The Death of Social Conservatism in the GOP - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Death of Social Conservatism in the GOP

“No one will question, you know, my conservative credentials,” said Liz Cheney in her recent 60 Minutes interview.  She then proceeded in the same interview to endorse gay marriage, thereby giving Republicans plenty of reason to question those credentials. She fell back on the fatuous platitudes of the Left to explain her position.

“This is an issue that we have to recognize you know, as, as human beings that we need to work against discrimination of all kinds in our country, in our state,” she said. “We were at, at an event a few nights ago and, and there was a young woman who said, she doesn’t feel safe sometimes because she’s transgender. And nobody should feel unsafe. Freedom means freedom for everybody.”

The Founding Fathers rejected that mindless definition of freedom, arguing that liberty is distinct from license. If “conservatism” can be reconciled with gay marriage and transgenderism, it is meaningless. Cheney’s boast about her impeccable conservative credentials is no more convincing than Terry McAuliffe’s description of his supporter Bill Kristol as “the leading conservative” in the country.

Many of the “conservatives” from the pre-Trump era are now de facto Democrats. They pop up on MSNBC and CNN to second this or that woke cause. Nicole Wallace, Steve Schmidt, and company ran the GOP for years. Is it any wonder that any meaningful form of social conservatism died in it?

What passes for social conservatism in the GOP these days is pretty paltry. Republicans can’t even be bothered to oppose Biden’s plans for a female military draft. “Defense bill that would make women register for draft largely supported by Republicans,” ran a recent Washington Examiner headline. George W. Bush, who normalized female soldiers in combat, made this GOP concession inevitable.

The culture war in our politics is increasingly one-sided. Democrats fight it fiercely, while Republicans fight it weakly, if at all. Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who waffled on transgender issues in his state, has complained that the GOP has “moved more toward the cultural, social conservative side.”  That is nonsense. The truth is that the GOP has ceded much of the ground in the culture war to the Democrats.

“The GOP waves white flag in the same-sex marriage wars,” notes Politico. “To mark the beginning of Pride Month this year, Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel did what party leaders do on these types of occasions: She sent out a tweet. ‘Happy #PrideMonth!’ she wrote, ‘@GOP is proud to have doubled our LGBTQ support over the last 4 years, and we will continue to grow our big tent by supporting measures that promote fairness and balance protections for LGBTQ Americans and those with deeply held religious beliefs.’”

Even on an issue as egregious as transgenderism in female sports, Republicans can’t maintain a unified front. Supposed “conservative” darling Kristi Noem went wobbly on that issue. “Conservatism” increasingly means the conservation of the progressive status quo. Yesterday’s liberalism is today’s “conservatism.” Republicans don’t so much oppose liberalism as quibble over the speed of its enactment.

No doubt this capitulating climate in the GOP played a role in Liz Cheney announcing her support for gay marriage. It is now safe for her to unfurl slogans about the glories of dissolving all traditional distinctions. The scam of the Bush-Cheney years—recall that Bush defeated John Kerry largely on the gay marriage issue—has never been clearer. The Karl Roves took the religious for a ride, pretending to take their issues seriously even as they rolled their eyes at them. (Rove is throwing a fundraiser for Liz Cheney next month.)

It is hard to find any figures from that era who haven’t succumbed to the woke zeitgeist, as evident in the trajectory of Bill Kristol, who went from quoting Edmund Burke and decrying “Murphy Brown” to cheerleading for pro-abortion Democrats like McAuliffe.

That the GOP proves no match for the liberals in the culture war is a legacy of these establishment Republicans. They wanted the votes, not the values, of social conservatives. They had no intention of stopping the de-Christianization of the country. Progressivism had seeped into the party at the highest levels, and now appears impossible to get out. Consequently, we can expect fronts in the culture war to continue to fall, not in spite of the GOP but because of it.

George Neumayr
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George Neumayr, a senior editor at The American Spectator, is author most recently of The Biden Deception: Moderate, Opportunist, or the Democrats' Crypto-Socialist?
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