Let's face it, Ronald Reagan brought the famous 'Reagan Democrats' into the fold largely because of the ineptitude and weakness of leadership displayed by Jimmy Carter, and promised by Walter Mondale. That's not to say they loved everything Reagan ever did or said, contrary to what such prominent proponents of Reaganology such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity would have us believe.
Nonetheless, one place of agreement between many old timer Democrats and Reagan was his social conservatism. Whatever his views as a younger politician were, by the time he became president, it was clear his leanings had slid decidedly to the right. This created a bit of a dilemma for the GOP, which has always been peopled by a fair amount of individuals who could care less about social conservatism or religious traditionalism.
This is best illustrated by the fact that subsequent presidents and presidential candidates have wavered when it came to maintaining such key issues as abortion limits and stopping the homosexual juggernaut. Topping the list of reasons why social conservatives are at least suspect of Republican leaders' commitment to their causes is the fact that their wives have, almost to a woman, been to the left of center. Advocating embryonic stem cell research, pushing for gay rights, and advocating abortion rights has been the clear view of every First Lady since 1980. Republican or Democrat.
Notice that in the spiel Mrs. McCain she uses typical anti-religious imagery. Religious leaders want to tell LGBT youth that they have no future. So says Mrs. McCain. That's not a thoughtful, clear response to the issue or argument in behalf of a position. That's out of the old 'Be Liberal or Be Evil' playbook of advancing progressive dogmas. If Mrs. McCain views things this way, it's not hard to see why Senator McCain is only lukewarm about fighting for those issues social conservatives have repeatedly seen pushed into the closet after every major election cycle.
Perhaps that's why the Tea Party has captured so many imaginations. There are those saying they are willing to abandon the GOP to their love and worship of money. There are those willing to lose (Christine O'Donnell) rather than elect someone who will jettison their cherished values. Perhaps I'm reading a bit into the wives' influence on the politicians. But I can't help but believe that the half hearted support religious conservatives have received from the GOP in recent decades has to be connected to that somehow.
For the record, I have no intention of telling LGBT youth they have no future. I do have the intention of telling my boys the truth. For instance, homosexual men are more likely to get HIV than dying of lung cancer if they were habitual smokers. But that's for another post.