Does Cruz’s defeat mean the end of social conservative influence in the US? May 4, 2016Posted by Tantumblogo in disaster, error, foolishness, General Catholic, horror, paganism, Revolution, scandals, secularism, sickness, Society.
Ted Cruz suspended his campaign after a severe defeat in Indiana last night. It appears, barring highly unlikely events, that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee, facing Hilary Clinton. This leaves essentially no one in the major parties for faithful Catholics to support, to my mind, though I know that some disagree with that assessment. I will have to see what beliefs the Libertarian candidate holds with regard to moral issues, and whether the Constitution party will be on the ballot in most states. At this time, the latter seems an open question.
More broadly speaking, some observers are now concluding that the virtual certitude of Trump being the Republican nominee means that the social conservative movement is dead, or at least so moribund as to no longer matter. That was the opinion voiced by David Frum yesterday in a piece in The Atlantic. Now, it must be noted that David Frum is not an unbiased observer. He has long been a liberal Republican, especially on social issues, and has long taken a very critical, one might even say hostile, stand towards making traditional moral beliefs an important part of a party platform. So when he declares the social conservative movement to be dead, he’s not simply stating an observation, but a deeply held wish.
Nevertheless, his analysis is worth considering, even though I think much of it is wrong, or self-serving:
[H]ere’s something that traditional ideological conservatives will want to consider: Trump rose by shoving them aside. Trump’s rise exposed the weakness of social conservatives in particular. For a third of a century, social conservatives imposed a pro-life litmus test on Republican nominees for both presidency and vice presidency. They pulled the party into confrontations over sexuality and religion that many Republican elected leaders would have preferred to avoid. And then, abruptly, poof: The social conservative veto has vanished. New York values have prevailed, with a mighty assist from Jerry Falwell Jr. and other evangelical leaders. It seems unlikely the religious right will return in anything like its awesome previous form. A visibly conscientious objector to the culture wars easily defeated candidates who elevated the defunding of Planned Parenthood to the top of their agenda. That lesson, once demonstrated, won’t soon be forgotten….
The big internal conservative struggle of 2017 will be the fight to write the narrative of how Trump emerged and why he lost. Anti-Trump conservatives will want to say that Trump lost because he wasn’t a “true conservative.” But 2016 to date is proposing that “true conservatives” constitute only a pitiful minority of the Republican Party, never mind the country as a whole. Why should any practical politician care about them ever again?
Several things. First, this is a very strange year. This is a year when a sizable portion of the public has determined they will teach the establishment a lesson, once and for all. Ted Cruz thought he was the most anti-establishment candidate around, having fought a brutal battle against the Texas Republican Party to get elected to the Senate in 2012 and then standing out as the most reliably conservative Senator, but Donald Trump was able to project an image of being even more of an outsider, and really harm Cruz for his associations with Wall Street bankers (which, you think Trump doesn’t have even MORE association with them, being a New York financier?!?).
This is an election cycle where emotion has ruled the day and logic has not applied. This is a cycle where a very large number of people have determined they would only support a perceived outsider, even when that perceived outsider is as inside as they come. Trump has also made a lot of hay attacking political correctness/cultural Marxism, which I think is a major factor in his rise. I think people are just about sick of having leftist values shoved down their throat.
Don’t discount the impact of open primary states, either. Trump has done best in open primary states, where many democrats may be crossing over to vote for him in the assumption he’ll get killed in a general election.
Another factor is this: I know a fair number of extremely committed pro-lifers/social conservatives who are willing to ignore the past and believe Trump’s present claims that he is strongly against abortion and other social ills. They are willing to ignore his extremely immoral personal life. They are willing to do this, because they see that decades of supporting the mainstream Republican party has gotten us very little in return.
Millions are fed up with the political establishment and are willing to support a dark horse candidate who tells them very much what they want to hear, even against all the evidence that the rhetoric does not match the real belief. I know several folks who openly acknowledge that Trump is probably selling them a line, but at this point, they simply don’t care. They are willing to chance that this supposed outsider really has changed, because they feel this country is just about gone, anyway, so why not take a gamble?
Frum, in his analysis, seems to totally discount that voters could be willing to take a chance that the lifetime-liberal Trump could have suddenly changed his beliefs. He seems to assume that the vast, vast majority of voters, including former social conservatives, simply don’t value these issues that much anymore, otherwise, they wouldn’t support Trump. I think that’s a major flaw in his analysis.
Even more, the number one factor still driving Trump’s popularity is his early very strong rhetoric about stopping the torrent of unrestrained illegal immigration into this country. That is the top issue for a good 35-40% of Americans and his primary selling point. I don’t think you can understand the Trump phenomenon, and the willingness of many of his supporters to ignore how his present rhetoric contradicts a lifetime of belief, without taking into account his immigration stand. To me, it seems Frum practically discounts all of the above, and more.
Having said all that, I fear that Frum is correct in his primary conclusion: that there has been a sudden and severe drop off in the number of committed social conservatives, or at least in the degree of conviction conservatives assign to social/moral matters. I think this can be seen in numerous areas: the way the entire conservative movement has more or less caved to pseudo-sodo-marriage now that the Supreme Court has ruled, the institutionalization of the pro-life movement and its subsequent ineffectiveness, the increasing tolerance for grave immorality within the Church and many of the protestant sects, the lack of outrage over incidents like the persecution of Aaron and Melissa Klein and the poor Indiana pizza shop. Far too many Christians are willing to simply go along to get along, meekly changing their beliefs to whatever the cultural Marxists dictate, much more concerned about the state of their career and 401k than they are the state of their souls.
I’m interested to know what you think. Does Trump’s rise signal a temporary, or final, collapse of the strongly social conservative movement, or is it driven more by other things? Even if Trump’s rise is not specifically fueled by the collapse of cultural conservatism, do you see cultural conservatism in the decline? Polls show that Trump is pulling a pretty hefty portion of the cultural conservative vote. Does that probably temporary support mean those conservatives have forever given up on their primary moral concerns?
I can’t say my own thoughts on this are fully developed. I’m still of two minds. I’m interested to see how things play out in the general. I am afraid Trump will get absolutely pummeled by Dems quoting some of his noxious statements, dealings, and past moral failings. But he’s proven unusually resistant in the past.