I have to conclude that the social conservatives have quit. Politically, that is, for the 2008 election.
Is that right? Am I missing something?
Here’s why I say that.
1) Colorado—home of Focus on the Family—appears to be heading Democrat this year. That leads me to presume one of two things:
a) The social conservatives in Colorado lack the strength to swing the state to McCain, or:b) They don’t care to.
2) Again in Colorado, the R Senate candidate appears headed to defeat. (I hope I’m wrong here, but I fear that I’m not).
Now, in our current form of governing, the Senate must approve federal judges. It seems to me that, if you want to challenge Roe V Wade, you need enough Senators on your side so that you can win the fight.
So, I was baffled when I didn’t see a full-court press from social conservatives in 2006 to save George Allen, Conrad Burns or both.
In 2006, you had a GOP President who’d learned his lesson with Harriet Miers, and had twice demonstrated a willingness to nominate the kinds of strict-constructionist judges that the pro-life movement needs on the bench. Plus, the two oldest and most infirm SCOTUS Justices are its most liberal ones (Stevens and Ginzburg).
So, during the last two years of Dubya’s term, wouldn’t you want to do everything you could to help ensure a GOP Senate, and hence a GOP Senate Judiciary Committee?
Apparently not. While TomlinsonDouthat and others argued that social conservatives did turn out in healthy numbers (for Allen especially)—I still don’t recall James Dobson or Tony Perkins or other evangelical leaders loudly sounding the alarm and rallying the troops to keep the Senate in GOP hands.
Well…OK…how did the social conservatives plan to get the judges they needed? Did they think they could work with, or around, Patrick Leahy?
Fast forward to 2008:
Mark Pryor will win reelection in Arkansas. While he might vote for a pro-life SCOTUS Justice, he’ll certainly vote to put Patrick Leahy back in the Senate Judiciary chair. Pryor must know that Leahy will commit seppuku before allowing a SCOTUS nominee who might threaten Roe V Wade to go to the Senate floor for a vote. How much effort was put into unseating Pryor, a Democrat in a conservative state?
Then, there’s Colorado. I have to wonder—if Focus on the Family lacks the power to swing enough people to elect GOP Senators or a GOP President in its own home state, then I end up back at my two earlier questions:
1) Have the social conservatives turned their back on competitive politcs?2) If they haven’t, then is this a sign that they lack the political clout necessary to win elections?
I urge us to ask ourselves these questions, as we look to the future of conservatism in American politics.
Are the social conservatives still willing to fight this fight with us? Also, while no one questions—or should question—the sincerity and goodness in their cause, do they have the ability to win elections?
Frankly, I have to admit—I don’t know.