The biggest Election Day surprise yesterday was that a majority of Maine's liberal voting pool OK'ed a ballot initiative protecting the traditional definition of marriage. It's a double bombshell given that several New England states — either by legislative dictate or judicial fiat — have approved same-sex marriage in recent months.
As the New York Times points out, same-sex marriage supporters had everything going for them in Maine — "far more money, volunteers and political support, and geography" — than conservative forces. Yet they got an electoral spanking.
What does it show? That marriage protection is still a winning issue for Republicans, despite clamoring to the contrary by the party's wishy-washy moderates. I made that argument in an AmSpec column in May, and it still holds true today.
Thirty-one states have now approved amendments or laws defining marriage as a heterosexual institution. On the flip side, about half-a-dozen states have legalized homosexual marriage through the legislature or judiciary, never by a direct vote of the people.
Yes, polls indicate a gradual slide to the left nationally on the issue, but that holds true for many other positions taken by conservatives, too. Marriage and abortion are not costing the GOP elections.
Along those lines, my takeaway from the Maine vote is simple: the various parts that make up the GOP coalition — fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, foreign-policy conservatives, and those in between all three — need to chill. It's time we focused more on shared ideals and less on areas of disagreement.
I'm tired of hearing fiscal conservatives gripe about those whack-job religious nuts and their abortion and marriage fetishes. Likewise, it's wearisome to see social conservatives rip the small-government policies vital for the welfare of this country.
The coalition that Ronald Reagan built was both fiscally and socially conservative, and also strong on national defense. All three are critical planks of the movement, and bickering between them doesn't help.
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