Republicans: Distracted from the Real Issues

Right From the Start

If the Republican Party thinks it is going to defeat Pres. Barack Obama, it better get its act together. Right now it is being led around by the nose by America’s mainstream media (a group that overwhelming supports Mr. Obama) and they are having a field day – particularly during the televised “debates.”

Every national poll indicates that “jobs and the economy” are the most important issues on the minds of America’s voters. But the Republican candidates – at the prompting of the mainstream media and with the support of the hallelujah chorus of the Republicans’ pockets of single issue voters – have virtually abandoned serious discussion of how they would fix the economy and remove the barriers to increased employment. Instead they seize upon the nuances of “social conservatism” to beat the hell out of each other and to pander incessantly to those who are waiting to be offended by the innocent remarks of others.

The latest incident of this is some backwater bigot from Florida – who supports Sen. Rick Santorum – has stated that 22 percent of Americans will not vote for Gov. Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon. Apparently that figure is derived from a Gallup Poll conducted in June of 2011. Of course, the national media and Mr. Santorum’s supporters, focus on the 22 percent who indicate they would not vote for a Mormon instead of the 78 percent who say that they would vote for a candidate who is Mormon.

But here is the rub – and a critical fact that the mainstream media chooses to ignore – there is a critical difference in the resistance to Mormons based on political ideology. The June 2011 Gallup Poll indicates that when you look at the political breakdown of those opposing Mormons you find that among Democrats the figure is 27 percent while among Republicans it is only 18 percent. Religious bigotry among Democrats is fifty percent higher than among Republicans – so much for tolerance among Democrats. (Independents are much more aligned with Republican values on this issue at 19 percent.) Here’s the important part of this. The twenty-seven percent of knuckle dragging Democrats who wouldn’t vote for a Mormon wouldn’t vote for a Republican regardless of his/her religious persuasion. And the eighteen percent of Republicans who wouldn’t vote for a Mormon, aren’t going to vote for Mr. Obama whose religious commitments – according to them – range from Muslim to the antichrist with few stops at Christianity

Just as a side note, when the June Gallup Poll is compared to a December 2007 Gallup poll we see that the opposition from Democrats to a Mormon has grown from 18 percent to the current 27 percent – further proof that “concern” about Mr. Romney’s faith is more about politics than it is about religion.

And one of the more bizarre turn of events in this mudfest over trivia is that many of these social conservatives turn toward Rep. Ron Paul as their preferred choice – apparently unaware that Mr. Paul supports abortion on demand (just so long as the government doesn’t pay for it), abolition of drug laws (just so long as the government doesn’t pay for it), and gay union (just so long as the government doesn’t pay for it).

The fact of the matter is that there is very little difference amongst the Republican field of candidates (with the exception of Mr. Paul) on social issues. All of the candidates would reinstate the ban on taxpayer funded abortions. All of the candidates would effectively dismantle Obamacare and work for its repeal. All of the candidates oppose gay marriage. All of the candidates oppose legalization of drugs. And most importantly, all of the nuances surrounding these issues disappear when any of the candidates are compared to Mr. Obama.

And finally, the polls conducted on issues such as this assume a wide and hypothetical field of choices amongst the respondents. Assuming that there is no significant third party challenge, the choice this November is between two people – Mr. Obama and the Republican nominee. So while all those single issue voters wring their hands over whether Mr. Romney is a Mormon, whether Speaker Newt Gingrich was faithful to his wife, whether Rep. Michelle Bachmann was a submissive wife, whether Sen. Santorum stands for aspirin for contraception, or whether Rep. Ron Paul would leave America’s military might constricted – oops, that is a real issue – the real issues remain jobs and the economy. And on those particular issues Mr. Obama has an abysmal track record.

Despite the focus of the mainstream media on the unemployment numbers in an effort to boost Mr. Obama’s standing on the economy, the fact of the matter is that the unemployment numbers are virtually meaningless because of the significant number of people who have given up looking or who have exhausted their unemployment benefits. The real data on economic growth tracks the number of jobs created and by any measure at any time during Mr. Obama’s three plus years in office that number has either declined or failed to keep pace with the number of new entrants to the job market. The economic recovery remains anemic, the national debts continues to increase at a staggering rate and the only reason that the inflation numbers remain modest is because they refuse to include the price for gasoline or food. It is time to focus like a laser on these issues and these issues alone.

It is way past time for the Republican candidates to continue to curry favor with the mainstream media by pandering to questions and issues that remain divisive amongst Republicans. One only has to remember Sen. John McCain who gained media popularity because of his willingness to stab Pres. George W. Bush in the back at the drop of a hat. But when the race came down to Mr. McCain and a Democrat – any Democrat – those same media personalities turned on him like the biased jackals they are.

I recognize that the Republican candidate’ stump speeches focus on the differences between Republicans and Mr. Obama, but the media attention to the social issues – and the candidates willing participation – has distracted voters from the real agenda. The accusations – real and perceived – on social issues dominate the headlines. The Republican candidates would do themselves and all of us a favor by simply refusing to respond further to these questions and turn the conversation back to what is really important – jobs and the economy.

If Mr. Obama is re-elected, the blame lies largely with the Republican candidates for having let the mainstream media manipulate the agenda.