I, Social Conservative

In recent weeks, especially with the convention ouster of Dave Fitzsimmons from the candidacy for the MN House seat in Wright County, and the challenge to Jennifer Loon in the southwest subs, both over their votes on gay marriage in the last session, the “liberty” crowd has adopted a new kick-toy – the “SocialCon”, or social conservative.

I’d like to take a moment to get some of them to think a moment.

Social conservatism tends to get linked to two issues – abortion and marriage.  Those are the highest profile issues, of course;  one is social conservatism’s most emotional issue (and, despite infanticide’s hideous death toll, arguably social conservatism’s greatest non-legislative victory; the abortion rate has been dropping, largely due to indirect means.  It’s a start), and the other, same sex marriage, is the MNGOP (and the state’s) biggest bloody nose in recent years.   It’s the issue that has led to the biggest single whiff of acrimony – the Loon and Fitzsimmons battles – in the GOP so far in this cycle.

But there is much more to being a social conservative – because there are many, many more social issues than just abortion and gay marriage.  And all of them are important, most of them haven’t been decided yet, and some of them have the potential – if the MNGOP can just shed that whole “stupid party full of single-issue voters” thing – to transform Minnesota politics and make the Republican party a flaming screaming electoral juggernaut.  That is, of course, a huge “if”.

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?”

So let’s talk about the rest of the whole, wide, social conservative world:

Education:  Yep.  Education is social issue.  Here in Minnesota it is, in fact, by far the most expensive social issue.

And our education system is failing, and it’s failing for reasons that are inextricably tied to progressivism; in a society where no two people’s cell phones are the same, we’re to expect that a single national curriculum and methodology is supposed to effectively teach tens of millions of different children a year?

Conservative notions of…not just “the free market”, but of choice, of the ability to say “no” to a failing school or system or methodology, the way they said “no” to Pepsi Clear or Ashley Simpson or the Edsel or horse meat or any other thing that doesn’t serve the consumer’s needs perfectly enough, is the only way education is going to be saved.

And while some political thinkers and consultants say conservatives waste their time going after traditional Democrat constituencies like the inner city, it is the education issue that gives conservatism its best long-term chance of cracking that monopoly – if the GOP develops the skill to play chess rather than checkers.

But whether we look at it as matter of winning votes in the future or not, the fact is that it’s a fiscal issue as well; the current system of education (which is really more a system of political patronage with a little indoctrination mixed in) is getting more and more expensive, and is unsustainable.  And things that can’t be sustained, won’t be.

Either way, it’s a social issue.

Immigration:  Yep.  It’s a social issue.   One that has the potential to change society.

And there is ample evidence that Latinos favor an approach that is in many ways more conservative than most conservatives favor; the “high fence and wide gate”.  Make illegal immigration hard, but make legal immigration much easier and more transparent.  Along with that, cut down on the talk of mass deportations; most Latinos, even Latinos whose families have been here for longer than most of us honkies, have some corner of their family tree that crossed over without bothering excessively with getting their paperwork stamped.

Again, not a few checkers-playing consultants and pundits say that the issue isn’t going to win the 2016 election for the GOP.  Perhaps.  But it has the potential to blunt the Democrats’ overwhelming lead among Latinos.

And it’s a social issue.

Welfare, Poverty and the Family:  While the DFL roots and scrabbles around with deckchair-rearranging feel-good measures like trying to raise the minimum wage, they are also fueling an inflationary cycle – via minimum wage hikes, but especially via untrammeled deficit spending – that  devalues everyone’s paycheck.

Worse, Democrat policies over the past few years have made it harder for people to get out of the lowest economic classes; while social spending makes grinding poverty a viable lifestyle, only work, and the opportunity hard work leads to, actually gets people and families out of poverty.

But Democrat policies kneecap Horatio Alger at every turn.  One of the surest ways to ensure you’re out of poverty by your thirties is to finish high school and not have a baby before you’re with a stable, long-term partner (social conservatives think of this in terms of “marriage”, and with good reason – it works better than cohabitation).  But the welfare state subsidizes the exact opposite – and it is a truism that when you pay people to do things, even stupid counterproductive things, they’ll do them.

And the Democrats are doing their best to marginalize work; their latest spin, that Obamacare will “give people more free time”, is just slapping a happy coat of paint on selling the idea of personal economic stagnation to people.    If you’re upper middle class, cutting hours is a nice fantasy.  If you’re struggling to get out of poverty, it’s a financial death sentence.

Republicans, especially the conservative ones, should own this issue – which, in its own way, is the mother (single, with three kids) of all social issues.

Healthcare:  It’s not just a fiscal issue.  How society deals with health insurance for those who can’t afford it (or don’t want to pay for it) is, obviously, a huge issue.

Conservatives have many plans – none of them is a panacaea, like Obamacare and Hillarycare both claimed to be; any of them would have done a better job.  Some still could.

Crime:  If there’s an issue that the Democrats have lost, but Conservatives are too stupid to know it, it’s crime.  Conservative policies – tougher sentencing, visible law enforcement, allowing and encouraging the law-abiding to arm themselves – have lowered the crime rate; the islands of high crime are the ones dominated by Democrats and their policies.


Social conservatism. It’s about a lot more than gays and abortion.

In fact, it needs to be.

11 thoughts on “I, Social Conservative

  1. “Along with that, cut down on the talk of mass deportations”
    Who has ever said anything about mass deportations? I keep hearing that this is talked about by anti-illegal immigration politicians, activists, and pundits, but no one actually seems to be able to say who talked about it and when.

  2. Some Republicans, including Alan Simpson (who I have always liked) recently said that the party should embrace gay marriage and don’t worry about abortion, in order to win elections. Bascially surrender the culture war.

    But there is one HUGE problem with that. Social left will always be pushing new issues, each more liberal than the previous. You can never surrender enough times.
    If Republicans give into gay marriage today (which we have lost on), does that mean that tomorrow we have to give in when the left tries to take the tax exempt status away from churches (if you don’t think that is coming, you don’t listen to what the left is saying). If we surrender on abortion (and we are winning this one), then tomorrow do we surrender on infantcide (if you don’t think that is coming, you haven’t been to the Netherlands)?
    There is a saying about the Catholic church vs liberal BIg Protestant churches. I’d rather be in a church that is 500 years behind trends, than a church that is 5 minutes behind trends and huffing and puffing tryint to keep up.
    Not that the Republican party should never change, but they will never be able to keep up with whatever the new trend is for the social left.

  3. I really don’t know what my label is. Am I a socialcon or a social libertarian?

    Education: Yes, progressivism is failing not just the education system, but the youth as a whole. Education needs a serious overhaul with eliminating teachers unions (and all public sector unions entirely) being a good start.

    Immigration: Secure our borders. We have immigration laws. Enforce them. And no one should, by default, be able to suck from the teat of the taxpayer.

    Welfare, Poverty and the Family: We are creating a system that not only encourages perpetuation of poverty but increases the level of which. Welfare, by it’s strict definition, has it’s place. However welfare should not be monopolized by government, and should never be allowed to be a career choice for the able-bodied. And it is my belief that the current system that fosters government dependence is by it’s very nature having a negative affect on crime rates. While I couldn’t give a damn if Steve and Mortimer are allowed to wed, the current system fosters the breakdown of family and this should concern any rational thinking individual regardless of affectional orientation. At the same time, there are people procreating who have no business doing so…also encouraged by a faulty system.

    Healthcare: Healthcare begins with personal responsibility, Outside of ones ability to care for ones own health it becomes a product…goods and services, for which any able-bodied individual usually has to pay for by working for a living. I believe if this were the mindset for approaching the healthcare “problem” we might find ourselves asking “what problem?”.

    Crime: This one should be a no-brainer. Crime against another should be dealth with harshly but humanely. Victimless crime…we need to reevaluate if it is actually crime.

    So what is my label?

  4. ” . . . does that mean that tomorrow we have to give in when the left tries to take the tax exempt status away from churches (if you don’t think that is coming, you don’t listen to what the left is saying).”

    This should be a strong conservative point. Despite what you may have been taught, the goal of the first amendment prohibition on congress establishing a religion was not meant to prevent the government from acting as the agent of religion. It was the opposite. We’ve all heard about the pilgrims, who fled England on the grounds of religious persecution. The problem wasn’t the British government enforcing the theology of the C of E, it was that the C of E had become an arm of the government. This is made much more clear by examining the issues surrounding the Scots and their protestant, non-conformist religion than any examination of the religious ideas of the pilgrims.

  5. The traditional nuclear family has clear advantages over the other forms (in aggregate, not case by case), and government is NOT a substitute. Julia and the LBJ Great Society are stupid. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t grown / care for human and financial capital

    Having said that, the encouragement of gay household formation is good policy.

  6. Chuck, I don’t know that Republicans necessarily need to “embrace” gay marriage…perhaps just be the party of leaving people alone.

    Personally, I am agnostic. But marriage has it’s roots in religion and predate most modern forms of govenment. Government has usurped “marriage” for it’s own agenda. Originally that agenda was to ensure growth of the human species, personally I think human nature is what drives that. However, today the agenda is nothing more than political power.

    Now as far as abortion, I am seriously re-thinking my formerly pro-choice stance, not for religious reasons, but my libertarian belief that ones right cannot be used infringe on that of another.

    Abortion, however is currently legal today, not as an act of Congress, but that of the Supreme Court…again, clearly encroaching not only on the right of the individual, but that of the state. Now the libertarian in me says that while it is currently legal, you have no right to steal from another to pay for an abortion.

    Libertarianism, to me, encourages personal responsibilty. Modern liberalism…progressivism champions complete lack of personal responsibility…like discarding a human as a result of pregnancy, or bearing children when one can’t even provide for themselves.

    I find it a bit incongruent that a woman can legally get an abortion because of complete lack of impulse control…or she can choose not to and her abusive boyfriend can be brought up on homicide charges by causing the death of an unborn fetus.

  7. QUOTE: Government has usurped “marriage” for it’s own agenda. Originally that agenda was to ensure growth of the human species, personally I think human nature is what drives that. However, today the agenda is nothing more than political power.

    The Government interest is a legitimate public policy problem.

    The problem is, we really do need to procreate taxPAYORS (sex / good parenting) to pay for LBJ’S Great Society and all of the other non-public goods our moronic rulers have dreamed up. Families and well adjusted communities are the superior safety net. Way superior.

    Government is not a substitute for good parenting. Queers can be better parents than heterosexuals, but not in aggregate. No way. Gay adoption is OK in that sense.

    The original reason the government got involved was for easier recourse against dead beat dads.

    I don’t see that heterosexual households are same as homosexual ones in the public policy sense, but of course no one anywhere agrees with me.

  8. Adrian, you’re right about where I am. Welcome to the Right-Wing-Kook Party!

    Kidding aside, the most telling part of your post is this: “the party of leaving people alone.” A person who believes that, believes that 90% of ordinary people have the ability to muddle through, maybe even succeed, if society would give them the freedom – the Liberty – to do so. That’s a Libertarian belief.

    What about that 10% that truly can’t make it on their own? Who should help them, and how? Charity? Or Government? A Libertarian would suggest that if 90% of the people are making it on their own and government isn’t taxing them to death to pay for welfare for the 10%, the 90% could afford to donate more to private charities who could then reclaim their rightful place as social safety net.

    But, but, but, religious and charitable groups can’t possibly carry that load, can they? Why not? Even now, who’s the first on the scene with useful aid when disaster strikes? Salvation Army (a church). Wal-Mart (a business). Red Cross (a charity). Who feeds and shelters the homeless in St. Paul every night? Catholic Charities. Union Gospel Mission. How much more could they do, if we let them. If government just . . . left people alone!

  9. A Libertarian would suggest that if 90% of the people are making it on their own and government isn’t taxing them to death to pay for welfare for the 10%, the 90% could afford to donate more to private charities who could then reclaim their rightful place as social safety net.
    Joe Doakes, I have yet to meet any libertarians who give money to charities or a church. In a libertarian world, the 90% who succeed will probably be the 90% least likely to give money to charity. Charity, as usually defined, means giving away significant money to help others while expecting no return. I don’t see how this fits into the libertarian philosophy.

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