Here's a Great Story about Republican Strategy

[Content Note: War on agency; homophobia; classism.]

"Will Republicans mute the culture war in 2016?" Right from the headline, you know this is going to be a terrific story, because it's always neat, ahem, to hear about how the Republican party is debating whether to openly advocate their bigotry but never, ever, about whether to stop pursuing bigotry as policy.
Kindred spirits on many issues, Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, nonetheless find themselves at the center of an escalating dispute over social policy that could spill into the 2016 presidential primary.

Paul, who has been pushing the GOP to broaden its appeal, said last week that Republicans may need to mute the culture war to avoid alienating moderate, younger voters.

"I think that the Republican Party, in order to get bigger, will have to agree to disagree on social issues," he told "The Republican Party is not going to give up on having quite a few people who do believe in traditional marriage. But the Republican Party also has to find a place for young people and others who don't want to be festooned by those issues."

Paul's suggestion echoed then-Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels' 2011 proposal of a "truce" on social issues, which was roundly criticized by religious conservatives. And right on cue, Cruz, who has built a reputation on criticizing fellow Republicans for impure thoughts, pounced on Paul's suggestion.

"I am a fiscal conservative, I am a social conservative," Cruz told the Des Moines Register when he was asked about Paul's remarks. "There are some who say the Republican Party should no longer stand for life. I don't agree with that. There are some who say the Republican Party should no longer stand for traditional marriage. I don't agree with them either. I think we should continue to defend our shared values."
The thing I love most about this debate, such as it is, is that Republicans already "mute" their rhetoric on the culture war, by using bullshit turns of phrase like "stand for life" and "stand for traditional marriage," instead of straightforwardly saying "oppose reproductive rights" and "limit reproductive choice" and "deny women and others their agency and bodily autonomy" and "advocate forced birth" and "oppose same-sex marriage equality" and "entrench straight privilege" and "treat gay/bi people like second-class citizens." I mean, if they have the conviction of their positions, why not be honest about them?

I don't parse my positions. I'm pro-abortion. They oughta be principled enough to say "I'm not in favor of letting women make choices about their own reproduction, and, despite my claims about smaller government and individual liberty, I believe the government should dictate what pregnant people are allowed to do with their bodies."

But they aren't. So we're left with this bullshit frame about whether they'll "mute" their social policies as if they're not already muted by dishonest spin-talk.
It's not just Cruz and Paul staking out some early terrain on the 2016 landscape. Other potential candidates have also recently offered some thoughts on the role of cultural issues in the next presidential race.

...Even Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., who has had a combative relationship with hardcore conservatives, recently burnished his culture war credentials during a speech before the Conservative Political Action Committee, noting that he was the first anti-abortion governor elected in New Jersey since the Supreme Court effectively legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade.

"When we say that we're pro-life and that we're proudly pro-life, that doesn't mean that we're pro-life just when that human being is in the womb," Christie said. "We need to be pro-life when they leave the womb as well, for every step of their lives."
Unless they've got a womb. And/or are gay/bi. Then fuck 'em, eh, Christie? Because, not for nothing, but forcing pregnant people to seek unsafe abortions risks their safety and lives, and dehumanizing gay/bi people for political expediency risks their safety and lives. Being anti-choice and homophobic are not neutral positions; they result in harm. To living human beings.

Which is why whether Republicans talk about these positions is really not the issue. The issue is that they hold them at all.

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