Deccember 6, 2013 (FRC) – The only thing that belongs under a “big tent” is a circus. And that's apparently what Republican leaders are aiming for. Unfortunately for conservatives, the GOP's latest sideshow comes at the expense of the party's greatest opportunity: capitalizing on America's disgust for ObamaCare. While Democrats try to change the subject from their epic failure, Republican leaders seem intent on helping them out by splitting the party over controversial candidates. The timing couldn't be worse for an internal spat, as polling shows the public moving conservatives' way on a host of issues. Making matters worse, it's a debate the party doesn't need to have.
The tension started earlier this year, when House leadership started throwing its weight — and significant money — behind two activist homosexual candidates. Understandably, that bothered conservatives like Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), who refused to give his party a pass. “GOP leaders can do whatever they want to do” in donating to gay Republicans, he said, but they shouldn't force other members to contribute through the funding arms like the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC).
While Forbes has been blasted for his comments, he knows — as well as we do — that this debate is about a lot more than someone's sexual preference. While we reject the false dichotomy of private and public morality, I — like most Americans — would rather not know about a person's bedroom habits. That's not the issue for Rep. Forbes. What he cares about –and what the GOP should too — is whether these candidates will abide by the party's platform.
When Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was asked if his party could support an openly homosexual candidate, he replied, “I do.” But the real question isn't whether the GOP would support an openly homosexual candidate, but whether it would support an openly homosexual activist who has sought to redefine marriage and undermine religious freedom. At the end of the day, conservatives and homosexual activists cannot coexist in a movement predicated on virtues that pre-date positive law. If there is a litmus test, it should be on ideology.
Instead, the NRCC and Republican Establishment are so desperate to beat the opposition that they'll sacrifice core principles to try. And here's the irony: that weak-kneed approach is what turns voters off. “Our decisions on the Republican nominees we support will not be based on race, gender, or sexual orientation,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), chair of the NRCC, “but will be based on the strength of their candidacy and their ability to defeat Democrats.” Translation: the GOP will throw its support behind any candidate they believe can win, even it means throwing the party's stated principles overboard.
The two men Randy Forbes questioned, Carl Demaio (California) and Richard Tisei (Massachusetts), not only reject the GOP platform on marriage and life — but will actively work to undermine them. These are basic fundamental values that shouldn't be up for debate. After all, what's the purpose of the Republican platform if the party isn't looking for candidates who uphold it?
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Rep. Forbes is right to object. If the GOP won't oppose liberals, the least it could do is stop funding them. Of all the differences between the two parties, this is one of the most significant. Democrats demand allegiance to their ideology, accepting nothing less than 100% devotion to their radical agenda — while the GOP is willing to lower its standards and support candidates based on nothing but the “R” after their name. Does that mean the Republican Party should agree on everything? Absolutely not. There's a wide range of views in the GOP on everything from tax policy to health care reform. But it's one thing to have a difference of opinion on strategy and quite another to have a different set of ideals and guiding principles.
The Establishment likes to talk about expanding “the tent.” But you can't build a bigger tent if someone is sawing down one of the poles. In this case, that pole is a collection of social values that are essential to solving the problems America is facing. Liberals understand that elections are about more than defeating the opposing party; they're about advancing core principles. If only Republicans got that.
Reprinted with permission from FRC