The Republican party and “conservatives” in general are far from monolithic. There are different kinds of Republicans and different kinds of conservatives (social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, evangelicals, libertarians, neo-cons, paleo-cons, crunchy-cons, etc., etc.). The main division in the Grand Old Party is between Republicans motivated by their faith and concerned with issues such as abortion–a group that is more populist and varied in income–and the so-called “Country Club Republicans” motivated by business interests, as in the Democrats’ stereotype of Republicans as being the party of the wealthy. The Country Clubbers are blaming “evangelicals” for giving the party a bad image, but the “evangelicals” are blaming the Country Clubbers. From Paul Stanley:
Leading evangelicals are pushing back hard against charges that social issues are weakening the GOP brand, asserting that the nation is rejecting the rich GOP “country club” image more than retreating on moral issues.
Over the past several decades, the Republican Party has primarily been formed along two major philosophical lines. The first are conservatives who not only want government to live within its means, but care deeply about social issues such as abortion and traditional marriage. The second group is more moderate in its views. Often referred to as “country-club” Republicans, they are mainly business types who care more about fiscal issues and try to avoid social issues at all costs.
Of course there are many that fall in between the two groups, and the distance between the two seems to grow farther by the day.
Bob Vander Plaats heads up The Family Leader, a pro-family group in Iowa that plays a key role in screening presidential wannabes when they come calling on the Hawkeye State.
“The moderates have had their candidate in 2008 and they had their candidate in 2012. And they got crushed in both elections,” Vander Plaats told The Washington Post. “Now they tell us we have to keep moderating. If we do that, we will win?”Yet somehow the moderates look to their socially conscious brethren and blame them for the abortion gaffes of Senate candidates Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri and Indiana’s Richard Mourdock. . . .
And lest we forget, the Tea Party members fall into both camps but may tend to take an even harder stance on fiscal issues.Pam Wohlschlegel is the Florida State Coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots and describes herself as a fiscally conservative socially moderate. She is a Christian and Hispanic.
“Most tea partiers do not want to touch social issues,” Wohlschlegel told The Christian Post. “It’s not a topic we embrace because that is not what brought us together. When we get on social issues we allow liberals to define us. They turn a religious freedom issue into an issue by saying Republicans don’t like contraceptives. We should have been more forthright by saying that contraceptives weren’t the issue. Instead, it was about chemical abortions.”
Did Mitt Romney fail to attract a majority of voters because he was was too militant in opposing abortion and gay marriage or because he represented “big money”? Didn’t he downplay those social issues? Before the Republicans lost with Romney, they lost with John McCain. The point about tea partiers playing down social issues is also important, despite the way Democrats caricature this movement.
So should the Republicans emphasize social issues next time, or would that just be yet another way to lose?