There’s been a lot of talk about Republican efforts to repair their image after Mitt Romney’s defeat last year. A lot of talk. We’ve been told that the GOP is eager to reach out to blacks, Hispanics, gays and lesbians—and told just as often how those efforts have failed, miserably.
The basic problem faced by Republican leaders is that their base isn’t actually on very good terms with the kinds of voters the party needs to remain competitive in the coming decades. Their answer to this dilemma so far has been to make a lot of noise about welcoming diversity within the party while giving a wink and a nod to their established constituencies. It’s not a very good strategy, but they really don’t have many options. (See: Comprehensive Immigration Reform, U.S. House of Representatives.)
And that’s why the head of the Republican party, Reince Priebus, felt the need to give an interview to David Brody on Monday. Brody, who works for Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, wanted to know about a USA Today piece titled GOP chairman urges tolerance for views on gay marriage. Priebus was eager to let Brody know it wasn’t like it sounded:
“I don’t know if I’ve used the word ‘tolerance,'” Reince Priebus told David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network Monday. “I don’t really care for that word myself. I don’t have a problem with it, I just think it has another meaning politically that can go the other direction.”
Brody pushed for reassurance that the GOP wasn’t going to give up on its social platform, and got this in response:
“Our principles are sound,” he says. “I do believe and I still will tell you that our party believes that marriage is between one man and one woman. Our party believes that life begins at conception. I think those are foundational issues.
What you will see is a party that embraces life, a party that embraces marriage, and a chairman that understands that there’s only one sovereign God.”
I don’t think this needs a whole lot of commentary. It fairly speaks for itself. It does however underline what we’ve known for a while: Republicans are much less diverse in religious terms than Democrats:
Among Democrats, 28 percent are religious progressives, 42 percent are religious moderates, and 13 percent are religious conservatives; additionally, 17 percent are nonreligious. Among Republicans, a majority (56 percent) are religious conservatives, 33 percent are religious moderates, 5 percent are religious progressives, and 6 percent are nonreligious.
The GOP is sticking with anti-abortion policies and opposition to marriage equality because their base is conservative Christians. It couldn’t be clearer. That’s their right, in more ways than one, but exactly nobody should fall for the idea that they’re going to moderate on social policy any time soon. Priebus just told us they won’t, and he’s pretty clear on why: the party’s going to dance with the one that brung them, now and for a good long while.