Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper won a parliamentary majority in the spring of 2011 without ever taking a firm stance on the social issues like abortion, gay marriage, or immigration. Conservatives north of the border wonder why the Republican Party cannot be the same way. The answer is simple: America is a far different country culturally.
While there are social conservatives in Canada and some areas in western Canada that may be deemed the “Northern Bible Belt”, the sort of cultural conservatism that exists in America is unmatched by Canada, and the answer to why the GOP has been successful - even when the elites beg to differ.
For even the most politically astute among us, it is such a difficult concept to grasp why these people tend to view the social issues not as distractions, but as major factors in who they vote for and is hardly ever represented or reflected in any way.
Middle America and its culture are hardly ever represented; if so, it is being indicted or mocked. Take a drive through any of the “fly-over states” and you will begin to truly understand why Republicans have had so much electoral success, all the while promoting policies that seem too extreme to ever win and too “dumb” to ever be taken seriously. The American electorate lies not in the elite enclaves of the country, where there is an abundance of wealth and power, but in the heartland where there is an abundance of flags and crosses.
While many on the left, and a few from the Republican establishment, are urging the leaders of conservatism to zip their lips on the cultural issues, it is these very issues that have given Republicans the edge election after election. It is the Republican support of traditional values and religious freedom that has separated them from the often-times morally bankrupt Democrats.
Was the Bush economic policy of less government being proposed in the 2000 election really that different from the Clinton “era of big government is over” policy? Not really, but Americans did believe that Bush was on the right side of the moral issues. He was a born-again Christian, and a pro-life governor. This mattered, even if the media and late night comics mocked it.
But are there enough people in the country voting with social issues in mind to boost a social conservative into the White House? Absolutely. Jeff Bell illustrates in a piece written in the Wall Street Journal that there are 35 states which are considered to be either “socially conservative” or “mildly so”, adding up to a total of 348 electoral votes, with 270 needed to be elected. He also goes on to argue that a “socially liberal Republican nominee might win more votes in California and New York…but his prospects of carrying either would still be miniscule.”
This does not in any way mean that Mitt Romney needs to base his campaign around banning abortion and same-sex marriage, but he may want to let the country know where he stands on these issues. Romney has done so, in a subtle yet very public way. In his commencement address to Liberty University last month, Romney delved into the social issues, affirming his belief that marriage is between a man and a women.
Culture does matter, and so does letting the country know that you understand just how much it matters. It was no coincidence that Ronald Reagan gave a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals before gearing up his re-election run, in which he stated “America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, it will cease to be great.” Reagan went on to win re-election in a 49 state landslide
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's own and do not necessarily represent those of The Prince Arthur Herald.
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