Oh, the irony of it all. For the past two years, the Republican establishment has been insisting that the only effective way to beat President Obama in 2012 is to set contentious social issues aside and focus like a laser on the economy. Who woulda thought that it would be the President himself who would catapult these issues to the fore just as campaign season enters full swing?
Forced out of the closet by the unscripted remarks of Washington's original gaffemeister, Vice President Joe Biden, Mr. Obama has pledged his support for same-sex marriage. Naturally, the President is being hailed for his bold stand by the liberal media, although everyone knows that he only went public because Biden's comments on the subject left him no alternative. Given his druthers, Obama would have maintained his coyness and not made his sentiments public until such time as he felt he could maximize the political benefits of doing so (i.e., right after the November election).
For better or worse however, the cat is out of the bag and Mr. O is out of the closet, and the strategists behind the Republican electoral machine are wringing their hands now that the spotlight is focused elsewhere than on the economy. If you are one of the few remaining conservatives who believes that the Republican Party represents traditional cultural values in addition to free market principles, you'll be disappointed to know that the current Republican leadership has little interest in advocating for traditional marriage on the public stage. This is why they were cringing in the corner when would-be presidential aspirants like Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann were stressing the importance of families headed by a mom and a dad.
For his part, Mr. Romney will find it difficult to navigate this issue because the perception is that he has been on both sides of the so-called fence at various points in his political career. In the 90's he pledged fealty to the radical gay agenda, promising to out-advocate his then opponent, Ted Kennedy, on all issues homosexual. Today of course, he has a different opponent and is seeking to appeal to a different constituency, so he will try to portray himself as a consistent, lifelong supporter of traditional marriage. Doing so without coming off as a flip-flopper will be difficult, and unfortunately he won't find much help from Speaker Boehner or Republican leaders in the House or Senate, as they've made a policy of essentially ignoring all issues that are not economic.
Never mind that marriage is an institution ordained by God that has served as the fundamental building block of human society since the beginning of time. Never mind that basic common sense (as well as several formal sociological studies) tells us that children need the influence of a mother and a father in shaping their understanding of the world, their sense of personal security and confidence, and their preparedness to function as healthy and productive members of society. Never mind that natural law, our anatomical appendages, and the reproduction of the human race all seem innately geared toward heterosexual unions. Republican leaders in Washington today can't be counted upon for anything more than a tip of the hat toward traditional marriage. Such would be beneath the station of Washington elites and is dirty work better suited to the hoi poloi (those of us in fly-over country who cling to guns and religion).
But the American people understand the significance of the paradigm shift advocated by Mr. Biden and his Johnny-come-lately boss. As recently as last week, 61% of North Carolinians voting cast their ballot in favor of traditional marriage and against extending the sanctity of this ancient institution to same-sex unions. All in all, 35 states have come down on the side of traditional marriage when their citizens were given the opportunity to do so, indicating that while marriage is under assault from many quarters (high divorce rates and an increase in the rise of cohabitation), the American people intuitively understand that traditional marriage is nonetheless an institution not to be trifled with.
So social conservatives had better get ready to rumble. The stakes couldn't be higher, nor the impact of the outcome of the election greater. It's about more than the economy Messrs. Romney and Obama, and no, the American people are not stupid.