". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13

Commentary

The Rise of Social Conservatives Complicates Push to Dilute GOP Platform

June 13, 2024

While the media fans the flames of a full-blown attack on the Republican Party Platform, some new polling should give those moderates pause. In the eight years since the GOP drew up its last document (COVID derailed any 2020 revisions), conservatives haven’t abandoned their social values. If anything, they’ve become more adamant about protecting them.

The numbers might surprise Republicans, but in the last 20 years — as Democrats declared war on gender, girls’ sports, parental rights, marriage, and life — the percentage of GOPers who consider themselves “conservative” or “very conservative” on social issues jumped from 64% to 74%. That’s bad news for the party’s rebel flank, who hope to rip out key planks of the platform on abortion, marriage, and sexuality in July. As internal forces prep a siege on longtime principles, Gallup’s findings ought to stiffen the spines of any delegates tempted to water down what Republicans stand for.

FRC Action Director Matt Carpenter sees the increase in social conservatives in the GOP as “significant.” “It’s a rejection of the progressive ideology that has infected every institution in America,” he told The Washington Stand. “It tells me that there is a ceiling on just how far the Left can advance their cause among the American people. I think further evidence of this is the fact that Pride Month has been relatively muted this year compared to previous years. The novelty of much of the Left’s cultural agenda is wearing off and the pendulum is beginning to swing back.”

This idea that Republicans need to become more like Democrats to get elected is — and has always been — a ridiculous notion. Conservatives should be doing everything in their power to highlight the sharp contrasts between the GOP and the radical party of child mutilation, same-sex marriage, unborn baby dismemberment, and infanticide. As Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) warned when his colleagues sided with the president’s social extremism on a few occasions, “Republicans in office don’t help Republican candidates win elections by acting like Democrats. In fact, the opposite is true. Democrats make much better Democrats than weak-kneed Republicans. We will never beat them at their own game. Ever. Nor should we try.”

While Republicans harden their positions on social issues, so have Democrats. Since 2004, the president’s party has become just as polarized in these culture wars — almost doubling the population of “social liberals” from 39% to 69% in the last two decades. The Left, on the other hand, doesn’t shy away from spelling out its positions in the party platform, even the overwhelmingly unpopular ones, like taxpayer-funded abortions and gender transitions, transgender access to restrooms, locker rooms, and showers, bans on sexual orientation change efforts, the end of conscience rights, biological boys in girls’ sports, sexual indoctrination in the classroom (without parental notification), and on and on.

To anyone who says these documents don’t matter, Ed Martin would say: you’re dead wrong. The president of Phyllis Schlafly Eagles joined Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on “Washington Watch” Tuesday to call for prayer for what he considers the most important work of convention week.

“Words are very important,” he insisted. “And when you write it down in the platform, [for] the Republican Party, [these are] our principles. This is hopefully what we govern with — but it’s [also] who we stand for.” Martin, who was just appointed by the Republican National Committee as a deputy director of the Platform Committee, says it’s more important than ever for social conservatives and Christians “to stand up and be counted.”

He pointed to the mission creep in Ireland, where there are about 10 political parties. One by one, they systematically took the definition of marriage from their beliefs. “Then they had a vote,” Martin explained, “and the people of Ireland — like 85% —voted for marriage between whoever you want it to be. [The platform’s principles] are like an exoskeletal system around our leaders, but they’re also a defining sense of who we are. … [So] we’re never going to yield on life. We’re never going to yield on family.”


In fact, he believes this is such a significant moment for Republicans that he’s calling for 40 days of prayer in preparation for the 2024 platform debate in Wisconsin. The late conservative hero Phyllis Schlafly called the 2016 document “the greatest platform of her life.” “And it was extraordinary,” Martin agreed. “But we’ve got a lot of work to do on the platform — [and] we better get on our knees and pray.”

He said this isn’t about having a special call or a special gathering—it’s simply about intentionally going to God in prayer for our country and the direction of both parties. “We’re nondenominational in the sense we pray for Democrats, too, even though I don’t have much hope in them. But we need to pray for all of our leaders of both parties. And as you point out, what is at stake is not small potatoes. The Republican Party platform has protected life. Its protected the family. Its protected a vision of a strong nation that is good for its neighbors by its strength. And all [of] that is up for grabs in a culture that in many ways is collapsing. So we’re going to start with prayer.”

Martin lamented the moderate Republicans who’ve dismissed the significance of the platform in the past —like former House Speaker John Boehner and presidential candidate Bob Dole. The latter even told his people, “Don’t worry about that.” But, Martin insisted, think about the progression of the culture right now. “We didn’t have [the explosion of] transgender[ism] eight years ago [to deal with in] the last platform. We didn’t have the insanity of what they’re doing in law.”

In other words, the time to plant a flag is now. “And there [are] some Republicans that need to buck up and understand we’re not letting this happen to our girls and our families, and we’re going to explain that. So for those people that say words don’t matter and the platform doesn’t matter, I would [profoundly disagree].”

Schlafly, he pointed out, did a lot of incredibly courageous things in her lifetime. But the platform “[is] what she fought for for decades,” Martin wanted people to know. But “she said, ‘That may be the most important thing I did that I was involved in.’ And that’s what Phyllis thought.”

Now, the legacy of Schlafly and so many who came before her hinge on a monumental battle this July. “That work is far from done,” Perkins insisted. But if there’s one thing he wants Republicans to know, it’s this: “We’re not going to surrender any ground that has been gained.”

Suzanne Bowdey serves as editorial director and senior writer at The Washington Stand.