Tuesday, November 11, 2008

GOP Must Stay True to Core Values

I noted yesterday that the future of the GOP lies in packaging an attractive message that combines traditional social policy concerns with an economic message the rings true with the stressed middle class.

In an essay at
today's Wall Street Journal, Richard Land, of the Southern Baptist Convention, makes the best case I've seen so far for the conservative path from the wilderness:

To regain a majority, Republicans must embrace core values with such conviction that Americans will welcome where Republicans will lead them in the future.

The first core value must be a pro-life agenda. Republicans must advocate for all life from conception to natural death. This is the decent thing to do. And there were 70 million white Evangelical voters on Election Day, 74% of whom voted for John McCain. The vast majority voted pro-life, not Republican. If the GOP turns away from a pro-life agenda, they will turn away from the GOP.

Evangelicals, a quarter of the electorate, cannot determine elections by themselves. Without them, however, Republicans face electoral oblivion.

A second core value must be a pro-family agenda. This agenda must include tax policies that revalue child-rearing (doubling the dependent child deduction, for example) and eliminating the marriage tax penalty. It should also promote parental school choice -- empowering all parents to make the choices concerning their children's education that currently only affluent parents are empowered to make.

Pro-life and pro-family agendas can appeal to minority voters in an increasingly diverse society. California, Arizona and Florida approved amendments banning same-sex marriage. They did so at least partially on the basis of African-American and Hispanic voters who "surged" for Barack Obama and then voted against same-sex marriage. In California (70%) and Florida (71%) black voters supported both traditional marriage and Sen. Obama overwhelmingly.

The third core value must be a diversity agenda that aggressively recruits ethnic minorities into significant involvement in the GOP. The 2008 Republican National Convention did not reflect America's ethnic diversity. Demographics dictate that this must change, and decency demands that it should. This must include a more proactive approach on immigration reform.

The fourth core value must be an economic agenda that demonstrates as much concern for Main Street and the average family's budget as it does for Wall Street and multinational conglomerates.

The fifth core value must be foreign and defense policies that protect the homeland and maintain our nation's historic commitment to human liberty as a God-given right for everyone -- not just those currently living in a free country. America must always be more than just a country. She is a cause -- and that cause is freedom.

I'm interested to see what folks like Ross Douthat think about this (see Jonah Golberg on these "self-styled reformers").

The key to Land's program is that he puts the protection of life first, and this is the fundamental driving principle that separates Republicans from the far-left secular humanist base of today's Democratic Party.

I will be returning to the Land program in future posts.


Anonymous said...

How does that work as a long term strategy? That is, beyond the fact that you obviously think its the morally correct position to take, opposition to gay marriage breaks down fairly strongly on generational lines. Land mentions opposition to gay marriage among Latinos as a possible point of entry into gaining a larger share of their votes for Republicans. But 58% Latinos under 29 voted against it.
(And first time voters opposed it by 62%, so the Obama surge can't be blamed for its passage.)

If you assume that the pattern of increasing acceptance of homosexuality will continue for future cohorts of voters, will branding the Republican party as anti-Gay pay off in the long term?

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

The vast majority voted pro-life, not Republican. If the GOP turns away from a pro-life agenda, they will turn away from the GOP.

Wasn't the Catholic vote rather evenly split? So how does that comport with the notion that "the vast majority voted pro-life" and GOP must return to core values? I do think the Republican Party must remain true to conservatism, but not be so inflexible on certain issues as to alienate half the country while appealing only to the other half.

I think what's been lacking is educating the public on what conservatism is all about, and having a delivery system that has strong appeal and charisma (like an Obama or Reagan).

Jason Pappas said...

It would be wrong and disastrous to base the future of the Republican Party on sectarian religious viewpoints. At the founding of our country the vast differences in religious sects make religious freedom--not religious agreement--the call that united. It was a profoundly secular approach that provided common ground. Each individual had to reconcile common reality-oriented arguments with their personal religious viewpoint.

It was observable facts that united. Read the Federalists or anti-Federalist writing and you’ll see copious references to history. Empiricism was almost a cliché. Even a devout Christian such as Patrick Henry states in his most famous speech: “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.”

His substantial argument is chock-full of facts that pertain to the threat to our liberty. It is only after the argument is made does he add statements of cosmic significance such as “There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.” The climax is well known: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

When we are ready to make empirical arguments to defend our inherent right to individual liberty, when we are ready again to demand unequivocally rights we all have my our nature, when we are ready to secure these rights for ourselves as a nation, then we are on the path of righteousness and spiritual renewal. When we are ready to be republicans without apologies and demand that our fellow republicans aspire to the noble ideals on which this country is founded, then and only then will our Party be worthy of support.

“I know not what course others may take …”

Chris McClure aka Panhandle Poet said...

Interesting. I made a similar post today.


Tom the Redhunter said...

Ditto to everything you say Donald. I'm with you 100%. If we go wobbly we'll lose even more voters.

This is only half the battle, however. The other half of winning a campaign is money and sweat.

Money: Obama destroyed public financing of campaigns forever. We have to find a way to do effective fundraising period.

Sweat: The Democrats ran a much larger and more effective ground game than we did. I know, because I'm active in my local party and am in a battleground county in a battleground state. They had more people doing more things. They use the Internet more effectively than we do; my.barackobama.com facebook.com myspace.com etc.

The point is that sitting behind a keyboard whacking away about core values is all very fine (I do it, after all) but alone it won't suffice.

If you're not already involved, get involved!