Republicans were off to a great 2016 presidential nominating cycle stacked with great candidates seeking the nomination. Republicans have a very unconventional yet strong group making the Democratic field, consisting of old, white career politicians, look like yesteryear.
The 2016 election cycle was turning out to be one focused on the economy, jobs, national security and foreign policy. Issues Republicans excel at and ones where they have an edge with millennials.
Then Kim Davis happened.
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She single-handedly dragged the conversation back to social issues where Democrats have the edge and one that give millennials the passion and energy that drives them to the polls.
And like a moth to a flame several GOP presidential candidates raced to her side and aid in Kentucky.
To be clear, this is a very tricky issue in a very political season. It brings forth great debate and these problems demand solutions. Religious freedom and rule of law is something Americans pride themselves on, but it seems that the rule of law only applies if you agree with the law.
For example, Republicans believe if you have entered this country illegally you should be deported back to your country of origin and the several cities around the country that classify themselves as "sanctuary cities" should not receive any federal funds. But, county clerk, Kim Davis, does not have to follow the law and can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as an elected official (Democrat) of the state government and should not be penalized.
Democrats are guilty of the same exceptions regarding the rule of law. Democrats support sanctuary cities and the massive influx of illegal aliens, emphasis on illegal. President Barack Obama has even gone so far as to practically stop the deportation of illegal aliens. But, when it comes to same-sex marriage, Kim Davis should be thrown into jail for not following the law.
Both political parties are living in complete ignorance when it comes to the rule of law that forms the very fabric of a compassionate and strong nation.
With that rabbit hole of out of the way, lets focus on how to refocus the Republican messaging efforts with millennials in light of the Kim Davis fiasco.
Gov. Mike Huckabee, left, and Sen. Ted Cruz showed support for Kim Davis, But could it have cost them the millennial vote?
There is doubt there has been a snowball effect by the Supreme Court ruling same sex marriage a constitutional right and superseding Congress. No amendments or considerations have been worked into this new ruling to allow for religious exemptions within the public sector. If there are individuals with faiths that object to allowing same-sex marriages, like Christians, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, and Hinduism, then there needs to be auxiliaries who are able to take over in these instances.
And this is where it gets tricky for those opposed to marriage equality, especially for people like Gov. Mike Huckabee, who rushed to Kentucky and organized a rally for Kim Davis. He was recently seen on Morning Joe trying to explain how as a Christian it is okay to deny same-sex couples marriage licenses but not okay to deny traditional couples divorces, even though that is explicitly banned in the Bible. Where are the lines and what do you as a Christian, in this case, choose to follow and not follow from the Bible and how can that give merit to religious freedom within the public sector?
Front runner candidates like Donald Trump and Carly Fiorina have said that they support religious freedom but as an employee of the government you are required to uphold the law and if Kim Davis is unable to do that then she needs to find another place of employment. This is the winning argument. And one to keep millennials focused on Republicans within a social issue debate.
Republicans need to be clear on three very important areas of this debate to retain their millennial gains so they are not again painted as bigots and lose the electoral powerhouse of millennials.
First, Republican presidential candidates need to offer solutions for religious based exemptions on issues like same-sex marriage within the federal government while still providing for the rule of law and equal rights.
Second, they need to support the rule of law and, although some may not agree with the law it is still the law and as president they will have to enforce it. Republicans can use this issue to paint themselves as taking the highroad and point out how Democrats do not follow the laws when it comes to issues they do not agree with, like those involving illegal immigration.
Lastly, Republicans must show millennials that, although they do not agree with some of the social issues of today their main focus is the economy, jobs, and national security. These things will come first for Republicans and lots of work needs to be done to get millennials economic futures stable.
The Kim Davis circus dug back up social issues that millennials are so passionate about and refocused their attention on Democrats rather than Republicans. The leaders of the Republican presidential field need to draw the attention back to the important issues and away from the incoherent pandering of Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Ted Cruz.
As Kim Davis returns to work vowing to void any same-sex marriages certificates shows that this issue will not be going away anytime soon and Republicans need to be prepared to handle this issue with care and a deep understanding of the rule of law.
Salvator is a millennial generation political author, campaign strategist, and messaging expert. For media inquires: Sal.Lamastra@me.com. Follow Salvator on Twitter: @SalvatorDMD
Feature Image: AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley
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