True social conservatism, that is – not Big Government nanny-statism in the name of the Lord.
Last week, various tea party movement activists from around the country sent a letter to GOP leaders asking them to back off the social issues and focus on deficits and spending. I agree with them to a point, but only to a point. Even the most hardened atheist libertarian – if he is serious about his commitment to liberty – should be cautious not to throw out the social issues altogether. They are critical to our freedom.
Mike at Cranky Hermit talks about this as a “needless division” which shrinks what should be a big tent. He’s right, of course. But it’s not just about political coalition building. It’s more fundamental than this.
What got me thinking about this at this particular time was a blog post by a local lefty blogger. It was an unsettlingly bitter post about the latest reality show mega-family, proclaiming the family’s need to “get a clue” about their “animal husbandry” “breeding program.” The post then astonishingly seems to wax nostalgic for the days (apparently just 30 short years ago) when dead babies weren’t such a big deal, and various cultures practiced infanticide without getting their panties all in a bunch about all that God silliness.
Read the whole thing if you can stomach it.
What ever happened to respecting a woman’s reproductive CHOICES? If liberals want to pretend that “pro-choice” isn’t a just a dishonest euphemism for being fully pro-abortion (or in “maven’s” case, just out-and-out pro-infanticide), they ought to honestly respect choices they might not personally think are all that great.
And honestly – why does she care? So what if some family wants to let a Discovery Channel camera crew into their house? I wouldn’t do it, and I don’t care to watch such a show. That family makes their choices, liberal bloggers make their familial choices, and I make mine. And as an added bonus, we all have functioning channel-changing buttons, probably accessible without even getting up off of our fat butts. So why they rage?
And how about that old standby, “Keep your laws off my body!”? Ah, now THIS is an old protest sign worth deconstructing.
The most important word in that sentence isn’t “laws” or “body”. It’s “your”.
If liberals believed in liberty, the sign would just say “Keep laws off my body!” Liberals don’t have any problems whatsoever with laws being passed which regulate various bodily activities or functions at all levels, or they wouldn’t have passed Obamacare, implemented porn-o-scanners at our airports, or tried to ban table salt and Happy Meal toys. It’s not laws regulating every nuance of human conduct which bothers them, they just don’t want someone else making the rules. No one hates a despot like a jealous would-be despot.
The large family’s sin isn’t the taking of tax dollars, which they apparently don’t do. It’s that they tax the environment, you see, and so perhaps it’s time to step in and not allow this sort of surplus population to infect Mother Gaia. This family impacts us all, and so their sexual decisions should be subject to the whims of a government bureaucrat.
I really do wonder – do liberals ever stop to think that they would be equally subject to such whims if they ever actually got their way?
This isn’t new from the more Progressive precincts, sadly. Planned Parenthood was founded with the not-so-secret mission of “humanely” eradicating black people and other “unfit” folks from the USA, but that doesn’t stop PP founder Margaret Sanger from being a hero of the left. And it’s not limited to local lefty bloggers – Paul Krugman was accidentally honest about the “need” for death panels, and George Soros recently went on record lamenting that our government doesn’t “function” as well as those communist tyrants in China. (Those “progressive” Chinese are also all about reproductive freedom, so long as by “freedom” you mean “free from making any pesky choices about how many children you’re allowed to have.”)
If the government can regulate which babies live and die, and who is allowed to have them and how many they may have, that government can regulate anything. Their power is limitless. An older woman with cancer can (and will!) be told she’s not worth the cost of saving, and besides – she’s freeing up resources for a healthier member of society! Isn’t that grand? But don’t worry – we won’t call them “Death Panels.”
Liberty – economic or otherwise – cannot survive such a government. If you care about smaller government, care about how liberals approach social issues when left unchecked by social conservatives.
The other crucial point to remember is that a society with a decentralized government is a free society. It’s GOOD to have various counterweights within our governments, between our governments (state v. fed), and especially outside government. A strong church or churches in a community can have great power to guide behavior within that society, even if not everyone cares to actually attend or observe. Better, such “regulation” is voluntary, and diminishes the argument that more coercive laws and government control of a populace is necessary. There is a reason communist dictatorships world-wide worked hard to eradicate religiosity in the nations they managed to subject – despots hate sharing their power with anyone, least of all a God to whom people will remain more loyal that they will to any earthly Dear Leader.
And political coalitions matter. Even in California a majority of citizens suddenly get pretty conservative on social issues when put to a vote. Being dismissive or hostile towards people focused more on their religious freedom than their economic freedom doesn’t help get them on board to vote for your best debt-reducing candidate, especially when those people represent large majorities of Americans.
This isn’t to say that we should return to the culture wars of he 90s. Eesh. The Religious Right reigned when I was in high school, and it made me think I was a Democrat for awhile because I wanted to be left alone by would-be-nannies who wanted to regulate my life for my own good whether I liked it or not. And while I’ve gotten more socially conservative over the years, I have no desire to see Mike Huckabee-style Big-Government-In-The-Name-Of-Jesus. I have even less desire to see such a thing falsely labeled “conservative.”
If you want to impress God by being your brother’s keeper, then by all means choose to do so. Please – both your soul and your community will be enriched. But as I understand Christianity, you don’t get points for making society more Godly by enforcing “charity” at the point of a gun. (I suspect you get even less for funneling that “charity” to union bosses and pork spending, but maybe that’s because I’ve never been to seminary or sat through a “reverend” Wright sermon.) And such boundless “charity” never seems to work out all that well here on the Earthly plane, either…
The key to electoral success is not ideological rhetoric, but competence (and its perception, especially for insurgent political movements without a record to run on). Right now, the American people know the biggest problem facing our country is out-of-control growth in the size and expense of government. Think whatever you want about gay marriage, but its existence or absence isn’t going to plunge us into economic collapse the way the Reid-Pelosi-Obama spending policies will.
“Competence” doesn’t obviate adherence to principle, but those principles must be correctly and competently applied. I believe that conservative economic principles bring economic prosperity for all, and voters will correctly equate such economic success with competence. But spouting bromides about the Constitution is not enough. We must execute the Constitution’s game plan properly and faithfully.
If Republicans want to build trust with the American people, they must first and foremost signal they have the American people’s priorities straight. Right now we’re on the verge of economic collapse, led by an administration who couldn’t manage the bank in a Monopoly game, much less a global economy. We are in serious danger, and the ship of state is in extremis.
If Democrats understood this, Obama wouldn’t be golfing so much, and Harry Reid wouldn’t be talking about pushing amnesty for illegal immigrants in a lame duck session while not a single American citizen knows what their tax rates are going to be less than two months from now, or what their employers tax burden will be and if they’ll be able to afford not laying anyone off if they get deemed “rich” by liberal tax-hikers.
This gives the GOP an opportunity. To avoid squandering it, Republicans need to fully focus on the immediate issues right now. Their electoral success – and the country’s potential future prosperity – depends on it.
But in the meantime, let’s not let our guard down on the insipid assault on liberty that comes from the Progressive movement on social issues.