We're entering the summer vacation season and conservatives continue feeling confident that an electoral wave is going to wash over the opposition come November. Polls show there is a great and growing dissatisfaction with Washington, which is not new, except the face this time around is that of Barack Obama, and the public is revolting over his administration's incessant attempts to grant the federal government ever more power and resources.
But success in the fall is not guaranteed, and even if it ends in a GOP takeover of the House, as many predict, questions remain. Have Republicans learned anything from the disasters of '06 and '08? Will Republicans embrace real conservatism and put some real restraints on Obama's lust for power? Will conservatives be able to make a mark on the country, or will they return to their fecklessness during the Bush years?
One disturbing tendency of the old regime is coming back: fiscal conservatives are already selling out social conservatives in an attempt to build winning coalitions without them. How many times must the GOP learn this is suicide? To win, conservatives must have not a "truce" between fiscal and social conservatives, as Gov. Mitch Daniels has unfortunately called for, but a strong, healthy alliance, with the common goal of victory.
This is perfectly acceptable to most social conservatives. Social conservatives will happily break bread in the cause to support tax cuts or any conservative attempt at fiscal reform. Do you find social conservatives supporting a minimum wage increase or opposing term limits and balanced budget amendments?
And yet some libertarians not only refuse to work with social conservatives, they're actively seeking out and supporting causes in direct opposition to the core beliefs of social conservatives.
Comes now the news that fiscal conservative leader Grover Norquist, a man who prides himself on forming grand working coalitions, has joined the board of a group called GOProud, calling the group "an important part of the conservative movement" with a commitment to "core conservative values."
It's a gay group. And Norquist thinks social conservatives are going to accept this absolute abandonment?
Traditional marriage and the right of religious people to speak out against homosexuality as a sin are "core conservative values." Proposition 8 in California - defending the institution of marriage, the only thing the GOP won in 2008 - was victorious because culturally conservative blacks and Hispanics joined the GOP coalition.
Norquist wants to take the GOP in the exact opposite direction now, full speed ahead, the consequences be damned.
GOProud is a spinoff of the Log Cabin Republicans, who became so liberal and loosely affiliated with the GOP that they refused to endorse President Bush for re-election in 2004. But all this new group is really known for so far is getting a booth the last Conservative Political Action Conference and mocking the social conservatives at the National Organization for Marriage as "pansies" and "wusses."
GOProud's leader, Jimmy LaSalvia, even made a "who's the pansy at CPAC" video with a woman named Sarah Posner, a leftist and the author of the book "God's Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters." LaSalvia wasn't a hit with conservatives, but he was a hero to leftist gay bloggers, as Queerty.com cheered his "awesome CPAC hissy fit" against the anti-gay "meanies." Norquist now sits on his board.
Norquist is a man with a quixotic passion for trying to build strange coalitions by selling out core conservative principles. He doesn't think opposing the excesses of sex, violence, and filthy language on television is a conservative value, even when tens of millions of impressionable children are being poisoned by these messages. He suggested "damn close to nobody" in the movement agreed with issuing real fines for broadcast indecency - this after a completely lopsided 391-22 House vote in favor in 2004 and before the 379-35 vote in 2006 that led to President Bush signing the bill.
After Janet Jackson, the public overwhelmingly wanted action, but this man is not basing his coalition-building on math. He's building it on his own preferences and beneficiaries.
He tried to build a large Republican bridge to radical Muslim Americans, which hasn't exactly been the most promising of outreach projects. He has repeatedly welcomed lobbyists for legalized marijuana to his Wednesday morning meeting in Washington. He helped organize a Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles to support amnesty for illegal aliens, which conservative activist Mark Krikorian called "the Republican Auxiliary of the left's open border movement." His clumsy attempts to build a "big tent" often appear more likely to spur large chunks of conservatives to leave the tent than bring new constituencies into the tent.
Now Norquist has declared open war on social conservatives. Note to Chairman Steele: If he succeeds, and they leave the party, the GOP is ruined.