Tony Perkins is President of Family Research Council. This article appeared on CNSNews.com, March 20, 2013.
In what the RNC is calling its 'autopsy' report from the last election, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has decided that the way for his party to win over voters is to parrot the Left's policies.
The grand strategy, which calls for throwing the party's social conservatives overboard, demands the GOP be more 'welcoming' and "inclusive" to people that are actively working against the conservative principles in the Republican platform. 'We need to campaign among ... gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them too.'
"I agree, we can - and do - care about gay Americans, but that doesn't mean we welcome the redefinition of the core values that gave rise to American exceptionalism. "Already," the report warns, "there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays - and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be."
Much of the autopsy (an apt name, considering where its recommendations would lead) seem to suggest that the RNC's idea of bold leadership is chasing whatever fickle policy wind blows its way. In the last 24 hours, the Washington Post caught plenty of people's attention with its latest polls on same-sex 'marriage,' particularly as it pertained to the next generation's support (81 percent).
It's their assertion that Americans are racing headlong into the same-sex 'marriage' camp (a result the media was bound to get by framing the poll question as a matter of legality). But history - and most statistical data - shows that young people tend to become more conservative and more religious as they grow up, get married, and start families of their own. In fact, in Frank Newport's new book, God Is Alive and Well, the editor-in-chief of Gallup explains that most people are at their spiritually lowest point at age 23.
After that, people become increasingly religious - meaning that a hasty retreat on marriage may score cheap points now, but it would actually alienate the same people later on. Besides, Priebus would be betting the future of the GOP on a bloc who barely votes - while alienating the millions of social conservatives who do! "I'm trying to show what leadership looks like," said Priebus, "by not throwing [Republican Senator] Rob Portman under the bus [for endorsing same-sex "marriage"]" - at the expense of the three-quarters of his party who don't?
As for Senator Portman, his announcement hasn't exactly been popular with either Ohio party, so far. Reports suggest that the calls flooding into his office are 60 percent opposed to the Senator's new position.
"While we've seen national Republican politicians move to support gay marriage in recent years..." the Washington Post points out, "the party base hasn't really moved with them all that much."
Seventy percent of conservatives don't just oppose same-sex 'marriage,' they strongly oppose it.
If Republicans defy them on this issue, warned Rush Limbaugh, "it will cause their base to stay home and throw up their hands in frustration." Just look at the 2008 and 2012 exit polls, when the GOP twice nominated a moderate Republican for President - and twice hung their heads in defeat. If the RNC abandons marriage, evangelicals will either sit the elections out completely - or move to create a third party. Either option puts Republicans on the path to a permanent minority.
Obviously, this RNC report was designed to pander to the GOP's wealthy elites, the same ones who encouraged Mitt Romney to "tone down his social issues talk."
Unfortunately for them, money doesn't decide elections; people do. And the vast majority of the GOP base believes that marriage is a non-negotiable plank of the national platform. Anything less, writes Byron York, "could come back to haunt the RNC in the not-too-distant future." Values issues are not just the backbone of social conservatism, but the gateway to minority outreach. If the GOP wants to improve its relationship with Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans, it had better start by emphasizing the family issues they care about - instead of dividing the Republican family it already has.