This Right, That Right, Who’s Right?
So, John Henke warns social-religious conservatives of electoral apocalypse should they excise libertarians:
Social conservatives have to realize that they need the fiscally conservative, socially moderate/tolerant voters if they want to be a part of a winning coalition. The limited government message won revolutionary victories for Republicans in 1980 and 1994; it is the only viable organizing principle for the current Republican coalition.
And Ramesh Ponnuru takes the opposing view:
His point that social conservatives need economic conservatives is well taken. But the reverse is also true, and indeed more true. So, in the bit you quote, he suggests that it was limited government that won the day in 1994, with social conservatives along for the ride. It would oversimplify matters, but be much closer to the truth, to suggest that “God, gays, and guns” powered Republican successes that year—and the “revolution” sputtered out as soon as Republicans touched Medicare.
There’s a group being lost in the back and forth, and I think it’s probably the largest of the three, or at least a sort of right-wing swing vote: social-religious-economic conservatives. We who fall in that category believe in limited government and low taxes, but with the consequence that the government and religion must have a working relationship, as it were, and that laws can and should have a moral component. We also believe, however, that too expansive and invasive a government will ultimately crush the values that we seek to instill in the American people.
We are wary of socially conservative big-government types, but repelled by the libertinism that underlies the libertarian movement. Come election time, we weigh the extremity of both strains in each individual candidate and would suggest that the winning conservative strategy would be to develop and promote a consistent political philosophy that balances the two right wings and doesn’t cede one-half of our agenda to the socially and economically liberal left.