The Needless Division Between Social Cons and Fiscal Cons
A huge wave crashes into DC as I write this. Over 60 new Congressmen and six new Senators flush with a mandate to reduce the size and scope of government will now be a part of the government they’re tasked with depriving of power.
As Joe Biden would say, this is a big effing deal.
Already though, factions that make up the big Republican tent seem intent on emphasizing their differences rather than unifying around some principles that it seems everyone can agree on these days save the big government socialists aka statists aka progressives aka liberals.
So, GOProud and the Tea Party folks have asked the Republicans to focus on fiscal issues over social issues like abortion. Their request reflects a desire by the American electorate at large when looking at polls.
Does this mean that the majority of Republicans or even Independents no longer care about social issues like abortion and gay marriage? Obviously not. And, in fact some research suggests that Tea Party folks in particular are more strongly social conservative than the average American, and even Republican, and also more concerned about traditional American values generally.
HOWEVER, that does not mean that many folks want the social issues to be front and center right now.
Why? A couple reasons:
1. If the country goes belly up, the social issues become moot.
2. Social issues serve to divide in a time when the American populace needs to be united against an overreaching government.
3. Limiting the government necessarily also means stopping the funding to egregious socially repugnant issues.
The mistake the GOProud and Teaparty folks make is asking Social Cons to be quiet–nice way to rile a rabid bear.
Better idea? Simply emphasize fiscal conservatism. Period. As Dan Riehl notes, it seems especially disingenuous coming from GOProud to talk about taking social issues off the table. That’s their raison d’etre, non?
I am a social conservative. In fact, I challenge anyone to look at my written record and find any place where I am anything but a staunch defender of the weak, helpless, unborn. My own sons were born at 24 weeks and my living son is a testament to my belief that life should be protected and defended and that miracles happen. In the liberal world, my experiences would give me Absolute Moral Authority. I claim no such authority, however.
In addition, patients who have come through my office suffer the trauma of having had abortions. It is the rare woman who was not coerced or manipulated into the “procedure”. The regret, shame, and self-loathing is its own tragedy–never mind the loss of a life.
My only point is to demonstrate that my socially conservative views are not theoretical. They’re grounded in my life experience and that my life experience has reinforced rather than undermined my belief in the sanctity of life. Period.
But what do I expect of my government? And what role does the government play in such issues?
Well, what the government does that I cannot abide is fund all sorts of extraneous things–including someone else’s “mistake” (hey, just quoting the Pres). I believe that if the government cuts back its size and scope and influence by cutting back the purse-strings, all sorts of morally questionable problems get solved.
Look for example, at what Governor Christie did in New Jersey. He didn’t have to be pro-life to shut down all the abortion mills that operate outside of medical licensing. He simply enforced the law. How many abortions did he stop? How many lives saved? How many tax payer dollars respected?
Social conservatives need to get smarter. And this, from Redstater Aaron Gardner seems needlessly provocative:
First, I am a limited-government conservative and GOProud doesn’t speak on my behalf. Second, I don’t take kindly to being told to stuff my issues by a demographic that represents only 3% of the total electorate – two thirds of which voted Democrat. Third, and this brings us to the bold portion above, if the Republicans and SoCons didn’t achieve a mandate then what the heck makes you think you did?
GOProud may not represent social conservatives, but the notion that fiscally focused policy should take precedent certainly does represent the vast majority of Americans. This false choice: that one either is fiscally conservative or socially conservative is wrong. One can be both and believe that the focus should be one place over the other.
My concern over all the shrill rhetoric flying around on all sides is that significant progress toward a saner, smaller, more fiscally sound government will be stalled over arguments that simply don’t need to happen.
It’s painful, but some social conservatives need to face the reality that while we’re winning the cultural war–more and more people are coming down on the pro-life side–most people still want abortion legal albeit limited, with informed parents, etc. Americans have a difficult time imposing their ideas on another and abortion has been framed as a civil right. There are many more hearts and minds to be won.
I’m not counseling giving up on winning hearts and minds. I’m suggesting that social conservatives be wiser. And by all accounts they are…going after the laws to enforce parental notification, for example. Crafting legislation requiring an ultrasound. Prosecuting abortion doctors for malpractice.
And, on the national level, going after funding. Even many pro-abortion folks believe in fiscal freedom–that their money shouldn’t be used to pay for someone else’s bad choices.
All this to say, we agree so much, why divide at all? Smaller government, less taxes, less spending will help achieve the social conservative ends. I want to keep the independents on the Republican side where they belong. Putting the fiscal message first will help do that. In the meantime, social conservatism will march steadily.