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Friday, November 09, 2012

GOP's Brad Cummings: GOP Must Listen To The People On Social Issues.



Brad Cummings | GOP must listen to the people on social issues

It was about seven years ago that I witnessed an expression of love and devotion that has forever moved me. A dear friend had experienced complete kidney failure and needed an immediate organ donor. Without hesitation, his partner risked his own life to donate one of his two working kidneys. While I don’t see them much anymore, I know both have been given a clean bill of health. I still get choked up thinking about this story.

And yet, despite unequivocally expressing their love, these two cannot be celebrated equally with the many married couples in our society simply because they are of the same sex. The GOP must understand how important that inequality is to so many in our electorate.

Before this most recent Election Day, I believed that while gay marriage is an important issue, most people vote with their pocketbooks first. Logically, the Romney/Ryan ticket would have broad appeal, especially in this time of economic malaise. Mitt Romney, the turnaround artist, was a man uniquely created and placed here for this time in history.

And the exit polls show that most people agreed. Romney won on economic issues across the board and the American desire for smaller government was clearly communicated. But despite these advantages, the Republican nominee lost. Our country is shifting center/left on social issues. I miscalculated, and so did many others, by believing that when the ship is sinking social issues become less important.

But after some reflection, I see the error in that thinking. If the Southern Democrats of the 1860s or 1950s and 1960s, who were supportive of racist stances from segregation to slavery, were also the party of smaller government, I too would have had to vote against my economic ideals. Americans prefer limited government but not at the expense of limited social freedoms.

I also wonder exactly what we are fighting so hard to preserve. I’ve been pro-gay marriage for years but also respect that the original basis for marriage came from religious orthodoxy. Every day, I feel blessed to be married to my wife and our marriage grows stronger each year. But exactly how would that change if two men or two women held the same societal status?

The legalization of gay marriage wouldn’t force churches that disagree with homosexuality to perform marriage ceremonies or infringe on the rights of heterosexual couples. Marriage in our society has become a social contract first and should not be legally restrained through religious eyes. As a wise man once said to his followers, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” I’m a follower of that man, but with the tax advantages and other benefits given to married couples in the United States, not allowing gay couples to participate immediately makes them a second-class citizenry.
But it’s not just the anti-gay marriage stance likely hurting Republicans in the future. While most people say they are pro-life personally, it is a simple reality the majority of Americans also want the option preserved and women especially find this to be a top priority. Personally, I find abortion as a form of birth control to be a sad and immoral act, while supporting the common exceptions of rape, incest and life of the mother. I tried to embrace a pro-choice stance in my youth, but could never get around the idea it’s ending a life. Despite this, sometimes you have to realize you are in the minority and work from within the existing realities.

Is my time better spent fighting a losing battle trying to end abortion in the United States and therefore risk losing every foreseeable national election? Or would I be better served to encourage other choices for unwanted pregnancies and not let this single issue derail the rest of my political ideology? It’s a tough one to swallow, but Republicans need to begin to ask themselves these difficult questions.

And then there’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room — immigration. It is likely Romney’s cake was baked when he was forced so far to the right on immigration in the primary. Hispanics went 75 percent for President Obama in 2012. I don’t like blanket amnesty, but we must find some solution that shuts off the easy flow of illegal immigrants while not booting 12 million people from our country. Mass deportation is just not realistic. If the GOP continues to lose the Hispanic vote at this rate, we can kiss the future of our party goodbye. It’s just that simple.

I see this election as a chance for the GOP to reform socially by listening to the American people and coming back better than ever. The 2016 bench is quite strong and gives all conservatives a reason to be hopeful into the future. Until then, if you need me, I’ll be working on my homemade Rubio 2016 yard sign.

Cummings, of Louisville, is president of The Paulick Report, which covers thoroughbred horse racing and industry news, and is the former chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. Write to him at bradford.cummings@gmail.com

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