WASHINGTON — With conservative Christians and libertarians sharing common ideologies that stand against big government and federal overreaching, the two groups' need to put aside their few differences and unite in order to defeat a Democratic agenda that "assaults" American liberties, a panel of prominent social conservatives agreed Saturday.
Speaking at a Family Research Council panel at the Values Voters Summit in Washington D.C.,a social conservative pollster, political commentator and campaign advisor for Sen. Rand Paul, R- Ky., discussed the importance of getting the two ideological groups on the same voting path to solidify their stances against issues like big-government overeaches and infringement on personal and religious liberties.
"If we want to remove Democrats from the Senate and take back control of the White House in 2016, these are two groups that have to finally make sure that the overwhelming nature on which they agree ends up being the driving force and end up being something that really can push the left out of their position of power," said Doug Stafford, Executive Director of Paul's political action committee, RANDPAC. "Too often we don't do as good a job as the left does in uniting for a victory for those things that we do share by arguing about things that we don't."
Kellyanne Conway, president of The Polling Company Inc. & WomenTrend, said that it will be imperative for conservative presidential candidates to make protecting religious liberties a top priority. She said that both Libertarians and social conservatives strongly agree that government-placed burdens on religious choice goes against traditional "American democracy" and is unconstitutional.
"A smart candidate or candidates, looking at 2016, will actually put at the top of his to-do list the assault on religious liberties because that does appeal to many Americans that don't consider themselves to be so called values voters," Conway said.
Stafford said there hasn't been a conservative president since Ronald Reagan that has embraced libertarianism and quoted Reagan saying that "at the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism."
"The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference with less centralized authority with more individual freedom," Stafford said. "This is a pretty general description also for libertarianism."
Although they agree on many social fronts, one thing that keeps libertarians off of the Republican bandwagon is the conservative stance against gay marriage.
"For me, the separation [of the two groups] has always been a little odd," conservative commentator Maggie Gallagher said. "A lot of the tensions that we are experiencing between social conservatives and libertarians, some of it is specific to the issue of gay marriage. A lot of it comes from the perception by many libertarian donors that social issues is what is holding the Republican Party back."
However, Conway added that libertarians and social conservatives mostly agree on their stance against abortion. While not all libertarians are pro-life, Stafford agreed with Conway by saying that more libertarians are pro-life than people realize.
With the current political climate favoring pro-choice, Conway continued by citing her company's own polling numbers that find that the majority of Americans take pro-life stances on many circumstances of abortion including the 64 percent of Americans that would support a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
"People all across this country know that values voters and libertarians feel that their views and their rights are under seige," Conway said. "You probably won't find two groups that feel that more than those two groups, perhaps for different reasons from time to time, yet they certainly have a commonality in that regard."