Mar 2, 2011
Writing recently about Rick Santorum’s quest to become the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, George Will remarked that Santorum’s chances depend on social conservatives who currently feel ignored and would be naturally sympathetic to someone like the former GOP senator from Pennsylvania.
I venture no opinion on Santorum’s prospects. But about the present condition of social conservatives—for whom abortion and the defense of traditional marriage are issues of paramount priority—Will is entirely correct.
Pro-lifers in the Republican-controlled House have lately been making a push for abortion-related legislation that social conservatives happily support. Unfortunately, there is little chance that the legislation can get through the Democratic-controlled Senate and virtually none that President Obama would sign it.
And with this exception, there just isn’t much on the horizon for social conservatives to cheer about. Congress rolled over and played dead a while back on the issue of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and it’s scary to think what the Senate might do if Obama gets a chance to nominate another pro-abortion justice to the Supreme Court.
Still, the social conservatives’ sense of frustration is hardly new.
The Democratic party gave them a cold shoulder nearly four decades ago. As for the Republicans, whenever I write on these matters I can count on hearing from people who wish to remind me that, despite its official conservatism on social issues, the GOP has often been more talk than action, and Republican presidents have sent more than their share of pro-choice justices to the Supreme Court.
No wonder social conservatives are out of sorts. Like other Americans advocating various other causes, they want change. Who will give it to them, and when, are the great imponderables.
Catholic voters over the years have contributed a lot to bringing about this present state of affairs. Another conservative columnist, Michael Gerson, cut to the heart of the matter with words that deserve to be taken most seriously.