Couldn’t Happen To A Nicer Bunch Of Guys

It seems that the Religious Right is finding it hard to be relevant in the race for the 2008 Republican nomination:

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 — A group of influential Christian conservatives and their allies emerged from a private meeting at a Florida resort this month dissatisfied with the Republican presidential field and uncertain where to turn.

The event was a meeting of the Council for National Policy, a secretive club whose few hundred members include Dr. James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family, the Rev. Jerry Falwell of Liberty University and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. Although little known outside the conservative movement, the council has become a pivotal stop for Republican presidential primary hopefuls, including George W. Bush on the eve of his 1999 primary campaign.

But things are different this time around. The front runners for the GOP nomination aren’t beholden to, or even liked by, the Evangelical Right:

Many conservatives have already declared their hostility to Senator John McCain of Arizona, despite his efforts to make amends for having once denounced Christian conservative leaders as “agents of intolerance,” and to former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, because of his liberal views on abortion and gay rights and his three marriages.

Many were also suspicious of former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts; members have used the council as a conduit to distribute a dossier prepared by a Massachusetts conservative group about liberal elements of his record on abortion, stem cell research and gay rights. (Mr. Romney has worked to convince conservatives that his views have changed.)

And as for the rest of the field, they aren’t too appealing either:

And some members of the council have raised doubts about lesser known candidates – Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Representative Duncan Hunter of California, who were invited to Amelia Island to address an elite audience of about 60 of its members, and Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas, who spoke to the full council at its previous meeting, in October in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Although each of the three had supporters, many conservatives expressed concerns about whether any of the candidates could unify their movement or raise enough money to overtake the front-runners, several participants in the meetings said.

The Times story goes on to speculate as to whether this apparent marginlization of the Religious Right would be a bad thing for the GOP, which traditionally has needed the support of these voters to win elections. I agree that this threat exists, but I think it also points out the growing reality that the days when groups like this could have a significant impact on the Republican Party may be waning. They don’t represent a majority of the voting public, and they certainly don’t reflect the views of most Americans on social issues.

Right now two of the three frontrunners for the GOP nomination are essentially anathema to the Evangelical Right and the third, Mitt Romney, is the subject of a lot of distrust. If they can get this far without the support of this supposedly important segment of the party, doesn’t that mean that these people aren’t quite as powerful as we’ve been led to believe ?

  • cameron

    i’m as possibly conservative as they can get, and I support Gov. Romney.

    he’s innovative, he’s brilliant

  • Radiant Times

    This election season is very frustrating for conservatives. I’m disappointed in the choices we have on both sides. It seems the Republicans who are running are really Democrats at heart. Additionally, very few potential candidates have any real experience in statesmanship.

    This puts me in the quandary of having possibly cross party lines to find someone with some experience whom I could trust to do the best for our country. They all say they will, but the only one with the experience necessary to be president is Bill Richardson of New Mexico. As a resident of the state of New Mexico, I’ve seen the progress he’s made in this state in education and economic growth. He has shown he knows how to run a troubled state, and I think he has the skill to run our country.

    As a conservative, I know that voting for Richardson will mean a compromise of my social values, but he would do a good job as president while the Republican party finds some real conservative candidates who can communicate well, have proven experience in governance, and who are skilled negotiators who are able to win the trust of those who are of a liberal persuasion.

  • Adam Selene

    Radiant, you should seriously consider Ron Paul then.

  • Stephen Littau

    “I agree that this threat exists, but I think it also points out the growing reality that the days when groups like this could have a significant impact on the Republican Party may be waning.”

    I certainly hope you are right Doug. The Christian Right has far too much control over the G.O.P. I just watched that documentary called “Jesus Camp” and it is scary how much influence these people have. Ted Haggard was featured in the movie; the movie stated that he spoke weekly with President Bush’s top advisiors.

    On the bright side, voters with ‘libertarian leanings’ are almost as large of a voting bloc. (more info here )

    I think one great thing that could come from a Paul, Guliani, or McCain presidency would be for once the G.O.P. possibly would no longer be synonomous with the Christian Right because none of these three are joined at the hip with the Christian Right.

    If the G.O.P. distances itself from the Christain Right, it may cost them in the short run but hopefully liberty minded people like ourselves might find ourselves a home. Let the Christian Right leave and join the Constitution Party (a misnomer if there ever was one) or form their own. They need the G.O.P. more than the G.O.P. neeeds them. The Christian Right is not large enough to be a party to itself.