This article, which inaugurates a three-part series, goes over a lot of ground quite well. The big question is whether social conservatives can handle the generational change, in its leadership and in the electorate. For social conservatives, that means seriously considering whether and how to broaden their agenda. For Republicans, it means remembering that social conservatives aren’t necessarily economic conservatives or (this isn’t the same thing) business conservatives.
Update: A number of social conservatives (anonymously) say they’re just waiting for Fred Thompson to announce. The stakes, they think, are high:
"It’s the moment of truth for conservatives," says one of the Christian conservative activists. "Either social conservatives rally to stop a Giuliani nomination and victory for him in November 2008 or our issues -- abortion, same-sex marriage, the preservation of the family -- are permanently off the Republican Party agenda."
I’m not sure I’d be quite that apocalyptic, though I think there is a case to be made for that position, if one assumes that generational changes are diminishing the prospect that, even in the not too distant future, it wlll be much harder to assemble electoral and legislative majorities in support of "traditional family values." There is, of course, also the propensity of politicians and their consultants to be tempted by the strategy and stances that won the last time, so that a Giuliani victory in the primaries and (most importantly) the general election would spawn all sorts of sincere flatterers.
Update #2: The WaTi article I just cited may have been the fallout from
Update #3: Here’s the second part of the series.