The top strategist for John McCain’s presidential campaign spoke today to the Log Cabin Republicans in Washington. He raised alarms about the dire state of the Republican Party, and argued that a continued refusal to recognize the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples would spell further doom for the GOP.
[W]hile I think projections of a political re-alignment are premature based on the results of two elections, I would rather be in the Democrats’ shoes than ours. Their coalition is expanding. Ours is shrinking. Their vote share is increasing among voter segments that are growing. Ours is not. The rapid growth of the Hispanic-American population, for instance, could soon cost Republicans the entire Southwest if we don’t recover our previous share of their vote. Had Senator McCain not been the Republican nominee in 2008, I’m convinced we would have lost Arizona. It’s very hard to see how we put together 270 electoral votes without the Southwest.
As a percentage of the total vote, younger voters didn’t really increase in the last election. But the Democrats’ margin with those voters certainly did. In short, we were crushed by the Obama campaign with voters under 30. President Obama was a uniquely attractive candidate to younger voters, in matters of style as much as substance. And maybe as those voters grow older and acquire greater responsibilities they will develop a better appreciation for Republican values of limited government, fiscal discipline, low taxes and a strong defense. That has happened in the past.
But even if they do, I doubt they will abandon social attributes that distinguish them from older voters; among them, a greater acceptance of people who find happiness in relationships with members of the same sex. And I believe Republicans should re-examine the extent to which we are being defined by positions on issues that I don’t believe are among our core values, and that put us at odds with what I expect will become over time, if not a consensus view, then the view of a substantial majority of voters.
Read the whole speech here. It is worth the time. The heart of his argument on gay marriage is this:
It can be argued, although I disagree, that marriage should remain the legal union of a man and a woman because changing it to admit same sex unions would undermine the most basic institution of a well ordered society. It can be argued according to the creeds and convictions of religious belief, which I respect. But it cannot be argued that marriage between people of the same sex is un-American or threatens the rights of others. On the contrary, it seems to me that denying two consenting adults of the same sex the right to form a lawful union that is protected and respected by the state denies them two of the most basic natural rights affirmed in the preamble of our Declaration of Independence – liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, I believe, gives the argument of same sex marriage proponents its moral force.