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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

SoCons: The New Scapegoats

I will get to the piece by Kathleen Parker in a bit, however Parker is not the first conservative pundit to blame social conservatives for the debacle in 2008. David Frum, Tod LIndberg, and Christie Todd Whitman have all made similar observations in the aftermath of the loss.

Social Conservatives are an easy target, and it's also patently ridiculous to blame them for the results of this election. First, social issues were of minor concern in this election. The economy was the biggest concern on the minds of the voters. In many ways, this election was a referendum on the handling of the economy by the current President. That has absolutely nothing to do with social conservatives. If anything, the Republicans got crushed because the lost their fiscal conservative roots.

Furthermore, even if we were to cede the ridiculous point that Republicans embrace of social conservatism was at the root of 2008's problems, that would mean the last two elections were a wash. President Bush won in 2004 mostly on the backs of social conservatives. About a quarter of the voters in 2004 voted on the issue of "values". This was the most important issue of the 2004 election. Gay marriage was on the ballot in eleven states and Bush each of them but two, Oregon and Michigan. Among the states that Bush won, where it was on the ballot, that included Ohio. Certainly, there was none of this pseudo analysis back in 2004 and that's because such an analysis would have been so patently ridiculous that the current agenda of such analysis would have been snuffed out.

Social Conservatives make for an easy target. That's because they are naturally lightning rods. The issues most important to social conservatives are always emotional issues. It's much more difficult to find someone that will passionately argue against wasteful government spending than it is to find someone that is passionately pro abortion. It's easy to say that embracing issues like traditional marriage, pro life, and strict constructionist judges because they naturally incur vile from the other side. The far left incurs just as much vile but no one is claiming they should be purged from the Democratic Party.

Sometimes taking a stand on an issue will unfortunately earn you the ire of some folks or even many folks. To say that those willing to take strong stands on such issue ought to be purged from a party are the thoughts of intellectual cowards. Taking a strong and principled stand on abortion and gay marriage will lose a lot of votes. Taking no stand on anything that might earn you enemies means that all you do is pander. Social conservatives are a party of the Republican Party, an integral part, and dismissing them would be the worst idea.

Now then, let's examine what Parker said.

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

This Story

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I'm bathing in holy water as I type.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

The choir has become absurdly off-key, and many Republicans know it.

But they need those votes!

This analysis is not only bigoted and elitist but it's patently amateurish and uninformed. About 85% of this country considers itself some form of Christian. Those that believe in God dwarf those that don't. How does embracing the majority spell the death knell of the party?

What is really troublesome about her analysis is the condescending way in which she treats those that not only believe in God but make no excuses for it. When President Bush said that his favorite philosopher was Jesus, it earned him the ire of the media elite. He also won two elections despite, or possibly because of, their ire. The proverbial choir is only off key to those that find such an idea as the unapologetic belief in God something that only simpletons have.

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