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.
In addition to throwing old Reagan some love, nearly all of the candidates discussed the importance of family. All in all the word “family” came up 50 times, not including references to the Family Research Council. Mitt Romney, the Mormon candidate with five children, used the word “family” 26 times. And those “families” have but one definition: man and a woman. A man and a woman should lay the foundation for a happy home and, in the end, for a happy nation until the end of days.
Despite his familiarity with the subject, even Romney can’t make “family” sound familiar. He simply boils the family down to an economic tool. The emotion and love behind marriage disappears as the resultant reproduction becomes business. Says Romney,
In America the family is a vital economic unit, the foundation of the nation, and it’s the strength of this nation’s families that ultimately determines America’s strength in the family of nations… The most important work that goes on in America today…is the work that goes on within the four walls of the American home.
If Mitt Romney and other social conservatives truly believed in parenting and children, they would broaden their definition of “family”.
The Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law released a study on gay adoption earlier this year which finds extraordinary numbers of gays and lesbians who have had or want to have children.
The Family Pride Coalition offered this analysis:
Over one in three lesbians have given birth and one in six gay men have fathered or adopted a child. Over 50% of gay men and 41% of lesbians desire to be a parent. Lesbian and gay parents are raising 4% of all adopted children in the U.S…. Same-sex couples who have adopted are older, more educated and have more economic resources than other adoptive parents.
Now, there’s no way to know how many kids have gay parents, people have estimated there could be anywhere from 3 million to 10 million: a sizable voting bloc. Unfortunately for these families, Romney and other social conservatives candidates lack the political imagination to embrace people outside their isolated population. And, quite frankly, don’t care about “minority” groups.
The Republicans all declined to participate in a Human Rights Campaign produced gay rights forum. Nor were they free to talk with the NAACP.
Well, that’s not true, Tom Tancredo flew to Detroit to talk to black Americans and then used a disbelieving black cabbie as a punchline for the lily white Values Voters. The only other reference to black people came from Mitt Romney, who used single black women to a nauseatingly mawkish degree. And, what’s more, he cited Bill Cosby as his source.
While many of the candidates used fear-mongering and discussed endangered values, outsider Rudy Giuliani used his speech to talk about inclusion. Don’t worry, though, he didn’t stray too far from the conservative program. Says the former New York City mayor:
…I think we’ve got to find a way to be more inclusive. Christians and Christianity is all about inclusiveness. It’s build around the most profound active love in human history… This is a religion of inclusion.
If Giuliani’s to be believed – and he should be – the social conservatives aren’t simply rejecting political evolution, they’re devolving entirely, including spiritually.
While the Democrats are talking to the gays, the blacks and everyone in-between, the Republicans are stuck in a stagnant, primordial stew of archaic, outdated social stances. If they want to win this election or any others, the Republican leadership needs to accept that fact that America’s undergoing cultural changes. You can’t fight social evolution. You have to work with it and the people who are changing. If the Republican party continues its “valuable” tradition, it’s simply not going to survive. Even a do-do could figure that one out.
Transcripts of the candidate’s speeches can be downloaded at the Family Research Council.
Wow Andrew. That was pretty good. are you sure you’re not going to eventually “evolve” into a pure political blog?
most conservatives (and if my mother is any inclination, religious freaks) do not step outside their “safety zone”. that zone is dictated by things they can see (i.e. the bible) to explain things they cannot see (i.e. the wind). this has been going on for some 10,000 years of human history.
growth, evolution, acceptance, is all outside their safety zone and pretty damn scary. they want a candidate that will make the bad people go away. they like the biblical “straight and narrow” rather than the “broad and hellbound.”
it was amazing that Mitt was such a hit with the Value Voters because there is no other religion on earth that can be disproved as easily as Mormonism – historically, theoretically, logically, archaeologically, and scientifically.
it shows how those that don’t want to mentally grow or think, will do anything and believe ANYONE, as long as they can keep the blanket over their heads and enjoy the peace that comes knowing that a 1/4 inch piece of woven fabric will keep the evil monsters under the bed from attacking you.
funny thing… both Jesus and Paul stated that the world is wicked and we need to learn to live a holy life separate from it and whatever government would exist (at that time it was the Roman rule). neither said anything about changing the world, and both were against ideas like joining with them or running for office… but i guess the value voters never read the bible past the “homosexuality” part.
Anyway, good job Andrew.
The Conservative Party here in the UK was forced to evolve or face exactly the kind of marginalised irrelevance you’re discussing here. But it’s easier for Brit politicians to do that when religion plays little or no part in politics.
The Republicans are in danger of becoming the next Whig Party if they don’t realize that EVERYTHING must evolve. A political party that relies solely on White Southern Conservatives is doomed in the long run.
I have no problem if Huckabee and his ilk “die by those things.” The sooner they all die the better for society. With each social conservative attack on SCHIP, Social Security, Health Care, education, gay rights/marriage, global warming and on and on, I become increasingly convinced that the only good Republican is in fact a dead Republican. I damn them all to hell. To rank Reagan with Christ on the social conservative scale shows how ignorant and insane they actually are.
Brad Linzy, Evansville, IN
Ron Paul was absolutely right on both counts you mentioned.
On abortion, on ALL “morality” issues really, all Ron Paul is saying is LET THE STATES DECIDE! What’s so damned bad about that? You’ve been brought up, like I was in the 1990s, to believe that abortion is some kind of “right”, but if you really consider it rationally, without emotion, you’ll see that it’s inconsistent with our laws to federally MANDATE that states allow abortions to take place in their jurisdiction. While I could sit here and argue that Roe v. Wade decision was really baseless (read the basis for the decision yourself sometime and you’ll see what I mean), I could argue about when life begins and I could say that to allow abortion is to allow women to skirt the consequences of their own actions and insofar as pregnancy IS the consequence of an action presumably (in all cases except rape) that is FREELY ENGAGED IN, that no inherent “rights” have been violated by a state choosing to disallow abortion. But I won’t make any of these arguments… I’ll just tell you Ron Paul’s stance and it’s pretty simple: overturn the awful Roe decision and allow states to exercise their rights. Why do you think the man is not calling for a constitutional ban on abortion? Because his libertarian views preclude him from IMPOSING his moral will on the entire country. Not a bad idea, huh!?
Birthright citizenship for illegal aliens… Think about it… Why are we giving birthright citizenship to the baby of an illegal alien who will then, through loopholes in the immigration law, be REWARDED for BREAKING the law!? She’ll then be allowed to immigrate as the mother of an “American”. It’s NONSENSE! All that says is, hey, got a bun in the oven? Come to America, we’ll give you free citizenship and Social Security and welfare benefits on the back of working Americans.
Your objections to this idea are completely unfounded. You give no logical argument against either one. You simply call them “crazy” and leave it at that. This tells me that for all your grandstanding, you really have no intellect to speak of. You are a follower of a trend. All your friends around think like you, so you conform without thinking. Congratulations.
Bottom line, I advise you to wise up and find out what you’re bashing before you open your mouth from now on. Ron Paul is the best hope we’ve got for actual and true FREEDOM. Of course freedom means not having the federal government poking its nose in everyone’s business, including our own state laws. Take for instance the times when the feds come in behind a state like California of Colorado and start arresting medical marijuana users even though the state has allowed it. Ron Paul would call for an END to such federal intervention – which really amounts to an infringement on our rights.
Brad Linzy, Evansville, IN
By the way…Ron Paul believes in evolution. The man is a fucking doctor.
Why are you applying blanket statements to everyone? Aren’t these exactly the kind of prejudicial statements that you might argue against in other situations? And now here you are, doing it yourself.
You have to understand that the “left” and “right” arguments… the “Conservative vs. Liberal” rhetoric is all CRAP. It’s designed to keep us divided and conquered, making us ever dependent on the mainstream media to tell us who it’s ok to vote for, keeping us marginalized so that a true revolution and evolution of ideas takes place. But let me tell ya, at this juncture in American history, it doesn’t get much more “revolutionary” than to return to the constitutional form of government we once enjoyed – the one that valued property and personal rights and liberties.
Think about it. So-called “progressives” are anything BUT anymore. The reality of our human station is that governments are instituted among men because we still have yet to evolve beyond the capacity for brutality and/or evil toward one ourselves and one another. The founding fathers of the United States, following the writings and examples of literally thousands of years of human civilization figured out that in the absence of utopia, a constitutional republic was our best hope for lasting peace and stability. They designed the system with checks and balances and states rights in mind. In fact, by the original definition of “citizen”, we were all citizens of the STATE we were from, NOT the United States! The 14th Amendment changed that. The same time they “freed” the slaves, ironically they made us all subservient to the FEDERAL government by making us, then, citizens of the United States instead of Indiana or California or wherever it is you’re from. This has vast implication I don’t really have time to go into, but I advise you to do a Google search for “Constitution Class” and watch some videos about the original intent of the Constitution and learn what your rights actually are and how they are violated through COLLECTIVISM disguised as “progressivism”.
I would like to take Mr. Linzy to task on the notion of State’s Rights versus Federal superiority and the notion of “original intent.”
To the first, a cursory examination of the history of the United States necessarily leads to the conclusion that the full engagement of state’s rights compells disunion.
Let us turn back the hands of time to the concept of “nullification”, first exemplified in the Virgina Resolutions of 1798. These were passed by the state legislature in response the the heinous Alien and Sedition Acts enacted by the U.S. congress earlier that year. These state resolutions came at the behest of Thomas Jefferson who found, and rightly so, the Alien and Sedition Acts repugnant and unconstitutional. The virtue of these state resolutions notwithstanding, the concept is here put forward that a state has a right to nullify an act of congress which it (the state) finds unconstitutional. This is a concept which necessarily lends itself to extension into any reason whatever. This is the defining constitutional issue that would endure for nearly 65 years. Move forward to the “Tariff of Abomonations” in 1828, again with the Tariff of 1832, and yet again in 1860, culminating in the outbreak of civil war over the issues of slavery and the southern perception, and reality, of economic supression by the north.
How can it be that engaging state’s rights leads me to such a conclusion? Simply put, the self interests of, and among, the states. If you think it can never happen in the modern era, you are sorely mistaken. The states must be subordinate to the U.S. Constitution. A decision arrived at by smarter men than you or I with the adoption of the 14th Amendment. (see also; Sectionalism, Secession)
On the second point of “orginal intent”, I would like to point out that it is the constant state of change with which the human condition relentlessly moves that transforms this idea into the “spirit of the law.” Law, by the way, is a philosophical concept first and foremost.
Put another way, original intent becomes irrelevant, in practice, in many cases as societies change. Our founding fathers could not have been expected to anticipate every issue that would arrise for eternity. Thus, we were given a blueprint, and a damn fine one, to guide us through. They bequeathed to us their wisdom in other forms as well. It is there for all to see. It is this idea that forms the basis of certain commentators exclaimations that Republicans must “evolve.” (see also; Strict Construction)
I must take issue with the states’ rights argument because Republicans believe in states’ rights unless it suits the them to believe in a strong federal government. For example, a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is necessary to protect America (otherwise states might pass equal marriage laws or state courts may decide that two individuals must be allowed to marry), the Republicans believe that the federal government should build a fence around the US, and the US Supreme Court intervened in the Florida Supreme Court’s process, stopping the recount and installing Bush as President. On all counts, Republicans and Libertarians (Libertarians are right wingers in disguise) were overjoyed. The right is against a strong federal government when the issue won’t go the right’s way, but the right is all for a strong federal governemnt when the issue goes their way.
As long as hate, bigotry, jealousy and sexism exists there will always be Republicans, as long as one mouth-breathing knuckle dragging southerner can lie to another one there will be Mega-churches. Hypocrisy is the motherâ€™s milk of religion and conservatism. Dawster, when you run for office you have my vote!
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