Just last week, I wrote a piece on the policy debates Republicans should be having among themselves, and I didn't talk about marriage at all; in the original draft, I said something about a debate on marriage still being too unlikely to expect.
I might have been wrong, but I'm still guessing that Portman will remain the exception, and that opponents of marriage will still maintain a solid veto over the presidential nomination in the 2016 cycle.
To some extent, that's because public opinion within the GOP, and presumably especially among the presidential primary electorate, still runs overwhelmingly against marriage equality. It's possible that could change, especially if GOP elite opinion continues to change, but right now it's hard to see a same-sex marriage supporter benefiting even in a large field in which staking out a minority position could have some advantages.
But the real reason I don't see it happening in 2016 is group-based. Right now, large, well-organized GOP-aligned groups strongly oppose any change in the Republican position; there's simply nothing comparable on the other side of the issue. Nor is there really likely to be anything similar.
Truth is, I'm not sure a policy debate on this is really in the GOP's interest. There's really not much to debate; it's pretty clear where the issue is going, and hard to see how a knock-down-drag-out within the party helps them (in contrast to issues such as national security in which they really need a well-thought-out position, and a nomination fight is probably a good way to get there). Nor is there any real need for Republicans to flip on the issue; it's not going to be a major voting issue, after all. No, I'd think that the best strategy for the GOP on this one is to figure out how to walk away quietly. Yes, that will involve more politicians doing what Portman did -- but it will also involve others just not talking about it, and accepting defeat when defeat comes, and then treating it as a dead issue after that.
If that's correct, then the best bet is to continue to give Christian conservatives a veto on the issue in 2016, at least -- but to otherwise keep the issue on the back burner.
"...especially if GOP elite opinion continues to change"ReplyDelete
Is a modified revanchist bully pulpitism rearing its head at the Plain Blog? Good!
JB has always maintained that intraparty politics are heavily influenced by a relatively small number of elite party leaders. That is different from believing that a president can drive individual legislative outcomes by influencing reluctant members of Congress through strength of will or eloquence or political machinations.Delete
Josh - that's what I'd expect Obama's gay marriage position to do within African-American communities, except for going beyond just the African-American elite and including the black community as a whole. Evidence for it is pretty sparse though so far.Delete
Obama hasn't changed opinion in our community; he more or less provided confirmation of the 'this really isn't worth get all up in arms over' position that most AAs under the age of 50 tend to hold. He's probably still to the left of most of us on the issue, but we have bigger things to fight about than that. Stop and Frisk is a way bigger matter than marriage equality to us.Delete
For the next two national general elections, most Republican officials will just stay quiet on anything to do with same sex marriage and call it a "distraction from the real issues", just like they did with almost any topic that wasn't related to either economic performance under Obama or some small ball pseudo-scandal like Benghazi. I agree that opposition to same sex marriage will be enforced in primaries in the short run, but I suspect it will gradually transform into a preferred but not required stance over the next ten years, then quietly slip away as an issue in the long run as Republicans become reluctant to jeopardize their reputations and there is less and less to gain politically.ReplyDelete
They're already being admonished to stay quiet on rape and abortion. This could end up being the quietest primary season in history.Delete
And the GOP's revival of the Know Nothing Party would be complete!Delete
I don't see how a candidate opposed to marriage equality wins a general election in 2016. The country is swiftly moving in that direction and continued opposition is only going to hurt the GOP, and not just with voters.ReplyDelete
Democrats have a clear tech advantage that the GOP will need to close if it hopes to win in 2016. Closing that gap will be extremely difficult if you can't hire top tech talent because they find your position on marriage equality abhorrent.
(See Robert Draper's piece in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/17/magazine/can-the-republicans-be-saved-from-obsolescence.html?ref=magazine&pagewanted=all&_r=0)
While I might be overselling the problem the GOP is currently facing. I do think you are underselling it. As I don't see how the GOP can walk away quietly when a very vocal part of their base will never allow them.
I do wonder to what extent that portion of the base won't want to make one last stand on it. Maybe that was Santorum, and we saw it in 2012. If so, that was some pretty weak sauce.Delete
I am curious to see how the GOP-aligned interest groups which I assume won't change on this for another 10 years (Focus on the Family, etc.) handle the party moving on from the issue. Will they soft-pedal their position, and claim that abortion is and always was everything? Will they threaten to take their ball and go home?
I don't think 2012 was their last stand. Assuming favorable rulings from SCOTUS, I expect social conservatives to attempt to revive their campaign for a federal marriage amendment.Delete
I don't see how a candidate opposed to marriage equality wins a general election in 2016.Delete
I strongly suspect that the marriage issue just isn't that important to most of the country. That's why I think public opinion shifted so quickly: a large number of Americans have opposed SSM by default mostly because of its novelty, but as they have gotten increasingly used to the idea, they've come to think of it as a live-and-let-live matter. I don't have hard data to support this assumption; it's more a sense I get from discussing the issue with various people. I'd like to see some research into this question, because I think the percentage of people who are passionately pro- or anti- SSM is relatively small. And if anything, I think this will become even more true as time passes. I don't think the GOP nominee in 2012 will be pro-SSM (at least not overtly; I could see a little tactical ambiguity, and it's also possible they might back civil unions, something no Republican nominee up to now has done), but then I doubt this would become a major issue in the general election.
Unless the GOP purges the radicals from center stage they will cease to be relevant. Our culture is becoming more open to different ways to relate, more open to new or different ideas and styles of living. A party that insists on trying to maintain a one sided view of issues dooms itself to obscurity. It isn't all about old white Christians now.Delete
So the challenge to Prop 8 is an important marriage equality case coming up to the Supreme Court later this year. Prop 8 opponents have set the field up to allow any of 3 outcomes: the judges could impose marriage equality on all 50 states, they could overturn Prop 8 for California only, or they could rule that same-sex marriage is just icky and Prop 8 stands until California over-rules it with another constitutional amendment.ReplyDelete
In outcome #3, pro-marriage groups would hop to put such an amendment on the ballot and it would be a huge organizing principle in California. It would likely win. The Mormons put a huge amount of money and organizational expertise into Prop 8, and they're less likely to this time. They saw a lot of backlash. We can conclude that conservative Christians would be happiest with this outcome.
Now let's imagine what said CC's would do if we got outcomes #1 or #2. They would not go quietly. That's not what they do. Losing a religious war and becoming a martyr is a win for them. Being anti-equality would be more than a litmus test; it would be a rallying cry.
Opposition to Prop 8 is now polling over 60% in California, could do even better in 2014. The voter turnout wouldn't just affect gay marriage, it could cost the Republicans a congressional seat or two, and make them an even more ridiculous minority in the state legislature.Delete
Too true: the California Republican Party has very little political power, if any. And gay unwed Californians should be able to wed in 2015, at the latest. But if that issue is all over the news for 6 months in 2014, it could easily affect turnout around the nation. Non-Californian gays may raise their political profiles/activities in a sense of solidarity.Delete
I'm thinking more along the lines that conservative Christian types are going to go bugnuts if the Court invalidates Prop 8, and require all kinds of promises from their candidates. I just can't see them bowing meekly and talking about something else for the good of the party.
I've read all this reasoned commentary that treats today's GOP as a political party that acts reasonably, but the reality looks to me like a fanatical reactionary party the likes of which I've never seen. Rob Portman will be burned in effigy before CPAC is over.ReplyDelete
I think it will be much easier for Republicans to walk away from same-sex marriage than other hot-button issues. With same-sex marriage, the passions are aligned such that walking away should be relatively easy (compared with endlessly thorny issues like abortion).ReplyDelete
Consider: virtually no one is a fan of abortion. Supporters of abortion rights almost always appeal to another good, like women's health or reproductive freedom or somesuch. Opponents are virulently opposed, seeing abortion as akin to murder, etc.
Same-sex marriage cuts pretty much the opposite way. Almost no one is opposed to the right of consenting adults to enter a marriage with whomever they please; opposition usually comes down to another bad, like God's will or the natural order or whatnot. Supporters tend to be intensely passionate about same-sex marriage as a basic human right.
Perhaps the passive masses just flow to whichever side has the passion. That may explain why abortion is still so contentious, long after it became settled law.
And it may also foretell that formal opposition to same-sex marriage will just quietly disappear.
I would agree with you, CSH, if people who are virulently against abortion took a strong stand for birth control. If your concern is that women shouldn't murder their babies, then one might argue that preventing pregnancy is the best way to do that. Note, however, that the opposite is true.Delete
Abortion is a proxy for female independence. Opposing both abortion and birth control is a sign that one believes women cannot be trusted with sexual freedom. Opposition to same-sex marriage stems from the same belief.
You're probably right that there is a specific misogyny driving opposition to abortion (what's that old saying? If men could have children abortion would be a sacrament?) Does homophobia drive opposition to same-sex marriage in a similar way? It drives opposition, but my sense is much less fervently...which would leave some hope that same-sex marriage opposition will indeed fade.Delete
By the way - what's a guy gotta do to get some pun love around these parts? Did I not write "Opponents are virulently opposed, seeing abortion as akin to murder, etc."? Akin? Like the ill-fated senate candidate?
I'm working here, people.
I think the female independence issue is the primary reason for abortion opposition, but I believe the baby-murder concept is the main concern for a substantial minority of opponents. More importantly, the baby-murder concept is the reason why all the neutral or kinda-sorta pro-abortion types feel like it's okay to act all dodgy on the issue ("safe, legal, and rare") or say that they oppose abortion but don't want to ban it. If all those squishy people acknowledged it as a women's independence issue and had to take a side on that basis, they would side with abortion, and then the national dialog would shift toward treating abortion legality as the default, non-controverial position (as "pro-women's rights" already is).Delete
Other than that I agree with the logic of CSH's statement, except I don't understand your definition of "a fan of abortion". I am "a fan" or "a supporter" of abortion because it is an excellent means for a pregnant woman to avoid having a child. You describe reproductive freedom as being some sort of excuse or special case, but that's exactly what abortion's for.
Whoa dude, you're operating one a whole other level from us!
Chaz, thanks for the comment, wrt the "fan" quote, chalk that up to the pitfalls of writing extemporaneously. I meant that no one supports abortion per se. To the extent abortion achieves some other goal (e.g. "reproductive freedom"), folks support it, but otherwise no.Delete
I should add that by abortion I mean mid or late-stage abortion; I suspect a lot of people have little if any moral reservation about something like RU-486.