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The Futile Search for Fiscal Conservative/Social Moderate Holy Grail

Ramesh Ponnuru spots a logic error in Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker’s jeremiad about the GOP’s lack of racial diversity.

Ponnuru writes:

In 90 percent of political commentary, the phrase “social conservatives” means people who oppose abortion and same-sex marriage. Hispanics have been slightly more likely, and blacks much more likely, to be social conservatives by this definition. Social conservatism polls better among both groups than does economic conservatism. … There are a lot of reasons Republicans tend to do badly among minority groups. If there’s any evidence that the party’s social conservatism is one of them, I haven’t seen it.

Precisely.

As frustrated as the Republican National convention left me last week, I have no doubt I’ll be just as turned off this week by the Democrats’ quadrennial shindig, which promises much protestation about abortion, a “war on women,” and contraception. None of this will be intended primarily for racial minorities; it will be aimed at upscale suburban whites.

Both parties’ national conventions should remind us — yet again — that the most underserved segment of the American electorate is the socially conservative economic populists (or fiscal realists, as I would describe myself): the Perotistas. The Buchanan Brigades. The Michael Lindites. They’re manipulated and exploited by Republicans, scorned and hated by progressive Democrats. Decades of Republican Southern Strategizing hasn’t helped either; it bitterly divided socially conservative whites from socially conservative blacks and Hispanics, and reinforced each party’s respective grip on these groups.

This election cycle’s greatest threat to the two-party monopoly came internally, via Rep. Ron Paul’s insurgent campaign of social traditionalism and grain-alcohol economic libertarianism. Then, alas, came Newsletter-gate.

The racial impasse within the big tent of social conservatism is likely here to stay for many years to come.

about the author

Scott Galupo is a freelance writer living in Arlington, Va. In addition to contributing to The American Conservative, he writes for TheWeek.com and reviews live music for The Washington Post. He was formerly a staff writer for The Washington Times and worked on Capitol Hill. He lives with his wife and two children and writes about politics to support his guitar habit.

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