The New, Improved GOP Includes Social Conservatives, Excludes Libertarians

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Jennifer Rubin, the ostensibly “conservative” columnist for The Washington Post, raged at social conservatives yesterday for attacking Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson. As Danny Cannon wrote for The Pulse 2016 yesterday, Johnson is not remotely conservative, but nevertheless, Rubin, a staunch libertarian in GOP clothing, has written glowingly about him on multiple occasions.

Rubin opens with a completely false premise:

Social conservatives, more than any segment of the Republican Party, have suffered a grievous blow this presidential cycle. They have proved themselves entirely powerless to stop the impending nomination of a thrice-married, lying casino operator with no affection for their issues (e.g. defunding Planned Parenthood, reversing gay marriage).

The idea that Donald Trump has “no affection” for social conservative issues is absurd. Trump has aligned himself with social conservatives from the very moment he began his presidential campaign. He has promised to specifically appoint “pro-life” judges to the Supreme Court — something no other GOP nominee has ever done — and he has pledged to support pro-life legislative priorities, such as signing a ban on abortions after 20 weeks and defunding Planned Parenthood.

He also promised to support efforts to protect religious freedom. Trump sent American Principles Project a letter last December promising to sign the First Amendment Defense Act into law, important legislation which would protect gay marriage dissenters from government persecution.

Trump has also been great on other issues social conservatives care about. He has repeatedly voiced support for traditional marriage. And here’s a big one — he has promised to end Common Core and return control over education to parents and local communities.

So, to borrow a phrase from Sen. Marco Rubio, let us “dispel this fiction” that social conservatives were hurt by the nomination of Trump. If anything, Trump is proving himself to be the best GOP nominee for social conservatives since Ronald Reagan. Trump understood that social conservatives would prove to be a critical part of his new GOP coalition, and he fully committed to them from the very beginning of his campaign.

Jennifer Rubin’s distaste for social conservatism and love of all things Libertarian is blinding her to our new Trumpian reality — libertarians, not social conservatives, are the constituency Trump left behind.

Where does Trump stand with libertarians?

Libertarians suffered the “grievous blow” this cycle, not social conservatives. Just a few short years ago, with the growing national profiles of Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), the Republican Party appeared to be having a Libertarian Moment™. Now that Trump is the nominee and de facto leader of the party, that moment has clearly come and gone.

But social conservatism? Social conservatism is still very much alive and well.

Jon Schweppe is the Communications Director for American Principles Project. Follow him on Twitter @JonSchweppe.