Mike Huckabee warns that if the GOP caves on same-sex marriage, Evangelicals will walk. I don’t believe it. This is an empty threat. Huckabee and I are on the same side of the SSM question, so for “Evangelicals” you might as well substitute “social conservatives.” I think very few of us will abandon the Republican Party over this issue. Why would we, given the alternative would be a Democratic Party that’s more hostile to our values and concerns?
If he’s talking about Evangelicals and other social conservatives walking away from political engagement within the GOP, and on behalf of GOP candidates, he may have a point. If they decide that the party has surrendered on the issues that are most important to them, that can’t help but reduce enthusiasm and engagement. It’s not quite the same thing, but in the wake of the Iraq War and the economic crash, and the subsequent inability of the Republican Party to do anything but double down on its ideology, I quit identifying as a Republican, changed my registration to Independent, and now consider myself simply a conservative. I am more likely to vote Republican than Democrat, given my convictions, but I’m not nearly the automatic Republican vote that I used to be, while also not becoming enthusiastic in the least about Democrats.
Point is, the GOP alienated me from politics in general. The only reason I retain a likelihood to vote Republican for national office is over social issues, especially same-sex marriage and abortion and, relatedly, religious liberty. If the GOP gives these up, there will be no strong reason at all for me — or the group Thomas Kidd calls “paleo-Evangelicals” — to privilege voting Republican over Democratic.
But that’s me. Most Evangelicals, and I would guess most social conservatives, hold Republican views on foreign policy, national security, and economics; Huckabee certainly does. That being the case, why should they walk away from the GOP in a snit over SSM? It doesn’t make sense. That’s why this is an empty threat from Huckabee.
[Note: Please keep your comments confined to the political dynamics of this issue. I don’t want to hear the tiresome old “bigot, bigot, bigot, bigot, bigot” claptrap, or generalized complaining about SSM, and won’t publish those comments. — RD]