With John McCain lagging behind Barack Obama in the polls, pundits are already preparing an autopsy for the McCain-Palin campaign.
As they discuss the future of the Republican Party, 62 percent of evangelicals—nearly a quarter of the electorate—identify themselves with the party. Christianity Today spoke with Ross Douthat, a senior editor at The Atlantic magazine, about where evangelicals will fit in the future of the party. He is the coauthor of Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.
What was wrong with the old party, and what do you propose?
We talk a lot about family breakdown and things that government policy can do to make it easier to get married and stay married. We sort of go through issues and say, "Let's take another look at health care, education, immigration." Are there things conservatives can say, that don't sound like the same old song?
Where do you see the Republican Party headed?
There's every reason to think that Obama is going to win. Conservatives are going to have to head into a long series of ideological fights within the party.
There are a lot of theories of where conservatism went wrong over the past six to eight years. One of the more popular theories especially, I think, on the East and West coasts of the United States, is that the problem is that the party is ad hoc to its evangelical base. Our book is arguing that social conservatism, broadly understood, should be the bedrock of conservatism in America.
That doesn't mean that socially conservative politicians shouldn't recognize that some issues are more likely to be winning issues than others. For instance, if you ask me to predict, I would say that abortion will continue to be a central issue ...1