Religious Nutjobs To GOP Candidates: Do What We Want Or We’ll Take You Down

Since Friday, and the announced resignation of Speaker of the House John Boehner, Tea Party and religious conservatives have been feeling a resurgence in their power. Now, some in those groups are sending a message to the GOP presidential candidates: give us what we want, or we will take you down.

Christian conservative leader Tony Perkins told the Associated Press:

“You cannot win a primary and then succeed in the general election without having strength within the ranks of social conservative voters.”

The annual gathering of cultural conservatives known as the “Value Voters Summit” attracted somewhere around 2,700 people this weekend, according to the AP. While that number certainly doesn’t represent the total number of Americans who are conservative on social issues, it does call into question whether that voting bloc has the power to influence an election that Perkins seems to think it does.

Perkins says that he hopes the GOP has learned its lesson, and that the party will pick a candidate for 2016 that is more acceptable to the religious right than was John McCain or Mitt Romney. At the present time, the litmus test being applied to candidates is whether they are willing to shut down the government in order to defund Planned Parenthood. All of the Republican hopefuls are in favor of taking away Planned Parenthood funding, but John Kasich and Jeb Bush have said that they would not cause a government shutdown in order to do so. That means that neither of those candidates are acceptable to these ultra-conservatives, who are demanding 100 percent fealty to their point of view.

Bush didn’t even attend the Value Voters Summit, citing schedule conflicts. Perkins didn’t mince words about Bush’s absence. “He needs to do well with this voting bloc,” Perkins said. “He needs all the help he can get.”

There’s no doubt that Perkins and his allies are feeling renewed devotion to their cause following Boehner’s announcement, but they should also be mindful of the saying “Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.” Most voters oppose a government shutdown over the Planned Parenthood issue. Republicans need to remember that the last time there was a government shutdown, voters blamed it on them, not President Obama, as they had hoped.

At the same time Perkins and other religious conservatives were demanding that the GOP candidates march in lockstep with them, a retired newspaper editor from West Virginia wrote an editorial that should give the religious right second thoughts about demanding ideological purity. James A. Haught, editor-emeritus of The Charleston Gazette-Mail, West Virginia’s largest newspaper, wrote an op-ed that points out that on every issue of major importance since the founding of our republic, progressives have won.

Haught offers the following litany of social conservative failures, starting with the fight over slavery.

Conservatives tried to retain slavery, but they lost.

They tried to block voting by women, but they lost.

The tried to prevent couples from using birth control, but they lost.

The tried to obstruct Social Security pensions for oldsters, but they lost.

They tried to outlaw labor unions, but they lost.

They tried to prevent unemployment compensation for the jobless, but they lost.

They tried to keep stores closed on the Sabbath, but they lost.

They banned alcohol during Prohibition, but they eventually lost.

They tried to sustain racial segregation, but they lost.

They supported government-mandated prayer in school, but they lost.

They tried to continue throwing gays in prison, but they lost.

They tried to defeat Medicare and Medicaid, but they lost.

They tried to halt the sexual revolution, but they lost.

They opposed food stamps for the poor, but they lost.

They fought against equal human rights laws, but they lost.

They tried to censor sexy magazines, books and movies, but they lost.

They sought to jail girls and doctors who end pregnancies, but they lost.

They tried to block liquor clubs and lotteries, but they lost.

They tried to prevent expansion of health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, but they lost.

They tried to halt same-sex marriage, but they lost.

By insisting on their “our way or the highway” approach to picking an ideologically pure candidate for Republican voters, Perkins and his lot are virtually ensuring that if Democrats continue to offer a strong alternative, such as a Hillary Clinton or a Bernie Sanders, they and their “values voters” will continue to fail to get their nominees elected. But Perkins may be crazy like a fox. There’s a good case to be made that the gang that controls and manipulates right wing opinion through media such as Fox News actually prefers to be on the outside of power, looking in. Because that is how they make their money.

Featured image via Gage Skidmore/Wikipedia