Huffpost Politics
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Howard Barbanel Headshot

GOP Needs to Get Out of the Moralizing Business or Face Irrelevance on Both Coasts

Posted: Updated:

In many respects there is a fundamental contradiction in logic that pervades a huge chunk of the Republican Party. At their convention there was no end of talk about freedom of this and freedom of that along with freedom from this and that. Yet there is one aspect of the GOP that is not in alignment with all of this and those are the areas of personal status - abortion and same-sex marriage. The GOP wants to ban both of these things. This is incompatible with advocating for all the other kinds of unbridled freedoms that are at the core of their "less government" philosophy.

I've written before that the government ought not be in the marriage business at all. Government shouldn't be sanctifying any kind of intimate interpersonal relationships. Let folks sign civil property contracts and then have any ceremonies they want, free of government permission or registration. Government registration and certification of marriage is a throwback to the centuries in Europe where there was no separation whatsoever between church and state. Why is it the government's business who you're living with and single folks should not be discriminated against in matters of income tax rates.

Additionally, abortion is the law of the land and it will take a constitutional amendment to overturn it (which is highly unlikely to pass most of the states) and even if that happened, individual states could still legalize it, as New York did before Roe vs. Wade. Given that, the GOP should not get into that debate. Thankfully, Mitt Romney is at least a moderate on the issue.

For the GOP to become a true majority party, it needs to get out of the business of prissy Puritanism or any kind of religiously-tinged compulsory behavior and let grown-ups decide these things for themselves. Religious people won't get many abortions or see a lot of Gay marriages. Secular people will. Live and let live. The GOP needs to be the party of personal freedom, not just of economic liberty. A party focused on fiscal, defense and foreign policy issues has a real shot at an enduring majority. Inserting oneself into peoples' bedrooms is a losing proposition - all the more so when one considers that this obsessive fixation with personal status issues is a complete non-starter for many Americans in the big cities and along both coasts. At one time, the heartland compelled the cities and the coasts on a supposed moral issue, that of Prohibition of alcohol. That wasn't such a resounding success.

Most Republicans know in their heart of hearts that any attempt to compel a sizeable chunk of America to change their personal life choices will fail. It's time for the GOP to face-up to the realities of our time and drop religious and moral restrictions like a hot potato. Otherwise the GOP will remain a party of the Sunbelt and Midwest, with no chance whatsoever to be viable on both coasts.

Register To Vote