Losing the Wedge

Oh Ted! I hate to break it to you, but tapping a female culture warrior as your VP–even one who manages to be nearly as repulsive as you– isn’t going to get you the nomination.

Not even close.

There have been a number of signs during this unending primary season that the GOP’s “old reliable” tactic of focusing on social issues is no longer the sure-fire bet it was when George W. Bush won his second term with the help of fear of/hate for “the gays.” Part of the reason is demographic: fear of LGBT folks, hatred of immigrants, belief that women should stay in the kitchen (barefoot and most definitely pregnant), even racism are all attitudes more plentiful among older, whiter Americans–and they’re dying out.

Partly, of course, the lack of focus on social issues this time around is the flip side of the 24/7 focus on the strange orange candidate. Donald Trump doesn’t fixate on social issues. Or any issues, actually–he mostly focuses on himself, and his YUGE business ability. And large “hands.”

Actually, Trump is preferable to Cruz, in much the same way that a merciful death is preferable to an agonizing one….At any rate, according to the Boston Globe, Cruz is counting on a re-invigorated appeal to social conservatives in Indiana and elsewhere:

Over the past month, as the primary wove through Wisconsin, New York, and the socially moderate states that voted on Tuesday, the GOP candidates focused on issues like trade, jobs, and the economy. But the next contests on the calendar are in Indiana, West Virginia, and Nebraska, where evangelical voters make up more of the Republican electorate. That trend might even continue in California, which awards most of its large number of delegates by congressional district, some of which are very conservative.

It’s the first time social issues — such as abortion, gay marriage, and transgender rights — could take center stage in the primary since early March, when a swath of Southern states voted in the primary. That’s mostly good news for Cruz, who has already touted his social conservative credentials on the stump in Indiana, which holds its primary on Tuesday.

I may be wrong (wouldn’t be the first time!), but I think it’s too late for “fear of God” wedge issues. America has had same-sex marriage for a year now, and the apocalypse hasn’t occurred. Young people are more irate about their student loans than about who’s peeing in the next stall. The population keeps moving into cities, where there tend to be gay people and black people and brown people, and women in executive positions, and Americans have gotten used to the idea that the diversity is sort of nice.

Cruz isn’t going to win Indianapolis, for sure (and if he thinks Carly on the ticket is a great idea, he’s even nuttier than I previously thought), but he may win Indiana. In our more rural precincts, culture war wedge issues can still be pretty salient. And he is running against the Donald.

If Cruz does win the state, however, I really, really, REALLY need to move.