Starting today former GOP golden boy Ralph Reed is hosting the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual Road to Majority Conference. Just like CPAC this a big annual event for the any GOP Presidential candidate. Building early support with Conservative Christians is critical to winning states like Iowa, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri, Indiana, Colorado and the list goes on and on.
But this is also a critical time for groups like Reed’s. As a child of the 90’s I remember when the Christian Coalition (the predecessor to the Faith and Freedom Coalition) was the big dog in GOP politics. Especially in 1996 they had all of the candidates (except Arlen Specter) kissing their rings (and something else) and were even able to get Congress and President Clinton to support the Defense of Marriage Act. And no doubt they’re still a big player but things have changed plenty since 1996.
First, an energized libertarian movement is coming along to challenge them for supremacy. While I think Libertarians are extremely overrated politically, how candidates talk about things like drug legalization and gay rights during the GOP primary will show who is winning this tug of war.
Second, the country has moved to the left on social issues while the FF Coalition has stayed in the same place. In the past year 6 states have legalized gay marriage and polls show a majority now believes gay marriage is inevitable. Added to that two states have legalized marijuana. You can see how this crowd and what they demand of their GOP candidates may be a little out of step with the country.
What does that mean for the GOP? In a word? Virginia. A state where social conservatives dominate the state party has put up a ticket that is most known for controversial stances on hot button social issues and are in danger of blowing what should be a very winnable election.