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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.

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62 Comments

  1. Bikerdad, Dan, I don’t wrap myself around my sexuality, but I do believe we should be well beyond the love the sinner, hate the sin regarding homosexuality. But it got me thinking about those who do hate homosexuality and love homosexuals and feel that should be good enough. How would that person feel if their Christianity should be hated, but they should be loved as a Christian? I’d venture the person would find it less than acceptable.

    Comment by Pat — November 26, 2008 @ 7:39 am - November 26, 2008

  2. sure livewire, where’s the poll I’ll take it. Also I said “opinions based on facts” not “facts based on opinions”

    I give in, you’re correct I am deluded. I actually thought that a group of appeasers and collaborators might possible be interested in who they were really supporting. Pretty stupid eh? The sad thing is you truly think you’re protected. You’ll see.

    Comment by a different Dave — November 26, 2008 @ 10:29 am - November 26, 2008

  3. I actually thought that a group of appeasers and collaborators might possible be interested in who they were really supporting.

    Ah, but you see, dave, we know that you have absolutely no problem with supporting and endorsing social conservatives who you have deemed “homophobic” and “hateful” — when it’s Democrat Party members who are doing it.

    Now, be consistent and denounce your Democrat Party as supporting and pandering to homophobes. Or make an even bigger fool of yourself by insisting that there’s nothing wrong with the fact that Obama and his Democrat Party endorse and support people who are against gay marriage, who support ex-gay therapy, and outside whose churches you and your fellow bigot gays are protesting.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — November 26, 2008 @ 12:04 pm - November 26, 2008

  4. Filter, GPW.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — November 26, 2008 @ 12:04 pm - November 26, 2008

  5. Ignatius, I am indeed thinking through your intelligent comments. I believe there are quite a few anti-Christian folks in the GOP, but not a majority–so I agree with you there. On the other hand, many of those who are anti-Christian are in power positions in some state party structures, so I believe their influence is actually somewhat greater than their numerical voting base.

    Where I have a bit different focus from you is that I don’t believe social conservatives actually think any better of Bush and Huckabee than you do. Naturally, considering how poor the pool of candidates is generally, voters try to muster a bit of enthusiasm about someone, and I think it makes it look as if these candidates have broad support. However, I’d say among my fellow Christian friends, support in this past primary was spread pretty equally between Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, with no one being interested in McCain. I never thought the field was a strong one, and in the end, I think we ended up with the weakest candidate of all. Ron Paul has possible anti-Semitic baggage, Huckabee has inconsistent viewpoints that tell me he doesn’t understand conservatism, Fred Thompson was out of it energy-wise and doesn’t actually have a very strong conservative record, nor does Romney. I supported Romney, and I think the Mormonism was a paper tiger. In light of our financial problems, he would surely have come across as more credible than McCain. Well, it’s all academic anyway.

    The Compassionate Conservative label never deceived any of the Christian conservatives I know–we thought it was a typical pathetic attempt to pander to liberals and we turned up our noses. 🙂 I don’t think you’d get any argument from any of these folks either on the central importance of property rights.

    As far as the war on drugs is concerned, just because social conservatives are concerned about drugs and their affect on society, as we all should be, that doesn’t mean that the government “war on drugs” is perceived as the way to handle things, or as anything more than a typical government sop to make it look like it’s doing something. Most of the conservatives I know are clever enough to see through the empty, expensive and lame ways in which government attempts to solve problems it largely has created in the first place, such as our current economic mess.

    Perhaps you know more social conservatives than I do, but those in my experience are not really that naive. As a conservative, I see that drug use is just a symptom of strained, sick, dysfunctional families. Government programs have consistently undermined the family structure by rewarding dads who skip out, teenagers who become pregnant, and spending so much money that the cost of living is so exorbitant it takes at least 2 salaries coming in just to keep a roof over one’s head. This kind of pressure is destructive to family life, encourages divorce, leads to financial problems, poverty, children without stability at home. Add to this a consistent public school system which presents children with pressures and anxieties at inappropriate ages, creating an aura of doom and panic. (ie. books like 1000 Ways Children Can Save the Planet–for 6 year olds!). The literature prescribed for young people is full of death, hopelessness, despair. Many of the novels they read for school depict children who have awful parents but who meet up with a wonderful, caring school teacher who saves the day for the kids—one or two stories like this–no biggie. However, after time, the consistent propaganda is: don’t trust your parents, listen to us, the teachers, we are the ones who really care! Teachers often lie outright to parents to disguise what is happening in the classroom–that’s my own experience, attempting to undermine the relationship between children and their parents. Add to that a criminal justice system that makes it nearly impossible to prosecute drug-dealers or other criminals and keep them locked up. Didn’t mean to provide so much detail, but I just wanted you to see the sort of issues that really concern social conservatives. Rather than government slapping band-aids on issues, I’d rather see them remove impediments and respect the natural mechanisms society has to strengthen itself. Does this make sense?

    However, I’m in my 50s, and have had the benefit of listening to and reading a lot of conservative commentary as well as having lived through Reagan. Younger conservatives of all stripes, unless they do a lot of reading, may never have heard the essential core principals of conservatism, since leaders during their adulthood have not made the case. That’s one reason I don’t trust the exit polls recently which asked people to self-identify as “conservative”, “moderate”, and “liberal”. I honestly don’t think most Americans know what these labels mean–at least a lot of them don’t in the Seattle area. I hear Bush being described all the time as “ultra right-wing”. They cannot tell you which policies he implemented are ultra right-wing, and perhaps it’s just because he was known to hold Bible-studies in the Whitehouse, but these folks are adamant about their opinion, and I suppose they are simply parroting what they hear in the MSM. I don’t think you can overemphasize the importance of the GOP electing leaders who articulate the basic picture well.

    Many younger Christians are confused and ignorant. They, like non-Christian young people, sometimes buy into the idea that in order to help people, we must do it through government programs and it is always Democrats espousing this whom they hear. I believe many of them would support the right policies if they were taught free market principles and solutions. Conservatism takes longer to explain and can’t be shoved into a 15 second sound-byte.

    Comment by Vivian — November 26, 2008 @ 1:10 pm - November 26, 2008

  6. #51 Pat—The Bible actually tells Christians to expect to be despised. I have a lot of friends here in Seattle who harbor disdain for my faith. They are still my friends, and I don’t find it unacceptable–I just don’t make it my business to proselytize them. Of course, I may pray privately for their salvation :-), but I love them for who they are, not who they aren’t. If anyone is honestly looking at him or herself, that’s pretty much how we all as humans deal with ourselves. I have character issues with myself, faults I actually hate in myself, but it doesn’t conflict with my appreciating what is good and being grateful for it. I’m not sure it’s realistic to expect that people around us approve of everything we are and do.

    Comment by Vivian — November 26, 2008 @ 1:25 pm - November 26, 2008

  7. The sad thing for you NDT is you cannot point to anything I have said that would indicate to any rational person that would justify your claims of who I support or what I believe. And I have clearly said multiple times that the Democrats are NOT my party. I have also clearly stated that gay marriage is not a priority for me, that civil unions (which MOST of your allies are also against) are sufficient. I have also clearly stated that “ex-gay” counseling can be beneficial for some who cannot reconcile their faith with their sexual orientation but some of these “ministries” and pseudo-doctors are simply selling snake oil. Since I am not a bigot and I’m not protesting outside of churches your last sentence is just one more piece of excrement among so many you type. You cannot see the difference between associating with and pandering to, that’s your handicap not mine. If you haven’t learned by now I’m not going to appease your ridiculous requests for me to denounce one thing or another then it’s not likely to ever happen. And for the record – I haven’t used the word homophobe on here ever and rarely anywhere else. I’m bored with this.

    Comment by a different Dave — November 26, 2008 @ 3:10 pm - November 26, 2008

  8. Vivian, once again you’ve written great comments. I agree that our politica landscape would look far different if we had a better, more consistent pool of candidates and based upon what you’ve written, I’m nominating….YOU!

    I don’t know that many social conseratives, but of those I do know, there are consistent threads of thinking among them. I like them and we respectfully disagree, something nearly impossible to do with an immature, ignorant, slogan-spewing liberal. Perhaps it’s all too true that politics is extremely corrupting because my arguments are mainly with elected social conservatives and not with the rank-and-file (similar to my arguments with union representatives).

    Naturally, there are going to be areas in which Republicans of different stripes will differ. I think the interesting question is not whether we should downplay religion but rather how to emphasize those areas/issues whereupon we agree. What are those areas? Are we honest enough with ourselves and amongst ourselves to accept honest criticism from each other? How do we craft a consistent message that you and I can unite behind with enthusiasm? Are there systemic changes needed that ensure the party faithful select the candidates they endorse? Who are these candidates of the future?

    Since our recent electoral losses, it’s natural that we would question what went wrong. I’m not blaming social conservatives. But I tend to think individual religious decisions are private — that religious freedom is freedom of privacy, essentially. As long as we stick to the principles of our Founding Fathers, religious and non-religious alike will be best served.

    Comment by Ignatius — November 26, 2008 @ 6:23 pm - November 26, 2008

  9. I totally agree, Ignatius, with your points. It’s the beautiful thing about adhering to the Constitution–it truly is for everybody! In my opinion, that’s the essence of civilization, finding a way for all of us to live together where we can benefit from the diverse talents we have been given. It’s why I’m so adamant that conservatives understand the principles which truly do unite us. It is our political opponents who use divisive politics to pit groups of people together, creating angry mobs demanding special rights.
    By the way, thanks for your compliment, but there are many here much better qualified and more eloquent, which is why I hang out here!
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Comment by Vivian — November 26, 2008 @ 9:01 pm - November 26, 2008

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