Iowa Caucus May Bring Social Issues Back To GOP

March 27th, 2011 at 5:50 am | 2 Comments |

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The New York Times reports:

DES MOINES — The ailing economy and the Tea Party’s demand for smaller government have dominated Republican politics for two years, remedy but a resurgent social conservative movement is shaping the first stage of the presidential nominating contest, drugstore complicating the strategy for candidates who prefer to focus on fiscal issues over faith.

Here in Iowa, and whose caucuses next winter will open the campaign, social and religious conservatives are pressing the likely candidates on issues like same-sex marriage and abortion rather than on jobs, the budget deficit and other economic concerns that leaders of both parties expect to dominate the general election.

The development provides opportunities for candidates like Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who have a following among social conservatives. But it could make Iowa even more difficult territory for, among others, Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, who has yet to visit the state this year.

More broadly, some Republicans say, it could muddle the party’s message as it seeks to defeat President Obama.

“We look like Camp Christian out here,” said Doug Gross, a Republican activist and former nominee for governor. “If Iowa becomes some extraneous right-wing outpost, you have to question whether it is going to be a good place to vet your presidential candidates.”

While social conservatives have long wielded a greater influence in Iowa than in many early-voting states, a bitter fight here over same-sex marriage and rivalries among some of the state’s conservative leaders have amplified the issues and might help define the message of Republican candidates in ways that could resonate nationally.

No events have focused solely on the economy, job creation or even the health care law that is widely reviled among Republicans. Instead, the most prominent platforms for candidates to introduce themselves have been a number of forums — three last week alone — before socially conservative audiences in Iowa.

Several Republican prospects appeared here Saturday at the Conservative Principles Conference sponsored by Representative Steve King of Iowa, one of the party’s firebrands in Congress, who argues that “culture, not the economy, is the most important thing” in choosing a nominee. He said he planned to endorse a candidate “who can be an effective constitutional president.”

All prospective contenders are trying to glean lessons from the 2008 Iowa caucuses, when former Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas scored an unexpected victory, in part by winning over evangelical Christians. Four years ago, he was the only candidate to address a forum of Iowa pastors called Rediscovering God in America. But Gov.Haley Barbour of Mississippi and former Speaker Newt Gingrich were among those attending this year’s event.

A balancing act has been on display all weekend.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • busboy33

    “Iowa Caucus May Bring Social Issues Back To GOP”

    Because at some point they had left?

  • jg bennet

    Well crap! The “conservatives” were just getting interesting again after years in naive land and now the totalitarians/social conservatives are fighting back and demanding that very un-American regimented sameness all totalitarians demand.

    Barry Goldwater said….

    “The beauty of the very system we Republicans are pledged to restore and revitalize, the beauty of this federal system of ours, is in its reconciliation of diversity with unity. We must not see malice in honest differences of opinion, and no matter how great, so long as they are not inconsistent with the pledges we have given to each other in and through our Constitution.

    Our Republican cause is not to level out the world or make its people conform in computer-regimented sameness. Our Republican cause is to free our people and light the way for liberty throughout the world. Ours is a very human cause for very humane goals.” From his 1964 Republican nomination acceptance speech…….

    And his take on the hijacking totalitarians disguising themselves as conservative…..

    I am a conservative Republican, but I believe in democracy and the separation of church and state. The conservative movement is founded on the simple tenet that people have the right to live life as they please as long as they don’t hurt anyone else in the process.”
    (in a 1994 Washington Post essay)
    “The religious factions will go on imposing their will on others,”
    “I don’t have any respect for the Religious Right.”
    “Every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell’s ass.”
    “A woman has a right to an abortion

    “There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs.

    There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly.

    The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent.

    If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both.

    I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘D.’ Just who do they think they are?

    And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?

    And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate.

    I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism.’ ” (1909-1998) US Senator (R-Arizona) Source: Congressional Record, September 16, 1981

    The five-term U.S. senator from Arizona was equally unimpressed with TV preacher Pat Robertson. When Robertson sought the GOP nomination for president in 1988, Goldwater wasn’t about to say amen. “I believe in separation of church and state,” observed Goldwater. “Now, he doesn’t believe that . . . I just don’t think he should be running.”

    A few years later he told The Advocate, “I don’t have any respect for the Religious Right. There is no place in this country for practicing religion in politics. That goes for Falwell, Robertson and all the rest of these political preachers. They are a detriment to the country.”

    While some Americans might find Goldwater’s stand against all interaction between religion and politics too sweeping, many would agree with his strong commitment to individual freedom of conscience on issues as diverse as religion in schools, gay rights or abortion. In 1994 he told The Los Angeles Times, “A lot of so-called conservatives don’t know what the word means. They think I’ve turned liberal because I believe a woman has a right to an abortion. That’s a decision that’s up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the Religious Right.”

    Goldwater, an Episcopalian, had theological differences with greedy TV preachers. “I look at these religious television shows,” he said, “and they are raising big money on God. One million, three million, five million – they brag about it. I don’t believe in that. It’s not a very religious thing to do.”

    By establishing religion as a basic Republican Party tenet,” he told U.S. News & World Report in 1994, “they could do us in.” In an interview with The Post that same year, Goldwater observed, “When you say ‘radical right’ today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”

    But most importantly, Goldwater was deeply concerned about the Religious Right’s relentless war on the Constitution and basic American freedoms.

    In a Sept. 15, 1981 senate speech, Goldwater noted that Falwell’s Moral Majority, anti-abortion groups and other Religious Right outfits were sometimes referred to in the press as the “New Right” and the “New Conservatism.” Responded Goldwater,

    “Well, I’ve spent quite a number of years carrying the flag of the ‘Old Conservatism.’ And I can say with conviction that the religious issues of these groups have little or nothing to do with conservative or liberal politics. The uncompromising position of these groups is a divisive element that could tear apart the very spirit of our representative system, if they gain sufficient strength.”

    Insisted Goldwater, “Being a conservative in America traditionally has meant that one holds a deep, abiding respect for the Constitution. We conservatives believe sincerely in the integrity of the Constitution. We treasure the freedoms that document protects. . .

    “By maintaining the separation of church and state,” he explained, “the United States has avoided the intolerance which has so divided the rest of the world with religious wars . . .

    Can any of us refute the wisdom of Madison and the other framers? Can anyone look at the carnage in Iran, the bloodshed in Northem Ireland, or the bombs bursting in Lebanon and yet question the dangers of injecting religious issues into the affairs of state?”

    Goldwater concluded with a waming to the American people.

    “The religious factions will go on imposing their will on others,” { he said,} “unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy. They must learn to make their views known without trying to make their views the only alternatives. . .

    We have succeeded for hundreds of years in keeping the affairs of state separate from the uncompromising idealism of religious groups and we mustn’t stop now” { he insisted}. “To retreat from that separation would violate the principles of conservatism and the values upon which the framers built this democratic republic.” from CHURCH & STATE July / August 1998

    Senator Goldwater was appalled by many who claimed to be “Conservative” followers of his.

    Goldwater on homosexuality:

    “There has always been homosexuality, ever since man and woman were invented. I guess there were gay apes. So that’s not an issue. The Republican Party should stand for freedom and only freedom. Don’t raise hell about the gays, the Blacks and the Mexicans. Free people have a right to do as they damn well please.” –”The Advocate”, 1993.

    “The big thing is to make this country, along with every other country in the world with a few exceptions, quit discriminating against people just because they’re gay, you don’t have to agree with it, but they have a constitutional right to be gay. And that’s what brings me into it.”

    Early in his controversial political career he supported tax breaks for private school tuition and a school prayer amendment. But the rise of the intolerant Religious Right caused him to rethink his views, a change that sparked admiration from Americans who disagreed with him on many other things.

    When Sandra Day O’Connor was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1981, some Religious Right leaders suspected she might be too moderate on abortion and other social concerns. Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell told the news media that “every good Christian should be concerned.” Replied Goldwater, “Every good Christian should line up and kick Jerry Falwell’s ass.”


    “In your heart, you know he’s right.”