Senator Rand Paul thinks he has a recipe for a GOP comebackwrites Benny Huang —
Republicans should agree to disagree on social issues.More from Josh Richman (thanks to Instapundit); meanwhile, the Huffington Post's intro to a Sabrina Siddiqui column suggests that Rand Paul is… a racist — because, you know, the only people who are ever allowed to broach the subject of race are Democrats and progressives…
… According to this argument, after a mutual agreed-upon truce on social issues, a slew of disaffected voters will flock to the GOP and the party will be able to tackle the debt crisis that plagues us.
There are a number of problems with Paul’s formula for victory. Let’s start with the fact that Republicans have already agreed to disagree on these issues. Come to Massachusetts and you’ll find nary a trace of social conservatism in the state GOP. Even outside of New England there are pro-abortion Republicans like Chris Christie and and pro-same sex marriage Republicans like Rob Portman. The party even has turncoats who think that religious business owners should be forced by law to take part in same-sex weddings—John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Jan Brewer, to name a few. So there’s plenty of room in the Republicans’ “big tent” for people who hate religious liberty and love violence against the unborn.
“Agreeing to disagree” can’t be what Paul really means. I think what he’s saying is that all-around conservatives should let the fiscal-policy-only conservatives do all the talking so the party will stop looking so mean and exclusive. This will be accomplished by punting all social issues to the Democrats, who have most certainly not agreed to disagree.
And they will win. Every time.
The only way this could possibly grow the party is if the ostracized social conservatives continued to faithfully cast their ballots for Republicans; just for old time’s sake or something. I guess it never occurred to Senator Paul that those conservatives who don’t like the new GOP might just stay home, thus shrinking the party.
But there’s another problem with the Paulian plan for a rejuvenated Republican Party: the demographic groups the senator is hoping to reach by focusing on budget issues are probably the least receptive to the message.
Try preaching fiscal conservatism in an inner-city neighborhood where the population is disproportionately young, non-white, and Democratic. Here’s a message that will get you nowhere with them: “Hi, I’m running for office on a platform of lower taxes and less government.”
… Less government terrifies them because they understand the term to mean fewer social programs. And they’re right. They might even ask what parts of the budget Republicans plan on cutting, which is a fair question. What will Republicans say?
Consider for a moment Generation Y and its priorities. A 2012 Pew poll found that among eighteen- to twenty-nine year olds socialism had a nice ring to it. Forty-nine percent of this age group reported a positive reaction to the word, while 47% had a negative view of capitalism.
Among blacks of all ages, 55% had a positive reaction to the word socialism, and among Hispanics of all ages it was 44%. If Rand Paul thinks he can win these people over by kicking Phyllis Schlafly to the curb he’s wrong.
The reason the cost of government is perpetually growing is because our elected officials don’t know how to say no to any constituent group or “good cause.” Every program is someone’s lifeblood, whether it’s HUD or farm subsidies, and every agency is someone’s employer, whether it’s the turnpike authority or TSA. Making a cut anywhere will generate pushback, often from exactly the people Rand Paul thinks he can attract.
If the pivot from social policy to fiscal policy is compelled by a burning desire to be liked, the effort can only fail. Congressman Paul Ryan experienced this last week when he recommended a change in work ethic as an antidote to welfare dependency in inner city communities. In short order, Congresswoman Barbara Lee played the race card. “My colleague Congressman Ryan’s comments about ‘inner city’ poverty are a thinly veiled racial attack and cannot be tolerated,” Lee said. “Let’s be clear, when Mr. Ryan says ‘inner city,’ …what he really means [is]: ‘black.’”
Don’t think you can get off with just being called racist either. Welfare benefits are paid out primarily to women, which means the Left can also call accuse fiscal conservatives of opening a new front in the War on Women™. And since the Left does everything “for the children,” fiscal conservatives will be accused of stealing food from the mouth of babes too.
If Republicans are going to be throwing principles overboard for the sake of giving their party a facelift, they needn’t stop, or even start, with the social issues. The MSNBC lineup will be delighted for a short time to learn that the Republicans have agreed to shut up on certain issues, but they will never stop calling Republicans bigots. Ever.
Which isn’t a reason to abandon fiscal conservatism. I’m a fiscal and social conservative, or what used to be called, um…conservative. Here’s the unfortunate truth: leftists are never going to stop calling us bigots, and certain segments of the population are never going to stop believing them. So if you believe in something, be prepared to suffer a few slings and arrows. If opinion polls are trending the wrong way then work to change those polls. Fight the battle of ideas.
Does Rand Paul understand that? I don’t think so. If he did, he would understand that sacrificing conservatism for the sake of growing the Republican Party is a good deal for the Republican Party but a rotten deal for conservatism. My party loyalty at this point is at about zero, so I don’t see the advancement of the GOP as a goal worth pursuing.
Ann Coulter chimes in, saying that she has
been reading that same column in The New York Times every few months for the last 20 years. Whether it’s abortion, gays, God or drugs, Times reporters are like bloodhounds in sniffing out Republicans — often kids — who are “pro-free market on fiscal issues and libertarian on social ones.” If something has been trending for decades without ever really catching on, it’s probably not about to sweep the nation.Ann points out that
young people are idiots. I love them, I was one once myself -– but they’re idiots. We’ll be interested in their opinions on the basic rules of civilization as soon as they have one of three things: a household to run, a mortgage or school-aged children. Being in college is like living in Disneyland.
… In 2012, the Times produced this gripping headline: “Young in GOP Erase the Lines on Social Issues.” Yes, apparently, people with no responsibilities, no families to provide for, no children to worry about, and who had recently experienced their first hangovers, didn’t care about the social issues.
As with every generation, the kids always think they’re saying something fresh and new. “Social issues are far down the priorities list,” Matt Hoagland told the Times, “and I think that’s the trend.” (How far down the list compared to “global warming”?)
So I guess, in addition to sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, we can add to the list of “Things Young People Didn’t Invent” the bright new idea of being “pro-free market on fiscal issues and libertarian on social ones.”
Interestingly, when the Times reports on actual election results, rather than the opinions of 20-year-olds, the paper admits that the social issues are a huge boon to Republicans.
In 2004, for example, when traditional marriage initiatives were on ballots in dozens of states, the Times admitted that the measures “acted like magnets for thousands of socially conservative voters in rural and suburban communities who might not otherwise have voted” and even “tipped the balance” in close races. (“Same-Sex Marriage Issue Key to Some GOP Races,” Nov. 4, 2004.)
Luckily, like every generation before them, someday, young people will eventually grow up and discover that you can’t have conservative economic policies without also having conservative social policies. Imagine their embarrassment when they realize that a free society is impossible without lots of stable, married, two-parent families raising their children in safe, drug-free neighborhoods.
How about not letting them vote until they’re at least old enough not to be on their parents’ health insurance?