Friday, March 12, 2010

Sibling Rivalry

The Religious Reich apparently is feeling a little left out. The social conservative wing of the Republican Party has noticed the incredible coverage the fiscally conservative Tea Partiers have gotten over the past year and have decided to take action, according to this L.A. Times article:

For most of a year, the small-government advocates of the "tea party" movement have stolen the spotlight from the Republican Party's veteran performers: the Christian conservatives who have long driven voters to the polls for the GOP.

Now the veterans are stealing the tea partyers lines.

In news releases, mission statements and interviews, prominent social conservatives increasingly are using the small-government rhetoric popular with the tea party activists and long used by economic conservatives -- but with a religious bent. ...

"The reason why social conservatives and economic conservatives can play well together . . . is the guy who wants to go to church all day just wants to be left alone. So does the guy who wants to play with his gun all day, and the guy who wants to make money all day," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "They don't agree on how to spend their time, but they do agree on their central issue: They want to be left alone."

Left alone, but certainly not left behind, apparently. Like the only child suddenly confronted with a new baby sister, the Religious Reich wants some of the attention. It also wants politicians to remember who knocked on doors and gathered voters for them during the last two decades. The recent CPAC meeting must have given social conservatives a real wake-up call.

Still, social issues took a back seat to talk of constitutional principles and government spending at the podium at last month's Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual showcase of the right.

Of the two likely Republican presidential contenders who spoke at the event, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney made virtually no mention of social issues, a noted departure from a past CPAC appearance. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty noted briefly that "God is in charge" while focusing most of his remarks on his work cutting spending in his state.

Does this mean that the two groups will meld seamlessly and unite the GOP in time for the November elections? Not exactly, at least not at this point. The Tea Partiers are enjoying the limelight and the big brotherish Religious Reich wants to put the interlopers in their place if they expect him to play nicely with them, although the big brother has changed the metaphor on the issue:

Ken Blackwell, a research fellow at the Family Research Council who has also been active in the tea party movement in Ohio, is among those who see tea partyers as the "younger siblings" in the movement.

Social conservatives are happy to embrace the economic message and those carrying it under the tea party banner "as long as they don't start advocating against traditional marriage or for abortion," Blackwell said, putting the tea parties in their place.

"The sibling is not now the parent," he said.

Tea party leaders, too, have drawn their lines in the sand.

"We've let things like social issues distract us," said Jenny Beth Martin, a founder of the online umbrella group Tea Party Patriots. Her group does not wade into the issues of abortion or marriage. "You know what's the most important social issue today? Putting food on the table."

This is going to be fun to watch, although it may turn out to be the only fun thing in the run-up to November if a real jobs bill doesn't get produced by Congress.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home