Founded in 1981, the Institute on Religion & Democracy has been a voice for transparency, for renewal, and for Christian orthodoxy.
By Rick Plasterer
A struggle for the soul, and thus the message, of the Republican Party, is a very possible result of the failure to dislodge the most radical President in American history. “Less government” conservatism triumphed in the party with the ascendency of Goldwater and then Reagan in the last century, and “social conservatism,” supporting the traditional family unit, and repudiating the party’s earlier feminism (including its earlier support for the unsuccessful Equal Rights Amendment), occurred with Reagan’s accession in 1980. Since the turn of the century, the party has continued to support social conservatism, although that commitment has been contested, as acceptance of the sexual revolution of the 1960s advanced in the leadership groups of the United States and the West. A Canadian source reviews reactions to the election result, pointing out that some hold the party to be too far to the right. But Jeffrey Lord, writing in the American Spectator, claimed that moderation “has failed repeatedly for some 80 years”, chronicling the losses of moderate Republicans.
Unhappily, the Republican Party seems to be the only major conservative party in the western world where social conservatism is dominant. Collapse on social issues has notably already occurred with conservative parties in the U.K. and Canada.
In Britain, Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has, as the social conservative LifeSiteNews.com service reported over the past year, made implementation of homosexual marriage and general support for cultural left goals a non-negotiable in his program, despite strong opposition within Britain’s Conservative Party. The same source noted the observation of former Tory policy advisory Gerald Ward that the party is acting against the “furious resistance of almost all Christian denominations except the Quakers.”
Cameron rose to power after three national Conservative election losses (1997, 2001, and 2005). He and his party understandably felt some revision of conservatism was called for. On his accession as Conservative leader, BBC News found him to be a “blank canvas,” but his project for a reconstructed Conservative Party moving beyond Thatcherism has turned out to be an economic conservatism/social liberalism formula, despite his claim that economic conservatism will reinforce the traditional family. This has done considerable damage to the Conservative Party, with its membership plummeting over homosexual marriage, as the U.K.’s Christian Institute noted, with research showing that a third of those voting Conservative in the last election will not do so in the next election.
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