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Social Conservatives Destroyed the GOP

I've been saying this for over a year now, that the extremists on the right were destroying the Republican party. Naturally, with me writing for a site so closely associated with a conservative blog right next door, this opinion has been periodically vilified by that blog's authors and readers who periodically trolled the Wizbang Blue comment threads.

I have to admit... seeing them in full-blown denial was not something I fought against. Right wing bloggers who swung hard against GOP party moderates like McCain and Romney served the left well -- why would any lefty want to shut that down? But now that GOP moderates are openly discussing the social conservative extremism and the drag its been in the 2006 and 20087 election it's becoming politically acceptable in this neighborhood to point this out.

Anti-abortion extremists played a large role in the selection of Sarah Palin as GOP VP nominee -- and that one act may well have lost the election for the Republicans. Today the same anti-abortion extremists are behind "Team Sarah" and the continued push to promote Palin as a 2012 candidate. I'm 100% behind them - nothing would insure Obama's re-election more than having Sarah Palin as the opposing candidate.

And now that the apparent is becoming the obvious, even Republicans are speaking openly of the extent to which social conservatives have trashed the Republican brand.

As a progressive it's my hope that the extremists will maintain their extreme positions and in turn rebel against the GOP reformers. Nothing would please me more than seeing a full-blown civil war take place within the Republican party.

Meanwhile, Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post observes:

As expected, the collapse of the Republican brand in the 2006 and 2008 elections has brought out any number of theorists from the woodwork -- offering their take on the proper prescription to heal what ails the GOP.

For the most part, we tend to ignore these amateur (and even some professional) analysts as they usually are pushing either a decidedly transparent personal or ideological agenda.

Not so, Tom Davis who left his northern Virginia seat in 2008 after weighing and ultimately deciding against a run for the seat being vacated by Sen. John Warner (R).

Davis is, without question, a fiscal conservative and socially moderate, but he is, also, one of the brightest strategic minds in the GOP. Need proof? When Davis chaired the National Republican Congressional Committee in 2000 and 2002, House Republicans netted six seats.

Davis penned an essay on the subject titled "The Way Back", which Cillizza references:

Davis convincingly make the case that the alleged takeover of the party by social conservatives has worked to its electoral detriment.

Writes Davis:

"We talked to ourselves and not to voters. We became more concerned with stem cell policy than economic policy, and with prayer in schools rather than balance in our public budgets and priorities. Not so long ago, it was easy to paint the Democrats as the party of extremists. Now, they say we're extremists, and voters agree."

While Davis may be overstating the case slightly, he makes a compelling argument that voter perceptions of the two parties have shifted in a negative way for Republicans as a result of the focus by some of the most vocal elements of the party on gay rights, abortion and other social issues.

With Republicans regarded as "far out" on social issues, President-elect Barack Obama was able to co-opt the vast middle with a message of moderation on social issues and, with that hurdle cleared, speak to that critical voting bloc on the economic issues on which the election pivoted.

Davis also specifically points at immigration issue as a milestone in the GOP loss of favor in the U.S.; an issue the social conservatives Republicans and their mouthpieces hit hard on throughout late 2007 and into 2008.

Davis's other major indictment of the GOP? The wholesale rejection of attempts to court black and Hispanic voters. "We've long-since given up on the African-American vote," he writes. "We're forfeiting the Hispanic vote with unwarranted and unsavory vitriol against immigrants."

Davis has a high-profile supporter in this point -- President George W. Bush. At a press conference on Monday, Bush said that for the GOP to make a comeback its "message has got to be that different points of view are included in the party. ... If the image is we don't like immigrants, then there's probably somebody else out there saying, well, if they don't like the immigrants, they probably don't like me, as well."

Examples abound across the blogosphere of social conservatives who railed at Bush for taking that stance, and once again I offer no resistance to their railings. I'll hand them all the shovels they need to continue digging that hole...

And regarding those same social conservatives who insist that the GOP become even more "Reagan-Conservative" Cillizza writes:

As for those who insist that the Republican party has to return to its conservative roots, Davis argues that such a statement ignores electoral reality. "I've heard much talk of going back to our conservative roots, to the issues that helped us win in 1980 and 1994," writes Davis. "That issue matrix has changed so much as to be nearly unrecognizable now."

The conservative blogosphere has deep social conservatives roots. Rooting out that viewpoint as the prominent and loudest voice is step one to rebuilding the Republican Party...

....but don't tell them, whatever you do. The louder that the hard-core social conservative asses bellow and bray the better our chances are in the 2010 election.

Shovel, anyone?

Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (9)


i'm a little confused. you make the arguement that it is the social conservatives who are causing the the GOP to go down hill, and then you bring in the people who were against immigration reform (as proposed). Which is it? Or is it both? Because they aren't necessarily the same people.

Lee Ward:

You're right, ke-future. While Cillizza referred to "Davis's other major indictment of the GOP" my use of the term "social conservatives" here was confusing and incorrect.

I've corrected the post.

What I find so bothersome about social conservatives is their busy body nature where they think that they are so intelligent and righteous that only they should make decisions for others what they can do in their own bedrooms, or what books, movies or record albums they should be allowed to enjoy, or other wacky notions about culture based on own socially retarded and warped religious interpretations. And these people are usually so dirt dumb that they don't have the intelligence to know how to even manage the economy or other really important matters, only to address cultural issues in a near troglodyte level of reasoning. Intellectually they aren't much more socially advanced than the Taliban or other stone age movements. They really remind me of the latest incarnation of the old political "know nothing movement".

Picking total dumb-craps like Sarah Palin to lead their movement, while Mr. Obama has delegated responsibility to real professionals to address the economy and other important matters should really speak volumes about the comparative intelligence of both groups of supposed political thinkers.


Your comment is a complete joke, Paul. I could turn around and say practically the same about liberals-- they think they are so intelligent that they dictate what people do, and instead of basing it on religion, they base it upon their own idea of "feel-good" retardation. And by completely stereotyping one group, you're doing the exact thing that you and liberals like yourself rail against. But it seems your crap is on a more dangerous scale. Because you guys can rail against, demonstrate against, make displays depicting people you hate being decapitated, lynched, etc and it's "expressing yourself." When others do it against you or your beliefs, it's a hate crime. So who exactly here is more extreme??


interestingly enough, it wasn't just Republicans that were against the immigration bill that year. what about the unions, and the democrats that were in their pockets? if i remember, they were fairly against the bill too. because it was a bad bill.

Lee Ward:

ke_future - Don't even... RE: Immigration Reform

"After numerous votes, efforts to compromise, amendments, and modifications, the immigration bill failed a final cloture vote on June 28, 2007 by a vote of 46-53. The bill fell 14 votes short of the 60 necessary to close debate and move to a vote.[link]

The bill's opponents and supporters were not clearly drawn along party lines, as 37 Republicans joined 15 Democrats and one independent in voting against ending debate, while 34 Democrats and 12 Republicans wanted to move toward final passage.[link]"

The tally above is on the cloture vote that killed the bill.

37 Republicans and 15 Democrats voted Against moving it towards final passage.

34 Democrats and 12 Republicans voted For moving the bill towards passage.

Republicans - 37 Against and 12 For
Democrats - 15 Against and 34 For

The Republicans killed the bill. It was backed by Bush and McCain and the Republicans still killed it.

The principal hitch in the reform's get-along was the issue of "Amnesty," which asshats Rush Limpbaugh and Ann "Adam's Apple" Coulter railed against.

Congratulations, Repubbies - it lost you the Hispanic vote in the 2008 election, and it'll lose it for you in 2010 and probably 2012 as well.

ryan a:

Paul wrote:

"What I find so bothersome about social conservatives is their busy body nature where they think that they are so intelligent and righteous that only they should make decisions for others what they can do in their own bedrooms, or what books, movies or record albums they should be allowed to enjoy, or other wacky notions about culture based on own socially retarded and warped religious interpretations."

I think I almost agree with your basic point here, except when you fall of the track near the end of the sentence. I do not think that the government should be micromanaging people's lives--and for some reason many conservatives, who generally agree with that idea, completely reverse their beliefs when it comes to certain social issues. Doesn't make sense to me.

However, going around saying that social conservatives are "socially retarded" and that they have "warped religious interpretations" isn't the way to go, in my opinion. There are always more conservative (read traditional) and less conservative elements in groups of people. And everyone IS NOT going to agree--especially in a large society such as ours in which we have many people from very different backgrounds. So, instead of ripping each other to shreds based upon personal ideals of how society SHOULD be, maybe it's time to step back and find a way to work toward a somewhat functioning system, despite disagreements.

But then, that would require the hardliners on the left and right to close their mouths and consider different points of view, and that probably won't be easy.

"And these people are usually so dirt dumb that they don't have the intelligence to know how to even manage the economy or other really important matters, only to address cultural issues in a near troglodyte level of reasoning."

Despite your straw man, and whatever you want to believe, people who are socially conservative are not automatically stupid. Note: I am hardly a social conservative. Your characterization of these people is pretty shallow, if you ask me. Do you not realize that the term "social conservative" encompasses millions of people with differing ideals about culture, society, and religion? Do you even consider the fact that the very way you present your arguments precludes a HUGE NUMBER of people from even reading what you write?

As far as your "troglodyte level of reasoning" comment: what are you trying to accomplish here? Are you serious with these broad brush generalizations? Do you really assume that somebody who is socially conservative is somehow subhuman (or maybe protohuman, depending on what "troglodyte" species you are talking about)?

People have different views, and it makes more sense to me to try to understand those differences a little more, rather than use them as a means to attack the other side. Are you a representative of the "progressive" left, Paul? Is this "progressive" rhetoric to you? It's not to me.

You know, I completely understand WHY you disagree with certain socially conservative ideals. I have some pretty strong disagreements as well. At the same time, I do not think that your kind of one-sided rhetoric does much to address these disagreements. Looks like more low-level, oversimplified, stereotype-ridden, ridiculous mud-slinging to me.

Af and Ryan, I consider myself to be a pretty good film and music historian, although this site doesn't really allow much opportunity to write about these subjects. However, these are just the sort of issues that social conservatives are so concerned with. They view culture not as art, not as a creative expression of imaginative artists, but something that they need to control because they fear that it undermines their superstition and myth based religious beliefs. But it usually isn't the intent of these artists to bring religions crashing to the ground, it is merely to entertain people or maybe just to make them think. But the arrogance of social conservatives is that somehow they feel ordained by God to attack artists and others who challenge the social order. And it is real blurring of the line of church and state when the FCC, indecency or obscenity laws are used to control the creative works of controversial artists.

Creative minds need a free environment to create their works, but the pressures brought on by social conservatives as well as their government bureaucrat allies have managed to rob society of many books that were never published and many films that were never made.

Ryan and Af, if you ever want to have a discussion with me on film or music, then I'm more than game. These are two topics I just love to something of an armchair historian of.


"...if you ever want to have a discussion with me on film or music, then I'm more than game._ph

Those are good subjects to post on. Everyone has an opinion on film or music which, if not in agreement with me that quality in both is now at nearly ebb tide*, is wrong.

*Except for the period instrument movement in the field of classical music. The baroque, galant, and early romantic repertoire has never been better advocated, with gut strings replacing steel, pianoforte replacing piano, bell tones replacing warbly soprano sections, etc, etc.

**Slumdog Millionaire I must see. Godfather Part II was a major botch-job. Something About Mary should have won the Oscar for best picture. The Gold Rush(1925) is the best American film of all time, followed closely by Treasure Of the Sierra Madre(1948) and Modern Times(1936). It's too bad Laurel and Hardy never made a feature film worthy of their talents, though ALL their short subjects are very good. I don't "get" Buster Keaton. I tend to agree with the urban legend that Marisa Tomei won the Oscar for My Cousin Vinnie by mistake; it's the only explanation that makes sense concerning that cardboard role. France indeed is the Republic of Film; quality year in and year out. Rent "Ponette".


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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