To say that the Republican Party is having a bit of trouble at the moment figuring out just what it stands for and what sort of message it needs to help it start winning elections would be a bit of an understatement.
The latest controversy stems from the fact that various Religious Right leaders are blasting the National Council for a New America for its lack of focus on social issues at it seeks to lay out the GOP’s agenda for moving the party forward.
Though Rep. Eric Cantor has been working to smooth over the rift, David Paul Kuhn of Real Clear Politics tracked down several Religious Right leaders who are obviously growing increasingly fed-up with being marginalized and blamed for every defeat that befalls the GOP:
There is a brooding sense within top social conservative circles that they have become the revolving scapegoat of the Republican Party. Many of the longtime leaders of the Christian right, from Richard Land to Tony Perkins to Gary Bauer, expressed resentment in extended interviews with a singular theme: that the most loyal GOP bloc has been so quickly thrown under many critics’ bus.
“There are powerful interest groups in the party and in the country that are trying to scapegoat social conservatives,” Land said, who has long served as a bridge between Southern Baptists’ political concerns and GOP leadership. “It’s people who have no problem ignoring facts.”
“That’s the pattern that has emerged over the last couple of decades,” said Perkins, who heads the Family Research Council. “People want to find an easy excuse for the GOP’s failures and they try to point to the social conservative issues and by extension social conservatives.”
The Religious Right realizes that it does not control the Republican Party, pointing to the fact that John McCain was not their top choice in the 2008 primaries as evidence, with Gary Bauer admitting that the “social conservatives are not the gatekeeper of the Republican party,” no matter how much they sometimes act as if they are.
But they still expect their role in the party to be recognized and respected and, if they don’t start feeling appreciated says Land, the GOP might just wake up one day to find that they have all left, declaring “Republicans delude themselves to thinking that social conservatives will have no where else to go.”
Of course, these sorts of threats happen every few years and never amount to anything because, as Kuhn points out, “a divorce between the Christian right and the GOP would leave Republicans in ruin.”
And that is why Bauer says he doesn’t see it happening this time either because, come election time, both the party and the Religious Right base will realize that their fates are intricately linked: “I’m not concerned that they could actually be that stupid. There are whole areas of the country where the only reason the Republicans are competitive are because of values and social issues.”