How this occurs illustrates two things about how politicians view social issues: They evolve when not doing so becomes politically dangerous; and they evolve fairly easily, since most of them really don’t care…

Does this mean all of these are unprincipled scoundrels? Not quite. It just means that they have their priorities, and in their minds getting to work on the big-ticket issues is worth a cave now and then on the small issues.

And to them, the “values cards” are the small issues: “Almost no major politician really cares about it,” Lowry says of abortion, and E.J. Dionne, in a column written months earlier, said pretty much the same thing: “Candidates are rarely willing to say outright what’s true for so many. … [T]hey do not consider [it] the most important issue in politics, and that it is not the reason they entered public life.”

What are the reasons? War and peace, the economy, big or small government, the safety net, taxes, the debt. The values issues are “small” but their backers care deeply and act as gatekeepers at the portals of power, where access to big things resides.