Last week Steve Benen wrote a post about the National Council for a New America and its agenda for re-branding the Republican Party. As he noted, the agenda covered issues like tax cuts, healthcare, energy, and national security while social issues were noticeably missing:
[W]hat may be the most interesting thing about this new group’s “policy framework” is what it doesn’t say. There’s no mention of gays, abortion, state-sponsored religion, guns, or immigration. It’s almost as if Republicans don’t feel like fighting a culture war anymore.
Hey, activists in the GOP base, is sounds like the Republican Party is trying to throw you under the bus. Are you going to take this lying down?
As it turns out, the Religious Right isn’t about that take this lying down, judging by this Washington Update from the Family Research Council:
In another step away from its conservative roots, Republican members of the House unveiled The National Council for a New America in hopes of recasting the Party’s ailing identity. The effort only underscores the Republicans’ present identity crisis, as the GOP leadership kicked off the campaign devoid of the values that once caused voters to identify with the party.
The group’s priorities, which were unveiled at a pizza parlor press conference, include the economy, health care, education, energy, and national security. Notice anything conspicuously absent? Former Gov. Jeb Bush explained the values void by saying it was time for the GOP to give up its “nostalgia” for Reagan-era ideas and look forward to new “relevant” ideas. (Yes, because that worked so well for Republicans in 2006 and 2008!) Bush ignored the fact that abandoning the array of principles that Reagan espoused is exactly what got the GOP into this mess. No one is suggesting that we try living in the past, but President Reagan’s principles are the ones that guided our nation from its very inception. Turning away from those fundamental truths would be a death knell for the GOP as little would be left to distinguish the Republicans from the Democrats.
Too many Republicans leaders are running scared on the claims of the Left and the media that social conservatism is a dead-end for the GOP. If that were the case, why are pro-family leaders like Mike Huckabee creating such excitement in the conservative base? The Republican establishment doesn’t draw a crowd. Governor Sarah Palin does. Also, take a look at the recent Pew Research poll, which showed overall support for abortion in America has dropped eight percentage points in the last year and support for it among moderate and liberal Republicans has dropped a whopping 24%. Based on that, how can the GOP suggest that life is a losing issue? If there were a road sign for the GOP on this new journey, it would read: Welcome to the wilderness. You’re going to be there for awhile.
The interesting side-note here is that FRC is, for the first time that I can recall, approvingly citing Mike Huckabee. During the GOP primary campaign, they and pretty much every other “mainstream” Religious Right group were decidedly unexcited about him and conspicuously unsupportive of his candidacy – something which Huckabee repeatedly complained about during the campaign and continues to complain about even today.
Since then, Huckabee has been working to position himself as the champion of the social conservatives within the party and now it is looking as if his efforts might be starting to pay off. The Religious Right, growing concerned that the GOP could start shoving them aside in an effort to start winning elections, might soon find that the man for whom they had no love the last time around to be the one to whom they’ll have to turn to try and save their place in the party.