Political conservatives vs. social conservatives?

The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is the big conservative conclave that meets annually to rally the troops and to make plans for political activism.  But this year’s meeting, which started yesterday, has no sessions on pro-life causes, traditional marriage, or religious freedom.  Which makes some social and religious conservatives wonder if they are getting written out of the conservative political movement. [Read more...]

Socially conservative but economically liberal

Luke Foster notes a new breed of Christian political activists.  They are social conservatives–pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, pro-religious liberty–but they are liberal economically (wanting government programs that help the poor) and they are running as Democrats. [Read more...]

Shifting from family values to religious freedom

McKay Coppins notes a change in the message of Republicans and social conservatives in particular.  No longer are they pushing for moral issues, apparently feeling that those battles have been lost.  Instead, they are fighting for religious freedom, for the liberty of religious people, at least, to hold to their moral convictions. [Read more...]

Why today’s political ideologies are pretty much the same

James Kalb has published an article that explains (1) why Democrats and Republicans (also Libertarians, Anarchists, and Populists) are ultimately so similar; (2) why social conservatives, such as Christians and other traditionalists, have such a difficulty in being heard in the public square; (3) the underlying worldview that dominates contemporary Western societies; and (4) why this worldview is failing and how social conservatism might stage a comeback.

The article, published in Modern Age and online at Intercollegiate Review, is kind of long, so I urge you to read it here:  Out of the Antiworld | Intercollegiate Review.  After the jump, I will post excerpts to whet your appetite. [Read more...]

Democrats and Republicans reverse roles

Have you noticed that it’s now the Democrats who are trying to wage a culture war?  Meanwhile, all Republicans want to talk about today is economics, which was always the interest of the New Deal Democrats.  [Read more...]

Purging social conservatives from the GOP

As Christian activists are trying to think through the parameters of political involvement, some Republicans are thinking their party may be better off without them.  In an opinion piece that is attracting lots of party discussion, Republican consultant Mike Murphy argues that the GOP needs to drop socially-conservative issues like abortion and gay marriage in favor of a “a more secular and modernizing conservatism.”

The Republican challenge is not about better voter-turnout software; it is about policy. We repel Latinos, the fastest-growing voter group in the country, with our nativist opposition to immigration reform that offers a path to citizenship. We repel younger voters, who are much more secular than their parents, with our opposition to same-sex marriage and our scolding tone on social issues. And we have lost much of our once solid connection to the middle class on kitchen-table economic issues.

A debate will now rage inside the GOP between the purists, who will as always call for more purity, and the pragmatists, who will demand modernization. The media, always culturally alien to intra-Republican struggles, will badly mislabel this contest as one between “moderate” and “right-wing” Republicans. In fact, the epic battle we Republicans face now is a choice between two definitions of conservatism.

One offers steadfast opposition to emerging social trends like multiculturalism and secularization. The alternative is a more secular and modernizing conservatism that eschews most social issues to focus on creating a wide-open opportunity society that promises greater economic freedom and the reform of government institutions like schools that are vital to upward social mobility.

via Can This Party Be Saved? | TIME.com.

He goes on to make the case for the latter.  Never mind that the last two Republican presidential losers downplayed social issues and were not representative of the Christian right.

Bloomberg’s Josh Barro  argues that it was precisely the economic issues favored by establishment country club Republicans that alienated middle class voters:

The Republican Party’s key electoral problem doesn’t come from social conservatives or nativists. It comes from the economic policy demands of the party’s wealthy donors. Murphy allows that Republicans “have lost much of our once solid connection to the middle class on kitchen-table economic issues.” But his prescription won’t do anything to fix that problem.

What are the “kitchen-table” economic concerns of the middle class? They’re high unemployment, slow income growth, underwater mortgages, and the rising cost of health care and higher education. Democrats have an agenda that is responsive to these concerns. Republicans don’t — and they don’t because the party’s donor class specifically doesn’t want one.

For more discussion and links to other voices in the debate, see this post at First Thoughts.

So what do you make of this?  Would you support a “secular and modernizing” Republican party?


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