Saturday, June 22, 2013

Social Conservatism, not Immigration, is the Republican Party's Big Problem

The Republican Party's only hope of winning the White House in 2016 hinges on passing immigration reform, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

AP reports that Graham, one of the so-called "gang of eight" senators who wrote the 2013 comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) bill, "told conservatives who are trying to block the measure that they will doom the party and all but guarantee a Democrat will remain in the White House after 2016’s election." "[I]f we don’t pass immigration reform. . . ," said Graham, "it doesn’t matter who you run in 2016. We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party. . . ."

Leaving aside the pros and cons of the current CIR bill, the Republican Party's problem is much broader than immigration reform: Its problem is the dominance in the party of social conservatives. These mostly religious conservatives seek to broadly violate rights by legally imposing their own moral agenda, which includes not only hostility toward immigrants but legally banning abortion and gay marriage, restricting or banning stem cell research, ongoing attempts to erode the separation of church and state, etc.

If the GOP wants to save itself, it must adopt a genuine right-wing, pro-liberty platform. This means, it must reject the authoritarian agenda of social conservatives and embrace social liberty.

By adopting social liberty—while also deepening its traditional commitment to free markets and economic liberty—the GOP could draw in liberty lovers from across the political spectrum, many of whom are suspicious of the Dems' economic authoritarianism but are  turned off by social conservatism. As for immigrants, most are drawn to America for the increased freedom, so a consistent, genuine platform of individual liberty would undoubtedly resonate with many of them as well.

But the GOP must orient its agenda around explicit principles—the principles of individual rights and limited, rights-protected government. If they merely pass an immigration bill for political expediency, they won't do much to tip the demographic scales or stem their continuing slide into political irrelevance. Voters can recognize a hollow gesture when they see one.

Purging its platform of the rights-violating elements of the social conservative agenda and embracing liberty across the board is the GOP's best and only path to political dominance in 2016 and beyond.


An "Extremist" GOP is Just What We Need

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