Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., addressed the elephant in the room: Conservatives, he said, aren’t doing well on the social issues.
“I’m not going to paint a rosy picture,” Walker said Wednesday at the 2016 Conservative Policy Summit, hosted by Heritage Action for America. He added:
Our culture has been inundated and continues to be inundated with an undoing of our communities. The taking of unborn lives. The growing population of hungry children. The restrictive education opportunities. And really, the list goes on and on.
On issues relating to abortion, education, poverty, and religious liberty, Walker said, conservatives have gained ground in “small pockets” but have a lot of work to do.
High on the conservative movement’s 2016 policy agenda, he said, is eliminating “every taxpayer dollar that goes to Planned Parenthood.”
“There is no other freedom-robbing opportunity-destroyer and life-killer that is more intentional than Planned Parenthood,” Walker said.
On education, the North Carolina congressman said he’d continue fighting to pass a measure, called Academic Partnerships Lead Us to Success (A-PLUS), to allow states to opt out of education mandates and programs such as the Common Core standards while retaining federal funding.
“We’re going to get there, and I think we’re going to get there sooner rather than later,” he said, sounding optimistic.
Walker was less optimistic about religious liberty, accusing the Obama administration of “mocking” people of faith.
“Our freedom to live and work in accordance to what we believe has been placed in the crosshairs by an administration that mocks those who dare cling to their guns and Bibles,” he said.
Walker was referencing a quotation from Obama, who, while running for president in 2008, said of voters in Pennsylvania, “They get bitter—they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
Perhaps most important, Walker said, is the breakdown of the family, which he identified as a contributing factor to declines in almost every area of American life.
To get back “to our values,” Walker said, will require more than money and legislative action:
The solutions we’re looking for [are] not going to be more money. It’s not going to be another piece of legislation. It may require a lifetime commitment.
That commitment, he said, must be led through local citizens, churches, homes, towns—“not from this overreaching arm of the federal government.”
“It’s OK to be angry,” Walker added, addressing the lack of progress on conservative goals. “Anger’s a very powerful fuel when it’s focused in the right direction.”
“But be discerning,” he said, and “be compassionate.”