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Evangelicals -- A Drag on or Essential to the GOP?


A good friend of mine (let's call him Bob) is convinced that unless the GOP puts abortion "aside as its focal point, it simply cannot win and regain power." That's especially interesting in light of Kathleen Parker's latest column, which disses the evangelical wing of the GOP.

Bob's point is that "we've lost a majority of women over this issue as they have become one-issue voters." It's not only liberal women but also others who believe it's simply not the government's business.

Kathleen Parker broadens the point considerably beyond abortion: "The evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh." Since the 1980s or so, says Parker, the GOP "has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners. … The GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents."

I'll resist the temptation to respond specifically to Kathleen's uncharitable indictment of us knuckle draggers because I like Kathleen personally and because I want to respond to her and Bob's overlapping contention that certain social conservatives are dragging the party down.

Bob's opinion is largely based on his personal conversations with women, and Kathleen writes, "If one were to eavesdrop on private conservations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that … armband religion is killing the Republican Party." But do their anecdotal reports justify their conclusions?

2004 exit poll data reveal that President Bush got 55 percent of the male vote and 48 percent of the female vote, while 2008 data show that McCain got 48 percent of the male vote and 43 percent of the female vote. McCain's percentage of the male vote dropped more than his percentage of the female vote, so it's hard to see how alienated women made the difference.

Plus Karl Rove tells us that there were 4.1 million fewer Republicans voting this year than in 2004, some of whom he believed turned independent or Democratic for this election, which might validate Kathleen's thesis, except that Rove says that most of those 4.1 million "simply stayed home."

What's even more interesting is there was an almost identical drop-off (4.1 million) of those voters who attend religious services more than once a week (evangelicals, anyone?).

I'm thinking Bob needs to avoid angry women, and Kathleen should steer clear of those intelligentsia types, for there is another 2008 exit poll gem they might not have seen.

Top issues for voters were: economy (63 percent); war in Iraq (10 percent); terrorism (9 percent); and health care (9 percent). It appears that neither abortion nor any other social issue even made honorable mention.

It's not debatable that Obama had a vastly superior organization and "ground game" and did an infinitely better job than McCain of marketing himself and inspiring voters with his charisma and his nebulous message of hope and change. Despite all these advantages, McCain — largely because of the jolt of enthusiasm he injected into his anemic campaign by naming the conspicuously pro-life Christian Sarah Palin his running mate — was surging ahead in the national polls right before the subprime meltdown reared its game-changing head. Though Democratic policies and actions mostly caused it, Republicans got the blame — and McCain was finished.

Considering all those unique factors in 2008, it's premature to say this election represents the emergence of a sustained national power shift in favor of the Democrats — though admittedly, current demographic trends are problematic for the GOP.

But if social issues were so advantageous for Obama, why did he hide and distort his record on abortion? Why did he not brag about the liberal activist judges he is sure to appoint? Why did he attempt — other than when he thought his microphone was off in San Francisco — to paint himself as a mainstream Christian who wants to reduce abortions? Why did mainstream media debate moderators deliberately avoid these issues?

I believe Kathleen is wrong in saying "either the Republican Party needs a new base — or the nation may need a new party." The opposite is true: The party needs to quit betraying the base, on both social and economic issues.

I do believe some of my fellow Christian conservatives are too single issue-oriented and am appalled that so many stayed home, given the gravity of the stakes in this election. But the fact remains that it was McCain's underemphasis rather than overemphasis of the social issues that cost him Republican votes.

But the far more important answer to Bob and Kathleen is that the Republican Party can no more do without pro-lifers than human beings can survive without hearts. It's who they are. There's already a party stressing economic conservatism nearly to the exclusion of social issues, and the last time I checked, our beloved Libertarians weren't garnering a great percentage of the vote.

David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His book "Bankrupt: The Intellectual and Moral Bankruptcy of Today's Democratic Party" was released recently in paperback. To find out more about David Limbaugh, please visit his Web site at To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



5 Comments | Post Comment
By all means. We've got to ditch the Evangelicals. This whole abortion thing. It's killing the Party. We've got to do whatever it takes, to get the WHORE vote. And, the SLUT vote. I don't know about you, but I've got NO PROBLEM turning my back on my CONVICTIONS when it comes to abortion. I'm a Christian, but Hey, if it means winning an election? Jesus schmesus. Right Kathleen? I'm sure the Lord will understand, if I throw his teachings over the cliff, so I might attract the votes of all the Sluts and Whores. Right Ms. Parker? You either BELIEVE, or you don't. You just want to win elections? "What does it beneifit a man, to gain the whole world, and LOSE his immortal soul?" Think about it.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Timothy L. Pennell
Fri Nov 21, 2008 5:49 AM
We rest our case.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Michael L. Hauschild
Fri Nov 21, 2008 9:16 AM
Sir;... As Mr. Pennell suggests, the republicans cannot do without the evengelicals.... Sha, they are the evangelicals.... If they kicked out the evangelicals they could hold their convenstion in an an airport mensroom... Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #3
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Nov 21, 2008 9:24 AM
Re: Timothy L. Pennell;...If we agree that government has no power to compel anyone to do an immoral act by any measure or majority; will you let government get on with the business of government which has been hamstrung by this one single issue??? This is a land where a law was passed and signed by the pressident to save the life of a single brain dead person, but which cannot pass any legislation benefiting great numbers of children because it might cost some evanglicals a nickle more in taxes... It is retarded, and destructive of the society to let ideology guide the government, because you can see that the Supreme Court, no matter how they whittle away at the rights of women, they will not trash them completely for fear of the backlash...And no matter how the republicans owned the congress they did nothing, because as an issue, abortion is a winner, and they can pick a winner; and having that backup issue they can then turn the government to lining their own pockets and enriching their friends...Evangelicals are used, but in the process we are used... The moral issue of abortion, which has a good moral argument is no good argument for stopping the whole good that government can do... Nor is it any kind of argument for coercion... If you love goodness, support goodness...There is no law against that...Create an atmosphere where goodness can florish, where people will choose goodness over evil... If you do not like the sin that results in abortion, consider that economic injustice always results in sexual injustice... What does it take to resist economic injustice??? Sometimes that takes the power of govenment.... But what if evengelicals sell the government to the forces of economic injustice because they pander to them on the single issue of abortion???There is not only one kind of sin... There is not only one form of violence, or murder...The violence the evangelicals do to reason they would do to a reaonable people... They could do good, but in seeking power they do every evil, and again, their issue is not resolved... Now, perhaps like them, I do not want my tax dollars used to support immorality like war, or capital punishment... They would be well within their rights to not support with taxes any act they feel is immoral... But when they think to deny rights on the basis of a majority vote they are threading a needle that might hurt them, since their rights might be denied as well with a majority vote... Now, can they count on the government they have sabotaged, and denied of revenue to support their rights and defend them??? No... They rely too much on that which they seek to destroy... Ultimately, they work to wreck the government and so they must depend upon their own threats of violence to accomplish their ends.... And I believe them... They don't love God, or the unborn, or America nearly so much as they love violence and hate anyone not one of them, and agreeing with them... They deserve all that we deserve of government...They do not deserve to have the whole power of government held hostage to their irrational ideology... Government cannot have the support of the people when its sole purpose is to deny the people rights...Thanks...Sweeney
Comment: #4
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:09 AM
This article is only another example of the struggle we face as a nation. The two parties will exploit anything they can to try and get that small group that will in the end settle elections. People of FAITH can be a strong group that a minority desiring control can use to build towards a small majority. Christians today have been found as necessary for the otherwise smaller Republican party. There is not likely any way the small number of wall street high income folks and corporate people could win elections with out adding other groups . They have learned to attach people of FAITH to them by using their platform as the draw. Also noone desires to pay taxes so another group can be added.
The abortion issue is a difficult problem for Christians to deal with. I am PRO-LIFE in every situation except when medically both mother and child will die anyway if the baby remains, and even then every attempt to save the child when delivered (in what ever way it can be delivered) should be done. The truth of the abortion issue is that the Republican establishment will never let it go away. If abortion was outlawed, the most faithful supporters of their party might then look elsewhere at other issues as to who to vote for. If you faithfully vote Republican now because of their pro-life platform they will never allow that to change. Unfortunately abortion is too good politically to lose as an issue. Once again the sheep are being sheered. Things being what they are I think improving the lives of women to the point none would ever want an abortion might be the best hope we may have to stop abortions from happening.
This business about which party will bring the most change kind of brings to mind the book "Animal Farm,” where all the barnyard animals want to get their freedom from the human farmer. The farmer somehow was removed and they were working (so they believed) for the benefit of themselves collectively. Before long, the story was about the Pig then living in the house and getting most of the benefits from the collective efforts of all the animals on the farm. The Christians that have become for the most part Republicans are like the animals in the barnyard believing voting Republican will help stop abortion, make the country more moral and create a better world to raise their children. The sad truth is like the Pig in Animal Farm the benefits go mostly to high income folks on Wall Street and International Corporations that move the very livelihoods these grass roots families need disparately to be able to provide for their children. McCain/Palin seem hopeful at first glance but does anyone actually believe the Wall Street group that has controlled the Republican Party for at least one hundred years are going to give up that control to anyone. I doubt it. The Republicans has been in control for at least the last eight years so any REAL CHANGE has to come from somewhere else.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Allen Charles
Fri Nov 21, 2008 5:38 PM
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