In a piece published today at National Review, The Heritage Foundation’s Ryan T. Anderson joined a growing group of prominent conservative voices sounding the alarm on a major issue for the movement: the increasing disparity in political spending and activity on social issues, such as religious liberty, between the Left and the Right.
Religious liberty has been defended almost exclusively by lawyers, pastors, academics, and other people at 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. As Maggie Gallagher has noted numerous times, social conservatives have largely ignored actual politics. We talk about politics and we litigate to keep the courts from deciding issues against us, but we rarely engage in the actual electoral and political process.
Only one side has flexed political muscle. As Mike Pence will tell you, big business will make it painful for an elected official to do the right thing on these issues. We need 501(c)(4)s, PACs and super PACs, 527s, and other organizations to engage in direct political action, supporting bills and politicians that are good for religious liberty and opposing those that do it harm. What the Susan B. Anthony List has done for the pro-life cause we need done for religious liberty.
The National Pulse’s Terry Schilling made a similar case last month in response to news that the radical pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign was preparing to spend $26 million in 2018, far surpassing any planned political expenditures on the conservative side:
Americans, by and large, don’t support transgender insanity, let alone understand it. They don’t want their kids learning about homosexuality or transgenderism in school. They don’t want their kids sharing showers with members of the opposite sex. And they don’t think people should be forced to participate in same-sex weddings against their religious beliefs.
But that will soon change if conservatives retreat and allow the LGBT lobby to make dissent from their radical agenda illegal. Think this is far-fetched? It’s happening right now through deceitful Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) legislation.
Conservatives need a political response to HRC. $26 million is a lot of money and will do a lot of damage — if left unanswered. And let’s be clear: even economic conservatives ought to be concerned, since the conservative movement as a whole is likely to suffer should the Left have its way in this fight.
So, will conservatives step up to the challenge?
Schilling’s question, as of yet, remains unanswered.
One thing is certain, however: if conservatives do not ramp up their involvement in the political sphere, they should not be surprised when political leaders, even those ostensibly friendly to their cause, cast them and their concerns aside once in office. Without institutions to hold these leaders accountable, it would be naïve to expect otherwise.
Photo credit: Erik Hersman via Flickr, CC BY 2.0