As headlines this week are filled with signals of a GOP movement toward stressing social issues in light of recent economic improvements under Obama, I stand in disbelief. Ask an independent what bugs him/her about the Republican Party. I bet, more often than not, he/she will bring up social issues. “Republicans are pro-life; they hurt minorities; they are against gay marriage.” This is the problem. In a post-industrial country that is becoming more and more secular, heterogeneous, and cosmopolitan, most people simply have a hard time backing the social stances of the Republican Party. A May 2011 Gallup poll showed majority support for same-sex marriage, 53% in favor to 45% opposed. Gallup measured a 9-point increase in support, from 44% to 53%, indicating that support increased faster in 2011 than in any previous year. A similar Gallup poll in 2011 shows that 62% of Americans believe first-trimester abortion should be legal.
Look, social issues are a great way to reinvigorate the more-extreme base of the Republican Party. Strong fist-slamming promises to end abortion and keep gay marriage illegal will get Santorum a standing ovation at his rallies. But what the Republicans don’t realize is that these statements are getting them frowns of disapproval from the majority of Americans watching on their TVs at home.
The social beliefs of the country are moving one way and the Republican Party is running the other way. It’s like watching a parent play peek-a-boo with his/her teenager. What used to work won’t work anymore. The GOP simply can’t win presidential elections off social issues anymore. If the Republicans truly want to win in 2012, they need to win over independents. The way to do that is to continue to adamantly reach out to them on economic issues. The road to the Oval Office is a road to the center of the bell curve that is the electorate of the United States. Everybody knows that! I know that the candidates are being more radical to get primary votes right now, but, in the end, who cares? The Republican nominee will stand no shot against Obama in the general election if Paul, Gingrich, Santorum, and Romney keep pushing each other to the right.
This isn’t about changing the party platform and reversing the GOP’s views on these issues. That is another debate for another day. This is about getting enough votes to win in 2012. The candidates need to find another way to get their primary votes that won’t lose them votes in November. Largely because of this, Obama is sitting pretty at this point, and that does not satisfy me one bit.