Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The GOP's Reckoning Has Arrived

Oral arguments today at the Supreme Court regarding California's Proposition 8, which strongly suggest that the voter-approved law will be invalidated, along with a growing number of Republican politicians endorsing marriage equality, might trigger an existential crisis in the GOP.

Christian Post reports today that former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, an ordained Baptist minister and a Fox News host, told Newsmax today in an interview that the evangelical base of the party might "take a walk" if the party supports the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples.

Huckabee went on to say the following:
If we have subjective standards, that means that we're willing to move our standards based on the prevailing whims of culture.  I think politicians have an obligation to be thermostats, not just thermometers. They're not simply to reflect the temperature of the room, or the culture, as it were. They're to set the standards for law, for what's right, for what's wrong, understanding that not everybody's going to agree with it, not everybody's going to accept it.
I'm afraid Mr. Huckabee has it bass-ackwards.  Politicians do not set standards for law.  Politicians are elected by the people, and the Constititution of this country is of the people, by the people, and for the people.  The people get to set standards for law, in accordance with basic rights outlined in the Constitution.  Courts exist to interpret the laws that are created, and if a court rules against that which is popular among the people (which, in California in 2008, included a ban on marriage equality), then that popular majority has options within the law. 

However, popular opinion has changed in favor of equality, as the issue has become today's expression of the civil rights movement.  Time is about to run out on social conservatives' fear that the LGBT community will soon be seen as equal citizens in all respects and enjoy the full benefit of the Constitution.

I have written on this blog since 2008 that the GOP was headed for an ideological split, with social conservatives on one side and fiscal conservatives on another.  I honestly believe that the religious right needs its own party in order to enroll folks in their vision of what America should look like.  They will most likely be unsuccessful, which would mean their ultimate demise as a political movement.  As modernity renders their arcane ideas irrelevant, and as younger voters increasingly support less fundamentalism in politics, it will become clear to many Christians that their religion belongs back in their churches, not in the political arena.  Jesus, it's clear, was not a politician.  Render unto Caesar, etc....

What such a schism does for the Democrats is uncertain.  Some fiscally conservative Democrats might be peeled off, I think eventually we'll have a three-party system that renders clear majorities a thing of the past.  Coalition-building will become the new normal in American politics.  Think of it: Fiscal conservatives caucusing with progressives to push back an effort by libertarians (I know, probably unthinkable!).