Evangelicals to 'Country Club' GOPers: Social Issues Aren't Problem, You Are

Leading evangelicals are pushing back hard against charges that social issues are weakening the GOP brand, asserting that the nation is rejecting the rich GOP "country club" image more than retreating on moral issues.

Over the past several decades, the Republican Party has primarily been formed along two major philosophical lines. The first are conservatives who not only want government to live within its means, but care deeply about social issues such as abortion and traditional marriage. The second group is more moderate in its views. Often referred to as "country-club" Republicans, they are mainly business types who care more about fiscal issues and try to avoid social issues at all costs.

Of course there are many that fall in between the two groups, and the distance between the two seems to grow farther by the day.

Bob Vander Plaats heads up The Family Leader, a pro-family group in Iowa that plays a key role in screening presidential wannabes when they come calling on the Hawkeye State.

"The moderates have had their candidate in 2008 and they had their candidate in 2012. And they got crushed in both elections," Vander Plaats told The Washington Post. "Now they tell us we have to keep moderating. If we do that, we will win?"

Yet somehow the moderates look to their socially conscious brethren and blame them for the abortion gaffes of Senate candidates Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri and Indiana's Richard Mourdock.

"We've got to move away from the divisive issues like abortion and gay marriage," said Bill Watkins, a businessman in Tennessee. "We're getting nowhere with the majority of Americans and besides, this fiscal mess we have found ourselves mired in is going to be our downfall if we don't address it soon."

And lest we forget, the Tea Party members fall into both camps but may tend to take an even harder stance on fiscal issues.

Pam Wohlschlegel is the Florida State Coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots and describes herself as a fiscally conservative socially moderate. She is a Christian and Hispanic.

"Most tea partiers do not want to touch social issues," Wohlschlegel told The Christian Post. "It's not a topic we embrace because that is not what brought us together. When we get on social issues we allow liberals to define us. They turn a religious freedom issue into an issue by saying Republicans don't like contraceptives. We should have been more forthright by saying that contraceptives weren't the issue. Instead, it was about chemical abortions."

What is often described as the other "elephant in the room" is the question of why Republicans lost so much of the Hispanic vote and how they must adjust their strategy by confronting the issue of immigration.

The "gather them up and ship them back home, build a thirty-foot fence and keep them away" contingency may find themselves on the losing end of national elections if they maintain such a hardline approach. Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly is one example of a conservative leader who subscribes to this strategy.

But Wohlschlegel thinks Republicans are off base on that issue as well.

"Immigration is not something the Tea Party is focused on addressing," she said. "Personally, I feel there must be some element of compromise if we want to move forward. First, we have to close the borders before we look at some elements of amnesty. Rubio had good ideas but may have gone a bit far. "

"But more importantly, we need to go to the Latino with our understanding of what it takes to get this economy on track. We need to explain that Obama policies have hurt them and not help them. Romney did not point out that Obama never delivered on promises to Blacks and Hispanics. Other than giving them free cell phone and holding barbecues for them, he did nothing to help them."

Nonetheless, evangelicals are sending a strong warning shot over the GOP bow that if social issues are abandoned in the party platform and in stump speeches, millions of voters will look elsewhere.

Penny Nance leads the conservative group Concerned Women for America and argues that social issues are fiscal issues. She sends a strong message in a recent column for The Christian Post titled "Caution to Republican Party: Drop Our Plank, Lose Our Vote."

"Little of the messaging from the Left centered on the national argument of whether or not people of faith should be forced to pay for other women's abortions. And it certainly didn't examine whether or not an unborn baby is a life and deserves legal rights. No, instead, Sandra Fluke was trotted out as the ideal American woman, who can afford $40K per year for Georgetown Law but can't afford $9 per month at Wal-Mart to pay for her own birth control pills. Especially painful was the boundless attention Democrats gave abortion advocates at their convention. It was telling, given the scant attention at the Republican convention to pro-life advocates. I am not sure the word 'abortion' was even uttered in Tampa, except at the platform meetings."

As if she wasn't clear enough in what conservative women were looking for in a party and a national campaign, she summed up her column my pulling no punches.

"And finally, we will leave you if you betray us. Yes, I said it – and I mean it. Life is not negotiable. The unborn are not political pawns. Abortion is a human rights issue, and we will stand down no more than the abolitionist would have conceded his just cause. If the establishment works to favor pro-abortion candidates, then about 51 percent of their voters who identify as either Catholic or Evangelical will simply stay home or find another party."

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