Friday, October 06, 2006

The Coming Religious Right Rebellion

The Moose suggests that social conservatives have some issues.

Republican rule is now jeopardized by a scandal involving a sexual predator and a possible cover-up. How can social conservatives - the most significant component of the GOP base - view this development?

Republicans came to power in '94 in large part as a result of the social conservative fury over the perceived social liberalism of the Clinton Administration. Without the active and energized involvement of the religious right, the GOP would never had been in the majority. And if they stay at home next month, a Democratic majority in one or both chambers is guaranteed.

After twelve years of Republican rule, social conservatives have not gotten much compared to the goodies handed out to economic conservatives and corporate supporters. And now, Republicans have a cybersex scandal - with young pages.

Social conservatives are not amused. The Washington Post notes the dissatisfaction in the ranks of the faithful,

"A nationwide poll of 1,500 registered voters released yesterday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 57 percent of white evangelicals are inclined to vote for Republican congressional candidates in the midterm elections, a 21-point drop in support among this critical part of the GOP base."

Even beyond the question of whether demoralized social conservatives stay home in November, there is a long term problem for the GOP. How does the party continue to maintain the coalition of economic libertarians, corporate conservatives, foreign policy hawks and the religious right? This challenge will be confronted in the '08 Presidential race.

Regardless of whether the GOP holds on to its majority, expect the social conservatives to be disgruntled and dissatisfied. The religious right may very well become a mirror image of the activist left in the Democratic Party. Rather than being pragmatic after GOP congressional setbacks, social conservatives may be demanding more ideological purity from a Presidential candidate. And Iowa is the first caucus state where social conservatives are particularly strong in that state's GOP.

With the bases of both parties seeking purity, will the center be ignored? The Democrats are animated by the anti-war left and the GOP may be dominated by a social conservative right that feels betrayed and neglected.

Can the center hold in '08?
-- Posted at 8:27 AM | Link to this post | Email this post