The GOP once was a three-legged stool that stood on principles of limited government, a strong national defense and socially conservative values.
Now that Donald Trump is likely the nominee of the Republican Party, socially conservative issues have officially left the conversation. Pro-life, pro-family and pro-conscience issues have moved from the back burner to the trash can.
There is a shrinking but vocal group of advocates who passionately believe principles of righteousness have a role in the public square. Recently we have grown accustomed to sitting at the little kids’ table, hoping that every now and then we could have the ear of movers and shakers and that our resilient constituencies were a big enough voting bloc that we could move the needle just a little bit.
Now the grown-ups are tired of all the fussing. It’s time to go play in the basement so everyone else can get on to what really matters.
Social issues, at least at the federal level, feel like they are on life support. To hope that Trump will be our standard-bearer is like hoping Kentuckians will stop caring about college basketball.
Many may still believe marriage is between a man and a woman, or life begins at conception, or the government shouldn’t punish me if my religion causes me to run my business a certain way – many may still check “yes” when polled about these issues. But in the end, those concerns didn’t matter enough to affect their choice at the ballot box.
Nominees are a mirror of the electorate. Republicans have selected who they are, and the GOP is now a party where socially conservative values don’t even play second fiddle.
The Republican Party has fundamentally changed its identity, perhaps forever.
When a three-legged stool loses a leg, it will fall.
Rick Hardison is a Georgetown pastor who serves on the Public Affairs Committee of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.