A Knife to the Throat

Rudy Giuliani could be the death knell of the Reagan Coalition, that successful alliance of economic, defense, and social conservatives forged in the 1976 Republican primary.

In his insurgent campaign against President Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan built the architecture for a durable political coalition of supply-siders, budget hawks, Cold Warriors, law-and-order advocates, welfare reformers, pro-lifers, defenders of the Second Amendment, and others. He integrated these main elements of the post-war conservative intellectual movement into a successful, winning political juggernaut that was, until recently, the Republican Party.

In recent years the social component of the coalition has been augmented by pro-family and pro-marriage advocates, opponents of affirmative action, and the proponents of secure borders and legal immigration.

Giuliani's radical social positions are an affront to most elements of this arm of the GOP and the conservative movement. Some conservatives claim that Giuliani's vague and vaporous statements on the appointment of conservative judges, and his barely audible support of the ban on partial birth abortion, offer evidence of sound instincts sufficient to palliate the concerns of the traditionalist wing of the party.

On abortion, the integrity of marriage, and the Second Amendment, Giuliani puts a stick in the eye of social conservatives. As revealed on YouTube, he is a passionate supporter of the expenditure of taxpayer dollars to destroy unborn children. And he deserves very little credit for summoning the energy to oppose infanticide, which is what the partial birth abortion issue is really about. Even Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the late Democratic Senator from New York, maintained that minimalist position with respect to the right to life.

 But consider the damage Giuliani's nomination and election as president would be to the supporters of marriage, the right to life, and other issues that represent a clear line of demarcation between Republicans and Democrats. His ascendancy to the head of the Republican Party would orphan all these constituencies which have enabled the GOP to reach beyond corporate board rooms, chambers of commerce, and think tanks to embrace a more diverse set of constituencies.

Evangelicals and church-going Catholics have been pummeled by many pundits on the left and a few fellow-traveling Republicans of the old WASP elite. But they represent not only the base of the GOP in the South but an important swing vote in the heartland states in the Midwest including Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. All they have to do is stay home, and the Republicans can bid these key states goodbye.

Even if Giuliani can reconfigure the electoral map by winning California, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey, that is little comfort to the social conservatives who have made the Republican Party their home these past forty years. They will be hopelessly marginalized from the only political vehicle for the defense of marriage and the unborn.

To put it another way, some economic and national defense conservatives may be able to make the calculation that Rudy is their man and standard-bearer. Indeed, Giuliani has some claim to their loyalties based on his record.

But this is not an option for social conservatives. It would be a Faustian bargain without even the assurance of any quid pro quo. If they are shut out of the GOP, they are finished as a force in American politics. This is not a parliamentary democracy. No splinter party or rump organization, centered in traditional values, will have any influence on the nation's two parties.

Rudy Giuliani's candidacy is not only a knife to the throat of the Reagan coalition. It is a lethal threat to social conservatism as a political movement in the United States.

As Sonny said in The Godfather, it may be time for social conservatives "…to go to the mattresses."

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage

  • Guest
    AMEN!!!!  I agree about the danger that this apostate poses for the Repubican Party, the Roman Catholic Church in America and America herself.
  • Guest

    I'll not vote for the smarmy 9/11 coat tail riding guy.  He is not pro-life.  Even if St. Paul himself was his running mate, I'd still vote for who ever the Democrats think is best. 

    GK – God is good!

  • Guest

    Why do people keep giving so much attention to RG when there are other, better candidates that fit the Reagon mold, i.e. Thompson and Brownback.  Don't give Rudy the attention the media is giving him, they just want two liberal candidates running against each other, because they think that would be the greatest thing for America, but we know better.  

  • Guest

    If the race is between Rudy and Hillary (they are very much the same, he is just as glib as she is, and just as willing to conceal what he really stands for in order to get more votes), in that case I will not vote in a Presidential election for the first time since Harry Truman was President.  I like him, but I don't think Brownback has the charisma to win. I would enjoy being wrong. I am praying (and donating) that Thompson is as close to Reagan as he appears to be, and that he is the Republican candidate.  

  • Guest

    Maybe I missed it in the news or something, but last I heard, Thompson isn't even running yet. All he is doing right now is distracting attention away from the confirmed prolife candidates who need it. Let's rally the troops behind someone who is actually in the race.

  • Guest

    The reason that we are giving him (RG) attention is that it seems very clear that a lot of Republican Party leaders are very enthusiastically backing him.  This says a lot about the disdain they have for Catholics, Evangelicals, pro-lifers, family values voters, etc. all of whom are the very ones who backed the party when it needed them BECAUSE the platform of the party was pro-life and pro-family.  Now apparently all of the above are just a nuisance to be gotten rid of in order to push through a “big tent" vision of the Republican Party.  Well, let’s see how big their tent is without Catholics, Evangelicals, pro-lifers, and family values voters.


    In other words the RG problem is not merely over a hypothetical race between him and some Dem next year.  It is a CURRENT problem regarding the direction of the Republican Party and the health of the pro-life movement.

  • Guest

    Thank you Catholic Exchange for the courage to give us excellent pro-life articles, especially when it involves politicians and citizens who are buying into a secular society. 

    Threatening to withhold our vote at the Presidential election is not enough.  It’s time for Catholic voters to raise their concerns (raise hell) with the National elected politicians and their local/State Republican committeepersons.  These key officials hold regular public local forums.  We have access to them…if you try.  Both major political parties hold a National Convention before the Presidential election.  We must protect the Republican pro-life plank.  Let’s not roll over and play dead.

  • Guest


    Recently Fox News bleeped out (with static noise) Rudy G’s respectful response to the statement made by the Bishop of New Hampshire.  Talk about spiritual warfare!

  • Guest

    I didn't see the event, but a friend told me it was an electrical storm outside at the time which generated the static obfuscating RG's response about his position on abortion. The lightning bolt strike apparently caused Sen. McCain to back away from his podium and RG to make a joking remark about it.

    Talk about an act of God.

  • Guest

    In the end, I am neither Republican nor Democrat.  I am Catholic.  There are certain issues that are non-negotiable.  If I have to go outside of the two major parties to find someone I can vote for, than I will.  Some would consider that as "wasting my vote"; I would define "wasting my vote" as voting for Hillary or RG.

  • Guest

    @mkochan: I don't understand your points about Thompson and the Republican party. Can you please explain? The guy isn't even running. If he were running, why would we vote for Thompson when we have a really good prolife Catholic candidate in Brownback?

  • Guest

    Candeo, I don't recall saying anything about Thompson.  He was brought up by another poster.

  • Guest

    @mkochan: That might be why I didn't understand your post. I thought your reply was a in reference to my question. I asked why Thompson is getting so much attention and distracting attention from the prolife candidates who are running. Your first sentence of your reply began, "The reason we are giving him attention is…" Now it makes sense that you were referring to Guiliani. My bad. Thanks!

  • Guest

    I understand how that could happen.  I have added something in parentheses to make it clear.