The 2011 Values Voter Summit — the massive social conservative confab hosted by the Family Research Council — kicks off in Washington today, the first of a three-day celebration of the religious right that will feature appearances by just about all of the major Republican candidates for president.
Where last year’s VVS — also known as the national coming out party for Christine O’Donnell — was heavy on talk of where the tea party and the social conservative movement can unite, the VVS 2011 agenda is more focused on the social right’s recent political resurgence.
Since the Republicans took control of the House in January, the social issues the tea party tried to suggest were off the table in the run-up to the midterm elections have come back full-force. The House GOP has declared war on Planned Parenthood and place severe new limitations on abortion rights.
Israel, always a favorite topic at a VVS, is back in the national spotlight, with Republican candidates on the presidential campaign trail making a lot of hay out of condemning President Obama’s restatement of decades of U.S. foreign policy.
And, of course, illegal immigration — another favorite for the people concerned with the decline and fall of Western Civilization as we know it — is a key component of the Republican nomination fight at the moment.
A glance at the breakout sessions planned for VVS shows little mention of the tea party — in fact, the word doesn’t appear on the official schedule — but a lot of mention of the social conservative fights that have gone on for years.
So it’s not a bad time to be a social conservative: rumors of the movement’s demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated, and basically everyone who’s anyone in the GOP is still ready to show up at VVS’ beck and call.
Stay tuned for wall-to-wall coverage of the VVS on TPM2012 and the all-new TPM LiveWire.