The president of the Family Research Council, Tony Perkins gave an interview to US News and World Report where he praises President Obama for reaching out to social conservatives while he also discussed the fracture between social conservatives and the Republican Party.
Perkins talked about Obama’s reaching out to social conservatives through faith based initiatives as a positive development, “I’m not saying I’m taking everything at face value, but the Obama administration is trying to have a conversation about faith-based initiatives. It’s evidence that they see a need to reach social conservatives. Whether they do it is another question, but it’s a positive development. It’s quite clear that the Republicans in the last few years have tried to move away from those issues and deemphasize those issues. You saw it in the presidential election, with more emphasis on religion and its role in the public square more from the Democratic Party than from the Republicans. I’m not saying it’s genuine from the Democrats. It’s yet to be seen. Obama has overturned the Mexico City Policy, a clearly pro-abortion move. But the Republicans can’t just assume that because social conservatives are not supportive of Democrats means they’ll support Republicans.”
Perkins said that the relationship between the GOP and social conservatives soured due to Republicans campaigning on protecting marriage in 2004, and then dropping the issue after the election, It is something that happened after 2004, when there was a great emphasis by the Republicans and the president on the need to protect marriage. It was used to secure a second term for President Bush and to expand Republican control of Congress. And after the election, the issue was basically dropped. That, combined with corruption that distracted the Republican Party, Mark Foley—it all added up to where people began to scratch their heads and say, “This is not the party that is really reflecting our values.”
The Republican Party has been using social conservatives for year. Republicans have always promised the moon and stars to evangelicals and social conservatives during election season, but they always drop the issues after the election. The reason why is simple politics. Social conservatives are motivated by deep moral concerns. If the Republican Party, would have addressed these issues when they controlled the levers of power, maybe social conservatives would have lost their motivation to work for Republican candidates. The GOP has played on their fears and exploited them.
This being said, I wouldn’t count on Obama being able to make serious inroads with them. I think that Obama as a sincere, church going family man, appeals to them, but there are too many political differences for social conservatives to support him. The big news here is that one of the leaders of the evangelical movement is talking about the Republicans betrayal of their values. Perkins is also skeptical of new RNC Chair Michael Steel. Social conservatives could soon be a people without a party. I have thought for a long time that social conservatives should split off into their own political movement. This seems like a direction that things could be going in.