Social + Economic = Winning Conservative Strategy
Religion & Liberty Online

Social + Economic = Winning Conservative Strategy

strategyThe American Principles Project (APP) released a new report yesterday that marshals data showing a majority of Americans support policies held by social conservatives. The document challenges the existing “truce model” and puts forward a case for integrated conservatism. APP argues that social issues are winning issues, and that a winning economic message must address the concerns of middle-class voters.

It’s not only a winning strategy for conservatives, but as Ryan Anderson says, advancing such a unified governing agenda is the principled thing for Americans to do:

Public opinion polls on marriage show challenges with the younger generation, of course. But there is no reason to think conservatives cannot rise to the occasion and meet the challenge. After all, the only way to guarantee a political loss is to sit idly by. We should frame our message, strengthen coalitions, devise strategies, and make the case for marriage. Persistent, winsome witness tends to produce good fruit, as it has in the pro-life cause.

Meanwhile, the APP report suggests that conservatives need to do more to explain how our economic policies will help all Americans, but particularly middle-class and low-income Americans. It is a mistake to think that the 2012 election results were primarily the result of conservative stances on social issues articulated by the candidates. A careful look at polling data suggests that we must find better ways of explaining why our economic policies will better serve the poor and middle class.

So, too, the conservative movement should continue to stand on principle with respect to social issues. We must be prudent, measured, and persistent in making the case for why socially conservative policies will lead to a better America. We should present an “Indivisible” conservative vision while forming new coalitions and expanding support for these fundamental ideas.

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Joe Carter

Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).