This morning, James Dobson (of whom I am no fan) has an editorial in the NY Times explaining how social conservative activists have adopted a resolution stating that if the Democrats and Republicans nominate presidential candidates who are not sufficiently pro-life, they will vote for a "minor-party candidate."
The resolution was passed unanimously.
They also debated the creation of a third party, should the GOP nominate someone who isn't sufficiently "pro-family" (I put that term in quotation marks because I honestly don't accept the logic that being pro-choice makes someone "anti-family"... but whatever).
I have little to say about this, except three things:
1) Socons like Dobson and his supporters relentlessly, and in just about every election, threaten to boycott the GOP if they don't get exactly what they want, with every box relating to every minute detail of their agenda ticked by any Republican candidate whatsoever. Last year, before the hard-fought 2006 election, I heard plenty of griping from socon activists in DC that if the GOP didn't pass the Federal Marriage Amendment, they'd stay home. From the Tancredoites in the party, I similarly heard relentless threats issued that if Republicans like the President, John McCain, and even Mike Pence didn't abandon their interest in instituting a guest worker program, they would stay home and throw the election to the Democrats. Ahead of previous elections, I have heard similar threats issued over things like embryonic stem cell research, protection of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance and so on. So, what Dobson is writing about here, and what he and his cohorts are threatening, is hardly news. Nor will be the fact that even if some of these guys do in fact stay home, or vote for a third party candidate (or, as I've heard some threaten to do, vote for Democrats just to stick it to a Republican party that might be more socially libertarian than them), the majority of (thinking) socons will be clever enough to discern that a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for Hillary Clinton-- and that her assuming the presidency will be infinitely worse for them, except in terms of their ability to raise money (which I wouldn't be surprised to see emerge as a major reason for their actions), in every way, shape and form. The threat that Dobson and his crew have issued by the passage of their resolution is almost certainly an empty one, designed to bully and cow the GOP, and force it to march to their orders, and theirs alone, as they have become accustomed to believing is their birthright. So, I'll call Dobson on this, and raise him one: please, be the guy whose gang of cohorts hands the White House to Hillary Clinton, and see how far that gets you both in terms of currying favor with the party you claim to be a part of, but perpetually crap on, and in terms of advancing your policy agenda (the predetermined answer: not very-- but it will help with raising money, which I'm sure is of paramount interest here).
2) I want to know which Republican is going to be stupid enough to step forward as the guy who serves as this gang's preferred candidate, scuppers the GOP beyond the scuppering that has already occurred courtesy of our profligate spending, lack of ethics, and above all, willingness to kowtow to socon and protectionist forces within our own ranks, all of which has created a deadly cocktail for us in key places like the home state of the Vatican of the religious right, Colorado. My sincere hope is that if this is going to happen, Rick Santorum steps forward as the poster boy for this "movement" (more like pathetic, en masse, five year-old's temper tantrum). I've never been a fan of Rick's, with his big government federal-dollars-for-marriage-counseling and "defense of marriage is the most important form of homeland security" schemes and attitudes, and he strikes me as exactly the kind of guy who could go for something like this. Alternatively, let Tom Tancredo step forward-- he's another person who tends to bring the party down a great deal, and whose presidential campaign would be given a major boost by even another five supporters.
3) As for the rest of the GOP, you know, the loyal ones who don't threaten to go on strike with a regularity only exceeded by French train workers (hear Dobson's rallying cry of solidarité
, let's stand firm. Dobson and his gang hate all the frontrunners, except for possibly Romney (who is the most un-credible serious socon I have ever heard of, and I suspect the hardliners will rapidly come to that view, too). But, apparently, the majority of Republicans can come to terms rather easily with voting for Rudy, Fred or McCain (and note that quite a lot of us can come to terms easily with voting for Rudy, the man who Dobson and his lot revile and fear, and whose issue positions most aggrieve the socons and have prompted this ridiculous action). There's a reason why Republicans like these guys. First, they stand for a broad set of conservative principles, and all of them understand that what binds the party together is fiscal, not social, conservatism. Second, they can appeal to a broad(-ish) swathe of the electorate and actually win, which enables conservative principles, generally, to be advanced (something that the hardline socon, vote-for-a-minor-candidate, scheme clearly would not). And consequently, they fit the general description of a winner-- they aren't liberals (no matter what the socons may think) and they can beat Hillary. End of story.