Recently there’s been plenty of debate in the party on whether the GOP’s point of view on gay marriage should evolve. Setting aside my own point of view on the topic for a moment, I think that the problem is that the GOP is having a national discussion now instead of back when the issue started appearing on state ballot initiatives.
As a party, it would serve us better to pay attention to leading indicators to where the electorate will be. Not just where they will be at a particular moment, but the next election cycle and the one after that to understand where we may need to be. Instead of taking a natural laissez-faire stance, we may need to align and to lead on our solution to the issue that the electorate is debating how to solve.
Take a step back and imagine a world where a GOP-controlled Congress and Presidency paid attention to the growing dissatisfaction with health care costs and insurance companies and pushed for their own market-based reforms with clarity. Would we be burdened with Obamacare today?
I believe not, as we would have diffused the demand for “change” from the electorate. Pursuit of policy allowing health insurance to be sold across state lines, limiting malpractice suits, and — for the uninsurable — building high risk pools funded by the government would have made a world of difference. It would have paid off for several election cycles.
Instead, by not addressing any of these issues, the Democrats were able to demagogue where they had failed before and use that fact that there are people who are effectively uninsurable as a reason to screw up everyone’s healthcare. One has to admire the Democrats’ commitment to providing solutions to the electorate even if they are the wrong ones every single time.
This dynamic has led the GOP to naturally fall into a villain role where they are defending ground instead of staking it out.
Let’s also imagine a world where the GOP had looked at the tax code and realized that the best way to eliminate the “marriage penalty” would be for the tax code to ignore your marital status.
Instead the GOP pushed for more and more “pro-family legislation.” We are now at a point where each party angles to make the tax code work for their constituents, not for economic growth and opportunity. It should be no surprise that another new interest group wants their piece of the federal and state marriage benefit pie.
Meanwhile, Democrats on the state level grew emboldened and started to lead on the gay marriage issue. The GOP, as usual, looked at the last election and concluded they did not need to shift approach. So the Democrats embraced the mantle of change in their typical bull-in-a-china-shop way, and now we see in states like Massachusetts and Illinois, Catholic Adoption Agencies being forced to close their doors because they only provide services for heterosexual couples as aligned with the beliefs in their church.
If you happen to be in a party that supports adoption instead of abortion, this is a cruel unintended consequence directly resulting from not contributing to the crafting of legislation. Being someone who is supportive of both gay marriage contract law recognition, religious institutions being allowed to continue their charitable work, and a woman being able to choose to give her baby up for adoption to a couple of her choice, policy should be written to allow for all three.
The GOP not providing a voice of leadership on this issue again resulted in worse consequences for those least able to defend themselves, all to avoid taking a stand on a gay marriage.
To me, if two people are deciding to commit to one another, that’s two fewer people committed to being dependent on the government which sounds pretty darn conservative to me.
While there are often political reasons to not stake out new ground as a party, one should remember when we don’t lead on issues that matter to the electorate, we may not like the consequences.
We at Pocket Full of Liberty would like to hear your thoughts on the above and on which leading indicators you think are being ignored by the Party. Thanks for playing.