Beware of a Return to PUMA Hunting

Shortly after it became apparent that Barack Obama would be the Democratic Nominee in 2008, some groups of unhappy Clinton supporters began calling themselves PUMAs – standing for “Party Unity My Ass”. They believed, for whatever reason, that Barack Obama was unsupportable in 2008, and many promised to actively support McCain. This prompted many Republicans to believe that the election could be won on the backs of such PUMAs, and the party strategy was altered accordingly, culminating in the selection of Sarah Palin – a female Governor many now recognize was ill prepared for a national run – as the Vice Presidential nominee.

Unfortunately for us, the packs of PUMAs running to the polls in support of John McCain never materialized, and some of the adjustments made to the Republican campaign in hopes of attracting such voters likely did more harm than good. It wouldn’t be fair to say that PUMAs never existed – but in the end, they were far too few in number and far too low in dedication to actually help us on election night.

So, with the disaster that was PUMA hunting so fresh in the memories of the GOP, you would think that most within the party would be hesitant to once again spend time and energy chasing shadow demographics in the hopes of improving our standing. Yet some in the GOP, usually within the moderate Republican blogosphere, are actively encouraging the party to abandon its socially conservative base in order to attract what are usually defined as “upper-middle class, suburban, secular voters”. They believe that there are large swaths of right-of-center voters who are receptive to many parts of the Republican message, but who end up voting Democratic or staying home because of our positions on social and cultural issues.

But this does not seem to square with what polls have proven in recent months. And even where it does, its debatable whether or not the trade-offs required to attract such voters are truly worth it.

Little is offered to define exactly who or where these voters are – other than their title as secular suburbanites – and so its very difficult to try and determine exactly what kind of people we are looking at, but its probably fair to say that they are White, between the ages of 40 and 60, making more than $45,ooo a year, and attending church a few times a year or less. But with the exception of church attendance, all of those demographics either voted Republican, split, or voted Democratic by a margin less than the nation as a whole did – all this in a very anti-Republican year.

Whites supported McCain by 55%-43%, Those in the 40-60 age group split virtually down the center, those making between $50k and %75k a year went narrowly to McCain, and even those self-described as Suburban voters supported Obama by smaller margins than the national average. This comes, once again, in a highly anti-Republican year with an extremely popular and charismatic Democratic nominee.

Moving beyond Demographics and into the category of issues, it has been shown time and time again that those who consider social issues a top priority are a relatively small group, and that those who are socially conservative are far more likely to be persuaded by the positions of a candidate on such issues than those who are socially liberal; with social moderates – which these mystery “secular suburbanites” likely are – being even further disinterested.

Finally, even if there were substantial numbers of secular suburbanites who could easily jump to the GOP were it not for social conservatism, what would be the cost of adjusting our stances on those issues? It seems unlikely that we could pull that group in without abandoning the Socially Conservative base – a group who has helped to make the GOP what it is today, and, without whom we would be in much deeper trouble than we are today.

In the end, unless those who want to chase the secular suburban voters who are supposedly just a couple position shifts away from jumping behind the GOP can provide solid evidence that such a group truly exists in the form they say it does, its probably not worth the effort.

-Matt

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An Unholy Embarrassment to the Catholic Faith

Despite all efforts to prevent Barack Obama from speaking at Notre Dame’s commencement address, the President will soon depart Washington for South Bend, IN. This is nothing less than a complete embarrassment of the Catholic faith and a dark stain against Catholic education in the United States. As a supporter of abortion rights – which Barack Obama unquestionably is – the President breaks one of Catholicism’s most important political stances: that unborn life is sacred, holy, and must be defended.

There are some who will try to make excuses, arguing that the President is not a rabid abortionist, and that he wants to reduce the number of abortions. That’s great – but he supports legalized abortion, he reversed the Mexico City policy, and the party he represents has attacked policies that permit doctors and other medical personnel to refuse to assist in the destruction of innocent life. Others will argue that the President is an advocate for the quality of life – and that those who oppose abortion are really just pro-birth. My only response to that is that being “pro-birth” is nothing to shy from. Without birth, without the child actually being brought into this world, everything else is completely meaningless.

There are certain circumstances where is MIGHT be acceptable for the President to speak at a Catholic Institution – if he were to open himself to challenge or rebuttal, or if he was simply being brought in as one side of a political argument. But that is not the case. Barack Obama is being granted the privilege of giving the commencement address AND and honorary degree. Both suggest that the President is not just another individual with his own opinions, but a superior voice and authority worthy of sending whatever message he might choose to the Catholic youth of this country.

and that is not the case, it is, in fact, a complete embarrassment.

-Matt

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Its Not “For No Good Reason”

Note: The Detroit Red Wings have advanced into the Western Conference Finals and are now halfway toward repeating their 2008 Stanley Cup Win – you’ll have to excuse any lapses in blogging over the next few weeks. GO WINGS!

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Of all the things about Josh’s recent article supporting Gay Marriage, one line bothered me more than any other:

“For me, when a law restricts freedom for no good reason it should be repealed.”

This argument seems to fall in line with traditional liberal arguments that our marriage laws are outdated, and that they serve no purpose other than to act as a form of legal discrimination against a minority group. Those holding this view believe, as apparently does Josh, that restricting marriage to its traditional form does little for the country.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Marriage is not just a status acknowledged by the government for tax reasons, it is a social and religious institution that serves as the most important building block of society. Marriage, between a man and a women, is the natural and ideal setting in which to bring up children, who are essential to the health of any population. By supporting – even elevating – traditional marriage through legal and economic recognition, benefit, and reward, the government helps to promote a society consisting of traditional values and institutions that provide a broad social benefit (though admittedly, not without some flaws). Would government endorsement of homosexual marriage damage attempts to promote such a social fabric? Its hard to tell, but its worth noting that countries with more “accepting” policies for homosexual unions (particularly in Europe) are currently facing a broad range of social problems – lower marriage rates in general, higher divorce rates, higher illegitimacy rates, and lower birth rates in general. Though its not likely these problems were caused directly by Gay Marriage, it is likely that they are tied together in a drift away from the traditional principles and unions that keep society strong. That, in my view, would be a dangerous road to travel down – hence my objection to any changes in the law which could potentially weaken or lessen the importance of traditional families.

I also have yet to see a substantial argument as to how permitting Gay Marriage would not open the door to any and all types of “marriages” practiced by various groups. If Gay Marriage is legal, then why not polygamy? Feel free to post a response on that, and I’ll front-page it with some analysis

This is not to say that I am against any legal partnership for those unable or unwilling to marry. Its true that there are certain benefits – hospital visitation, power of attorney, etc. – that many, not just Gays, do not have access to. I’ve long said I would have no problems with a legal partnership open to any two people who were not married – one with the legal rights but without the economic benefits or societal endorsement that I view as helping to promote a stronger social fabric. Whether it be a Gay Couple, an engaged straight couple, siblings, etc. – I see no issue permitting these people basic legal rights, and doing so might even help to cut down on legal fighting that erupts in certain situations. But marraige, as we know it, should and must remain in its traditional, man/woman form – and not just for “no good reason”.

-Matt.

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Same-sex Marriage

Matt suggests that only a small majority of young voters support same-sex marriage. According to the CBS/NEW York Times poll, support has increased from 22 percent in 2004 to 44 percent now among the general public. Sounds inevitable to me. 57% of under 40s in this poll support same-sex marriage. Thats not too small. In any event the Washington Post ABC poll shows support for marriage equality at 66% among under 30’s. We are also able to find out that 45% of those supporter as “strongly support” same sex marriage. There’s some passion.

Matt also says that as voters become older they become more conservative and oppose same-sex marriage. There is numerous polling from PEW that our generation as opposed to previous cohorts supports same sex marriage. The support is higher than previous generations of 18-29 year olds.

I also want to take up the point about passion. For me, when a law restricts freedom for no good reason it should be repealed. As same-sex marriage will not affect my hoped for future heterosexual marriage or anyone elses I am for it. I think erring on the side of liberty is the best governing philosophy we can pursue. I also am a big fan of marriage and the stability it brings to relationships. Homosexual relationships frankly are not very stable, so I think getting them into the institution of marriage will be a benefit to them. It will also cut down on disease by increasing monogamy and responsibility that marriage brings. Its good social policy. So Im very passionate about it. But thats just me so what about others? Matt used anecdotal evidence so I will too. During the 2006 elections Wisconsin had a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The student crowd was only passionate about that one issue. Students went to the polls ginned up to vote down the amendment and at the same time casted votes for Democrats whereas these same voters would have otherwise stayed home.

-Josh

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Apathy, More than Liberalism, is Allowing Social Decline

In any discussion on Gay Marriage, the person arguing in support of it is likely to argue that Gay Marriage is inevitable – because the current group of college-age Americans slightly favors it. Those supporting  “marriage equality” (which, as I’ve argued, already exists – no American is allowed to marry a member of the same sex, and all are free to marry any member of the opposite gender) believe – or want us to believe – that, since it is inevitable, we should just allow it now and move on.

But do today’s young adults really support Gay Marriage? Well, yes and no. In the literal, polling-question sense, yes – those currently between the age of 18 and 30 favor Gay Marriage by a small margin. But speaking from experience, this support is not so much “support” as it is disinterest in the issue altogether. There is no broad advocacy for Gay Marriage among mainstream twenty-somethings – those who support it do so largely because they don’t believe it effects them, and simply cannot be brought to care about the large effects on society. As I said, this is speaking from experience. Having been in several current-events or government-themed classes, we’ve been asked our position on the issue. Sure, half the hands go up, maybe even a few more than half, but its in an extremely half-hearted manner. Asked to defend their view, most who support Gay Marriage will give an unconvincing “why not?”. There is no passion, no dedication, no concern whether things unfold in one way or the other. Unlike those who believe in traditional families, who are usually able to back up their views either with deep moral and religious opinions, or else a logical social argument (for example, traditional families are the building blocks of our society) – there is no such depth to the views of those who are content to see Gay Marriage permitted.

This does two things – firstly, it demonstrates the dangers of an apathetic populace. If people cannot be brought to care about the preservation of traditional American values and traditional American society, then radical, liberal, and/or destructive  causes of all kinds will run rampant across this country. At the same time, it suggests that, even if we get to the point that a majority of Americans support Gay Marriage (which may or may not happen – young people generally become more religious and more conservative as they age, and its entirely likely the current generation will follow the same path), it could still be decades after that point before any Gay Marriage will be permitted by a vote of the people. Why? Because in general, the people who vote are the people who care, and those who oppose Gay Marriage are both far more committed and more numerous than those simply content to allow it to come into being.

– Matt

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Principles for a Stronger America: Indroduction

The position of the Republican Party, in many ways, couldn’t be worse – we’re out of power in both Congress and White House, we have minimal ability to block liberal appointments to the Supreme Court, there appears to be no clear or single leader of the party, and every political pundit in the MSM or on the Internet seems to be writing the eulogy for the GOP – or at least the Reaganist GOP that strongly endorses Conservative policies. In other ways, our current situation is an opportunity. As is often the case, time spent out of power is used to rebuild, re-energize, and renew whichever party happens to be in the minority. This doesn’t necessarily mean a change in principles (as both the 1980 and 1994 comebacks for the GOP were done using Conservative ideas), but it often means making changes.

Many have already tried to build on this opportunity by offering a range of solutions – moderation, following England’s lead, compromise, inclusiveness, as well as other, more typical suggestions. In many ways, this is like the diet industry – people dumping hundreds of millions of dollars into books, shakes, pills, drinks, machines, and videos when they could probably lose weight just as well if they would eat a little less and walk a little more.

In this series, which will likely span several weeks, I hope to offer a similar “back to basics” approach to reestablishing the GOP as the dominant political force in the United States. This project will actually contain two series. The first, consisting of principles, will cover general ideas and concepts vital to our continued success as a nation. The second series – which will likely come some time this summer – will apply those principles as well as Conservative beliefs to specific policy issues.  As you’ll find, many of the articles I post will be one of a pair – for example, freedom will be paired with responsibility, trade will be balanced with self sufficiency, etc. This is because very few things are truly absolute – almost ever policy or principle comes with some kind of disclaimer about not taking it too far.

I’m not going to lay out any deffinate time line for how often these articles will go out – I’m busy with school, work, and preparing for college – but I’m going to shoot for one or two a week, at least until this summer – when I might be able to get more up.

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Wisconsin Smoking Ban

Given the fact that the Democrats won full control of State Government in November, a statewide smoking ban was inevitable.

The paternalistic, neo-prohibitionist, nictotine Nazis will get theit glorious victory. Meanwhile, my state will lose freedom, property rights, and responsible businesses and their employees will be hurt.

Where does the Government get off setting smoking policy on private property? What if one has a dream to start a piano bar where people are free to smoke? (you know, cause its cool and nostalgic) What about all that start-up capital and the ensuing time investment that goes into being the entreprenuer of a Tavern? Does that not concern the elitists in the legislature?

If someone doesn’t like smoking in bars they can vote with their feet. If enough people don’t like it, that establishment will feel the pinch and either accomodate or continue to lose because it is inferior at running a business. The market responds to what the consumers want, whether smoking is allowed or not is already up to them. Its called capitalism.

There will be talk of a “compromise where both sides worked together” and how “most people wanted a smoking ban and we acted on behalf of them.” A majority-held view isn’t automatically virtuous. To go ahead and mug smokers and bar-owners who are in the minority is shameful and dissapointing. Some compromise.

– Josh

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