“I don’t see how that’s possible,” said Ron Paul in response to a question about whether or not Rick Santorum can win against Barack Obama with a campaign focused on social issues.
Just to clarify Paul’s position here (I think he’s right, by the way), this doesn’t mean that Republicans should abandon their social/moral beliefs. This means that Republicans should focus on policies that allow people to make their own choices as opposed to imposing certain beliefs or moralities on them.
The contraception issue is a perfect case in point. The left would like to make the debate about whether or not contraception is moral, but that’s not the question at hand. The question at hand is whether or not the government can force you to buy something, specifically something you might find morally objectionable. The left says the government can, Republicans should say that those sort of purchases should be up to the individual (or the business/organization, as the case may be).
In order to be successful, Republicans need to be perceived as protecting our liberty not as wanting to impose (or “restore” as many Republicans put it) a certain set of values on the nation.
Catholics should be free to be Catholics. Jews and Muslims should be free to be Jews and Muslims. Atheists should be free to be atheists. Individuals should be free to be individuals, and live their lives as they see fit. That’s the winning message, and that is Rep. Paul’s point I believe.
One can be socially conservative (it’s worth noting that Paul is staunchly pro-life) while simultaneously opposing the idea of government imposing moral standards.