While James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family and founder of the Family Research Council, has apparently abandoned his threat to hold back on support for Republicans this year, his former lieutenant Ken Connor is still warning that the base may “stay at home.” Connor, the former president of FRC who now heads his own Center for a Just Society, writes that “Christian conservatives” were “in no small part” to thank for the election of George W. Bush, but now—despite a recent politically-timed effort to vote on socially-charged bills— they ask, “‘What have you done for me lately?’”
A review of the recent record leaves them chagrined. Notwithstanding the party’s lip service, and aside from the confirmation of two promising (yet untested) Supreme Court justices, little real progress has been made in the last two years toward advancing the values agenda. Planned Parenthood has not been prevented from receiving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. The federal courts’ jurisdiction has not been trimmed to limit its ability to hear cases involving abortion or same-sex marriage. And the Republican-controlled Congress is outspending its liberal Democratic predecessors.
No doubt, the Republicans would point to the vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment as a testament to their commitment to values voters’ priorities. It was, however, little more than a cynical ploy. Republican leaders knew the measure had no chance of passage and did precious little to make it pass. That they couldn’t even muster majority support in the Republican-controlled Senate is evidence of just how anemic their efforts really were. Eyewash is not a substitute for the real thing.
In truth, the Republican Party in the last two years has done what it regarded as the absolute minimum necessary to pacify its values voter base. Sadly, that pacification has come cheap. Meanwhile, the party has worked hard to advance the agenda of the moneyed and business interests that finance its campaigns. The unmistakable message has been that the party values money over votes.