Why victory in 2012 requires a truce on social issues

by CynthiaYockey on February 19, 2011

Jay Cost at The Weekly Standard uses the election of William McKinley over William Jennings Bryan to explain why the presidential election in 2012 is a once-in-many-generations contest that Republicans are unlikely to win if social issues continue to trump fiscal ones and prevent the creation of a coalition that will beat Obama:

As we all know, Mitch Daniels has advocated a “truce” on social issues. This edition of Morning Jay will offer a defense of that idea, arguing that, given the unique circumstances of next year’s election, such a proposition could increase the chances of Republican victory in 2012.

First, let’s talk a little history.

We implicitly take our current circumstances for granted. We’re here because we are meant to be here. But that’s not really true. There have been plenty of junction points in history where we’d have to conclude that things could have easily gone another way altogether.

[Then Cost explains how the election of McKinley over William Jennings Bryan is comparable to our current national crossroads.]

This is why a modern update of McKinley’s “cultural ecumenicalism” might do the Republican Party enormous good, as it could make it easier for these critical suburbanites to come back to the Grand Old Party. And remember, a truce is not the same thing as capitulation. Nor, for that matter, is it a ceding of power to the so-called RINO establishment of the East. Mitch Daniels, after all, is a pro-lifer from Indiana, which has never been part of the elite Eastern GOP club, certainly not what is left of it (which is not very much!). A truce is just a temporary suspension of “hostilities” as culturally conservative and moderate voters recognize that they have the same fiscal interests at stake in the next election.

William McKinley has long been an unsung hero of modern, conservative Republicanism, and it’s high time that the Grand Old Party appreciate his important legacy. Few party leaders have been more thoroughly Republican than he — and if he was prepared to call a cultural truce to strengthen the anti-Bryan coalition, just how bad of an idea can it be for next year’s battle with Obama?

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  • Anonymous

    I’m all for the truce at the national level. On the local level I’m not so sure. I have told you, Cyn, that the most enthusiastic workers on the local campaigns are the Christian conservatives. They (we?) are not consumed with hatred for gays and lesbians but we are hesitant about gay adoption, marriage and suchlike.

    I hesitate to include myself into the Christian conservative camp, Viet Nam and twenty+ years pushing a county cruiser around the back roads of Texas have made me far too cynical for that. Still, I’m close to them, philosophically.

    The problem with Christian Conservatives lining up behind gay equality is simple. You and your love, Margaret, are not the public face of the gay movement. Instead it’s the Folsum Street Fair. It’s the (often married) men doing things in the public parks and the forty+ year old men cruising outside military bases for young soldiers and sailors. As long as those men are the public face of the gay movement, the truce will be difficult.

    I have no answer. All I know is that the public face of the gay movement is all about alarming those straight hicks in the sticks. And it works.People who simply do not know any gays are still warned about which parks they cannot take their children. And as long as that is true, how can there be a truce? This leads me to believe there can be a truce, it requires action from the gay side.

    Unfortunately I do not believe it is possible. I do not know exactly what drives older men to cruise the streets looking for teenaged men (and women for that matter). I do not understand what drives men to go to certain parks and roadside rests for public sex. I do not understand the gay bathhouse thing.

    As an aside, I don’t understand swinger parties, either. But then, what do I know?

    • Liz

      When it comes to the morals of LGBTs, I like to point out that you can’t completely exclude an entire group from your moral code, and then kvetch when they don’t entirely conform to, er, your moral code.

      Gay people, if they stay within the Christian soc con camp, face either a lifetime of no option of a loving same sex relationship, or a lifetime married to someone they don’t really love and can never make happy. I agree with a lot of the sexual morals of Christianity (which my godmother has summed up as “Legs Together. Mickies zipped.”) but without changes they can never offer gay people anything. Straight people are taught to save themselves for a loving, monogamous marriage – what are gay people expected to wait for?

      Also, it means both that gay teenagers miss out on the normal developmental stepping stones, and families miss out on the opportunities to supervise, teach and influence behaviour. I was lucky, in that I brought my first girlfriend home at 13, my parents allowed me to be open, and they taught me the same morals and self respect as my straight sisters.

      But a lot of gay people don’t ever get that. If you have to hide yourself all though to your adult life, then you are entering the gay dating scene as an adult with the same experiences as a 12 y/o straight person. You haven’t had the chance to make mistakes and learn in a safe environment. Also, your family has never taught you anything and it has long been established that their values won’t give you anything.

      How exactly are parents going to keep their sons from, say, sleeping around or prancing around in his underwear in the Pride Parades if they’ve ignored his moral development all his life?

      Frankly, it’s a sign of great maturity (and of growing up fast) that so many same sex couples are so loving and well adjusted. If you and yours are so worried about the morals of gay people, then bring them into the fold and give them some incentive to live according to your values.

    • Pete,
      Liz has got this one. I do find it surreal that social conservatives like Ann Coulter attack gays for wanting to destroy the family when the reason that we’re fighting for equality is to create families.
      Cynthia

  • sofa

    If social issues dominate your mindset- then vote based on social issues.

    If conservative issues dominate your mindset- then vote based on conservative issues.

    If you notice the communism, and realise that lesbians and conservatives are both traditional targets of communism- Then who cares? Until we find a way to survive communism… this other stuff doesn’t matter so much.

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