The Republicans’ actions and words at this weekend’s Values Voter Summit prove one thing: the party simply refuses to evolve. Editor Andrew Belonsky explains why the Grand Old Party needs to embrace change, look beyond the walls of social conservatism and expand its definition of family values.
The Republican president candidates made a pit stop in Washington this weekend to stump at the Values Voter Summit. Sponsored by the Family Research Council, the star-studded event serves as pulpit for right wingers to voice their political and social grievances and gives the candidates an opportunity to indulge this once-mighty voting bloc. These people – made up primarily of church-going, god-fearing citizens – continually rally around a political trinity, a trinity Mike Huckabee inadvertently describes as, “faith, family and freedom”. Unfortunately for social conservatives, this tried and true primordial political stew could lead to electoral extinction.
Huckabee’s always been a favorite of the social conservatives and no doubt he made some new friends this weekend. The affable, handsome Governor from Arkansas started his concise speech with a few attempts at humor, including a jab at Al Gore and a social security zinger. Says Huckabee:
Some 10,000 baby boomers a day are going to be signing up for Social Security, and if you think that’s bad economic news, just wait till all the old, aging hippies find out they can get free drugs from the federal government!
Huckabee’s jokes would make me chuckle if I weren’t choking on so much dust.
Comedic criticism aside, Huckabee succeeded in summing up the social conservatives’ so-called values with this statement: “The new value needs to be the old value. We believe in some things. We stand by those things. We live or die by those things.” Huckabee and his Republican pals may, in fact, die by those things.
Now, I don’t mean to question Huckabee’s choice of words, but there’s a saying that’s particularly appropriate for his politics – and, in fact, the entire election season. Perhaps you’ve heard this phrase before and forgive any repetition: “Only the strong survive.” Nice, huh? Sort of tickles the tongue. That phrase sprang from another adage, one coined 143 years ago by British theorist Herbert Spencer. Spencer, in turn, thought of the phrase after reading On The Origin of The Species, in which Charles Darwin describes “natural selection”, the cornerstone of Evolution.
Society has now been divided into two camps: those who believe in evolution and those who have no faith in Darwin’s findings. The latter group stick to their sacred guns: God created man in his image. There’s no evolution, there’s been no change, nor should there be any change. End of story. Period. Amen.
The Republican party’s guided by anti-evolution thinking. In fact, a Gallup poll from June of this year says that 68% of the Grand Old Partiers reject Darwin’s theories. What’s most distressing is that these candidates don’t seem to realize that their party’s falling into a trap. Instead they just stay the course, toe the line and rehash tried and true issues, like gay marriage, immigration and the seemingly eternal abortion.
Senator Sam Brownback, who dropped out of the race after giving his speech, vowed to overturn Roe versus Wade, a judicial stain many Republicans have longed to erase. Representative Ron Paul went a bit further by celebrating his so-called “We The People Act,” which would prohibit federal courts from hearing cases on abortion, marriage and religious imagery in state buildings. As if that’s not crazed enough, Paul offered an astonishing solution for immigration: “…I believe you have to eliminate the incentives for illegal aliens. Automatic birthright citizenship or amnesty; no wonder they come and bring their families.”
To Paul’s credit, he did open his speech by praising young people, the only candidate to celebrate a generation’s commitment to political involvement. Meanwhile, five out of the nine candidates either invoked or directly praised Ronald Reagan. This should come as no surprise – Reagan’s become a favorite political chew toy for social conservatives. The Summit’s attendees could even buy vintage Reagan pins and relive the glory days of his campaigns. Ronald Reagan – a president who ignored AIDS and crack – may very well rank directly below Jesus Christ on the social conservative sacred scale. The Gipper’s become a golden calf.