NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Charles Murray prevailed upon social conservatives within the Republican Party to de-emphasize their opposition to issues like abortion and same-sex marriage in an effort to attract younger voters.
Murray, the controversial political scientist perhaps best known for his book The Bell Curve on IQ and class structure, said his experience has been that younger voters, like his four children, are reluctant to support GOP candidates even though they may agree with the party on a host of conservative issues.
“Millions won’t vote for Republicans because being anti-gay is something they will not let themselves identify with,” Murray told participants in a session at the CPAC convention on Friday. “This should not be an issue on which the republic founders. Those who are against it can nonetheless openly and honestly show their respect for gay marriage.”
Murray, a self-described libertarian, said polling establishes that most young voters, who supported President Obama by a wide margin over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012, believe that abortion should be “a grave decision” not to be taken lightly. But they don’t want to make it illegal.
A host of potential party supporters, he said, “are violently opposed to the Republican Party’s perceived position on abortion.”
“People I talk to about it are not pro-choice in the casual sense,” he said. “They don’t talk about this as something they do lightly. They are just against the option of getting rid of it altogether.”
Murray said he understands that social conservatives, almost unanimously, feel like they can’t abandon the effort to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision providing women with a right to abortion, because they consider it murder.
But the “absolutely correct” term for the procedure, he said, is homicide. While defining something as homicide “is very harsh,” there are instances where homicide, as opposed to murder, is “justified.”
“I think that’s a good way for a lot of people who won’t vote for Republicans to think about it and I think that’s a position worthy of respect,” he said. “You’re not going to get an abortion out of convenience.”
Murray said activists don’t have to abandon their opposition to Roe v. Wade but they should emphasize alternatives like adoption and birth control to limit the instances.
Despite maintaining friendly relations with several gay couples, some of whom he described as doting parents, Murray said he has not been able to embrace the concept of gay marriage, citing the conservative doctrine of tradition.
“I still think it’s a dangerous thing in a philosophical sense,” he said. “But I’m not going to go to the barricades to prevent the passage of laws that permit gay marriage.”
Murray suggested that issues like abortion and gay marriage no longer be imposed as a litmus test on Republican candidates in order to help them attract younger voters.
“We are not going to win these issues through legislative victories,” he said. “It’s going to happen only through moral persuasion and cultural change. There’s a real shot at making it a moral decision of the greatest sort. A lot of people going to buy into that instead of trying to make it illegal.”
And that, he said, will benefit the Republican Party which serves as “the vehicle through which to return to power.”