a social issue which includes teacher accountability standards, vouchers and school choice issues which all have financial aspects. Likewise, many may view immigration reform as a social issue, but it also has obvious fiscal dimensions.
Similarly, the five issues I feel need mentioning here certainly have fiscal dimensions also, albeit at a lower or less obvious level. For example, affirmative action programs most definitely impact financially on employers in the private and public sectors. However, among the five chosen social issues- and there are certainly more that could be included but I stuck at five for the sake of brevity- the fiscal component is either more subtle, or barely existent or obvious.
Now, before discussion, lets assume certain electoral outcomes you have to deal with which in NO way represent my desired or predicted outcome. But, lets assume the Republicans maintain control of the House, but lose the margin of their majority by about 10 seats. Second, lets assume Republicans gain control of the Senate- a very real possibility- but that the gains give Republicans a 53-47 seat majority. Of course, this does not make the Senate filibuster-proof as Republicans would have to get seven Democrats to vote to end debate (a possibility depending on the legislation and the political dynamics involved). Unfortunately, lets also assume that Barack Obama wins a close election and is reelected President. Realizing a slightly weakened majority in the House, a workable majority in the Senate and a Democratic President, it becomes somewhat clear that compromise on certain issues will have to occur because of the threat of a presidential veto and the possibility that the votes to override the veto do not exist. And we will also assume that Obama will hold steadfast to his core liberal beliefs and govern accordingly. Also, it is assumed that the courts would not become involved in any of these issues (a pipe dream I know, but its my hypothetical).
Given these parameters, the five social issues are abortion, gay marriage, gun control, capital punishment, and affirmative action. Obviously, there are strong opinions on both sides of these five issues and that views run the gamut between the extremes on these issues. I further understand that a strong principled conservative stand on any issue- all or individually- leaves no room for compromise on those issues. However, that would ignore the “reality” of my hypothetical electoral outcome that must be dealt with by all.
I am curious as to three questions which I would like to pose to all Redstate readers and contributors. Again, this entails an “if I really, really had to” scenario. The first question is: Of the five issues- abortion, gay marriage, gun control, capital punishment and affirmative action- which do you feel is the most important social issue facing Americans that would require Federal intervention to change that which exists today regarding that issue? For example, if you feel abortion is the most serious social issue, you can define “Federal intervention” as defunding Planned Parenthood or codifying the Hyde Amendment, or passing a constitutional amendment. Again, I understand that these social issues have philosophical underpinnings that bind certain issues together, but try to decouple the issues and choose one.
The second question is: Given the political hypothetical stated earlier, on which single issue would you be most willing to compromise on if you had to? And the third question is: If you could get your way 100% on the issue you feel is most important, on what issue would you be willing to let the opposition get at least 90% of their way on if it came to that?
For example, in my case, I believe that affirmative action is the top social issue because I have seen greatly qualified individuals passed over for promotion in the name of “workforce diversity.” In bad economic times, it should be incumbent that we reward, hire and promote the most qualified individuals regardless of race. I understand that sometimes for whatever reason “all things are not equal.” However, equalizing things through affirmative action programs is not the way to proceed and that these affirmative action programs actually engender racial divides and animosity. The area I would be most willing to compromise on is gay marriage because quite frankly, it really does not interest me, nor do I believe it is a major problem besides offending my sensibilities and the traditional definition of marriage. That being said, I know long-term homosexual partners and have to qualms against them. I also know that the vast majority of the arguments for gay marriage can be addressed through existing statutory and common law principles absent the granting of licenses by states. If there was one area where I would allow the opposition to get their way 100%, it would be in the area of gay marriage in exchange for the Federal government completely getting out of the issue of abortion and leaving that issue to states. That means that no federal funds go to any organization tangentially related to abortion services and a Constitutional amendment leaving the issue to the states to decide through the political process.