By redfish | November 16, 2012 | 12:46
A lot of whats changed since the 80s and 90s is the political debate. In the 80s and 90s, the public identified more strongly as pro-choice than it does now, with large pro-choice majorities, while current polls show a lean towards pro-life. Yet, there have always been stupid Republicans making dumb comments that blew up in the media. Heck, the Republican Party couldn't even stop David Duke from running in the early 90s, but went on to win the Congress in 94.
What changed, and why are dumb comments on women's issues costing Republicans in an even more pro-life environment?
Well one thing is, Republicans have stopped talking about a lot of subjects, because they have decided certain subjects help win elections, others don't. This includes social issues and judicial activism. A Republican commentator in the 90s would talk about Roe v. Wade and how Democrats used the courts to decide political issues. He would have talked about how that ended up polarizing people; that using the courts in that way caused the culture war. He would have discussed the importance of the President in appointing justices. He would have also talked about moderate measures that Democrats opposed, like parental notification laws. On gay issues, he would have pointed out that there is no restriction on gay people that doesn't exist on straight people, that two straight men can't get their relationship recognized by law either ; and would have warned about the courts deciding this issue like they decided abortion.
Besides those political issues, Republicans also talked about ideas being pushed in academia about things like psychology and sexuality, and about postmodern philosophy and how it argues all morals are relative and subjective.
So, someone in the middle, an Independent, would have looked at the situation and said, there may be some extremists on the Republican side, but Democrats are a part of the problem, too -- perhaps an even bigger part of the problem -- because they're the ones dividing people. We return the courts to common sense, academia to common sense, and people won't be so divided.
Republicans have ceded this side of the debate to talk about the economy, economy, economy. The President needs to be a businessman who can "fix the economy."
Now, I get it. Most Republicans never really liked social issues to begin with, and thought they were a huge distraction and tool the Democrats used to use votes. Talking about social issues so much makes it look like Republicans are obsessed with gay people and women, when there are pressing concerns like the economy, debt, and Iran. So why not abandon them?
But, the problem is this throws a wrench into the whole debate. Democrats can demagogue these issues to death, meanwhile there will always be conservatives who disagree. And, furthermore, it harms the conservative argument on Constitutional issues, and that goes beyond social issues. A lot of young people don't understand the difference between judicial activism and originalism. You ask them about Roe v. Wade and they point to the 9th amendment. You ask about gay marriage, and they point to the equal protection clause. Now, those arguments make no sense, but they believe it, and Republicans can't win governance if they don't have a consistent judicial philosophy that appeals to people. The President's role in appointing justices is more grounded in the Constitution than his role in "fixing the economy". The President is not a CEO, even though Romney auditioned for the job that way.
I'm not arguing that Republican candidates should be out there harping about this. Nor am I arguing for demagogues like Bill O'Reilly pounding on 'secularism'. But do conservatives really want to give up an honest view about the Constitution, because they simply don't feel comfortable discussing social issues?
This is just food for thought that I'm putting out, because I simply disagree with a lot of the analysis in the media. As I've pointed out in threads, I'm a moderate, not a conservative, and an Independent (third party member to put it more exactly). But I've become a little frustrated with the fact that political debates on these issues are not honest anymore. I cant counter a liberal view on these things, including on the Constitution, without being accused of being a Bible-thumping fundamentalist. There are areas in which I get frustrated with conservatives sometimes, too, but the big problem here is the ignorance around these subjects because conservatives have ceded the discussion. You have more information "out there" than ever, but in a lot of ways, people are more ignorant than ever.