With Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele taking heat from social conservatives for his comments on abortion and “individual choice,” we see the difficulties that good man is having trying to balance the concerns of social conservatives who make up the base of our party while reaching out to more socially liberal suburbanites who are sympathetic to our party’s economic message (particularly in the era of the spendthrift Obama-Pelosi-Reid Democrats).Â And whose votes we need to win back our majorities.
If he makes a pro-life argument a central plank of the Republican agenda, he risks alienating those suburbanites (and some urbanites).Â If he ignores the issue, he risks losing the support of some of the party’s most committed activists.
What the GOP chair need do is take a stand on a social issue dear to the hearts of those activists yet which resonates with (or at least doesn’t offend) more socially liberal voters.
When a reader alerted me to this story about a North Carolina judge ordering a woman to switch her children from home schooling to public schooling because of her lessons’ “religious slant,” it occurred to me that home schooling could be just such an issue.Â To be sure, this particular case may not be a perfect illustration of my point as it is part of a divorce proceeding.Â The father, while acknowledging that his kids have “thrived with home school,” would like them to attend public school where they will be “exposed to mainstream science.”
I can’t say I disagree with him on that score.
What this story does show is that there is a good deal of animus, particulary among those in the ever-growing government sector, toward home schooling.Â If the Republican Party champions home schooling as a freedom issue, the right of parents to educate their own children, they come out as promoting concern central to social conservatives, appealing to this bloc in terms which resonate to more socially liberal parents who often to live where they do because of the neighborhood schools.