There has been a great deal of talk in recent months of a new Republican Party that would embrace more libertarian policy positions in its greater platform in return for the ability to gain legislative control over American fiscal policy. With the prospect of GOP politicians and pundits embracing certain “live and let live” attitudes toward some social policy issues, consternation is growing among members of a party that embraced the religious right’s morality-based legislative agenda decades ago.
Last week, former House Speaker and failed GOP Presidential contender Newt Gingrich warned The National Review Online that a wave of “secular tyranny” was on its way to the United States.
“The great danger is that you’re going to see a real drive to outlaw and limit Christianity,” he told National Review. “It’s okay to be Christian as long as you’re not really Christian. It’s a very serious problem.
“You can’t actually have an adoption service that’s run by Catholics unless they’re willing to be not Catholic,” Gingrich continued, referencing Catholic adoption organizations shuttered for refusing gay couples adoptions.
“That should bother people,” he said. “You’re now beginning to see a secular tyranny begin to set in that is very dangerous, and we need to have a national debate about it.”
Gingrich’s alarmist warning came on the heels of conservative pundit Bill O’Reilly’s criticism that Americans opposed to gay marriage have done little more than “thump the Bible” in trying to make a case against homosexual nuptials.
O’Reilly went on to suggest that conservatives could make a stronger Constitutional argument with regard to the topic:
Anti-gay marriage forces, “forces” not individuals “forces”, have not seized upon one central persuasive argument like the human DNA component. And so those who oppose gay marriage are scattered all over the place and many of them are using the bible as their basis to reject homosexuals nuptials. That’s a loser all day every day in our secular court system which I believe is largely hostile to religious expression.
Now, there is a strong argument against gay marriage; that it expands marriage opportunity to just one group, gay people. That excludes all others who may want to marry under different circumstances. Also traditional marriage has been a societal stabilizer and in many states it’s favored by the majority of the folks.
So if you grant homosexuals civil union status, whereby they get the legal rights of marriage, then the states should decide the nuptials issues for themselves. Bottom line the federal government has no Constitutional authority to impose gay marriage on the nation. Now, that is a strong argument.
The gay marriage debate is highlighting the emergence of a broader rift in the GOP, as the distance grows between conservatives with more Constitution-based legislative stances and those who fear “secular tyranny” that a more libertarian GOP could presumably enable.
And some Republicans remain hell-bent on resisting any ideological fluctuation that would take the GOP in a more libertarian direction in response to perception that young voters, minorities and women are turned off by GOP social stances and rhetoric. Among those decrying any move away from GOP social conservatism are two failed GOP Presidential contenders: former Senator Rick Santorum and former Arkansas Governor-turned-pundit Mike Huckabee.
“Look, the Republican Party isn’t going to change,” Santorum said in an interview. “If we do change, we’ll be the Whig Party.”
He continued, “We’re not the Libertarian Party, we’re the Republican Party.”
The former Pennsylvania Senator, however, doesn’t have a record that sits well with many conservatives whose biggest worries are economic in nature. His legislative record is rife with strong union support (which he cleverly said was due to States’ rights issues when he flip-flopped on the national stage) and a penchant for earmarks.
Huckabee, for his part, believes just the opposite of the idea that GOP social conservatism turned off voters who otherwise would embrace the Party for sane fiscal policy in the past two Presidential elections.
“The last two presidential elections, we had more moderate candidates, so if anything a lot of conservatives went to the polls reluctantly or just didn’t go at all,” said Huckabee. “If all of the evangelicals had showed up, it may have made a difference.”