Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been giving thought on a fairly regular basis to this question. Much of the thinking was sparked between a combination of a rant Sean Hannity went into on 5/4 and watching general press coverage, especially that hitting on Meghan McCain. After letting it mull a bit, I’ve come to the conclusion that the primary issue the Republican Party is having right now is not with their core “public” tenets, but rather with the secondary ones.
Charles Moran of the Log Cabin Republicans is quoted in an article today in the San Francisco Chronicle saying that the core tenets of the Republicans (and much of the Conservative Movement) are personal responsibility, individual freedom and small government. This same line was espoused by Hannity in his rant on 5/4. The problem, however, is in the parts of the Republican Party Agenda (so to speak) that aren’t covered by those three things.
I’m willing to state there are many people out there who are for the ideas of personal responsibility, individual freedom and small government. The issue with the Republican Party, however, is in their push for legally mandated social conservatism. Much of the root for this part of the Party is found in the fertile soil of the Religious Right. Its in this where you find the push for criminalization of abortion and drugs as well as keeping same-sex marriage off the books.
If the Republican Party is going to have any hope at all with maintaining any sort of prominence in the coming decades, they are going to need to realize that smaller government and personal freedom are not compatible with legislated morality. Those issues are the albatross hanging from the party’s neck and what will keep driving the younger generations away from the party.
I’m seeing a noticeable part of the Republican Establishment(tm) attempting to marginalize those who are pushing the Party to recognize this and move past it in an effort to get its core message out to the country. In doing this, I firmly believe they are cutting off their nose to spite their face. I have zero issue with someone wanting to hold to their own personal moral code. My issues comes in when they attempt to legislate that morality and use the force of government to force it on someone else.
Regardless of your opinion of Arlen Specter and his switch to the Democrat Party, he did at least get something right. The Republican Party, in embracing a vocal social conservative minority in its ranks, has all but turned its back on the social moderates in the party. If it continues to do this, it’s going to lose more people that just one Senator whose primary concern is staying in office rather than standing on his principles. That stance is going to drive away the younger generations who are willing to work and revitalize the Party if they are shown there is a place for them. Telling them or implying that there is no place if they’re not a staunch social conservative in addition to being a fiscal conservative isn’t going to cut it. And attacking those who are espousing this viewpoint is only going to further drive the point that the Republican Party has lost its way and is missing the forest for the trees.
Either you’re for smaller government (which includes removing the overt influence of Government in someone’s personal life) or you’re not. You can’t have it both ways. Trying to do so only makes you look like a hypocrite. My only hope is either the Republican Pary establishment will realize this and correct their course, or they’ll fall by the wayside and the media will actually pay attention to a party that does espouse this viewpoint–whether the Libertarian Party or something new that grows.