Religious liberty is where the real fight is, specifically the degree to which religious institutions and individuals will have the freedom to practice their beliefs without running afoul of civil liberties for gay men and women. This is where having a friendly administration matters most to religious and social conservatives. And this is an area where religious and social conservatives are in the most danger of being bamboozled by the GOP Establishment.
Why? Every single one of the GOP candidates will say the right thing (from a social conservative point of view) on religious liberty. But will they deliver? Don’t you believe it. The Indiana RFRA fight was the Waterloo of social conservatives. Big Business has come down decisively on the side of gay rights, and forced Gov. Mike Pence and the state GOP lawmakers to back down. They forced Gov. Asa Hutchinson in Arkansas to back down. As I cannot repeat often enough, I was told last fall by multiple sources in a position to know that the Congressional Republicans have no intention of making religious liberty an issue going forward. For one thing, they don’t want to be called bigots, and for another, the donor class is against it. I don’t doubt that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz (at least) would like to protect religious liberty, but I am convinced that they are too beholden to the donor class to do anything more than make speeches.Share
That brings us to Donald Trump. He has said publicly that he will make protecting religious liberty a priority. Does he mean it? I have no idea, and you don’t either. He is no religious conservative. But he is a populist who doesn’t care what the donor class thinks, because he is not indebted to them. It is reasonable to think that religious liberty stands a better chance with Trump in the White House than any other Republican. (Read more.)