Steele's Contradictions Continue to Hurt GOP

We join Republicans across the country who held hope that the new RNC Chair, Michael Steele, would steer the GOP back to the true big tent that would attract more voters. His candid comments in a recent GQ article upheld the real Republican limited government ideal that personal choices should be left to families and individuals. Unfortunately it seems like this moment of clarity and progress for the GOP was short lived when, in less than 24 hours, Steele rescinded his comments and reverted to the old failed strategy of pandering to a vocal minority.

Views on abortion are not monolithic in the GOP. A 2008 RMC/National Research Inc. poll showed that the majority of Republicans remain committed to protecting personal choices. 70-percent of Republican voters agreed that women should have access to the full range of reproductive choices: education, contraception, motherhood, adoption, and abortion.  66-percent of Republicans who describe themselves as pro-life also believe that a woman should make the decision to have an abortion, not the government, showing a clear distinction between being personally pro-life and still believing the government should not control family and personal decisions.  The same polling shows that the vast majority 74-percent of Republicans do not support the exclusionary platform promoted by the social fundamentalists that calls for a Constitutional Amendment banning abortion.

Mr. Steele’s initial comments about individuals having the right to choose and the majority of Republicans respecting 'life' were right on.  The two thoughts are not mutually exclusive. Pro-choice Republicans, like those who call themselves pro-life, hold a deep respect for life and do not want to promote abortion.  We simply want women and families to be armed with all the information available, have access to their choices and the ability to decide what is best for their family.  This is the true conservative position and calling for a Constitutional Amendment banning the right to choose is an example of big government at its worst.

Steele’s recent statements on the appropriateness of changing the Constitution shows contradiction that are too prevalent in the GOP.  When addressing support for traditional marriage he stated, "Just as a general principle, I don’t like mucking around with the Constitution” and  “I don’t think we should be, you know, dancing around and trying to amend it every time I’ve got a social issue or a political issue or a business issue that I want to get addressed.”  Then he championed support for a Constitutional Amendment for a 'social issue' that would ban the right to choose in every instance even for victims of rape and incest.

The GOP seems to be continuing the practice of wanting things both ways.  On the one hand, GOP leaders promote our history as the Party of limited government and personal freedom, yet they consistently promote big government intrusion in our pocketbooks and our personal lives. It is this type of duplicitous agenda that has damaged our brand and caused the massive distrust from the American voters. Pandering to the demands of social fundamentalists, who call for 100 percent allegiance to their extreme agenda, will not only hurt Chairman Steele’s attempts to broaden the appeal of the GOP, it will lead the Party to a permanent minority and loss of the ability to lead of vital issues.

Chairman Steele should follow his initial instincts to promote personal freedom and know that the views of a majority of Republicans far outweigh those of social extremists in our Party.