How the Social Conservatives Get it Wrong

Think all Republicans are religious, intolerant right-wingers? Take another look.


When one identifies oneself as a Republican, assumptions are made.

Hillary Rosen’s comment drew attention to . And with each of the Republican candidates asserting themselves as pro-life—although presumptive nominee Mitt Romney is a former choicer—the ensuing hysteria that Roe v. Wade will be overturned has reached fever pitch.

The unfortunate consequences of the well funded and noisy “religious right” hijacking the Republican party’s traditional values of small government, cautious spending and personal liberty are many. Ask yourselves these questions: will it affect your daily life if your lesbian or gay friends marry? How about if your babysitter begins taking birth control pills before she leaves for college? What if the nice lady three blocks over decides to terminate her pregnancy? And what if a coworker’s mother, dying from cancer and suffering unspeakable indignities, asks for euthanasia? 

Social conservatives believe that the government should take a strong role in determining a society’s moral code, thus increasing the presence of Big Brother in the average citizen’s day to day life. Yet, isn’t a society that guarantees freedom of religion already determining that moral code, without help from our elected officials? And how does that jive with fiscal conservatives who want less interference from our bloated governmental friends? 

As a fiscally conservative voter, I don’t believe that creating expensive, wasteful bureaucracy automatically solves society’s problems. And I definitely don’t want my government weighing in on whether or not I can get an abortion or whether my gay friends can get married.   

High handed moral commentary doesn’t sit well with the electorate at large. Even when the Republicans enjoyed Congressional majority plus Oval Office residency, Roe v. Wade remained intact; the “moral majority” did not succeed.  

I don’t believe that Republican leaders really believe in the pro-life cause. In fact, I think they think it’s a lost cause. They do not take up socially conservative reforms with the zeal of tax reform, government spending or universal health care. 

Nevertheless, many Republicans believe they require social conservatives’ support for electoral success. When they pander to these special interests, they lose what I believe is a growing constituency of voters who support limited government and low taxes but believe that what goes on in America's bedrooms and doctors offices is private. 

It’s time for our Republican leadership to stop pandering to the religious right so we can hear instead about their personal beliefs.  Republicans talk about being pro-life – and they may be, in their own personal decisions – but they’re actually pro-choice.

Exhibit A? None other than Romney, who declared himself pro-choice during a senate run versus Democrat Ted Kennedy. Even after he decided he was pro-life while running for the governor’s seat years later, he did nothing to overturn Massachusetts’ pro-choice laws. In fact, he forced the state’s Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception to rape victims. 

Exhibit B is the morning after pill, a topic that social conservatives scramble to address. Scientifically, the pill works before conception occurs, thereby removing the pro-lifer’s “personhood” argument. Even former presidential candidate Ron Paul, a physician by trade who also happens to be pro-life, stated that the morning after pill is nothing more than amped up birth control. And guess who made the morning after pill available over the counter to adults over the age of 18? Everyone’s favorite presidential punching bag, George W. Bush. 

So far – and this is why I think pro-choicers have little to fear – social conservatives have only demonstrated that they believe abortion is wrong. They have not proven to the American people why abortion – or gay marriage, for that matter – should be illegal. And I don’t believe that they will ever be able to win that argument, as evidenced by their abandonment of Roe v. Wade to focus on legislatively establishing a fetus as a person (and thus protected by the Fourteenth Amendment, negating Roe v. Wade). 

What is especially ironic about the conservative religious stranglehold is that socially conservative attitudes limit personal freedoms, a philosophy that Republicans say they hold dear. Extremist rhetoric from both sides forces level-headed voters out of the debate entirely. And it’s these level headed voters that the Republican Party needs most.


First, I believe that most voters – Democrat or Republican – believe that major health decisions should be private. Second, social services are expensive. Given the choice between keeping abortion legal and funding expensive bureaucratic programs, isn’t it wiser to allow personal health freedom while also limiting social spending? Third, legal abortion does not limit the individual’s right to not get an abortion – in other words, you’re still pro-life!

The point is that the Republican Party would be wise to adopt the “big tent” policy as espoused by the Republican Majority for Choice. These GOPers believe social tolerance promotes personal freedom and privacy through education and prevention initiatives. And as we all know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Osama Bin Laden Jr June 02, 2012 at 08:16 AM
This world is a mess! Everybody wants to be right. Everybody has the answers. Who's fault it is? It's your fault! People with labels. Religion and politics. Your beliefs alone creates it's existence! So with that being said, I really wish everyone a peaceful day! And by the way, taxes are not taken from me and I would never pay them in this lifetime! And if you keep thinking this is a free country, think again!
raybond007 June 03, 2012 at 02:35 AM
For all, I suggest the following....go look at the voting record of the Congressman you cast your vote for...did he/she meet their commitments to you? GOP or Dem doesn't matter. What matters is representation of the people by the people for the people. Vote and hold them accountable.
Bob June 04, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Actually I have not voted for an incumbant in any other than maybe a local election in several years, maybe 10. That means county, state and national. The only way to change is to shake things up and not in the OWS method.
Douglas September 27, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Maybe the tilte of this piece should be "Why can't we all get along?". It always saddens me to see a feelings piece written as a factual piece ending up as a piece of sloopy journalism. And this is quite a piece! Is the point that we should all just accept men marrying men and women marrying women and get on with it? Will we then force religious institutions to perform same sex weddings> Are you aware an inn in Vermont was fined heavily because they did not want to host a same sex wedding? Anyone who identifies themselves as Pro-Choice is either intellectually ignorant or has been taken in by propagandists. If you mean abortion say abortion and if you really want to be honest about it call it baby killing. Like it or not our laws come from the Judeu- Christian ethic. That ethic stems from the bible and clearly states homosexually and murder are wrong. Sure not all are perfect but once we condone by law behavior outside of the Judeao- Christian ethic societies downfall cannot be far behind. Thank God the Republican platform still sees the constitution as something worth defending.
Issy September 27, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Sorry, but you do not get to frame the debate on your terms. Pro-choice is more than abortion it is about allowing women to make their own choices regarding, sex, contraceptives and if necessary abortion free from religious bigotry. Likewise for Gays. As for your biblical nonsense, our laws do not come from religious ethics, rather moral values evolved over 100,000's years of existence. If anything religion has corrupted those values. The bible states that eating shell fish and wearing mixed fabrics is wrong and it is OK to keep slaves, are these the values you want? Thankfully we have a Constitution to protect us (gay, straight, man, women, black, white) from the like of you, because without it this country would be no better than any other perverse religious theocracy....... a hell hole!


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