Should the GOP Double Down on Social Conservatism?

Some interesting comments from David Frum, as the GOP soul-searching and finger-pointing begins: Republicans face fraught choice between two roads to revival.

A generation ago, Republicans dominated among college graduates. In 1984 and 1988, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush won states like California, Pennsylvania and Connecticut – states that have been “blue” for a generation. (America’s least educated state, West Virginia, went for Michael Dukakis in 1988.)

Those days are long gone. Since 1988, Democrats have become more conservative on economics – and Republicans have become more conservative on social issues.

College-educated Americans have come to believe that their money is safe with Democrats – but that their values are under threat from Republicans. And there are more and more of these college-educated Americans all the time.

So the question for the GOP is: Will it pursue them? To do so will involve painful change, on issues ranging from the environment to abortion. And it will involve potentially even more painful changes of style and tone: toward a future that is less overtly religious, less negligent with policy, and less polarizing on social issues. That’s a future that leaves little room for Sarah Palin – but the only hope for a Republican recovery.

This argument makes sense to us, and we’ve been holding forth in our comments on this very topic. If the GOP decides to go in the Bobby Jindal direction (fundamental Christianity, creationism, hard-line anti-abortionism, aggressively anti-gay rights), it will be committing political suicide. As much as anything else, this election was a referendum on the social conservative agenda, and the social conservatives did not win.

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