one more time, for good measure: Science and the GOP
Here’s a sentence that is maddening, but potentially important for conservatives:
Although an overwhelming majority of scientists agree that carbon pollution is contributing to global climate change, and virtually all accept that an evolutionary process of natural selection explains the emergence of human life, polls show that most Republican voters second Perry’s rejection of both beliefs.
TRC won’t beat the same drum forever on this issue, but there are too many interesting pieces to read and write about surrounding the science v. not-science argument in the GOP right now (I don’t want to say it is a science v. faith issue, because it really isn’t). Today’s story, The Great Divide, comes from the National Journal. One of the central points it makes probably sounds familiar to Democrats. As this politicking divide between the pro-science Huntsman and not-science Perry continues, the GOP will have the higher educated, elite wing of the party squaring off against the blue-collar, religious wing of the party.
Even so, Huntsman’s championing of science over faith and ideology offers him an opportunity to raise his profile with what his campaign increasingly acknowledges is his natural constituency: the overlapping circles of the party’s best-educated, least religiously devout, and moderate elements. At the same time, Perry’s staunch defense of unwavering hard-right positions on both questions helps him appeal to unvarnished social and economic conservatives as a “battle-tested conservative warrior,” as his campaign described him in a fundraising solicitation this week.
By solidifying those identities, the argument could benefit both men. But, if it persists, their debate could also highlight the differences between the GOP’s college-educated and less devout managerial wing and its more blue-collar and evangelical populist wing. The two camps converge in support for cutting taxes and spending, but differ on cultural questions, sometimes in their views but more in how much they emphasize them.
The GOP is, one might say, at a bit of a political crossroads. The future is going to come, and there are a some things are likely to happen. Evolution will stay the best explanation for the origin of species, climate change will continue to wreak havoc around the globe. Also, taxes will eventually require an increase for some reason or another and marriage equality will continue to spread across the nation. The Republican Party will have to figure out how it will identify itself politically in relation to each of these issues. There are factions of the GOP that dispute the politically central Conservative position on each of these issues, and those groups aren’t going away. But for the sake of the 2012 election, now is probably not the time do air the dirty laundry.
Said Alex Lundry, a Republican voter-targeting expert who is neutral in the 2012 race (though others in his firm TargetPoint work for Mitt Romney)[,] “There are a couple of core debates that need to be had in the next 10 years—over gay rights, immigration and the role of science. But in order for Republicans to win this election, it has to be a referendum on Barack Obama … and his stewardship of the economy. To the extent any debates are had in the party that diverge from that goal, that’s bad.”
If the candidates don’t start talking about policy, and eventually they will, but if somehow Perry overtakes Romney as the front-runner, and continues to wrangle about in agitating the faithful by demeaning science, how can he expect to win a general election? The NJ sees this possibility:
[These arguments] highlight one of the core Democratic hopes for 2012: that Republican positions on social and environmental issues will repel some white-collar suburban voters otherwise economically disenchanted with President Obama.
This is not unfamiliar to the Democrats. Painting too narrow a picture of oneself in the primary usually results in a real picture making one a cartoon. When all is done with the GOP infighting, the winner might just end up like John Kerry, wind-surfing to nowhere.