Presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani made a bold move in May when he revealed his opposition to several key platform issues of the Republican Party.
Speaking before a conservative audience at Houston Baptist University, he admitted he is pro-choice on abortion, supports domestic partnerships for gays, and believes states have the right to regulate gun ownership.
He clarified his position on guns by saying that while a citizen’s right to bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment, he advocates tough gun laws. He stopped short of supporting gay marriages outright, but he believes domestic partnerships for gays should be respected.
It’s too early to tell how this information will ultimately impact Grand Old Party voters, but Giuliani’s call for a more tolerant GOP and his less-than-perfect personal life have not gone unnoticed by the evangelicals or fellow conservatives.
One popular conservative website, freerepublic.com, has banned Giuliani supporters. According to an article in the New York Observer online, the website’s founder, Jim Robinson, said that “Giuliani as the GOP presidential nominee would be a dagger in the heart of the conservative movement.”
Evangelical and Focus on the Family leader James Dobson has also unequivocally denounced Rudy. In his article, “Rudy’s Not the One,” published by World Net Daily online, Dobson writes:
Speaking as a private citizen and not on behalf of any organization or party, I cannot, and will not, vote for Rudy Giuliani in 2008. It is an irrevocable decision. If given a Hobson's — Dobson's? — choice between him and Sens. Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, I will either cast my ballot for an also-ran — or if worse comes to worst — not vote in a presidential election for the first time in my adult life. My conscience and my moral convictions will allow me to do nothing else.
Evangelical voters don’t seem to have an ally in the 2008 presidential race. Many, including Dobson, are praying for Fred Thompson to win the nomination, and they may get their wish.
Giuliani will have a difficult time garnering the GOP nomination as a pro-choice, gay rights, gun control advocate. The former mayor seems to have more appeal with independent and swing voters than with “conservatives,” who are obsessed with the former mayor’s social views.
Philosophical divisions within the GOP have been developing for a while now. A few Republicans — James Taranto, Theodore Dalrymple, Heather MacDonald, Christopher Orlet, and Lou Dobbs, to name a few — are speaking out against the religionists’ faith-based rhetoric. Some resent the evangelicals’ stronghold on the party and question the irrational alliance between religion and politics altogether.
In general, dialogue on religion and separation of church and state has been heating up. Another outspoken critic of religion is author and journalist Christopher Hitchens — a self-proclaimed atheist whose latest book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, is now third on the New York Times Best Sellers list.
For what it’s worth, Hitchens claims Karl Rove is an atheist. All this blasphemy is not sitting well with the party of Faith-Based Initiatives.
Anti-religionists aside, Giuliani’s latest confessions and his loyalty to Republicans bring up interesting questions for the GOP. Will the truth set Giuliani free and still allow him to win the Republican nomination? Or will alienated GOP leaders ostracize him?
If Giuliani continues to lose GOP endorsements, he may do well to run as an independent. He is, after all, leading in many of the primary polls. Giuliani’s reputation as a free market advocate, crime fighter, and hardliner against terrorists may be enough to draw Republican voters to a third-party ticket.
An independent run does have its downsides. Independents are long-shots to win and are likely to split the Republican vote, thereby guaranteeing a Democrat in the White House. However, a socially liberal independent candidate may have the benefit of attracting moderate Democrats and people who simply don’t want to vote for Clinton.
Sen. Chuck Hagel recently hinted he might run as an independent with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently announced his split from the Republican party. According to a report by CNN.com, Sen. Hagel stated “an independent presidential bid would be good for the nation.” Indeed, an independent bid for president may be the best way to resolve the schisms within the ailing party and the country.
In the polling booth, many Republicans of the Goldwater vein will likely be less worried about electing a socially liberal Republican than they will be with electing a socialist Democrat like Hillary Clinton. Given the choice, I think most Republicans would vote for Giuliani — or anyone — over Clinton or Obama.
Ultimately, Giuliani’s risk-taking on the social issues, especially at this level of politics, is likely to help his campaign, even if it costs him the GOP nomination.
Then there is the issue of the war, on which many Republicans are divided. We face a serious threat from Islamic militants who want to unite the Arab world — and any other oppressed groups who will join them — against the West. The rise of Hamas in Palestine, the escalating violence in Iraq, and the continued defiance by Syria and Iran cannot be ignored by the next President.
Most Republicans want a more aggressive war, Iraq as an ally, and total defeat for the terrorist states — while some, like Sen. Hagel and Ron Paul, want deadlines for troop withdrawal and our heads in the sand when it comes to the Middle East. Giuliani, in line with most conservatives, has vowed to “keep America on offense in the Terrorist's War on us.” For voters on all sides, foreign policy is a crucial issue.
On domestic issues, most people understand the GOP historically stands for limited government and lower taxes. They see GOP members as more honest and optimistic, striving for the “shining city on the hill.” They recognize Giuliani’s homage to Reagan, and they see his “12 Commitments to the American People” as an effort to bring old-style conservatism back.
Giuliani has been busy mapping out his plans for change and reform, which he says are based on “the principles of giving people more freedom, more power, and more responsibility over their own lives, while protecting our nation, strengthening our economy, and improving the quality of life.”
Republicans have never stopped wanting a fiscally conservative candidate who will stop out-of-control spending and reduce government controls on the economy. For the Goldwater Republicans, Giuliani has a je ne sais quoi appeal that may have a lot to do with the fact that he says he believes in capitalism and tax cuts.
Most people realize a Democrat in the White House will mean more welfare programs, socialized medicine, and more regulations, which necessarily means higher taxes and bigger government.
Democrats play on fear and suffering to expand government regulation. (It’s expensive to try to control the weather.) They count on a base of poor people who clamor for the handouts they promise.
But cradle-to-grave socialism and eco-regulations don’t appeal to Republicans, nor many Americans, who pride themselves on independence, ingenuity, and their ability to achieve success. They are frustrated by the betrayals of the current administration.
The 2008 elections will be a pivotal event in American history. We may actually see more than two viable presidential candidates, including some wild card independents, up to the final hour.
For a political system that lately has an uncanny knack for churning out clones who promise to act on principles but who end up selling out to special interest groups, I find that extremely hopeful.
Allison Taylor grew up in Alabama and Florida, and studied art history at the University of Florida. These days she studies indexing, writes freelance, and works in a digital media department at Harcourt in Orlando, Florida. Her hobbies include painting, poetry and freshwater aquariums.