In-your-face liberalism was on full display in Charlotte this week. Democrats offered a truly radical vision of the future that would fundamentally remake American society, and challenged Republicans to engage them on issues from abortion on demand to abolishing the Biblical definition of marriage.
Anyone watching and listening to the Democratic National Convention would have thought that social conservatives run Washington and that we are a vote or two away from stopping this vision of the liberal “progress” the country would make under President Obama.
The reality is Republicans have yet to offer a contrasting vision, and probably won’t.
As always, the GOP establishment, firm in its belief that the only way to win is to run a content-free campaign, and uncomfortable talking about matters, such as abortion, that rarely enter the conversation at the country club, appears prepared to once again cede the high ground in the culture wars to the Democrats.
Today’s iteration of the Republican Party’s national leadership, true to their business and Chamber of Commerce roots, may be good on some parts of the conservative economic agenda, but they don’t seem to grasp that America does not live by bread alone.
Governor Romney, as well as inside-the-Beltway consultants who run his campaign, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, Washington’s GOP insiders, and Republican congressional leaders – none of them are going to engage the Democrats on the radical social agenda that came out of the Democratic National Convention.
If this debate is going to take place, and be won, we conservatives must think of ourselves as the leaders in the culture debate and provide the alternative to the in-your-face challenge offered by the Democrats and their hard left secular liberal allies.
At the Republican National Convention, aside from Rick Santorum’s early evening speech, there were no speakers on the right-to-life or who were strongly associated with the values voter movement. Republicans seemed almost embarrassed to mention the social issues, even as their platform was “the best yet” on the conservative agenda.
Where were the Republican alternatives to the prime time speaking roles given to free contraception advocate Sandra Fluke, and the Democrats’ longtime allies abortion on demand advocates Planned Parenthood and NOW?
This lack of stomach for the battle on the cultural issues has large, and negative, consequences for the establishment Republican Party. In 2006 and 2008 millions of conservative voters abandoned the GOP, and the Party’s popularity plummeted, because these voters saw a Party led by people lacking in principle and unwilling to fight for the conservative agenda.
That didn’t change in 2010 – establishment Republican leaders were almost invisible in the 2010 election, new small government constitutional conservatives were the face of the GOP.
The Tea Party wave that swept Republicans back into control of the U.S. House of Representatives, and elected thousands of down ballot candidates, was led by new principled conservative faces – candidates like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and Senators Marco Rubio, Mike Lee and Rand Paul – while polls showed the established Republican Party itself remained less popular than the Democrats.
Americans are looking for principled leadership that will defend and advance the values that made this county exceptional. The social issues aren’t the province of one religious group or voters in the small states of the Bible Belt.
Millions of Americans are deeply troubled by the Democratic Party’s advocacy of same-sex marriage and abortion on demand. The Romney campaign has thus far made a grave error in failing to make defense of traditional American social values part of its day-to-day message and to recognize the bottom-up power of those issues with center-right voters across the country.
Since liberals began the culture war in the 1960s establishment Republicans have been largely MIA, with grave consequences for our country. This year Democrats have offered an even more in-your-face challenge to Republicans to engage on the cultural issues – to date, the GOP has ignored it.
The silence of Republican leaders during the Democratic convention demonstrates that the Republican establishment has no intention of providing leadership or engaging on those issues.
While we are waiting for new principled conservative Republican Party leaders who share our views and values, it is up to us to be the leaders we have been waiting for. It is time for conservatives to head for the sound of the guns in the culture war, to fill the holes in the ranks left by the Republican establishment and to lead the battle against Barack Obama’s radical secular liberal vision for America.