By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
Word of a new how-should-the-GOP-move-forward group called the National Council for a New America didn't strike me as another attempt by Republicans to moderate their image by forsaking their religious base. At least not initially. After all, the council's members include such outspoken social conservatives as Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, and Mitt Romney.
But the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group, has drawn up a withering critique of the new group, whose agenda eschews talk of values issues, from religious liberty to abortion:
The effort only underscores the Republicans' present identity crisis, as the GOP leadership kicked off the campaign devoid of the values that once caused voters to identify with the party.
The group's priorities, which were unveiled at a pizza parlor press conference, include the economy, health care, education, energy, and national security. Notice anything conspicuously absent? Former Gov. Jeb Bush explained the values void by saying it was time for the GOP to give up its "nostalgia" for Reagan-era ideas and look forward to new "relevant" ideas. (Yes, because that worked so well for Republicans in 2006 and 2008!) Bush ignored the fact that abandoning the array of principles that Reagan espoused is exactly what got the GOP into this mess. No one is suggesting that we try living in the past, but President Reagan's principles are the ones that guided our nation from its very inception. Turning away from those fundamental truths would be a death knell for the GOP as little would be left to distinguish the Republicans from the Democrats.
Too many Republicans leaders are running scared on the claims of the Left and the media that social conservatism is a dead-end for the GOP. If that were the case, why are pro-family leaders like Mike Huckabee creating such excitement in the conservative base? The Republican establishment doesn't draw a crowd. Governor Sarah Palin does. Also, take a look at the recent Pew Research poll, which showed overall support for abortion in America has dropped eight percentage points in the last year and support for it among moderate and liberal Republicans has dropped a whopping 24%. Based on that, how can the GOP suggest that life is a losing issue? If there were a road sign for the GOP on this new journey, it would read: Welcome to the wilderness. You're going to be there for awhile.
This raises the stock of would-be GOP standard-bearers Huckabee, Palin, and Newt Gingrich—all of whom are unattached to this project—in the eyes of religious conservatives.