The Republicans talk a lot about “traditional values,” “protecting the sanctity of marriage” and “defending the unborn,” and they have done a good job building a coalition of voters around divisive, social issues since the 1960s.
Social conservatives, who have stood by the Republican Party even as many of them have been directly impacted by job losses, deindustrialization and the erosion of the tax base are being duped. The Republican Party succeeds in winning social conservatives because it speaks their language, not because it offers them anything in particular as far as policy goes.
Take the Republican Party’s insistance that it will “protect family values” and “defend the institution of marriage.” Republican policies actually don’t do anything to lower the divorce rate or improve the fortunes of America’s families.
If anything, American families have taken a beating since the Republicans assumed majority party status in the late 1960s. The divorce rate has skyrocketed, with nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce. Most married couples who divorce cite financial problems as the reason for doing so. Policies that make it harder for families to make ends meet, such as a refusal to raise the minimum wage, increasing taxes on the lower end of the economic spectrum and cutting back on social services that help families don’t make for strong families. Banning same-sex marriage, another frequent Republican talking point, isn’t going to help American families. What will? Good jobs with good wages.
The GOP often plays up their sterling record on restricting abortion rights – a record, it should be noted, includes almost no legislation that actually restricts access to abortion, coupled with policies that actually make the number of abortions go up. Pro-life platitudes sound nice, but the Republicans don’t really live up to them, especially when you consider that in addition to being “pro-life,” the Republicans have no issue with sending American troops to die in pursuit of imaginary weapons of mass destruction or the death penalty. What would really reduce the number of abortions? Universal health care and access to childcare for young mothers would markedly reduce the number of abortions preformed.
Social conservatives – you’ve got nothing to lose but your chains this November. The Republicans don’t represent you, they represent their wealthy base that sees you as nothing more their own “useful idiots” every four years.
Column by Devin Griggs, opinion editor. Devin serves as vice president of finances for the Murray State College Democrats.