Ever since Republicans were thumped in the 2006 election, the Right has been telling anyone who will listen that the GOP’s woes can be attributed to the fact that Republicans have been insufficiently faithful to the Religious Right’s agenda. Since then, the GOP’s fortunes have continued to fade and so desperate are they to stop the bleeding heading into November that they’ve adopted a nearly unprecedented strategy of distancing themselves from their right-wing base:
Something big is missing from House Republicans’ 2008 campaign agenda for American families, and that is no accident.
There’s not a single mention in the 47-point program of such red-meat GOP issues as banning abortion, outlawing same-sex marriage, allowing prayer in the public schools, banning flag burning and protecting the Pledge of Allegiance. Instead, the plan focuses on Republican-introduced ideas as allowing private sector workers to take compensatory time instead of premium pay for overtime worked (HR 6025) or permitting full tax deductibility for most medical expenses (HR 636).
In an effort to appeal to moderates in their uphill push to retake the House, Republicans have pushed divisive social issues off center stage and replaced them with a host of pocketbook items they hope will appeal to working women, moderates and even some Democrats.
Of course, the GOP wants it known that just because it is too embarrassed to be seen publicly with the Religious Right and fears that its narrow agenda is a drag on Republicans’ own electoral chances, that doesn’t mean they don’t still love them:
Rep. Joe Pitts , R-Pa., head of the House Republicans’ 70-member Values Action Team, said he wasn’t concerned by the omission of social issues from the House GOP platform. “I have no assurance from the leaders about this. But I know the leaders and I know that when we come out with the whole big picture, these are all things we will stand for,’’ Pitts said.
Considering that one of the Right’s standard complaints is that Republicans court them in election years and then more or less ignore their agenda once in office, it’s hard to see how also ignoring them at election time is going to be a winning strategy for the GOP.