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Attitudes Towards Gays & the Future Success of the GOP

When I followed Glenn’s link to these five ideas for the future of conservatism, I thought the student who penned pixeled them was onto something.

Or maybe that’s just because he recommends that David Petraeus run for president in 2012. That great general is my man for the GOP nomination.  He accomplished more in 2007 alone–and under most unfavorable circumstances, political as well as military–than did the president-elect in his entire political career.

That is, unless, you count election to office as an accomplishment.

While I share Armin Rosen’s (the author) enthusiam for Petraeus, I think his best point is his second, “DON’T GIVE UP ON SOCIAL CONSERVATISM. BUT DON’T EMPHASIZE IT EITHER.”  Anyone who has worked in GOP politics outside the coastal areas knows the energy and enthusiasm social conservatives bring to Republican campaigns. While I disagree with Rosen’s characterization of Rove-Palin “divide-and-conquer policies,” I agree when he writes that

conservatives have a lot to lose from giving up on them [social conservaives] altogether. A “hate the sin, not the sinner” tack should win back to the social center that’s been voting blue in recent years: basically, conservatives should promote traditional values without championing measures that would punish those who don’t.

Exactly.

In many ways, his point reminds me of a theory I have on how the party’s attitude toward gays will determine our success. It’s not that we’re likely to crack more than 35% of the gay vote (well, maybe 40%). But, to win back the suburbs, Republicans can’t alienate suburbanites. And anti-gay attitudes don’t resonate with individuals who have known gay people in college –and maybe even in the workplace–and even in their own families.