How are Democratic voters like Jesus?

A leading voice of Republican social conservatives in Iowa makes a surprising analogy in an op-ed piece from Tuesday’s Des Moines Register:

Jesus Christ, whom many Republicans claim to follow, summoned his followers to be either hot or cold toward Him, because a “lukewarm” commitment makes Him want to vomit. I believe this accurately reflects the mood of voters in the past several elections where Republicans have witnessed consecutive defeats.

We have followed the misguided advice of “experts” to abandon our principles and move to the middle so we can supposedly win. In essence, we have become “lukewarm” on life, on marriage, on the Second Amendment, on limited government, on balanced budgets, on lower taxes, on parental rights in educating and raising children, on faith, on family and on freedom. The net result is that voters have spit us out of their mouths. […]

The “elite” politicos and Iowa’s dwindling Republican establishment are now convening committees and strategy sessions to advise their “flock” to abandon the party’s principles and move even further to the middle if they hope to win again. The voter sees and tastes the “lukewarm” and compromising attempts to gain positions and power. The result is no trust, and the voter, like Christ, wants to throw up.

If Republicans are to win again, they must authentically embrace their core principles and effectively communicate a compelling message of bold-color conservatism that inspires faith, family and freedom.

That is no fringe politician talking. It’s Bob Vander Plaats, a businessman from northwest Iowa who ran for the 2002 gubernatorial nomination, was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2006, and chaired Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign in Iowa.

If you click the link and read the whole piece by Vander Plaats, you won’t find any opinion poll data backing up his assertions about why Iowa voters have been rejecting Republicans.

National polling shows that the electorate as a whole thinks Republicans lost the 2006 and 2008 elections because they were too conservative. At the same time, Republicans are more likely to reach the same conclusions as Vander Plaats: their party is losing because its candidates have not been conservative enough.

I’ll be honest: I’d be happy to see the Republican Party of Iowa embrace Vander Plaats’ faith-based political strategy. I suspect that’s a path toward further losses for the GOP in 2010.

Quite a few GOP legislative candidates who put social issues front and center in their campaigns lost last Tuesday.

Vander Plaats does not name any specific candidates whose moderation allegedly made voters want to throw up. One who drew a lot of fire from the social conservative crowd was Mariannette Miller-Meeks, Republican candidate for the second Congressional district. She was a strong candidate, in my opinion, and it would be ridiculous to argue that she lost for not being conservative enough. This district has a partisan index of D+7. No Republican in the whole country represents a Congressional district with that much of a Democratic lean. Mike Castle of Delaware is the only one who comes close, and he is not a religious conservative firebrand.

The Vander Plaats piece is further evidence of the deep split in the Republican Party of Iowa. It won’t be easy to heal under any circumstances, but especially not if social conservatives insist on driving their party off a cliff.

  • Social conservatives?

    Don’t get disoriented by the J-word.  Vander Plaats mentioned as many fiscal issues as he did conservative ones.

    • but being fiscally conservative is not enough

      Otherwise John McCain could have picked a running mate like Kay Bailey Hutchison or Christie Whitman. The only reason he couldn’t pick experienced Republican women like that was the social conservatives reject anyone who is less than 100 percent with them on abortion.

      • Which also lends itself

        to the theory that remaining true to conservative principles is what wins elections for Republicans.

        McCain is known for his centrist stances.  Were it not for Palin, he would have really taken a beating.

        • honestly, I disagree with you

          But I suppose I would, because I was raised by a Rockefeller Republican in the Jim Leach mold. He is no longer living, but a number of his friends who are lifelong Republicans, now in their 60s and 70s, voted for Obama.

          Republicans need to nominate candidates who are a good fit for the district or the state as a whole. I think ragbrai08 is right—there are a lot of fiscally conservative but socially moderate voters who are turned off by the Vander Plaats style.

          By the way, I know a 60-something Republican who voted for Culver in 2006 (her first vote ever for a Democrat for governor), solely because Vander Plaats was Nussle’s running mate.

    • I have a different take on this

      Note where Vander Plaats chose to take this Op Ed.  He’ll talk about it on the stump, for sure, but he chose to make his case in the Des Moines Register — to the conservatives, the Red Star, Pravda, the paragon of the liberal elite media in Iowa.  What this actually reflects is not so much a change in the conservative message (that their message doesnt evolve is a source of pride for them) but rather an admission that the method of delivery has to change.  As Kerry rather lamely observed after his ‘04 loss, there is a new communications structure in America.  The GOP was on the wrong end of it this time and its dawning on them that sermons the Sunday before the election and anti-abortion fliers in church parking lots combined with AM radio firebrands will not be enough anymore.  They are flailing most for a WAY to communicate with moderates who have tuned out the sources of their message delivery.  Their only hope is to turn up the heat on the culture wars so they can get back into the mainstream media.  It will take a while and will be interesting to watch.  

  • Love ya, Bob!

    Please run for Governor in 2010, alright?

    The state GOP, if they collectively had half a brain, would see that they did the best in the statehouse races this year with very centrist candidates like Walt Rogers and Nick Wagner.

    My hunch is that the future of the Republican party, in the near term, lies in being “libertarian-lite”. Fiscal conservative, small government, pro-family, law and order, stay out of my business, ect. If they want to know where the future of the party lies, they should look at David Cameron in Britain and Stephen Harper in Canada…instead of trying to dig up Jerry Falwell and Ronald Reagan.

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