Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan gave the right answers when they were asked about the Democrats' decision to remove any reference to God from the Democratic Party platform.
In an interview with Fox News, Governor Romney said “Our founding document the Declaration of Independence references God… Our national motto, ‘In God we trust.’ I mean this is part of our heritage. I think their having removed purposefully God from their platform suggests a party which is increasingly out of touch with the mainstream of American people. I think this party is veering further and further away into an extreme wing that Americans don’t recognize.”
Paul Ryan likewise told Fox, "I think it's rather peculiar. It's not in keeping with our founding documents, our founding vision, but I guess you'd have to ask the Obama administration why they purged all this language [referencing God] from their platform."
These, of course, were the right answers, but they were to a large extent reactions to an unforced error on the part of the Democrats, who have long-been the Party of secular liberalism, but who have generally done a better job of hiding their antipathy toward Christianity and its values.
The real test for the Romney campaign is not its reaction to this low-hanging fruit, but whether or not they make the conservative social agenda a key element of their campaign from now until Election Day.
So far, the evidence is scant that Governor Romney’s team sees this as anything more than a one day story that they plan to move away from as quickly as possible.
That would be a major blunder on their part.
This year’s Republican Platform was “the best ever” for conservatives according to Phyllis Schlafly, President of the Eagle Forum and the First Lady of the conservative movement. However, Governor Romney’s advisors seemed to make a point of trying to distance the Governor and his campaign from its social and cultural tenets.
Exhibit 1 for this problem is that when asked about the Republican Platform, one of Governor Romney’s advisors remarked, “The platform is a RNC document, not a Romney for President document.”
The Democrats let the mask slip for a moment and showed who they really are, and it is a frightening face to many Americans. However, just as it is not enough to win the economic argument by asking, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” letting the Democrats speak for themselves is not enough to win the argument on the social and cultural issues.
Governor Romney's acceptance speech wasn’t an ideological statement of where he wanted to take the country. It had all the right conservative buzzwords, but it didn’t really commit him to an agenda – and that was entirely in keeping with the preferences and advice of the Republican establishment who much prefer to run content-free campaigns.
Republicans don’t have that luxury this election. The Democrats have thrown down the gauntlet on the social and cultural issues. Subsequent to the 1964 election, whenever Americans have been presented with a clear choice between a conservative Republican agenda, and a liberal Democrat agenda, the voters always choose the conservative agenda – if Republicans present one to them.
The Democrats have done their part and presented Americans with a truly radical secular liberal agenda; it is now time for Governor Romney to begin to present the conservative alternative.