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January 19th, 2010

GOP Establishment Risks the Future of Their Party by Marginalizing Marriage

Danny CarrollBy Bryan English, Communications Director for the Iowa Family PAC

On Tuesday, January 12th, IFPC Action Board Chairman Danny Carroll, speaking on behalf of the Iowa Family PAC, said out loud what Christian and conservative voters have been quietly saying at the ballot box for several cycles. The status quo is no longer sufficient, and we will not support it any more. That message was not only included in the endorsement of a candidate who has risen to a high standard, but also in the form of a vocal reminder that candidates and political parties who insist on perpetuating past paradigms are setting themselves up for future electoral failure.

Much has been made of the Iowa Family PAC’s endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats. There have been several attempts to find a hole in the logic behind the endorsement, and to reduce the impact of the comments that were made about Terry Branstad. The problem is that everything that was said about both Vander Plaats and Branstad by the Iowa Family PAC was accurate.

In our statement of endorsement, we said that “The Iowa Family PAC’s evaluation of the candidates was designed to seek out and promote a statesman and public servant who would commit to uphold the Biblical principle of individual responsibility, who recognizes family as the foundational unit for a stable social structure, who will boldly defend the sanctity of human life and marriage, commit to limiting the size and cost of civil government, promote high quality education under the authority of parents, encourage an ethical free enterprise system, defend the Constitutional separation of powers, and like our Founding Fathers be guided by the absolute moral truth that comes from a regular reading of the Bible.”

In part because the endorsement was delivered in conjunction with a marriage event, and because many in the media and the political establishment have committed to painting Vander Plaats as a one issue candidate, commentaries have largely overlooked the references to individual responsibility, societal stability, defending the sanctity of life, promoting limited government, the commitment to high quality education where parents are empowered, and the elevation of an ethical free enterprise system in the endorsement. As with the endorsement of pastor and civil rights leader Rev. Keith Ratliff, marriage was only one of many reasons for the Iowa Family PAC’s endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats. Still, even if the endorsement had been made solely over the issue of marriage, he would have risen to the top of the field.

So far, the best argument anyone has offered to make it appear as if Branstad is aware of the implications of the current debate over marriage, is to point to his signature on the Defense of Marriage Act. Unfortunately for Branstad, that signature is on a bill that even Mike Gronstal voted for. Using the logic of the political establishment, one could argue that Mike Gronstal would have been a better choice for Branstad’s Lieutenant Governor in the 1990’s than Joy Corning. Unlike Corning, at least Mike Gronstal was for marriage before he was against it. Branstad’s signature on a pro-marriage law that nearly everyone including Mike Gronstal supported is not evidence of the type of leadership the current environment demands.

Furthermore, when Branstad visited with pastors and conservative leaders back in October, he was unable to articulate an understanding of the constitutional limitations on the court. As a lawyer, he has been trained to elevate the courts, and that background in the legal profession both revealed itself in our meeting and shows up in his record. During that meeting he drew an analogy between the current debate over the Court’s role in defining marriage, and a Supreme Court opinion during his tenure as Governor that dealt with education funding.

While governor, Branstad acquiesced to the Court, and used their opinion to justify spending money the state simply did not have. When asked to explain how the court would enforce their decision if a Governor refused to comply, Branstad found himself struggling to answer. It was apparent that no serious thought was ever given to pushing back against, or standing up to, a Court that was effectively telling the Governor to increase state spending and ultimately either cut other programs or raise taxes. Instead of demonstrating an understanding of the role of the executive office, or the ramifications of the current constitutional crisis, Branstad’s example further illustrated why he is not qualified to lead in this environment.

Likewise, Branstad’s fiscal conservative credentials are no more impressive than is his record on social conservative issues. As was said in the Iowa Family PAC statement from last week, when faced with problems similar to today, Branstad grew government, raised taxes, legalized gambling and keept what State Auditor Dick Johnson referred to as “two sets of books.” Branstad’s record on both fiscal and social issues is one of maintaining the status quo.

Contrast that with the bold vision of Bob Vander Plaats for defending marriage and restoring the Constitutional separation of powers. Like many Iowa voters, Vander Plaats is not willing to accept the weak excuses of entrenched politicians who often seem more interested in promoting themselves and protecting their political future than they are in preserving the principles this state and nation were founded on.

The Iowa Family PAC is fully aware of just how difficult it’s going to be to pass the Iowa Marriage Amendment. Some unsuccessful amendment attempts made as recently as the 1990’s serve as a stark reminder of just how important it is to engage the process at every level. Rather than complicating the issue, the Vander Plaats plan to issue an executive order staying the Court’s opinion until the people of Iowa have an opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage forces the Legislature to take action. While the executive order has the backing of legal experts like Dr. Herb Titus, and Constitutional scholars like David Barton, political insiders afraid to take a risk or to make a stand have decided it’s easier to snipe at the leader than it is to offer leadership of their own.

The Iowa Family PAC, IFPC Action, and the many LUV Iowa groups scattered around the state, understand that the process of passing the Iowa Marriage Amendment may take many years. The homosexual activists who came to Iowa admitted after the April 3rd opinion that they spent seven years creating the environment necessary to perpetrate their judicial coup. We recognize that it could take that long to correct the damage. Compartmentalizing the promotion of the Iowa Marriage Amendment in such a way as to disconnect it from elections at any and all levels between now and the day it passes would be a mistake. Pretending that voting for any candidate with an (R) behind his or her name is a vote for marriage, would require a serious, sustained, and willful disconnection from reality. Each candidate is unique, and success lies in the steadfast application of a set of universal leadership principles, not in adjusting morality and standards to accommodate a political candidate. The Iowa Marriage Amendment will not be passed through blind partisan loyalty, but rather through a consistent, unrelenting application of grassroots political power.

We believe the people of Iowa are able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Marriage advocates do not think in two and four year election cycles. While we certainly believe that the election of Bob Vander Plaats will accelerate the process of preserving marriage, should he fail to win the governor’s race, we will not suddenly submit to Mike Gronstal and his worldview. The issues involved are far larger than Bob Vander Plaats. Should he win, his leadership will advance the cause. If he does not, support for the constitutional rule of law and the issue of marriage among Iowans will still continue to grow. It is important to note however, that when Republican insiders like Craig Robinson are openly worried that the marriage debate will suffer if Branstad wins the primary, those warnings are confirmation that Branstad lacks the fervor to adequately lead on the Iowa Marriage Amendment.

Last week a crowd estimated at nearly 1000 people gathered at the state capitol to take action designed to promote the passage of the Iowa Marriage Amendment. Those people were only a small segment of the many groups actively working and organizing in cities and counties all across the state. Not everyone involved with LUV Iowa, or who supports IFPC Action, is in full agreement with the Iowa Family PAC endorsement of Bob Vander Plaats, but that does not reduce their passion over the marriage issue. We will take every action we deem necessary, and use every method available, to promote the passage of the Iowa Marriage Amendment. The movement, and its army of everyday concerned and informed citizens, will only continue to expand, regardless of what happens at the polls in June and November.

It would be a mistake for political insiders to ignore what is becoming a recurring theme. When proven conservatives like Danny Carroll and Kent Sorenson tell the political class that the establishment’s candidate of choice will not garner the support among the grassroots necessary to win an election, it’s not time to shoot the messenger – it’s time to listen to the message. If the political class is really concerned about avoiding electoral failure, there is still time to adjust. If instead, the establishment refuses to listen to Iowa voters and insists on forcing a candidate like Terry Branstad on the people of Iowa, they will have no one to blame for four more years of Chet Culver but themselves.

Photo by Dave Davidson

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The Iowa Republican

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