Saturday, November 06, 2004

The future of the Republican coalition

Michele at a small victory is asking a variation on a question I've been wondering the past few weeks: what happens to the Republican party after the election?
"I've already seen the fallout starting, with people questioning my (and others) dedication to the Republican party because I'm not swallowing the pill whole. Politics is not an all or nothing proposition. I'm a some from column A, some from column B kind of person. The fact that I'm an atheist with socially liberal tendencies is clearly giving some people pause for concern, as if I am going to now become a detriment to the party. They got what they wanted from me - in my vote - and now they can discard me because I won't follow the fold all the way down the line.
As are Pejmanesque and Roger L. Simon. Hugh Hewitt touches on it in relation to the Sen. Specter question. Terry Mattingly refers to the 10 Commandments voters.

We won an important election with a coalition of pro-lifers, traditional marriage advocates, 9/11 Democrats and social liberals who support the war on terror. How can we keep our victory from destroying us?

Here's my vision, speaking as a social conservative, pro-lifer, Orthodox Christian, who doesn't want to live under Shari'a.
  • On religion. We don't have to agree. Let's talk. All I want from government is for it to stop pretending that religion has no place in people's public lives. If I don't want to pray at a football game, I don't have to make everybody else stop. If someone feels that his religious freedoms are being curtailed, then let the courts hear the case--but as interpreters of laws that the people have approved, not as black-robed kings.

  • On life issues. Believing that the unborn are human beings, pro-lifers have no choice but to try to save them from being murdered. Some of the most effective methods shouldn't cause any but the abortion industrialists offense--crisis pregnancy centers, homes for unwed mothers, abstinence education. I'd like to see a Human Life Amendment--not imposed by judicial fiat (we see how badly Roe v. Wade has performed in the public square)--but by the long and tedious process of persuasion. In the meantime, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the result would not be the end of legal abortion in America, but the return of the question to the individual states. Oregon legalized abortion in 1969, and undoubtedly it will be among the last to make it illegal. Other states had abortion forced on them, and given the opportunity, they will quickly make it illegal again. Allowing the states to choose for themselves will provide more information for both sides to use in future persuasion; it will give a safety valve in both directions until we work out the issue. For our coalition members who disagree on this issue but are willing to work with us, to hear our arguments and give us theirs, I hope we pro-lifers keep looking for common ground.

  • On marriage. OK, I don't believe you can change the definition of "marriage" to be a relationship between two men or two women any more than you can change the definition of "yellow" to "red." If you want to talk about civil unions, about some means of simplifying the legal aspects of property and power of attorney and so forth, then let's open the discussion. I don't know what the ramifications would be. But don't have it imposed from some black-robed god (or in the case of Multnomah County, Oregon, by a couple of county commissioners reinterpreting the Oregon Constitution in a secret meeting that not even all the commissioners are invited to). I don't have much patience with the idea that the job of the state is to affirm people's love, nor with people who need the state to do that for them.

  • On social liberals in the Republican Party. In 1992, Gov. Robert Casey, a pro-lifer with impeccable Democratic economic credentials, was not permitted to speak at the Democratic convention, revealing how completely the Democrats had fallen into the ditch. Now Gov. Schwarzenegger has helped us win the White House, even though he supported the embryonic stem cell research measure in Gollyfornia. What to do? A little gratitude doesn't violate our principles. And considering who's likely to advance long-term gains in the core agenda is important.
What the Republicans offer at this point, to social liberals and social conservatives alike, is an emphasis on freedom, pushing the authority downward as much as possible to states, cities, neighborhoods, families, private persons. We'll argue over who those persons are and how to balance the needs of the community aaginst the individual. Those are fair questions. But as long as we respect each other and work through our disagreements honestly and civilly, there's no need to shrink the tent.

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