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Sarah Skaluba: The conservative quandary

BY SARAH SKALUBA

Published May 13, 2012

Same-sex marriage and women’s rights are two social issues that seem to be popping up in the media everywhere these days. Whether it’s Obama’s public support of same-sex marriage or Rush Limbaugh’s absurd “slut” comment, the constant attention these issues are given shows just how important they are to the American people.

The social issues prevalent in our country elicit strong individual opinions, which in turn widen the gap between Democrats and Republicans. As Democrats reach out to earn the support of same-sex couples and young voters, it seems Republicans are silently sitting aside and not attempting to go after these demographics. The individual comments made by extreme conservatives aren’t representative of the entire party as a whole, but instead the ideas of a small, ultra-conservative minority.

As University of Michigan students living in one of the more liberal cities in America, we find ourselves in a diverse community that encourages individuality and independence. So it should come as no surprise to us that the majority of college students are becoming increasingly liberal, especially when it comes to social issues like same-sex marriage. But as society progresses, the Republican Party has fallen victim to the ever-growing number of outrageous claims made by conservative radio show hosts and certain Republican leaders.

It’s this small group of super-conservative individuals that damages the Republican Party's reputation. As more and more Americans are accepting the ideas of same-sex marriage and women’s right to contraception, conservatives are isolating certain groups and losing support.

This past February conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh verbally attacked Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown University, after the testimony she gave about mandating contraceptive insurance at her school. On his show Limbaugh said, “It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception.” And yes, this is indeed a real talk show that has aired on more than 600 stations across the nation and boasts “millions” of listeners every day.

Limbaugh’s remarks were not only extremely offensive and irrational, but also serve as a prime example as to why the Republican Party is losing support. I’m not an expert, but I can’t imagine how calling a young, educated woman a prostitute and slut for standing up for her liberties is a reliable or positive tactic, especially in the eyes of women. When such prominent individuals like Limbaugh make these outrageous public claims, it’s hard not to assume that the entire Republican Party is a bunch of crazy, conservative lunatics.

Sadly, the absurd remarks made by a few people do have the ability to taint an entire group’s image and create a nasty stigma for everyone involved. Former GOP candidate Rick Santorum only strengthened this stigma after saying that he opposes abortion in all situations during a CNN interview. According to Santorum, “we must make the best of a bad situation,” even if that involves rape. His conservative stance on abortion is a reflection of his Catholic faith and not that of the entire Republican Party. All too often, however, these individual opinions become representative of the party as a whole when they are actually just the sole attitude of one person.

As our country evolves and moves forward, it’s important for Republican leaders to realize the huge significance that social issues play in our daily lives. American support for same-sex marriage is now at a record high of 50 percent, and polls show this number will only grow in the future. We learn at such a young age that individual liberty and justice is what built our country, so why shouldn’t same-sex couples have the same liberties as everyone else?

It’s time for Republicans to face the changing attitudes of the 21st century and realize that unless they re-evaluate their attitudes and work to become more accepting, they will not have the support necessary to be a strong contender in today’s political scene.

Sarah Skaluba can be reached at sskaluba@umich.edu.


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