Why are social conservatives unable to exert political pressure?

Hillary Clinton and her ally, the Human Rights Campaign
Hillary Clinton and her ally, the Human Rights Campaign

Right now, social liberals are having great success pushing through their agenda. Social conservatives seemed to be getting coerced and/or punished so effectively that many are wondering whether the tide can be turned at all.

Ben Shapiro, who writes at the Daily Wire, explains what’s been happening lately:

Leftists, the most tolerant people in America, are now demonstrating their tolerance by boycotting entire states that do not govern in accordance with leftist social policy. On Tuesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he would bar non-essential state-funded travel to Mississippi after the state passed a bill re-enshrining First Amendment protections for freedom of religion and association. Cuomo, who termed the law “sad, hateful,” isn’t the only big government leftist to utilize the power of taxpayer-funded nastiness: the mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee, did the same.

Lee and Cuomo also announced travel bans to North Carolina, where the governor recently signed a bill that mandates that local governments may not allow people to use single-sex bathrooms based on subjective gender identity rather than biological sex; that bill also makes state anti-discrimination law supreme and exclusive over local anti-discrimination laws that would compel businesses to hire people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

It’s not just government, either. Icons like the wildly overrated Bruce Springsteen are cancelling concerts in North Carolina; businesses like PayPal, which do business in countries like Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, which actually prosecute homosexuality. States like Virginia and Georgia have vetoed similar legislation out of fear of corporate and governmental blowback from companies ranging from Apple to Disney.

The left has ratcheted up their pressure on states to crack down on Americans who don’t want their daughters peeing next to grown men, to prosecute businessowners who don’t want to cater same-sex weddings. They’ve utilized their economic power to punish private actors who may or may not even agree with the left in an attempt to coax those actors into putting indirect pressure on their representatives.

Maggie Gallagher, a pro-marriage activists who has written some great books on marriage that I really liked, has some practical advice for social conservatives in National Review.

She has five points – here are four and five:

4) Social conservatives aren’t doing politics.

Before I explain what I mean, let me ask you to answer a simple question: What is the national organization that fights for religious-liberty protections by spending money in federal elections? Currently, there is none. There are many good nonprofits who issue voter guides or get pastors together. There are public-interest law firms galore. These are all good things to have — but there is a hole in the center of our movement.

How big is the hole? For my own amusement, I tried to figure out how much money social conservatives (excluding pro-life groups) spent in national elections in 2014 compared to what they spend on 501(c)3 and other nonprofit strategies. I looked for every organization I could find that has marriage or religious liberty in its mission statement and then compared it with election expenditures by either c(4)s or political-action committees (PACs). Then I asked around to major social-conservative donors I know to see if I had overlooked any major organization.

How big is the hole in the center of our movement?

In 2014 pro-family social conservatives invested $251,633,730 in tax-deductible 501(c)3 efforts (excluding pro-life efforts).

How much was spent on direct political engagement, counting both state and federal organizations? $2,484,359.

That 100-to-one ratio of doing politics by indirect versus direct means explains a lot about the relative powerlessness of social conservatism.

Social conservatives can’t get much out of politics because we aren’t in politics. We just talk like we are on television, when the Left allows us to get on television. Meanwhile, we don’t build political institutions that matter.

Social conservatives need to think like a minority and organize politically to protect our interests. Which leads me to Maggie’s fifth Big Truth of social-conservative politics:

5) The most important thing social conservatives could do in the 2016 cycle is to demonstrate to Democrats that extremism in pushing unisex showers on public schools or oppressing gay-marriage dissenters will cost them the White House.

In theory, this shouldn’t be hard to do: A July 2015 Associated Press–GFK poll showed that 59 percent of independents and 32 percent of Democrats agree that when gay rights and religious liberty conflict, religious liberty should have priority. Social conservatives should use the issue on offense — not just to gin up “the base,” but to persuade soft Democrats to abandon the party of anti-religious aggression. If intensive messaging to Democratic voters in a key swing state could move just 10 percent of them to switch their votes, the whole political dynamic of this issue would change.

But proving that would require raising a significant amount of money — say at least $2 million — and demonstrating in a key swing state, such as Ohio or Pennsylvania or Florida, that the Democrats’ anti-religion intolerance against gay-marriage dissenters could cost them something they care about: The White House. Power.

I see no signs yet that any such thing is happening among social conservatives.

But it could.

We should fill the hole in the center of the social-conservative movement by getting into politics for the first time in 50 years. It could happen.

I noticed that Maggie’s web site “The Pulse” is very pro-Cruz. They do not like John Kasich at all on social issues, and they were not fans of Marco Rubio’s tepid response to the gay marriage ruling.

3 thoughts on “Why are social conservatives unable to exert political pressure?”

  1. You have to remember liberal logic.

    If 98% of the population swung to hard conservatism and voted against such measures, what would the response be? Obviously, the entire country has been brainwashed away from the default human position of atheistic humanist inclusion. More money needs to fight this in the courts, as you can’t trust people who aren’t educated enough opvercome their programming.

  2. One massive thing that’s missing is the non-culture engaging nature of Christians. When you think of Christian music- it’s more stuff you’ll hear in some churches and others will reject it because it sounds too modern. Movies? Try being Christian in Hollywood. There’s a show called Lucifer… What’s our response? I dislike Christian movies. I find them too feel good and boring and the moral of the story is always Jesus. I get it. That’s how we should live pointing to God, and God’s not dead 1 & 2 are good apologetics. It’s been said a lot of ways but I listen to a lot of Andrew Breitbarts friends saying “Politics is downstream from culture.”

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