DIFFERENT GOP?

Tod Lindberg thinks the Republican Party has given up standing for morality:

Historians will mark the administration of George W. Bush as the point at which the so-called social issues, long a galvanizing feature of American partisan politics, finally lost their sting. The Supreme Court’s rulings upholding diversity as a compelling government interest and striking down the remaining state anti-sodomy laws join the early Bush administration decision allowing stem-cell research to go forward. The trinity (as it were) of decisions leave those whose top priority has been the preservation of a certain traditional public morality now essentially voiceless in electoral politics. The Republican Party has moved on.

This strikes me as a ridiculous overreaction and certainly one with which Democrats will heatedly disagree.

The stem cell decision was shrewd politically, in that it both appeased the base and yet was reasonably pragmatic with respect to vital medical research. And, while I hate the Supreme Court decisions, I disagree that this says a lot about the GOP since most of the justices on the Court were appointed by Republican presidents. We still have Nixon and Ford appointees on the bench; neither of those presidents were conservatives in the post-Reagan sense. Sandra O’Connor was a token appointment from an era when there were essentially no women, especially Republican women, with high level judicial experience to choose from. She was thus an unknown quantity and has been a bitter disappointment to conservatives. Most of the other Reagan or Bush 41 nominees had to get through a Democrat-controlled Senate.

Compromise is a necessary component of representative government, especially one in such a diverse polity. The extreme positions of the Pat Robertsons represent a tiny fraction of the population. For the Republican Party to fight to the death on each and every social issue would not only be futile it would be counterproductive. It would ensure that the GOP became relegated to fringe status and Democrat governance as far as the eye could see. I suspect Lindberg would quickly see what giving up on social issues looks like.

FILED UNDER: US Politics,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.