Let’s begin in North Carolina where Senator Kay Hagan, a Democrat, is very vulnerable. Greg Brannon is the frontrunner for the GOP primary to challenge her. Speaking about Planned Parenthood, Brannon alleged
said we already know abortion is fine, why stop in the womb? Why not three months after? Why should we end the responsibility at that point? It could happen in America. Florida's trying to do it right now and so is Georgia.”
This is not true. One Planned Parenthood lobbyist in Florida, as slow-witted as some Republicans, was asked what a Planned Parenthood physician should do in case an abortion actually results in a live birth. Instead of giving the obvious answer to this no-brainer, she said she’d have to check on the Planned Parenthood position. Planned Parenthood in Florida then stated unambiguously that physicians should “provide appropriate care to both the woman and the infant.”
It’s one thing to oppose government funding of Planned Parenthood and abortions—and much else. It’s another thing to sound like a dogmatic ideologue who will make up anything to smear an opponent in order to pander to potential voters.
Georgian with no mind
Mosey down the Atlantic coast to Georgia and you’ll find Senator Saxby Chambliss, a Republican, retiring and creating an open seat that you’d expect the GOP to easily hold. But the Democrat frontrunner for that seat is Michelle Nunn, the daughter of popular former Senator Sam Nunn. And in the top three of the crowded Republican primary field is U.S. Congressman Paul Broun.
In a video addressing a church audience, Broun asserts
that “God’s word is true. I’ve come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, big bang theory—all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. It’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior.” He went on to assert that the Earth is only about 9,000 years old.
Unbelievably, this ignoramus serves on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
Extreme social conservatives like these two do double damage to the GOP.
First, they tend to lose elections. Both Todd Aikin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana lost Senate races in 2012 in part based on their inane remarks about abortion. And in Virginia, not only did Ken Cuccinelli’s socially-conservative views contribute to his loss in the governor’s race in 2013, E.W. Jackson, the GOP candidate for
lieutenant governor, looked foolish as well for his assertion
(in a book) to the effect that biological evolution is disproven because chimpanzees can’t talk.
Such blinkered, dogmatic, and irrational Republicans scare away not only independent voters but also the emerging class of socially-liberal entrepreneurs that might turn to a pro-free market party if not for such embarrassing candidates.
Second, such extreme social conservatives empower the “let’s just make the welfare state work better” establishment Republicans like Karl Rove who rightly want to see fewer of Brannon and Broun types running under the GOP banner. Compared to such conservatives, even the RINOs can sound reasonable.
The Republicans need to get their priorities straight and focus on the need to roll back the scope of government. They would do well to keep their views on theology to themselves. They’re not running for pope. Only a modernist GOP will be able to succeed in the twenty-first century.
Hudgins is director of advocacy and a senior scholar at The Atlas Society.