Democratic candidates for state-level offices across the country think they have found the wedge issue that will win them the election: the LGBT agenda.
Newsmax is reporting that Democrats in North Carolina and Indiana are targeting GOP lawmakers in tough campaigns by charging them with “bigotry.”
“An unprecedented number of North Carolinians are fed up with Gov. McCrory’s partisan political agenda, and voters are ready for a leader who will put the interests of all North Carolinians first,” North Carolina gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said recently.
Cooper has also repeatedly lambasted incumbent Governor Pat McCrory over North Carolina’s law regarding transgender bathroom access.
In Indiana, it is much the same story. Democratic candidate John Gregg is attacking Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb’s positions on social issues, tying him to Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“You really can’t distinguish on paper between Holcomb and Pence. They both support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and discrimination against the LGBT community,” Gregg told The Wall Street Journal last week.
It is likely the Republican establishment response would be to implement a “truce strategy” of deflecting or ignoring the Democrats’ criticism. But instead of buckling to pressure from the social left and running away from social issues, Republican candidates like McCrory and Holcomb ought to fight to frame the debate in a way that favors their positions.
When Alexander Hamilton and James Madison were fighting to implement the U.S. Constitution in 1787, they were quick to claim the label “federalist” for themselves. They knew that if they presented their arguments in a positive, persuasive way, the public would ultimately side with them.
Conservative candidates ought to do something similar. Rather than retreating from legislation like RFRA or North Carolina’s bathroom law, conservatives should return to the positive defenses of religious liberty the Founders articulated.
Turning tail and heading home because Democrats are calling conservatives “bigots” or screaming about “the right side of history” will not endear candidates to voters, no matter what top-level party officials say. In fact, voters want leaders willing to fight for transcendent moral truths, not candidates who back down the first time they come under fire.
Indeed, conservatives should see this barrage of new attacks from the far left as an opportunity to defend their beliefs.
Michael Lucchese works for the American Principles Project.